Limerick politician pulls a few strokes in the art world

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Prospective buyer Melinda Hardiman admiring the work of Des OMalley, founder of the Progressive Democrats and the former Fianna Fail deputy, at a reception for the Dolans Art Auction House on this Sunday, March 2, at the Castletroy Park Hotel.
WHILE famously averse to stroke politics, former Limerick politician Des O’Malley has instead pulled a few strokes of an artistic kind, which have remained hidden until now.

WHILE famously averse to stroke politics, former Limerick politician Des O’Malley has instead pulled a few strokes of an artistic kind, which have remained hidden until now.

The 75-year-old former Fianna Fail deputy and founder of the Progressive Democrats has now painted his colours to the mast in the art world.

One of his works, entitled Water’s Edge, Summer, has been put up for auction in this weekend’s Dolan’s art auction in Castletroy.

His signed, oil on board painting has a reserve of between €300 to €500, and while it’s exact provenance is not unknown, it’s understood it was painted up to 20 years ago.

“I was speaking to Des about it and he joked that he ‘better not give up the day job’, but it’s a very decent example of a painting and shows he’s quite proficient,” said Niall Dolan, the proprietor of the auction house.

Nearly 200 paintings by some of the greatest artists in the country will go under the hammer this weekend at the prestigious auction house.

It is expected the auction will realise up to €100,000 on the day, with the most expensive work expected to fetch close to €6,000.

Some 54 lots are from one private Limerick collection, accumulated over the years by a local couple now retired, and will be sold without reserve this Sunday, March 2, at 2pm in the Castletroy Park hotel.

Mr Dolan expects that two pieces by Kenneth Webb will be of particular interest to buyers on the day, along with works by Henry Morgan and Jack Donovan, among others.

“Henry Morgan is really going from strength to strength, and is definitely one artist to keep an eye out for in the future. Jack Donovan, of course, is a great contemporary artist and his work is just so striking. If it was hanging in an auction house in New York you wouldn’t know how much it could go for, maybe six figures.

“There are lots of great local artists, and it’s amazing the amount of really good artists that come from Limerick. I suspect it’s due to Limerick School of Art & Design.”

Eight works by acclaimed Limerick artist Jack Donovan, who will turn 80 next week, are up for sale, with a guide reserve of €1,200 for his Nude on Bed from his Pinkie Downey series.

Other artists who feature in the collection include Charles Harper, Graham Knuttel, Peter Knuttel, George Gillespie, Arthur K Maderson, Douglas Hutton, Manus Walsh, Thelma Mansfield of RTE fame, and many others.

With reserves on some paintings starting at just at just a couple of hundred euro, the auctioneers are promising that valuable works could be snapped up for bargain prices.

One of the more expensive works is a landscape painting in Connemara by Kenneth Webb, aged 87, with a reserve of between €4,000 to €6,000.

In addition to paintings, there is also a selection of antiques from clocks to mirrors to light fittings, silver and furniture, cut glass and sculpture.

Among the items is a George III drop leaf table from the 1820s, which the auctioneers said represents “incredible value” at just a few hundred euro.

The viewing times are this Friday, from 12pm-9pm, on Saturday from 10am to 9pm, and on Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Telephone bidding is also available by calling 091 798647 / 086 4098015.

To view the catalogue online, see