America’s most influential Catholic, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, visited County Clare this week.
Cardinal Dolan is leading a pilgrimage of Catholics from across the US to Knock Shrine. He arrived at Ireland West Airport on Sunday aboard the first chartered pilgrim flight from the US into the Mayo airport.
The 180-strong group visited the Burren and Cliffs of Moher before taking the ferry from Killimer to Tarbert as part of their nine-day itinerary. The Cardinal took time out from his engagements to travel to Ballyvaughan on Tuesday morning to visit a friend of his, local artist Richard Hearns.
“Cardinal Dolan has been a great support to me over the years. I was delighted he was in a position to come to Ballyvaughan on this trip and visit me and to see my recent work in the studio,” Richard told The Clare Champion.
Richard was born in Beirut and raised in Dublin but has lived in Ballyvaughan since 2009. His work has been exhibited around the world and was recently selected for display at the NUI Galway reception for the Prince of Wales.
A life-long friend of the artist’s family, Cardinal Dolan has been the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York since 2009. Richard fondly recalls the Cardinal introducing him to New York when he had his first solo exhibition there in 2010. He is now about to launch his fifth solo exhibition in New York this October and then travels to Los Angeles where he will be exhibiting his paintings in Pasadena.
The Cardinal spent about two hours with Richard in his Vaughan Cottage studio on Tuesday and will be spending more time with him soon, as the North Clare resident has been selected to paint his official portrait.
“I have been selected to make Cardinal Dolan’s official portrait. We had been in talks about it for a while but it is now confirmed, so he will decide when he wants to sit for it and we will begin. All cardinals get their portraits painted, usually by a very prominent artist, so this a great privilege and an honour for me. I have worked in portraiture before and I am returning to it now. This is a big undertaking but it is a wonderful thing to be asked and I am really looking forward to creating it,” Richard stated.
The group is expected in Clare again on Thursday or Friday before making its way back to Mayo. Cardinal Dolan will celebrate the opening mass of the Knock Novena on Friday before flying back to New York on Sunday.
By Nicola Corless