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Committing the Queen to canvas

NORTH Clare based artist Michael Hanrahan is busy at work these days, recording the Queen’s visit on canvas.
Michael spent much of his childhood in the 1960s in North Clare, while he has been back living in Lahinch for the last few years, also working from the Courthouse Gallery in Ennistymon.
He said he had been delighted to be at close quarters to the Queen’s visit. “It was a fantastic occasion altogether. There were about 1,200 journalists and TV people from all over the world and I got accredited to it under the banner of Clare arts. I’m busy now in my studio on five or six paintings from it.”
It wasn’t until quite late on that he knew he would be given accreditation. “I was abroad, travelling around Dubai and I had read all about the Queen coming to Ireland. I wrote to the British embassy in Dublin, introduced myself, told them I’d love to be involved in the painting. Various discussions took place when I came back with Buckingham Palace and the Department of Foreign Affairs. I got an email on the Friday night before the official visit took place telling me that I was accredited.”
His highlight of the royal visit was the first day, when a British monarch set foot in the South of Ireland for the first time since independence.
“There was massive security but it was very successful. I wanted to record the visit for the next generation and I’ve been working on the paintings since.”
He felt she had charmed a large part of the population. “One of the highlights apart from the splendour of the thing, was that it gained momentum as it went on. I think at the start people were a bit laid back about it, but it gained massive momentum. I lived in the UK for 15 years and I was familiar with the respect people had over there, but she won the hearts of thousands of Irish people.”
He felt the Queen had acted with courtesy and made the right moves to allay some of the historical enmity between the countries. “The Croke Park visit was spectacular and the Garden of Remembrance had meaning even though she didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to say anything. Bowing her head and laying a wreath spoke volumes. When she stood in Dublin Castle and started off in Irish, that was great.”

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