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Thomas captures the face of Richard

A PAINTING of Richard Harris by Clare artist Thomas Delohery is to be used as the promotional image for the inaugural International Richard Harris Film Festival, which runs from December 4-6.

Originally from O’ Callaghan’s Mills, Delohery now lives in Melbourne, Australia. He said he was very honoured to be asked to do the art work for the festival.

“I think this is the perfect way to honour the late and great Richard Harris, who was a very proud Limerick man but who saw Kilkee as his spiritual home, so much so he named his house in the Bahamas, Kilkee House,” he said.

His image was projected onto King John’s Castle last week when the programme for the film festival was launched.

“As Richard was a local man and had gone to such heights in his career, for that reason I saw him as an inspiration. I have been very fortunate that I have got to know the Harris family through doing five tribute shows in honour of Richard and the family have been a great support. I enjoy painting Richard as he had an amazing face and it was a face that was well lived, earning every wrinkle,” he continued.

A year and a half after Richard Harris passed away in 2002, Thomas Delohery did his first tribute art work in memory of him. This was just meant to be one personal piece at the time but it turned into five tribute exhibitions.

The first was held at Friars Gate Theatre in Kilmallock in Limerick on October 1 (Richard’s birthday) 2006 and ran until October 25 to coincide with the date of his passing. The show was officially opened by his three sons, Jared, Jamie and Damian, while  Richard’s brother Bill and his long time friend Billy O’Reilly were also in attendance.

Delohery had one of the shows in Richard’s old school, the Crescent College, opened by Richard’s sister-in-law, Marie Harris. Another exhibition was held in St John’s Arts Centre in Listowel, opened by Billy Keane, the son of the late John B Keane.

“The Harris Family were very supportive from word go and I was greatly thankful and humbled by this. I first heard of Richard’s passing while I was on the phone to my mum, just before I boarded a flight back from Munich in October 2002 after being on a residency there. I was deeply saddened and felt that Richard, having been such a force of life while alive, left quite a vacuum with his passing,” he added.

When the International Richard Harris Film Festival organisers, Rob Gill and Eleanor McSherry, contacted Thomas about a possible Richard Harris Festival for Limerick, he made contact with Richard’s sons. Jared Harris had mentioned to him back in 2006 that he would love a film festival to be held in the city in his Dad’s honour.

He was asked if he would create an original artwork of Richard for the festival, based on an old photograph favoured by the Harris family. Delohery said he was delighted and honoured to be asked and was quite relieved when the family saw and loved the finished image.

Delohery will be in attendance for the gala opening night of the festival. “It is wonderful to see this event up and running,” he concluded.

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