Pencil portrait wins Texaco art prize for Mayo teenager

Judge hails Shania McDonagh (16) as one of the most talented artists of her generation

Shania McDonagh (16) became one of the most successful artists in the 60-year history of the Texaco Children's Art Competition when she was chosen as this year's overall winner today.

Known for her extremely detailed portraits, she won first prize in her age category for the past four years, but it was her portrait entitled “Coleman” that finally won her the top prize.

She saw a photograph of the man in the Vanishing Ireland book and drew a close-up facial study in pencil with such detail that it is hard to believe it’s not a photograph.

Judging panel chairman Prof Declan McGonagle, director of the National College of Art & Design, said her work has established her “as one of the most talented artists of her generation, and one whose skill could see her become one of Ireland’s foremost portrait artists of the future”.


Ms McDonagh, who attends Mount St Michael Secondary School in Claremorris, Co Mayo, said it took her about one month to finish the work. She will be presented with her €1,500 first-prize at the prize giving ceremony in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham next month along with the 125 other winners.

She also won the 16-18 year old category. Second prize was won by Cáitríona McClay, Loreto Community School, Milford, Co Donegal while third prize was won by Grace Murray from Ursuline College, Sligo, daughter of Senator Susan O'Keeffe.

The other winners announced today were:

Category B (14-15 years):

1st: Diarmuid McKenna, Killina Presentation Secondary School, Tullamore.

2nd: Jointly awarded Muirine Robinson, Our Lady's School, Terenure, Dublin and Grace Dolan, Holy Faith Secondary School, Clontarf, Dublin

3rd: Hannah Witherspoon, Wellington College, Belfast

Category C (12-13 years):

1st: Jem Fitzpatrick, Rathgar, Dublin

2nd: Jodie Ryan, St Colmcille's Community School, Knocklyon

3rd: Síobhra O’Reardon Farrell Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin, Dublin

Category D (9-11 years):

1st: Orla Rooney, Coldwood National School, Craughwell, Co Galway

2nd: Abby Kehoe, Ballinabrana National School, Co Carlow

3rd: Maia McCann, The Art Academy, Rush

Category E (7-8 years):

1st: Ava Henson, The Harold School, Glasthule

2nd: Bailey Jones, The Art Academy, Rush

3rd: Leah Rogers, Carrick National School, Ballinlough, Co Roscommon

Category F (6 years and younger):

1st: Amy Doran, Windy Arbour, Dundrum

2nd: Julianne Coleman, Robswall, Malahide

3rd: Caitlin Rea, St Mary's National School, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow f

Category G, reserved for entries from children with special needs

1st: Ryan Hazley, Beechlawn School, Hillsborough, Co Down

2nd: Ciaran McCarthy, Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

3rd: Marrissa Carolan, St Joseph’s Special School, Tallaght

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times