Paintings unearthed after 40 years in attic to be sold in Dublin for charity

Works by former head of ISPCC go on display in St Stephen’s Green

Paintings that had lain undisturbed in an attic for more than 40 years are to be sold for charity in Dublin this weekend.

The children of Des Hand, the former head of the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), said they last saw his collection of oil paintings on the walls of their home, Mount Pleasant, as they grew up Greystones, Co Wicklow.

His daughter, the writer and producer Eithne Hand, said her father had a solo show in the early 1960s in a gallery on Stephen’s Green, selling all the works, and exhibited through the early 1970s in Cork and Limerick.

In the 1970s, Hand was head first of St Michaels House, the organisation providing care to people with intellectual disabilities, and then managing director of the ISPCC before his mental health broke down.


He moved to the UK in the mid 1970s and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder – then called manic depression – with which he lived for the rest of his life. He died in England in 1999, aged 67.

Just before the pandemic, Eithne was contacted by a stranger who said she had about 20 of Hand’s oil paintings in her attic, wondering if she was related and if she would like to have them.

“It was still amazing to see them all again as we all had seen them in Mount Pleasant many times,” she said.

Now, having dusted them off, the Hand family has decided to sell the works at the People’s Art gallery in aid of charities such as St Michael’s House.

People’s Art is a voluntary, part-time, non-profit making group brought together by Dublin City Council to promote the visual arts to the public of Dublin

The paintings can be seen on Saturday and Sunday on the north and east side of St Stephen’s Green.

As well as painting, Hand was a member of the nascent Greystones Operatic and Dramatic Society in Co Wicklow, where he wrote music for pantos.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist