President hung high in Leinster House

Painting of Michael D Higgins put up beside picture of all 53 female TDs and Senators

 

MARIE O’HALLORAN

A portrait of President Michael D Higgins by artist Mick O’Dea has been put on display in Leinster House alongside a portrait of all the women in the current Oireachtas.

The two paintings were put in place on Wednesday at the base of the main staircase leading into the Dáil chamber and below the landing where portraits of former taoisigh hang.

A third painting, which portrays the first sitting of the Dáil, has been taken down from above the entrance to the Dáil chamber, to be photographed by An Post for a centenary commemorative stamp.

That painting, by artist Thomas Ryan, shows the first Dáil in place in the Mansion House on January 25th 1919.

President Higgins is only the second head of State to have his portrait hung in Leinster House while in office.

This follows agreement by former president Mary McAleese to a request from the Oireachtas for a portrait of the president to be put on display in the houses of parliament.

Portraits of taoisigh only go on display in Leinster House when they leave office and the same protocol applies to presidents in Áras an Uachtaráin.

President Higgins’ portrait will join the series of portraits of his predecessors in the Áras only when he leaves office.

The painting of the President standing at his desk in front of the bookcase in his office was painted in oils following a series of charcoal drawings by the artist, a portrait specialist, during sittings in the Áras.

The portrait of the 53 current female members of the Dáil and Seanad was painted by Belfast figurative artist Noel Murphy and unveiled last month. The portrait commemorates the centenary of women getting the vote and also includes Constance Markievicz, the first woman elected to the Dáil.

The artist also painted ‘The House will Divide’ in 2000, a large group portrait which featured all 108 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.