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Saturday 20 September 2014

Former bank manager has a brush with British royalty

Published 27/04/2014 | 02:30

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Michael Hanrahan with his paintings of President Michael Higgins's UK state visit at his studio in Ennistymon, Co Clare. Photo: Eamon Ward

A bank manager-turned-artist has been given a royal seal of approval from Queen Elizabeth.

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Michael Hanrahan, from Lahinch, Co Clare, is currently working on several impressionist-style paintings which capture President Michael D Higgins's recent UK visit.

And the artist, who is the only living Irish painter to have his work included in the British Royal Collection after he presented Queen Elizabeth with a painting of her visit to Ireland in 2011, has been told that the British monarch would like to view his new works once they are complete.

Mr Hanrahan worked as a bank manager until he took early retirement in 2006, before finally fulfilling his dream to become an artist.

He now works as an art instructor on board luxury cruise ships.

Michael told the Sunday Independent: "I've always had a big interest in art and particularly in painting. So now I teach painting and travel the world on the cruise ships.

"I love travelling and there are very few places now that I have not seen, but I also love coming home to my studio in Ennistymon and painting important moments in history like these."

In August 2011, Queen Elizabeth accepted Michael's gift of his painting 'The Queen and President McAleese at the Garden of Remembrance,' which Michael hand-delivered to Buckingham Palace.

"I wrote to Buckingham Palace and reminded them of that painting and informed them that I would be doing a number of paintings to commemorate President Higgins's state visit to the UK," he said.

"So the Queen wrote back and said she'd like to see the work when it's done, which has been wonderful encouragement."

Michael has plans for three more paintings, which will capture key moments during the President's visit to London.

One will depict the state dinner held in Mr Higgins's honour, another will show him speaking at the same function, and there will be a separate portrait of the President and his wife Sabina arriving at Windsor Castle.

During the 50th anniversary celebrations of President John F Kennedy's visit to Ireland, Michael presented a painting, entitled 'JFK in New Ross 1963', to the late US president's daughter Caroline Kennedy.

He has also painted Barack Obama, during the US President's visit to his ancestral home of Moneygall, Co Offaly, and Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor.

After his banking career, Michael studied at the National College of Art & Design, the Burren College of Art and the Lisdoonvarna Painting Centre.

He lives in Lahinch Co Clare and owns a gallery and studio in nearby Ennistymon.

Sunday Independent

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