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Jean brushes up on art skills for charity

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Jean Byrne with her painting, which will be auctioned at the Cill Rialaig Art 250 exhibition in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry.

Jean Byrne with her painting, which will be auctioned at the Cill Rialaig Art 250 exhibition in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry.

Jean Byrne with her painting, which will be auctioned at the Cill Rialaig Art 250 exhibition in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry.

SHE already has attracted a huge following with her dress sense -- but meteorologist Jean Byrne is about to appeal to art-lovers as well.

Ireland's favourite weathergirl has rediscovered her love of painting, and her seascape image is to be auctioned for charity next weekend.

The popular presenter has revealed the near-tragedy behind her painting of Ballybunion, where she nearly drowned as a child.

"It's one of my earliest memories -- of just being swept away by a wave while in the sea at Ballybunion," she told the Irish Independent.

"I was about five and my mother could not even see me but she put her hands into the water and was groping around and then she just caught me and pulled me out."

Although Ms Byrne's memories of that day when her life was saved by her late mother, Lola, are hazy, she says the sea and memories from her childhood inspired her work.

"I was brought up in Kerry and the landscape is very inspiring," she said.

Although she always loved art, in secondary school when she was making her subject choices she had to choose between it and music. As she played the piano, she decided to stick with the latter.

"Since then I've always felt I'd like to take it up again. I love visiting art galleries but I thought I could never catch up," she added.

But having completed her first painting with the guidance of seascape artist Brenda Malley, she's going to take up her brushes again.

Ms Byrne is just one of a number of celebrities and artists who have donated a painting for the Cill Rialaig Art 250 exhibition in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, next weekend and she will open the event on Easter Saturday.

The proceeds of the sale go towards Cill Rialaig artists' retreat on Bolus Head, the most westerly point of the Iveragh peninsula.

The Art 250 concept was dreamed up by Cill Rialaig founder Noelle Campbell-Sharp and has proven to be a great success. Donated artworks sell unidentified, all at the same price -- a recession-proof €250.

The doors will open at 12pm sharp at the Cill Rialaig Centre on Saturday.

Irish Independent