Tuesday 28 January 2020

Losing Louis

• As a fledgling postgraduate, I used to attend many gallery exhibitions and theatre productions with my professor, mentor and friend, the late, great George Dawson who contributed so much to both science and the arts (and many other spheres of life) in Ireland.

One evening, we were due to attend 'Endgame' as part of The Gate's peerless 1991 Beckett Festival.

True to George's generous nature, he invited me up for dinner (or "supper" to use his exact words) to his magical rooms in Rubrics in Trinity (designed by one Michael Scott) where there hung many contemporary Irish and international paintings and prints.

"There will be two other guests also," George remarked casually, "and we will all go to the Gate together."

Imagine my surprise and subsequent delight when on arriving at Rubrics, I was introduced to Louis Le Brocquy and Anne Madden, whose art I admired so much.

After my initial nervousness (particularly as I'd produced the starter of avocado and prawns!) we had a wonderful supper and enjoyed an excellent production of 'Endgame' together.

At the service to commemorate George in 2004, as one of the speakers eulogising this true Renaissance man and his ability to relate to people of all shapes and sizes, from the leaders of countries to my then three-year-old daughter, I shared the story of that night in Rubrics, how initially I was somewhat tongue-tied (unusual for me!) but how George and his famous guests had given a young man a memorable night, that I can still recall vividly over 20 years later.

After the service, I was extremely touched when Louis and Anne came over to me (I hadn't realised they were there), and said that I had hid my nervousness very well as we shared reminiscences of that marvellous night together.

The current spat in the media between art critic Eamonn Mallie and artist Robert Ballagh over Mr Mallie's ill-timed comments on Louis Le Brocquy's artistic legacy (Irish Independent April 27) prompts me to say just one thing -- Louis Le Brocquy was both a great artist and a nice man, and I pass on my condolences to his wonderful wife as we all mourn a towering figure in Irish art.

Prof Mark Lawler
Kilmainham, Dublin 8

• Belfast journalist Eamonn Mallie's remark about Louis Le Brocquy's work not hanging in many international museums was tasteless.

Once again, we in the Republic appreciate and recognise a unique talent, and do not need to be assured of Mr Mallie's provincial insecurity!

K Nolan
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

Irish Independent

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