The Argus

| 9.6°C Dublin

John Haugh was an artist of renown

The death of Carlingford-based woodcarver John Haugh has left a huge void in the arts scene in North Louth, according to his long-time friend, painter Irene Woods.

Mr Haugh, who was in his eighties, had been ill for some time before his death at the weekend, but it is understood that he spent the last day of his life doing what he loved best - carving wood.

The renowned wood sculptor, who originally came from Co Clare, was a popular and respected artist in Louth and the wider surrounding area.

Perhaps his most famous work, a wood sculpture of John F Kennedy and his family, will shortly be put on display at the County Museum.

Mr Haugh began working on his sculpture of John F Kennedy, his wife Jackie and their young children before the president was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. He completed it the night the president was killed.

The large sculpture rested in Mr Haugh?s studio in Carlingford ever since, apart from been shown in occasional exhibitions.

After the studio was closed a few months ago, the sculpture was given to the County Museum for safekeeping and it is expected that it will go on display in the coming weeks as a fitting tribute to the octogenarian artist.

Another of his more famous works, the large Nativity carvings seen every Christmas at Hill Street in Newry, will continue to delight passers-by for many years to come.

Mr Haugh got his break as an artist after he carved a stunning Sacred Heart using just a penknife and razorblades. He trained at Glenstall Abbey for a while and then completed his apprenticeship in Belgium just after the end of WWII, before moving back to Ireland.

After short stays in Dublin, Newry and then Omeath, the Clare man found inspiration and happiness in Carlingford, where he lived for many years.

His friend, North Louth painter, Irene Woods, said she was very saddened by Mr Haugh?s passing and described him as ?a thorough gentleman?.

She said, ?John lived for today and lived for his art and his family. He loved the tools and the woods he used and he was a very dedicated family man.He never worried about money or things like that, as long as he had enough to do today that was alright with him. He became an institution in Carlingford and many, many people visited his workshop.John always welcomed people into his studio and was particularly delighted to see children and young people take an interest in his work?.

Irene added that Mr Haugh was a member of the North Louth Artists group for many years and said he would be missed by the entire arts community.

She said, ?His work was truly unique and beautiful and his passing leaves a void in the arts community?.

Mr Haugh is survived by his wife Eileen and four