Neil is an artist from Dublin and was born and raised in the heart of the city. He attended Synge Street School, which has been famously portrayed in the movie ‘Sing Street‘. The strict Catholic school run by the Christian Brotherhood was known for using corporal punishment. “Not the happiest time of my life, but I survived unlike some others.” Neil, who was dyslexic and therefore struggled with reading and writing, used a different way to express himself in school – art. Afterwards, Neil pursued a career in graphic design which he did for about 25/30 years. He successfully ran his own graphic design business until the financial crisis hit in 2008, which “kind of forced an early retirement”.
Neil had to wrap up his business and found himself in a position where he had to decide what he wanted to do with his life now and so he turned back to art. Since taking up painting on a more full-time basis, Neil has painted many acclaimed pieces, mainly specialising in portraits. His most famous painting, ‘Upon Small Shoulders’, was used by Sinead O’Connor as the cover for her album ‘How About I Be Me’. Neil set up the Schoolhouse for Art in Enniskerry where he and other artists teach portraits and pastels on a day-to-day basis. Find out more about Neil and his art on his website or go visit the beautiful Schoolhouse on your next trip!
“One of the first paintings that I did was a painting that depicted a small
child who represents the next generation of Ireland. She is sitting on a rusted scaffolding and all she has is an Irish flag which represents her heritage. The rusted scaffolding represents all of the developments that never happened. So, at the time I suppose I was very angry and personally involved in both sides, first the success of the economy, and then I became a victim when it fell apart. So, this painting was quite special, quite personal. But I also felt like the Irish are very resilient, and I believe that the next generation will overcome this, so the child is actually sitting with her hand outstretched and looking out to the distance.”
Neil’s Dublin Tips
The Best Street
The instant street that comes to mind is Grafton Street, I think it is my favourite street!
The Best Restaurant
The Perfect Night
For me, a comfortable pub, a few pints, a nice meal and find some locals to have a chat
The Place to meet Locals
Any local pub really, there are so many dotted around the city. Maybe not Temple Bar…
The Art Hotspot
You can see local art hanging on the railings of Merrion Square most weekends. You can also see artist hanging their painting on the railings of St.Stephens Green, these are all usually amateur artists. I love the National Art Gallery, and its just recently been refurbished. Amazing art, super place!
My Dublin Song
Sinead O’Connor – ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’
Listen to Neil’s favourite Dublin song on our TakeOffTalk Dublin Playlist!