The leaders of Ireland’s 1916 Rising against British rule have been turfed out of one of the country’s top golf clubs – in a fund raising move.
Portraits of seven signatories to Ireland’s proclamation have been up for sale by the new management at the world famous Druids Glen golf resort in County Wicklow.
The Robert Ballagh paintings, including one of Padraig Pearse, were commissioned by owner Hugo Flinn when he opened the club in 1995.
They have adorned the walls of the Woodstock House clubhouse since then but now they are to be sold as part of a $3million refurbishment project, much to artist Ballagh’s annoyance.
“Sadly, Hugo is no longer with us and it seems the new management have decided to divest the house of these proudly nationalist emblems,” Ballagh told the Irish Independent.
“The portraits of the 1916 signatories have been there since Druids Glen opened and I believe they should remain there.
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“Hugo was a patriot and noted that if you played golf at Royal Lytham & St Annes, or anywhere in England, they’d have the Union Jack flying overhead and a picture of the queen in the clubhouse.
“He felt anyone playing golf in Druids Glen should know they were in Ireland, and in a republic.”
Ballagh has also criticised the club’s decision to cash in on his paintings, now on sale at prices of up to $12,000 and $15,000.
“I liked Hugo. I did all of this work at very, very cheap rates but if you look at estimates in the catalogue for the exhibition, they are not selling at cheap rates,” said Ballagh.
Auctioneer Ian Whyte, who will handle the sale next week, said the portraits are no longer suitable at Druids Glen.
Whyte said: “The portraits of the 1916 leaders do not suit the ambience of a golf club.
“Let’s put it this way. They (Druids Glen) are trying to attract business from around the world so this really doesn’t gel and also the resort is currently undergoing some refurbishment and it was felt that the collection of over 30 very similar portraits needed to be reduced.
“It is probable that the resort will use the funds raised by the sale of the decommissioned works to acquire new paintings by contemporary Irish artists thus continuing the tradition of artistic patronage started by Druids Glen founder Hugo Flinn.”
A spokeswoman for Druids Glen golf club told the Independent that the paintings are being sold ahead of ‘a €2m refurbishment of the resort’.