Roscommon County Council engaged with eight people this Spring for another successful Conversations in Portrait Project. A call went out for people, over age 70 in a nursing home or cocooning at home, missing their cultural activities and interested in making new connections at this time. Over three zoom sessions, artist Andy Parsons painted their portrait, while talking and getting to know each person and how they have responded to the last few months of Covid. The art has been delivered to the sitters where it hangs proudly in their homes until restrictions lift for their wider family, friends and staff to view their virtual portraits.
Organised by Roscommon County Council Arts Office. Part of the KEEP WELL campaign delivered by Roscommon County Council and Healthy Ireland, an initiative of the Government of Ireland with funding from the Healthy Ireland Fund and the Sláintecare fund delivered by Pobal.
Pictured below is Sadie, Marie, Dolores, Gertie, Cathal, Aileen, Annie and Seamus.
Our first portrait is Abbey Haven resident, Sadie Milmoe, aged 90.
Sadie is a very sociable lady who has remained positive throughout this pandemic. She enjoys baking, reading and television but is missing her family through these times.
Left: Sadie’s final portrait
Right: Artist Andy Parsons and Sadie on zoom
Our second portrait is Marie Hester aged 85.
Marie is the retired owner of the Golden Eagle restaurant. She enjoys talking about history and her time in the US. Marie misses her shopping trips and meeting people due to the pandemic.
Our third portrait is Plunkett Community Nursing Unit resident Gertie Cunningham, aged 89.
She first came to the Plunkett Home with her mother in 1986. Gertie is a woman of great character and is a big part of her home in Boyle.
Our fourth portrait is couple, Cathal and Aileen McConn from Roscommon town.
The McConns are both in their 70’s and keeping very active throughout the pandemic. They keep in touch with family and friends through themed Friday nights on zoom.
Our fifth portrait is Dolores McCabe who lives at home with her husband.
She is a survivor of 19 years in an industrial school, so she is used to hard times. What she misses most is visiting family and going to mass.
Our sixth portrait is Annie Egan who turns 97 this July. She lives at home with her daughter.
Annie spent her time in England as a nurse in the 40’s. During this pandemic Annie has kept herself occupied with word searches and her love for flowers.
Our final portrait is of Seamus at the fine age of 92.
He has been a resident of Plunkett Community Nursing Unit for 22 years. Seamus expressed his interest in our project after seeing last year’s portraits in the paper. He enjoyed taking part in this project because due to lockdown he is missing the visits from his friends
Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal Local Authorities engaged with sixteen people in Autumn 2020 for a Creative Ireland Creativity in Older Age Virtual Portrait Project. A call went out for people in each county, over age 70 in a nursing home or cocooning at home, missing their cultural activities and interested in making new connections at this time. Over three zoom sessions, artist Andy Parsons painted their portrait, while talking and getting to know each person and how they have responded to the last few months of Covid. In return for their time, the art will be delivered to the sitters who will hang it in their home and invite a small number of close family, friends and staff to view the portrait, depending on Covid restrictions at the time.
Pictured here are Maisie, Noel, Rosaleen and Paddy from County Roscommon.
Maisie was the first of the four Roscommon portraits, a 97-year-old lady who resides in Sonas Nursing Home Cloverhill. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Maisie has consistently kept up to date on all the news, maintaining a positive outlook on the situation, all the time maintaining her faith, and praying for better times to come. Artist Andy Parsons, described her as a truly inspirational lady. The portrait now has pride of place on Maisie’s wall.
The next portrait has been delivered to Noel Higgins, Boyle. Noel has had to cocoon since March following a quadruple bi pass and a broken back and has still managed to stay positive throughout all. Noel is delighted with his portrait and really enjoyed the process.
Thirdly, we have Rosaleen. Rosaleen was left with no social outlet after Covid restrictions set in. 87 years of age in October. She resides in Knockarush, Boyle
The fourth portrait from Co. Roscommon is of Paddy. Residing in Plunkett Home, Paddy is a very good conservationist and this project was suited to his character as the Artist Andy Parsons and Paddy enjoyed the sittings.
Portraits are exhibited on Age & Opportunity's Bealtaine Festival website https://bealtaine.ie/bealtaine-gallery/creative-ireland-creativity-in-older-age-virtual-portrait-project/ and a touring exhibition will take place as part of Bealtaine Festival 2021. The initiative has been managed by Roscommon Arts Office together with artist Andy Parsons, and is a partnership project by Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal Local Authorities and Age and Opportunity as part of the Creative Ireland Creativity in Older Age.