Writer Brian Friel art collection goes under the hammer for homelessness charity

Norah McGuinness’s Evening Flight was purchased at the Key's Gallery in Derry

A COLLECTION of 23 Irish artworks owned by the late Brian Friel and his wife Anne will be going under the hammer in Dublin next week, with an estimated €100,000 expected to be raised for charity.

The Friel Collection will go on sale at James Adam & Sons's latest Important Irish Art auction on September 27, with Anne Friel donating all proceeds to the Peter McVerry Trust homelessness charity.

The auction includes a number of important works by Basil Blackshaw, four fine oils by Patrick Hennessy and several by Norah McGuinness and the late Stephen McKenna, former president of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

It is expected to generate as much as €100,000 for the Dublin-based charity, which was established in the 1980s by Newry-born Fr Peter McVerry. Today, the trust operates 11 homeless hostels and over 100 apartments in the city, as well as a residential drug detox centre and two drug stabilisation services.

"We very much appreciate Anne's very generous support and kindness in donating this collection of paintings," says Fr McVerry. "Proceeds from the sale of the art will greatly help us to provide our services to the growing numbers of people experiencing homelessness."

The auction catalogue includes a foreword by Pat Hume, wife of the former SDLP leader John Hume and friend of the Friels, who comments: "It is testament to Anne's wonderful generosity that she is donating the art collection built up by herself and Brian over a lifetime to such a pressing cause.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for people to both acquire a piece of art and to contribute to the solution of one of our society's most pressing problems."

Auction highlights include Basil Blackshaw's Game Cock from his highly regarded cockerel series. Estimated at €15,000, this painting on canvas was bought by Anne at The Tom Caldwell Gallery as a gift for Brian as she thought that "the bird had the look of a survivor about it".

Blackshaw's Three Sisters, a view of a Dacha painted in 1981 and estimated at €6,000, will be known to many Blackshaw and Friel fans: well exhibited over the years, the image was used for the programme of Friel's translation of Chekhov's Three Sisters.

It also featured on the programme cover for the Field Day production which premiered at Derry's Guildhall on September 8 1981.

Among the four photo-realist works by Patrick Hennessy are two major paintings featuring horses; Herding the Horses, a large oil estimated at €7,000, and Ruin and Horseman (complete with a letter from the artist confirming its authenticity), another large oil which is expected to realise €6,000.

Norah McGuinness's Evening Flight was purchased at the Key's Gallery in Derry and is estimated at €15,000, while other fine works include pieces by Stephen McKenna, Sean McSweeney, Tony O'Malley and the minimalist Silver Painting by the late Patrick Scott: this large tempera and silver leaf on canvas is estimated at €8,000.

:: For more information and to view the entire auction programme, visit

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