Just a thought, but may I ask a question? “Has anyone got a few quid hidden away under the Bathroom Floor, in a Cookie Jar, the Fridge Salad Crisper Drawer or under your Mattress?”
“How much do you want?” I hear you scream excitedly.
Well to be honest it all depends on an item that goes under the hammer at “The Chatsworth Fine Art Sale,” to be held in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny on Tuesday October 8th next. The particular item which generates my particular interest is, I believe, numbered Lot 727.
Painting of Mary Francis Power Lalor (Ryan)
It is a painted portrait of Mrs Mary Francis Power Lalor (nee Ryan) formally of Long Orchard, Templetuohy, Co. Tipperary. Mrs Power Lalor is featured wearing a black lace dress with pearl and diamond necklace, (Print Size about 130 cms x 105 cms or 51 ins x 41 ins) set in its original carved gilt-wood oval frame, signed and dated 1859.
This featured individual was born Mary Francis Ryan, daughter of George Ryan of Inch House, Thurles, Co. Tipperary and Catherine Whyte of Loughbrickland, Co Down. Her father was born on July 17th 1791 and died on September 6th 1884 at the age of 93. He had held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of County Tipperary and the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for County Tipperary.
I believe this painting should now be purchased so as to remain in North Tipperary and preferably be proudly hung in Thurles Library for all to see and contemplate.
In early 1858, Mary Francis Ryan was presented at the State Drawing Room in Dublin Castle, to George William Frederick Howard, seventh Earl of Carlisle (Lord Morpheth of Morpeth Roll fame) being then Viceroy at that time, and in October of that year at the tender age of eighteen, she was married to Captain Edmund James Power Lawlor of Long Orchard, Templetuohy, Thurles Co Tipperary.
In 1859 Mary was presented to the Papal Court, during which time spent in Rome she was greatly admired for “her unusual beauty and a singular fascination of manner.” She visited some artist studios by special invitation and was painted at this time by G. Canavari.
After the death of her husband Edmund, James, Power Lalor, on August 4th 1873, and the following year by her daughter Helen Georgiana Power-Lalor in 1874, latter from meningitis, Mary devoted her life to charitable works and in 1880 published an appeal in the leading newspapers of the time on behalf of starving children following the famine of 1879 known as the “mini-famine” or An Gorta Beag. The New York Herald donated the massive sum then of £10,000 which enabled her to feed over 52,000 starving children throughout the country.
It was in this same year that on the Thursday evening of August 21st 1879, 15 people in Knock (Irish Translation: An Cnoc, meaning ‘The Hill,’ now more generally known in Irish as Cnoc Mhuire, “Hill of Mary”) County Mayo experienced an apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist, who all appeared at the south gable of the local church, together with an altar with a cross and the figure of a lamb, around which angels hovered. Two Commissions of Enquiry, in 1879 and 1936, would later accept their testimony as being both trustworthy and satisfactory.
This Knock apparition brought about a massive religious revival during this Irish famine, latter now erased and rarely remembered in Irish history. Many Christians even today believe that this visitation to the “Hill of Mary”, contributed greatly to the low number of deaths then experienced in 1879, compared to the earlier Great Famine of 1845 -1849.
Mary Francis Power Lawlor now took full charge of this fund, clothing children of all denominations, thus saving many from certain death. In 1886 Mary Power Lalor established the Distressed Ladies Fund; latter to assist poor Irish women suffering through the non-payment of rent and the then land depression in Ireland. This Fund also established in Dublin a home to care for the many poor old ladies living in garrets and cellars, which in 1887 was opened in Mountjoy Square (Then Rutland Square,). This house subsequently became known as the Power Lalor Home, with Queen Victoria as patroness, and Princess Louise as President of the Central Committee, when this fund was extended to include England.
In 1912 Mary Francis Power Lawlor took up the reins in Ireland of the International Catholic Girls Protection Society and opened the Bureau and Home for Catholic Girls in Dublin, in the same year. It is also to her that the people of Templetuohy owe a debt of gratitude for organising the building of the magnificent Church of The Sacred Heart, Templetuohy and the beautiful stained glass window, which she then had specially commissioned in memory of her late husband, with the fitting title “For The Greater Glory Of God.”
Mrs. Power Lalor died on March 26th 1913, (100 years ago this year) and is buried next to her husband in Templetuohy Graveyard.
It’s just a thought but if 100 people, including businesses and including myself, came up with €50 each, we could possibly meet the asking price (Between €3,000 – €5,000) for this portrait of one truly great Tipperary lady and take her home to her native County.
Anyone interested in venturing into this “Thurles Historic Art Investment Co-Operative Programme,” should contact me Email firstname.lastname@example.org and sure who knows, it might just sell for less than its asking price.
There I go, possibly dreaming again, but in recessionary times we all must dream.