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Muckross Park Hotel & Spa in Killarney celebrates the life of legendary playwright George Bernard Shaw on his 167th birthday by unveiling portrait

by Irish artist Mark McFadden

A unique palette knife oil painting of George Bernard Shaw, by Co. Donegal artist Mark McFadden, has been unveiled at the Muckross Park Hotel & Spa to commemorate the playwright’s 167th anniversary.

Crafted over a 12-month period, the piece was carefully brought to life by self-taught artist McFadden, who is from the small town of Falcarragh in Co. Donegal.  Bernard Shaw was born in Portobello, Dublin on July 26th, 1856, and is strongly suggested to have written the world-famous play Pygmalion at Muckross Park. The writer spent numerous summers reading and writing in the gardens and sitting in the bar now known as The Monk’s Lounge.

“Shaw is one of only two people to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925 and an Academy Award in 1938,” Mark McFadden said. “A win at the Oscars for an adapted screenplay of his play Pygmalion was a personal victory of massive significance. Bernard Shaw remains an enduringly inspiring and legendary figure, not only to me, but also for future generations”.

Master of palette knife oil painting, McFadden employs a distinctive, colourful and textured layering technique which has catapulted his work into the private collections of Monaco’s Prince Albert – the son of Princess Grace Kelly – singer Julian Lennon, and the Levett Family Trust.

“I can’t recall exactly how long it took me to paint Shaw – it was certainly over a year, with lots of perseverance, through enormous doubt and through various personal carnage and associated tears that tends to go with the tooth and claw of art,” McFadden said. “One of my heroes was 19th-century painter Vincent van Gogh, who used the impasto technique of applying paint to canvas using a knife. It takes time, and you think a lot about quitting, but the result can be incredible”.

“Shaw and his wife Charlotte Payne Townsend certainly stayed at the hotel on several occasions, and there are strong indications that parts of Pygmalion were written here,” shared Garrett Power, General Manager at Muckross Park Hotel & Spa. “The play, of course, later evolved into the timeless classic ‘My Fair Lady,’ starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. As a tribute to Shaw, one of our suites in the hotel now bears his name, and we are delighted to welcome Mark McFadden’s outstanding art to the hotel for our guests to appreciate and enjoy’.