WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Birr, a very Anglicised town in County Offaly, Ireland.
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
A typical 1940s childhood – I later told my father ‘if there was a line of parents and I could pick any, I would pick you and mum.’ I was the middle child of nine, they went girl, boy, girl, boy, then I broke the pattern!
I grew up in Newcastle West, County Limerick. It was a Michael O’Toomie of Limerick of who started writing in the five-line meter and Terry Wogan went to school nearby.
TELL US A CHILDHOOD MEMORY
1947 and 1948 were the worst winters of the time. There was 12-15 inches of deep snow and I had no shoes on going to school.
The teacher said ‘why don’t you have shoes’ and I said ‘I don’t know’. It didn’t bother me.
HOW DID SCULPTURE BECOME YOUR CAREER?
I started sculpting when I was eight; with a piece of yellow mud I made crib figures. I was 15 when I left school, then I went to art school in Limerick – it is now the Open University of Ireland.
I had quite a few offers, but didn’t know what I wanted to do at first so I thought I would do anything that takes my fancy. I started working for a German company, making Dresden porcelain figures.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO STAFFORDSHIRE? Wedgwood – I came here from Southampton in the 1970s. I had worked for smaller companies before that. I had a job lined up at Royal Doulton but it was nicer here in the countryside.
Wedgwood is excellent quality and I spent almost 20 years working on it, sculpting figures for the Jasperware. They were the best years of my life.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXHIBITION IN STONE LIBRARY AND YOUR INSPIRATIONS
I have been painting since the 1940s, but this is my first exhibition. I paint the Royal Family as they are recognisable figures, I also paint film stars like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.
I have painted a series of Titanic pictures too. My father told me that when his father read about Titanic – the biggest object created by man – in the Irish Times he said ‘they’re flying in the face of God ; that ship will never reach the US’.
There were a lot of Irish people on board. There were people from the Sligo area who survived the sinking, but saw their cousins go down. One woman was holding on to the rails, clutching her rosary beads and praying the rosary. It was a tragic disaster.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
There are many things I am proud of but I am most proud of my two sons.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
I see no reason to have any regrets, they are futile.
Family: Sons Patrick and Colin
Car: Doesn’t drive one
Music: Latin American and salsa
Hobbies: Playing guitar, painting, reading music, learning and speaking foreign languages
Newspaper: Doesn’t read one
Holiday destination: Germany
Food and drink: Spaghetti bolognaise / whisky
Pin-up: Singer Caterina Valente
Love/Hate: Peace and quiet in the countryside/ wafflers