Henry Shefflin becomes the first GAA player honoured with National Gallery portrait

Henry Shefflin becomes the first GAA player honoured with National Gallery portrait
Henry Shefflin with Gerry Davis at the National Gallery of Ireland. Pic: MaxwellPhotography.ie

Ireland's unofficial monarch has become the first GAA player to be honoured with a portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland.

"King" Henry Shefflin has joined the ranks of some of the country's best loved literary, sporting and artistic greats with an impressive painting by Tipperary artist Gerry Davis.

The 10-time All-Ireland Kilkenny winning hurler said the artwork captured his essence and the value he places in his home, Ballyhale.

"I put my faith totally in his hands, even though he's a Tipperary man," Shefflin said.

"He did an amazing job. I would have been a very focused and driven individual, I suppose that's captured.

The artwork was commissioned by the gallery as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016.

Davis met Shefflin once while preparing the painting and took several hundred photos of him in Ballyhale which he used to work from.

The oil on canvas painting is the most recent addition to the National Portrait Collection and will be on display from June 15, when the gallery reopens its refurbished wings on Merrion Square.

Sean Rainbird, director of the National Gallery of Ireland: "We are delighted to add this wonderful portrait of one of Ireland's greatest hurling legends to the National Portrait Collection which has its new home in the refurbished wings of the gallery."

Davis' portrait of Shefflin now lines out beside some other acclaimed works such as Jackie Nickerson's portrait of Seamus Heaney, Gareth Reid's painting of Graham Norton, Mick O'Dea's of Brian Friel and Louis le Brocquy's of Bono.

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