Sinéad Lawless' talent in the frame after painting competition win

Painting the Nation' winner Sinéad Lawless, right, with runner-up Agnieszka Ryan/

The country’s official art collection has a new exhibit after Cork woman Sinéad Lawless was named the winner of RTÉ’s Painting the Nation competition.

Sinéad, 37, was announced as the winner of the amateur painting competition last night and her winning painting will now hang in Dublin Castle, where it will become a permanent part of the Office of Public Works’ State Art Collection.

In the final, Sinéad — who is originally from Cork City but now lives in Dublin — competed against another Leesider, Sinéad McCarthy, and Agnieszka Ryan from Meath for the title as first winner of Painting the Nation.

The final was filmed in Glasson in Co Westmeath, where the three finalists were first asked to paint a riverside picnic. Sinéad McCarthy was eliminated from the competition first, with Sinéad Lawless and Agnieszka Ryan tasked with a final challenge to capture the beauty of Lough Ree.

Competition judges Una Sealy and Gabhann Dunne then awarded Sinéad the title. Ms Sealy said: “This was a difficult decision, but we felt Sinead’s piece captured something of the atmosphere of the Shannon, a misty peacefulness.”

A delighted Sinéad said: “Winning Painting the Nation and having my work become part of the national collection, to hang in Dublin Castle, is such a huge honour and truly a dream come true.

“I am absolutely thrilled and at the same time humbled by the whole experience. I’m now determined to work harder than ever.”

Her triumph comes a decade after she was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis and admitted to intensive care, with the illness forcing her to leave full-time work as an illustrator and designer. Crediting her artistic streak to the influence of a grandfather, she recovered from her illness by painting in her bedroom studio.

She is also a musician and is part of the Dublin Ukulele Collective.


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