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Portrait of Dublin’s First Female Lord Mayor Commissioned by City Council

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu would like to announce that, following a limited competition, a commission for a portrait of Kathleen Clarke, the first female Lord Mayor of the City, has been awarded to artist Gareth Reid.

The portrait will hang in the prestigious Council chamber of Dublin City Hall, alongside that of previous Lord Mayors, all men, including Daniel O’Connell.

Announcing the result of the competition, the Lord Mayor said

“I am very conscious of the fact that in more than 350 years I am only the 9th female Lord Mayor of Dublin. Kathleen Clarke led the way back in 1939 and I think it’s only fitting that we should honour her in this way. I am really looking forward to seeing what Gareth comes up with.”

Pictured: Kathleen Clarke, the first female Lord Mayor of the City

A founder member of Cumann na mBan, Kathleen Clarke made history when she was elected as the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin on 27th June 1939. She was the daughter of a prominent Fenian family, and her husband Tom Clarke was the first signatory of the 1916 Proclamation. Having served as a TD and a senator, she became a Dublin City councillor in 1930.  Elected as Lord Mayor on the casting vote of Alfie Byrne, Mrs Clarke refused to be invested with the Lord Mayor’s Great Chain, or wear the red robes of office.

The commission for the portrait was awarded to Belfast-born Gareth Reid following a limited competition, in which proposals from eight artists were considered by a selection panel made up of councillors, officials, and external experts.

Gareth Reid’s work is held in major galleries in Ireland and the UK, including the National Gallery of Ireland, for whom he painted the broadcaster and author Graham Norton.

“I’m shocked and delighted to be selected for this commission, not least because I’m told it’s the first Civic portrait to be commissioned for the Dublin City Council Chamber in over 100 years and the first woman to be depicted on its walls,” said Gareth. “I feel extremely privileged to be given the opportunity to paint such an important figure in Irish history. The portrait is long overdue recognition for her role as Lord Mayor of Dublin and her abundant contributions to the country so my hope is that I can deliver something fitting. Many thanks to the selection panel.”

The Lord Mayor thanked all the artists who accepted the invitation to submit proposals, noting that the selection panel’s decision was a difficult one.

“The quality of the eight proposals made the selection difficult, and I want to thank my fellow councillors, the experts, and the Council officials who took on the important task”.

It is expected that the portrait will be completed in time for the 50th anniversary of Kathleen Clarke’s death, in September 2022.

Further details

Born in Belfast, Gareth Reid studied at University of Ulster, Glasgow School of Art and Florence Academy of Art, and now lives and works in Glasgow.

He has shown on five occasions at the BP Portrait Award in the National Portrait Gallery in London, and in 2007 won the BP Travel Award. Having travelled to Finland, he gave talks on his work in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh and the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Previous commissions include Graham Norton for the National Gallery of Ireland, retiral portraits of Sir George Mathewson and Stephen Hester for RBS, Lord Gill, and Billy Connolly. His work is held in the collections of RBS, Ralph Lauren, The Old Bailey, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the National Gallery of Ireland.

The members of the selection panel were:


        – Cllr Donna Cooney

        – Cllr Anne Feeney

        – Cllr Mannix Flynn

        – Cllr Vincent Jackson

        – Cllr Michael Mac Donncha


        – Dr Helen Litton (grand-niece and biographer of Kathleen Clarke)

        – Dr Yvonne Scott (Trinity College, Dublin)


    – Dr Barbara Dawson (Director, Hugh Lane Gallery)

    – Ruairí Ó Cuív (Public Art Officer)

    – Brendan Teeling (Deputy City Librarian)

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