For anyone who has been to Beechtree Nursing home you may have noticed the beautiful Mural painted on the front of the original Murragh House. I myself have often wondered what the painting depicts so I set on a path of finding out who painted it and the story behind it.
We contacted Cllr. David O’ Connor who is also an avid local historian and he kindly contacted the Pentony family who originally lived in the Murragh House and this is what he discovered.
The mural was painted by Sligo born artist Bernard McDonagh who sadly passed away in September 2016. Bernard painted this for former owners Paddy & Betty Pentony.
Bernard was the founder and director of the Sligo School of Landscape Painting in 1968 and taught at the National College of Art and Design, The Sligo Institute of Technology, St. Angela’s College and Summerhill College. A regular exhibitor with the Watercolour Society of Ireland and the RHA, he has received several public commissions for murals and portraits.
Indeed, some of his most known murals were seen in Sligo at City Hall, Sligo Library, Summerhill College and MacSharry Park.
Bernard was hugely influenced by the great portraitists – Rembrandt, Velasquez, Van Dyck, and Sir William Orpen. A graduate and multiple-scholarship winner from Dublin’s National College of Art, Bernard went on to study throughout Europe including an extensive period in Rome in the 1940s.
Our own Mural at Beechtree depicts St Patrick on Sliabh Slemish when he had fallen asleep and was visited by dreams of his future (some would call prophesies).
The story goes something like this-
Maewyn Succat (the future St. Patrick) was a captive shepherd in Ireland, apparently sold to a chieftan named Miliucc, he was lonely and afraid. Historians believe he roamed the slopes of Sliabh Slemish in County Antrim during the years he was away from his family.
Turning to God, for support and solace, he became a devout Christian. Amidst the area’s beauty , St Patrick often slept outside with the animals he cared for. Patrick had a dream – one of several which would change his life. This time, he sensed a voice telling him to leave his captors behind: Which he did and so St Patrick’s story continued.
The mural holds a special place in our hearts here at Beechtree and we are delighted to finally know the story behind the mural. So on your next visit here why not walk up and look a little closer at the Mural and at Bernard McDonagh’s work.