A Tyrone couple have told how their meeting with Irish President Michael D Higgins, was a “huge honour”.
Cookstown artist and singer/songwriter, Jim McKee, and his partner Emma Heatherington, a Donaghmore based novellist and scriptwriter, joined the President on Tuesday past for the launch of the world’s first ‘Physical Education’ UNESCO headquarters in Tralee.
Jim was commissioned by the Institute of Technology Tralee, winning a pitch over seven other artists, to paint a piece on the theme of diversity through sailing metaphors and encapturing St Brendan’s boat which features on the Institute’s logo.
Jim has been a professional artist since 2001 and has exhibited extensively throughout Ireland, the UK, USA and France.
The piece was to be a gift for the President who was visiting the Institute to launch the new facility.
Emma explains how she was then offered the opportunity to showcase her work at the event, which was attended by over 1,000 people.
“Following Jim’s commission, they wanted a poem to match the painting and I was offered the opportunity to write a piece which was entitled Sailing In Diversity”, said Emma.
“They passed it around their committee for approval...they loved it and the poem was featured in the actual painting. It was also given to the President in a leather binder.
“We were both invited to attend the launch on Tuesday past where in front of an invited audience of up to 1000 people Jim presented his painting and I read my poem.
“It was a huge honour and the President was delighted. He was very moved by the poem and asked for Jim’s details so he can see more of his work. He said it was great to see a couple working together so creatively and wished us a long and happy life together. Sky TV, Irish TV and RTE were there so it was quite a big day for both of us.”
Fans of Jim’s will be delighted to know that he will be presenting a showcase of his art and music at the Square Box in Dungannon on Saturday 14 March. Tickets are now available from the box office 028 8772 8600.