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Harlequin and Horse

Below is a selection of feedback we have received about Ian and his work.

Anthony Lysycia - United Kingdom

I sat across from Ian for 3 yrs whilst we were both at the RCA. Yesterday I was looking through my old sketchbook of mine from 1982 and in it was a portrait of Ian. I was just looking for Ian on line and came across his website. I am deeply saddened by his early death. Ian was a wonderful painting companion and I remember he told me something so profound and helpful that I still think about it today. I had always been very conscious of the way I spoke and said to Ian one day I would love to be able to speak as clearly and beautifully as he! He kindly remarked that although I had (and still have) a stammer I communicated extremely well and in fact my speech impediment made me more endearing. He was a lovely kind man. My thoughts go to his family.

Stuart Nelson - Northern Ireland

In 1950 Mr Robert Beattie was appointed as teacher in charge of Art, a post he was to hold for the next 29 years. He held a Diploma in Art and an Art Teacher’s Certificate from the Belfast college of Art and his main area of expertise was painting. I had not really been much aware of the Art department before, but this was to change in the coming years. The school had an astonishing run of successes in local, provincial and national competitions such as ones to promote Larne and District Historical Society, Ulster Savings, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Young Observer Wildlife and the prestigious Texaco National Childrens’ Competition, sharing first place. Such were the continuing successes that it was said that people came to expect them and ceased to give them the credit they deserved. Much credit should be given to a number of talented pupils and also to Mr Beattie who had encouraged their talent. Some found his criticism hard to take but he was always ready to praise, He was coaxing pupils to standards they hadn’t known were within their capabilities. The seventies was a golden period for the Art department with several students going on to achieve notable successes. Geraldine Connon, fashion designer, won the Guinness Designer of the Year award four times between 1993-1997, Louis Humphrey in graphic design and the late Ian Darragh who died in 2008. After gaining first class honours at Hornsey College of Art, he went on to complete his MFA at the Royal College of Art (1981-84). Ian was a student apart, often it was said a challenge to his English Art teachers. His end of year portfolio often contained much unconventional and original art which ‘always shook and sometimes shocked his teacher’.

Mary Nelson - Northern Ireland

I taught Ian English Literature at A level in his upper sixth year at Larne Grammar School. It was at apparent that he stood apart intellectually, socially and in his level of maturity. Ian always seemed to be observing - well behaved, polite, mature in his literary comments. His work was impeccably prepared and produced on time. A model pupil, obviously talented in both Literature and Art. Ian always seemed to be separate from the rest of the class. Again the best word is - an observer - the perfect quality for an artist. I had the feeling that other members of staff perhaps felt a little challenged by him. Ian was very influenced by the writings and drawings of Mervyn Peake. I had just read all of Peake's published work, so that probably provided an intellectual connection between us. He wrote some excellent poems for the school magazine in his upper sixth-year (I was the editor that year) he was happy to oblige. Ian was an unusual pupil and it was a privilege to teach him in his final year at school. I was saddened to hear about his premature death; but comforted that he had achieved so much in his life. I am glad that he has good friends, such as your self, who are keeping his memory alive." Ian's end of term folder was challenging and provocative, perhaps not an ideal preparation for a GCE exam which was heavily biased towards figurative and representational drawing and painting.

P Clydesdale - Northern Island

I was one of Ian's best friends at primary school in Ballymena, Co Antrim. He left Ballymena aged between 9 & 11 & I remember feeling very sad when he left. While I & all the other boys aged 7 or 8 were drawing aeroplanes shooting each other down, Ian was producing the most amazing drawings...I am very sad now to hear only now of his untimely death. I do remember when we were in Ballykeel County Primary School in P6 or P7 (that's aged 10 or 11), that Ian won first prize in a competition for a painting that he did. I remember a reporter from one of the 2 newspapers in Ballymena (The Ballymena Guardian or The Ballymena Times) coming into the classroom & everyone being very excited. Ian was very pleased as I remember, although my recollection doesn't quite agree with his Aunt's below.

D Blackadder - Northern Island

I grew up in the same street as Ian and Stephen Darragh. Used to play at their house all the time. Ian was slightly older but I remember he was a fantastic artist even when he was at primary school (Ballykeel Primary School, Ballymena). He used to draw characters from the comic books of the time and, if my memory serves me well, he created a few of his own! Even at a very young age I was more than aware that Ian Darragh had enormous talent.

C Wilson - Cousin - United Kingdom

My mother send me a link to this site. Ian Darragh was my cousin. I remember him as a blonde, curly haired four year old, who even then displayed an early talent for the arts.So sad to learn of his premature death in 2008.

L Duffey - Cousin - United States

I remember Ian as a small boy when his mum Mary told him I liked to draw also. I was about sixteen at the time so Ian would have been ten years. He showed me some of his drawings and I was impressed and told him he ought to go to art school. He was fascinated by a small pin of a horse that I wore so I gave it to him.

J Wells - Cousin - United Kingdom

Ian Darragh was my cousin. I have looked at Ian's work online and strangely feel proud. When I saw his memorial card, I couldn't believe the painting on it (Visionary Horse and Groom). While I was looking through Ian's artwork online, I had commented to my husband about that painting and said it would be a lovely painting to have. Maybe I would be able to buy one of his paintings.

A Roffe - Aunt - United Kingdom

My first memory of Ian's gift was a bit insulting. He had submitted a drawing of a medieval monk to the local newspaper "The Ballymena Observer", his entry was returned with the comment "This drawing cannot be accepted as it has very obviously been traced". I know this was not so as I had watched him draw it. His mother, my sister Mary, was also quite an artist, although she never pursued it as she was busy bringing up six children.

T Anderson - United Kingdom

I have very fond memories of Ian, I lost touch when we left Larne Grammar School. My late brother Irwin studied Art and also won a prize at the Children's Texaco Art Competition in Dublin. They were both mentored by the same art teacher Bob Beattie. My late brother was also friendly with Ian's brother Steve. Regrettably I've none of Ian's work. I remember that he was a keen writer (being very widely read, way beyond his years) and I think it is fair to say challenged his English teachers. I know he contributed to the School Magazine at Larne Grammar School and they may have some of his drawings and writing in their archive. Ian also contributed to the East Antrim Times. Above all, I remember Ian as having a mischievous almost wicked sense of humour. I recall many happy moments reliving the latest Monty Python episode or movie with him. Ian was always a student apart, art was where he was always destined to shine. Ian Darragh's end of year portfolio always shook and sometimes shocked Larne Grammar School. Everyone looked forward to it. I suspect even those who were shocked! Once again, really sorry to hear he is no longer with us.

C Toomey - United Kingdom

I bought this beautiful painting many years ago from Nick Treadwell - having no money, he let me pay in installments over a year, for which I remain hugely grateful to him. The painting has travelled with me through life, triumphs, disasters, relationships and house moves, always hung prominently. Last year, I decided to buy a painting and that of all the artists I admired, Ian Darragh was still the artist whose work I coveted. I was devastated to learn of his untimely death, and to discover that there was very little available. I am so pleased I took the plunge all those years ago & have this wonderful work.

H Kuhn - Germany

I've seen the site and I love it. It is great and one hell of a job. And you know what? Ever since the web exists, I think people don't die anymore, since they stay in the world wide web, somehow. I know it sounds stupid, but to me this net is still something haunting, something unreal, some kind of a world in between the worlds. Everything we are exists also on the web, and thus may be seen on the other side. It is like us, disastrous and wonderful at the same time. Anyway, Ian lives on in this world through his art and in our memories. I shall be honored if you put my short story on his site.

P Cavaciuti - United Kingdom

I am so sad to hear that Ian has passed away, it's a real shock. I was at Hornsey college with him. I have an etching of his which I pass every day in my house.

G Tunnadine - United Kingdom

I remember Ian well from the time at Alexandra Palace and then at Quicksilver Place. He was a good painter and an inspiration. He was quite shy (or reserved), but always kind. I am sad to hear of his death, but pleased to see all his achievements.

S Kramer and S Goldstein - New York, USA

We are devastated to learn of Ian Darragh's death.  We purchased The Visit at an art fair, having been struck by its haunting and Balthusian nature.  It is interesting, more than 20 years later, to continue to observe the reactions of our friends and guests to our painting; we have heard many different interpretations of the image. We would be interested in knowing where we might acquire other paintings of Ian's - perhaps a bit smaller!  (The Visit is about 5 feet square). As someone who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at a relatively young age, I empathize to some degree with Ian's unfortunate fate.  We hope he knew some happiness in his life; he has brought us so much pleasure.

N Treadwell - Austria

It is a wonderful site, a perfect and fitting homage to Ian and his work, at the same time as being an incredibly comprehensive reference for those looking for information about Ian or those exploring areas upon which his life has touched. He would have been delighted with such concerned detail, presented in such a clear and effective manner. You and your friends are to be most sincerely congratulated. I would also thank you for the kind references to my gallery’s involvement with Ian’s art. It was intriguing to read the "Sinister Men" story. As you know, in those mid eighties years, I collected a some small works of Ian’s, which I see daily, the largest being the Man and Saw print. I also have that wonderful Horse and Boy small black and white etching. Of course much of the information and a good deal of the works, I did not know, so it is great for me to be filled in with all his available life information. The site certainly makes clear his stature and the unique nature of his art. He was such a sensitive, cool man - it is all so very him.

A Dale - United Kingdom

I lived beside Ian Darragh as a kid, for several years, and went to the same secondary school. I had no idea he had progressed to this level, nor unfortunately passed away. His artistic talent at school was legendary however, so I suppose it was no surprise he achieved greater things. If you want any feedback regarding years 1973 - 1977 please contact me.