Minister Humphreys at Texaco Children’s Art Awards The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham Thursday 28th May 2015

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, students, boys and girls…

I am delighted to be here this afternoon as your Guest of Honour and thank you all for your warm welcome.

Your creative work on display here is expressive, colourful and uplifting.

Since it was first launched 60 years ago, the Texaco Children’s Art Competition has visited the home of almost every family in Ireland at one time or another.

The competition celebrates the talents of our young artists, encourages young people to get involved in art and gives you all a sense of achievement and pride in your finished art works.

This competition shows us just what is possible when young people work to fulfil their creative potential.

I see it as a celebration of the individuality and uniqueness of our young people.

Our particular thanks must be extended to Professor Declan McGonagle and his judging panel, Dr. Denise Ferran, Eoin Butler, Seán Kissane, Aoife Ruane and Colleen Watters.

I don’t envy you the task of trying to pick the winners from the thousands of superb entries.

The list of former winners reads like a “who’s who” of contemporary Irish society across politics, fashion and the arts. Ruairi Quinn and Robert Ballagh, fashion designer Paul Costello, communications expert Terry Prone and novelist Clare Boylan to name but a few.

The objectives set for the competition 60 years ago differ little from those that one would set for it today.

Its main objective is ‘to support and encourage children through art’.

I think that it has done that, and so much more.

Even though it has evolved through the years, the magic and attraction of this wonderful competition endures.

And it is so important that we encourage our young artists at the earliest opportunity.

Earlier this month, my colleague Minister Jan O’Sullivan and I launched the Arts in Education Portal, which was achieved through the great efforts of the Arts in Education Implementation Group.

It will act as a national digital resource of arts and education practice in Ireland.

Being involved in the arts can have a hugely positive impact on schoolchildren.

Children and young people who are active in the arts have been shown to perform better academically and can go on to lead fuller, more creative lives.

This event could not happen without the ongoing support and sponsorship offered year after year by Texaco.

I want to warmly congratulate James and his colleagues in Texaco’s parent company Valero for having the vision to sponsor this very important event, and I hope you can continue their involvement in it, for many years to come.

And so to this year’s competition.

I will come to our overall winner in a moment, but to the other winners, in Senior Category A, second prize went to Oliwia Widuto a student at Loreto College Coleraine for ‘Gramps on Morphine” and third prize for Janné Strydom from Gorey Community School for  ‘Wexford Harbour’.

In Category B, the overall winner was Vitaly Dergachev from Wesley College with “Wisdom”…

While in Category C first prize went to Nicole Forster from Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath for her beautiful portrait piece.

In Category D first prize is awarded to 9-year old Stephen Walsh, from Rathoath Senior National School in Co. Meath for his beautiful painting entitled ‘Hydrangeas’…

Whilst in Category E the first prize was won by Laoise McDonald from Barna, Co Galway  for ‘Blooming Flower”.

In Category F, the youngest age group in the Competition, first prize winner was Ciara Ward from Castlewellan for her colourful work entitled ‘Fabulous Flowers’.

Last, but certainly by no means least, in Category G, reserved for entries from children with special needs, first prize was won by 16-year old Conor Marley, a student at St Gerard’s School and Support Services, Belfast, for his piece entitled ‘Natural Close Up’.

My heartiest congratulations to you all.

And so to our overall winner Frances Traynor, who I am delighted to announce is from my own native County Monaghan, and who has been chosen as the top prize winner of this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition for her standout piece, a self portrait in black ballpoint pen.

It is plain to see what caught the judge’s eye.

The painstaking attention to detail of this piece is incredible.

As many of you will be aware, Frances is no stranger to the winner’s circle having been a prize winner in both 2012 and 2013.

Frances – huge congratulations to you for such a high level of sustained excellence over the last number of years.

Your art is clearly a labour of love for you.

I understand that you will be off to Tokyo later this year to attend an exhibition hosted by the International Foundation for Arts and Culture in the city’s National Art Center.

I wish you well with that trip, you will do Ireland proud I’m certain!

Before I finish, I’d like to pay tribute to the people who really are the heart and soul behind the competition – your parents and teachers.

You have instilled a love of art in your students and children over the years, often in your own time.

I have no doubt that this will be a lifelong interest for you, long after the children leave school.

This may sound like the oft overused cliché, but every participant in this competition is truly a winner in so many ways.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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