Lost cottage painting makes its way back home to Donegal

Lost cottage painting makes its way back home to Donegal

A painting of a bygone Horn Head homestead has returned to Donegal, thanks to the power of the internet and a kind-hearted woman.

The journey began in London with Emma Gilheany, who felt a connection to the painting of an Irish cottage in a charity shop.

As her own family hailed from Dundalk, the image resonated with her late father’s Irish heritage. Driven by curiosity about the artwork’s origins, Emma embarked on a quest to identify the house and its story.

Last September Emma decided to take a picture of the artwork and post it on the Wild Atlantic Way Facebook page. This soon reached Dunfanaghy man Moses Alcorn and other helpful locals who pointed her in the right direction. He revealed it belonged to the McHugh family, also known as “Shan’s old house,” before its renovation. The current Horn Head Lodge now occupies the site and can be booked for holiday lets.

Horn Head painting

News of the search reached Donegal Daily and eventually landed in the inbox of the lodge’s owners, Pauline and Patrick Hunter, who live in Ards, Creeslough.

The Horn Head cottage was inherited from Patrick’s side of the family. His wife Pauline, a retired special needs teacher and trainer, is originally from Cork and calls Donegal her second home.

Patrick’s grandparents were Brian and Sarah Mc Hugh, and a young John Hunter, Patrick’s father, used to cycle all the way to Dunfanaghy to court their daughter Margaret McHugh (known locally as Maggie Shan).

Touched by Emma’s efforts, Pauline made a special trip last week to Stanmore, London to see the artwork in person. Emma gifted the painting to the rightful owners and Pauline, in turn, donated to the Creeslough disaster fund as Emma would not accept payment.

“The painting is beautiful and will be up on our wall when I get back from London,” Pauline said.

“Emma’s generosity is amazing.”

Emma previously told Donegal Daily that she was drawn to the picture for a sentimental reason.

She explained: “I found this painting on the floor with a load of other pictures in a charity shop in London. I recognised the picture as an Irish cottage as my dad is Irish.

“I know how many of my dad’s generation living here in London, had a love of the home place, with many having the dream to return home some day. Many didn’t however. I therefore had a personal connection to it.”

The story doesn’t end there. The painting, signed by artist J Simpson, has sparked a new quest – to learn more about the artist. If you have any information that may help, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll pass it on.

Lost cottage painting makes its way back home to Donegal was last modified: June 24th, 2024 by Rachel McLaughlin