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Leinster Leader March 13 1982
Top Artist’s Naas Connections
Although born in the North, noted painter Lydia de Burgh, has many connections with Kildare. She is related to Major John de Burgh of Oldtown, Naas, and her father Capt. Charles de Burgh once lived there. She is a frequent visitor to the county on journeys to the south. Lydia is one of the best known portrait painters in Ireland, and lives at Seaforde, Downpatrick, Co. Down. Her most notable commissions have been portraits of royalty, and her post-coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hangs in Stormont Castle.
Felt Urge
Her father was fourth son of the late Col. T.J. de Burgh, of Oldtown. She told the “Leinster Leader” that as a child she loved to stay at Oldtown. “In fact, it was there that I first felt the urge to paint at the age of six as I was enraptured with one of the family portraits”, she recalls.
She adds: “I had the honour to be one of the youngest artists and first woman to be commissioned to paint Queen Elizabeth II shortly after her coronation from personal sittings at Buckingham Palace”. She also painted the Queen in 1959, and other members of the royal family have sat for her. She is the only resident Northern Ireland artist to have received such sittings. She has exhibited her work throughout Britain and the North. She has painted portraits of such notables in the North as the Supreme Grand Masonic King of Ireland and religious, artistic, ascendancy, and business figures, north and south.
Her work has enabled her to travel throughout the world from Thailand to Jamaica. She has met several heads of state and such notable people as Paul Newman, and Sir Oswald Moseley, the British fascist.
Naas Visits
Lydia has been an enthusiastic member of the Irish Georgian Society for over 25 years. She usually stays on her forays down south with Major P.N.N. Synnott of Furness, Naas.
She studied painting and music in London just after the war. It was a hard struggle for her living in an attic and surviving on Spartan wartime rations. “But we had great fun”, she recalls. “Many of the great writers of those days came to the house, like Patrick Kinross and Evelyn Waugh”. She had been invalided from the women’s navy during the war. Her first ambition was to be an opera singer but that was not be.
She has also painted many landscapes of scenes in the north, and also throughout the world – from Slieve Donard to Kilimanjaro. One of her latest works is a portrait of the Princess of Wales. Her painting style is traditionalist, based on the old masters.
As is to be expected, she is extremely well known and respected in the arts world. She is an academician of the Royal Ulster Academy, diploma member of the Ulster branch of the Society of Women Artists, and member of the Ulster Water Colour Society. In 1977 she won an outstanding painting of the year award. Her own first exhibition in the North (although she had numerous showings in London and abroad) last December drew much praise from the art critics.
Who’s Who
Lydia is listed in several versions of “Who’s Who”, but is also proud of her ancestors, and present day relations. The de Burghs were Norman conquerors. The family have long connections with Naas. She is a descendant of the de Burgh Earls of Ulster. She is a cousin of Chris de Burgh, the rock singer, and she points with pride to his achievements and those of other members of the family – one of whom is treasurer to the Queen mother. Two others are master farriers in Kildare, one being the first girl to achieve that distinction.
She has lived in Co. Down since her father (one of the first submarine commanders in 1904) retired. Her mother came from Co. Tyrone, and her sister, Lady Kinahan, lives near Antrim.


Lydia de Burgh, a well known portrait painter with Kildare connections, is the subject of an article in the Leinster Leader of March 1982

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