Letterkenny student wins Texaco Art Competition

A 16-year old Donegal student, P.J. Doherty, has brought distinction to the county having been chosen overall winner of this year’s 67th Texaco Children’s Art Competition, taking first prize in the senior 16-18 years age category.

His winning work, for which he receives a prize of €1,500, is entitled ‘Me And My Dad’ and is a portrait study in coloured pencil of the artist and his father, Patrick.

In choosing it as overall prize winner in the Competition, Final Adjudicator and Chairman of the judging panel, Professor Declan McGonagle described P.J.’s work as “a powerful double portrait, achieved using a dramatic lighting effect.”  Through it, P.J. reveals a technical skill that Professor McGonagle said, “is harnessed to the depiction of the two personalities and their relationship.“


Youngest of four children, P.J. hails from an artistic family, having developed his love of art ‘from a very young age’. He credits his mother Martina for helping to encourage his passion, admitting ‘she has always been creative, both with painting and working with pottery’. Now beginning 5th Year in St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny, P.J. has ambitions to further his interest in art when he finishes school, seeing it forming part of his future.

His inspiration for his prize-winning portrait came to him when he noticed his father sitting by a lamp and was attracted to ‘the diverse range of light sources coming from it’, which he says gave him ‘the opportunity to work with an assortment of warm yellow and orange hues, combined with blue and purple tones’.

No stranger to the Competition, P.J. won first prize in the 14-15 years age category in 2020 for his self-portrait.

In further success for the county, third prize in this year’s senior 16-18 years age category went to Donegal student artist, Matthew Clifford (age 17), a pupil at Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana, for his work entitled ‘Morning Squeeze’. His still life painting is said by Professor McGonagle to “show complete mastery of the medium and subject matter”.

In addition, Two Donegal winners each won Special Merit Awards for artworks that Professor McGonagle said, “demonstrated high levels of skill and imagination.”

They were Hannah Downey (12) from Creevy National School, Ballyshannon, for her work entitled ‘The Blooming Sunflower’ and Leanne McBrearty (13), a pupil at Finn Valley College, Stranorlar for her work entitled ‘Peacock Patterns’.

The Texaco Children’s Art Competition is popularly regarded as the longest-running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland, with an unbroken history that dates back to the very first Competition held in 1955. This year, as has been the case throughout its life, it has been a platform on which young artists from Donegal and counties throughout Ireland have had their talents recognised and their creativity commended.


From September 14 to October 2, Drogheda’s Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition of the top 126 winning paintings in this year’s Competition. Admission is free and further information is available at




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