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Carrigaline Artist Daragh O’Brien: A Wise Head On Young Shoulders

Writes Ciaran Dineen

The world of ‘hyperrealism’ art probably doesn’t sound particularly appealing to those who see with their ears instead of their eyes, but a quick flick onto google and your average novice will be nothing but astounded by what they encounter.

For one young and exceptionally talented local artist, it is an artform that generates a burning passion within him and the enthusiasm he has when describing his work almost hits you in the face as much as his masterpieces. 

18-year-old Daragh O’Brien, Carrigaline, is currently taking a well-earned break after a busy couple of months following his recent success at the Texaco Art Competition. After badly damaging his hand playing rugby at the beginning of the year, the Carrigaline Community School student had to completely adapt following his misfortune in order to perfect his entry to this year’s competition, for which he finished 4thin the country.

The result was certainly not the be all and end all for the Carrigaline resident however, who has amassed an incredible 25,000 followers on his Instagram account to date. There was a significant meaning to Daragh’s creation, which was entered to Texaco at the end of February this year. He decided to draw an image of his grandfather using his hyperrealism skills (Pic 1) and named it ‘10thFeb’, to signify the passing of his grandmother.  

Daragh was always a dab hand at drawing and whenever it came to art class he was the one that everyone looked to cozy up to for some help. However, it’s only in the last two or three years that he has really taken his natural talent seriously and has worked on perfecting it ever since.

While the 18 year-old, who will be doing his Leaving Certificate next year, now has a huge social media following he does not let this go to his head and admits that he preferred the older days. 

“I know I have 25 thousand followers on Instagram but that really means nothing to me, it’s just a number. When I used to get one comment on my work it would actually make my day and I preferred it that way rather than getting 200 comments now,”Daragh tells me. “I found recently that I was doing art to chase the next number, rather than doing it for the love of it and that’s why I have taken a bit of a step back lately from posting” he continues. 

In the long-term it may have proved to be literally a ‘stroke’ of genius by the young man, who tells me that he has seen many talented young artists fall by the wayside following their initial 15 minutes of fame. For such a lesson to be wisely learned by someone so young is a sure sign of an old head on young shoulders, which may itself be a good description of Daragh’s hyperrealism portrait of his grandfather.

When Daragh finally got his cast removed following his rugby injury, he had to start his entry for Texaco just a couple of days later. Not only was he trying to create an iconic image of a close relative that was good enough to compete for first prize, but he was also in a serious race against the clock to meet the deadline. 

“I think I got my cast off on January 27th and I started two days later”, the CCS student says. “It took me 17 days to do the drawing and I remember at the start just thinking, ‘oh my God, I have a lot to do here’. I had a huge A3 sheet on a small table and I had to do the best drawing of my life basically.” 

Daragh also had to contend with hosting his American exchange student from Fairport, New York, but thankfully he was sharing responsibilities with another Irish partner and this lessened the load. 

“I moved into the smallest room in my house, I had no bed so I was sleeping on the floor. I had a desk this size (pointing to the standard coffee desk where his creamy Mocha was resting), with 500 pencils in front of my blank white paper and I have 100 hours of drawing crammed into 17 days ahead of me, roughly 10 or 12 hours of drawing every day.” 

Daragh really wanted to capture his grandfather’s facial expression, for which he had a photo to copy after choosing between about 70 pictures that he had taken. 

When it’s all said and done Daragh had produced a true work of art that would leave those that see it with nothing less than pure admiration. While many have said that his portrait should have won the competition, Daragh himself knows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and was just delighted to say that he could not have done any better.

The future looks bright for Daragh with his incredible and obsessive talent. He is now available in a private capacity to both individuals and companies if they want to use this extraordinary local artist to their benefit. Daragh can be contacted via email at and people can also view his work on his Instagram page,

Make sure to grab a copy of our annual Discover Carrigaline in this week’s paper where we have some excellent local news and profiles.

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