Portrait of Dr Michael Ryan by artist Aidan Crotty unveiled at National Gallery of Ireland

Painting of a man sitting behind a desk surrounded by books, in front of a window overlooking an autumnal scene.
Aidan Crotty, Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Commissioned, National Gallery of Ireland, 2023. © National Gallery of Ireland/The Artist

The National Gallery of Ireland has today unveiled a new portrait of epidemiologist and Executive Director of the World Health Organisation Dr Michael Ryan. The work is a commission by artist Aidan Crotty, winner of the Zurich Portrait Prize in 2020. Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme by Aidan Crotty, oil on linen, is now  a permanent part of the national portrait collection and will go on display in April.

Aidan Crotty was born in Waterford and now lives and works in Sligo. He studied a BA in Fine Art Painting from the Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork, and has been continually developing his artistic practice since 2005. Crotty’s work is involved with conveying the physical presence of the everyday through painting, and focuses mainly on still-life and landscape work. He regularly exhibits at the RHA Annual Show and, in 2023, completed a six-month residency at The Model, Sligo. 

Crotty won the Zurich Portrait Prize in 2020 for his work Portrait of a Boy, Morning. The painting depicts the artist's eldest son Rían at eight years of age, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crotty won the Still life/Botanical Category Award in the Jackson’s Painting Prize in 2022 with his oil painting, Pine Marten.

Dr Mike Ryan is the Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. He completed his medical training at the National University of Ireland, Galway, has a Masters in Public Health from University College, Dublin, and undertook specialist training in communicable disease control at the Health Protection Agency in London, and the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training. Following his training, Dr Ryan began his career as an orthopaedic and trauma surgeon. After he sustained a serious injury working in Iraq, he moved away from practice and towards a life at the forefront of managing global health emergencies. 

Since beginning work at the WHO in 1996, Dr Ryan has been involved in the emergency response to the 2003 SARS outbreak and the Ebola crisis. Most notably, he led the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Dr Ryan is among those engaging in humanitarian work in Gaza, as well as leading the response to the food insecurity and health emergency in the Greater Horn of Africa and the health crisis in Afghanistan.

Dr Caroline Campbell, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, said, “It is a great honour to unveil this portrait of today. The origins of our national portrait collection date back to 1875, and it is regularly being enhanced by commissioned portraits of prominent figures from contemporary Irish life. Dr Ryan is an inspirational figure in the world of medicine and for Irish people, working to contain some of the greatest threats to health and wellbeing across the globe. To have him represented on our walls with this terrific portrait by Aidan Crotty is an honour. Aidan’s Zurich Portrait Prize winning portrait was hugely popular with our visitors in the Gallery and to many people across the world who saw it on our digital channels. We know that this work of Dr Mike Ryan will be just as warmly received. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners Zurich, for their invaluable support. The impact that the Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize has had on contemporary art in Ireland during this period cannot be understated.”

The artist Aidan Crotty, said, “In the background, the window scene is a loose representation of what I could see from Mike’s office at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva. There was a lot of play here with the colours of winter within the parks, the city beyond and further afield. I suggested the interior of the office and expanded the space behind the sitter to make room to reference some visual history of epidemiology. My research into the role of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme and how it reacts to crises around the world and my many conversations with Mike brought to mind imagery such as the Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov’s painting Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the 16th-century print of the ‘plague doctor’ by an unknown artist. The painting underneath them is more of a personal history of Dr Ryan. Mike spoke of vivid memories of growing up in Mayo and Sligo. Among them were cycling with his grandfather over the Ox mountains and catching his first glimpse of the vast tundra-like landscape that recedes down into Sligo Bay. These had an impact on him at an early age, as did arriving at the ruins of Coopers hunting lodge on the mountain (close to where I live), where his grandfather told him stories about the local area which stirred his imagination. The book under his hands refers to his present position at the World Health Organization and the book of human anatomy beside him is my attempt to reference his professional training as a trauma surgeon. I painted Mike among this ephemera wearing his colourful lanyards, which I found useful as a device to lead the eye across the surface of the painting. Mike’s colleagues’ high regard and respect for him was apparent during my visit to Geneva. I am astounded by the dedication, commitment and energy he gives to his work. For me, it was a compelling challenge to have the task of capturing this individual through the medium of paint.”

Neil Freshwater, CEO of Zurich Insurance plc, said, “We are delighted to see the unveiling of Aidan Crotty’s portrait of Dr Mike Ryan for the National Portrait Collection. Dr Ryan has made, and continues to deliver phenomenal contributions to public health internationally, and it is gratifying to see that as a result of the Zurich Portrait Prize, such an important figure is now recognised in Ireland’s National Gallery. I hope generations to come will appreciate the importance of Dr Ryan’s role in society. Aidan Crotty has captured an incredible likeness of his subject. My congratulations to both artist and sitter on this great achievement.”

The national portrait collection at the National Gallery of Ireland celebrates the most influential figures in Irish history. The fields of Irish endeavour represented in the national portrait collection range from sport, literature and broadcasting to theatre and social justice. The commission will be on display at the National Gallery of Ireland in Room 23 in April. Admission is free. To support the National Gallery of Ireland go to www.nationalgallery.ie/join-and-give


Media contact: 

  • Victoria Sharpe (Communications, National Gallery of Ireland): [email protected], +353 (0) 1 632 5523

Notes to Editor: 

  • Images of the portrait unveiling by photographer are available on request. 
  • Dr Caroline Campbell is available for interview.
  • The portrait of Dr Mike Ryan will go on display in Room 23 in the National Gallery of Ireland in April.

Opening hours: 

Monday: 11am – 5.30pm
Tuesday and Wednesday: 9.15am – 5.30pm 
Thursday: 9.15am – 8.30pm
Friday and Saturday: 9.15am – 5.30pm 
Sunday: 11am – 5.30pm

About the National Gallery of Ireland:

The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions housing the nation’s collection of European and Irish art from about 1300 to the present day, and an extensive Library & Archive. Entry to the collection is free for all to enjoy, learn and be inspired. 

About Zurich Insurance Group:

Ireland is Zurich’s location of choice for its pan-European company Zurich Insurance plc (ZIP). Since the beginning of 2009, ZIP has been headquartered in Dublin and it is the main risk carrier for Zurich’s general insurance business in the EU. Neil Freshwater is the CEO of Zurich Insurance plc. In terms of domestic business, Zurich focuses on two key business areas in Ireland – General Insurance and Life. In Ireland, Zurich employs over 1,250 people.


Portráid den Dr Michael Ryan leis an ealaíontóir Aidan Crotty arna nochtadh ag Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann

Coimisiún ag buaiteoir Dhuais Portráide Zurich 2020 curtha leis an mbailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí

Nocht Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann inniu portráid nua den eipidéimeolaí agus den Stiúrthóir Feidhmiúcháin ar an Eagraíocht Dhomhanda Sláinte, an Dr Michael Ryan. Is coimisiún é an saothar leis an ealaíontóir Aidan Crotty, buaiteoir Duais Portráide Zurich i 2020. An Dr Mike Ryan, Stiúrthóir Feidhmiúcháin, Clár Éigeandálaí Sláinte EDS le Aidan Crotty, ola ar línéadach, anois ina chuid bhuan den bhailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí a bheidh ar taispeáint i mí Aibreáin.

Rugadh Aidan Crotty i bPort Láirge agus tá sé ina chónaí agus ag obair i Sligeach anois. Rinne sé staidéar ar Bhaitsiléir Ealaíon sa Mhínealaín sa Phéintéireacht ó Choláiste Ealaíne is Deartha Crawford i gCorcaigh, agus tá a chleachtadh ealaíne á fhorbairt go leanúnach aige ó 2005. Tá baint ag obair Crotty le láithreacht fhisiciúil an lae a chur in iúl trí phéinteáil, agus díríonn sé go príomha ar ábhar neamhbheo agus obair tírdhreacha. Bíonn taispeántais rialta aige ag Seó Bliantúil an AIR agus, i 2023, chríochnaigh sé cónaitheacht sé mhí ag The Model, Sligeach. 

Bhuaigh Crotty Duais Portráidí Zurich i 2020 as a shaothar Portrait of a Boy, Morning. Léiríonn an pictiúr Rían mac is sine an ealaíontóra agus é ocht mbliana d’aois, le linn na paindéime COVID-19. Bhuaigh Crotty an Gradam Neamhbheo/Catagóir Luibheolaíochta sa Duais Péintéireachta Jackson i 2022 lena phéintéireacht ola, Pine Marten.

Is é an Dr Mike Ryan an Stiúrthóir Feidhmiúcháin ar Chlár Éigeandálaí Sláinte an EDS. Chríochnaigh sé a oiliúint leighis in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, tá Máistreacht sa tSláinte Phoiblí aige ón gColáiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath, agus rinne sé oiliúint speisialaithe i rialú galar teagmhálach ag an nGníomhaireacht um Chosaint Sláinte i Londain, agus sa Chlár Eorpach um Oiliúint maidir le hEipidéimeolaíocht Idirghabhála. Tar éis a chuid oiliúna, thosaigh an Dr Ryan a ghairm bheatha mar mháinlia ortaipéideach agus tráma. Tar éis dó gortú tromchúiseach a fháil ag obair san Iaráic, d'aistrigh sé ón gcleachtas agus i dtreo an tsaoil a bhí chun tosaigh maidir le héigeandálaí sláinte domhanda a bhainistiú. 

Ó thosaigh sé ag obair leis an EDS i 1996, tá an Dr Ryan páirteach sa fhreagairt éigeandála ar ráig SARS 2003 agus an ghéarchéim Ebola. Go háirithe, bhí sé i gceannas ar fhreagairt an EDS ar an bpaindéim COVID-19. Le déanaí, tá an Dr Ryan ina measc siúd atá i mbun obair dhaonnúil i nGaza, chomh maith le bheith i gceannas ar an bhfreagairt ar an neamhshlándáil bia agus éigeandáil sláinte i gCorn Mhór na hAfraice agus ar an ngéarchéim sláinte san Afganastáin.

Dúirt an Dr Caroline Campbell, Stiúrthóir Ghailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann, “Is mór an onóir an portráid seo den lá inniu a nochtadh. Téann bunús ár mbailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí siar go dtí 1875, agus tá sé á fheabhsú go rialta ag portráidí coimisiúnaithe de dhaoine mór le rá ó shaol na hÉireann comhaimseartha. Is duine inspioráideach é an Dr Ryan i saol na míochaine agus do mhuintir na hÉireann, ag obair chun cuid de na bagairtí is mó ar shláinte agus folláine ar fud na cruinne a choinneáil slán. Is onóir é a léiriú ar ár mballaí leis an bportráid iontach seo le Aidan Crotty. Bhí an-tóir ag ár gcuairteoirí sa Ghailearaí ar an bportráid a bhuaigh Duais Portráide  Zurich de chuid Aidan agus ag go leor daoine ar fud an domhain a chonaic ar ár gcainéil dhigiteacha í. Tá a fhios againn go gcuirfear fáilte chomh mór céanna roimh obair an Dr Mike Ryan. Ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thapú chun buíochas a ghabháil lenár gcomhpháirtithe Zurich, as a dtacaíocht fhíorluachmhar. Ní féidir beag is fiú a dhéanamh den tionchar a bhí ag Duais Portráide Zurich agus Duais Portráide Óg Zurich ar ealaín chomhaimseartha in Éirinn le linn na tréimhse seo.”

Dúirt an t-ealaíontóir Aidan Crotty, “Sa chúlra, is léiriú scaoilte é radharc na fuinneoige ar an méid a d’fhéadfainn a fheiceáil ó oifig Mike ag ceanncheathrú na hEagraíochta Domhanda Sláinte sa Ghinéiv. Bhí go leor spraoi anseo le dathanna an gheimhridh laistigh de na páirceanna, an chathair agus níos faide i gcéin. Mhol mé taobh istigh na hoifige agus leathnaigh mé an spás taobh thiar den mainicín chun spás a dhéanamh chun tagairt a dhéanamh do roinnt stair amhairc den eipidéimeolaíocht. Thug mo chuid taighde ar an ról atá ag Clár Éigeandálaí Sláinte an EDS agus an chaoi a n-imoibríonn sé le géarchéimeanna ar fud an domhain agus mo chomhráite iomadúla le Mike íomhánna mar phictiúr an ealaíontóra Rúiseach Viktor Vasnetsov Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse agus an prionta den 16ú haois de an ‘plague doctor’ le healaíontóir anaithnid chun cuimhne. Is mó de stair phearsanta an Dr Ryan an phéintéireacht thíos fúthu. Labhair Mike faoi chuimhní beoga ar fhás aníos i Maigh Eo agus Sligeach. Ina measc bhí rothaíocht lena sheanathair thar Sliabh Gamh agus a chéad radharc a fháil ar an tírdhreach mór cosúil le tundra a théann siar síos go Cuan Shligigh. Bhí tionchar acu seo air ag aois óg, chomh maith le teacht ar fhothrach lóiste seilge Coopers ar an sliabh (gar do áit a bhfuil mé i mo chónaí), áit ar inis a sheanathair scéalta dó faoin gceantar áitiúil a spreag a shamhlaíocht. Tagraíonn an leabhar faoina lámha dá phost reatha san Eagraíocht Dhomhanda Sláinte agus is é leabhar anatamaíochta an duine in aice leis an iarracht atá agam tagairt a dhéanamh dá oiliúint ghairmiúil mar mháinlia tráma. Phéinteáil mé Mike i measc an ábhair gearrshaolach seo agus é ag caitheamh a chuid láinnéir ildaite, rud a bhí úsáideach dom mar ghléas chun an tsúil a threorú thar dhromchla an phéintéireachta. Ba léir an meas a bhí ag comhghleacaithe Mike air le linn mo chuairte ar an nGinéiv. Cuireann an dúthracht, an tiomantas agus an fuinneamh a thugann sé dá chuid oibre iontas orm. Maidir liom féin, ba dhúshlán láidir é an tasc a bhí ann an duine seo a ghabháil trí mheán na péinte.”

Dúirt Neil Freshwater, Príomhfheidhmeannach Zurich Insurance plc, “Tá lúcháir orainn portráid Aidan Crotty den Dr Mike Ryan a nochtadh don Bhailiúchán Portráidí Náisiúnta. Chuir an Dr Ryan go mór le sláinte an phobail go hidirnáisiúnta, agus leanann sé ar aghaidh leis, agus is ábhar sásaimh é a fheiceáil, mar thoradh ar Dhuais Portráide Zurich, go bhfuil figiúr chomh tábhachtach sin aitheanta anois i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann. Tá súil agam go dtuigfidh na glúnta atá le teacht an tábhacht a bhaineann le ról an Dr Ryan sa tsochaí. Tá cosúlacht dochreidte faighte ag Aidan Crotty dá ábhar. Mo chomhghairdeas leis an ealaíontóir agus leis an mainicín as an éacht iontach seo.”

Déanann an bailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí ag Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann ceiliúradh ar na daoine is mó tionchair i stair na hÉireann. I measc na réimsí a bhaineann le hiarracht na hÉireann a léirítear sa bhailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí tá spórt, litríocht agus craoladh go hamharclannaíocht agus ceartas sóisialta. Beidh an Coimisiún ar taispeáint i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann i Seomra 23 i mí Aibreáin. Tá cead isteach saor in aisce. Chun tacú le Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann téigh go dtí www.nationalgallery.ie/join-and-give


Teagmháil leis na Meáin:

  • Victoria Sharpe (Cumarsáid, Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann): [email protected], +353 (0) 1 632 5523

Nótaí don Eagarthóir: 

  • Tá íomhánna den phortráid á nochtadh ag an ngrianghrafadóir ar fáil ach iad a iarraidh. 
  • Tá an Dr Caroline Campbell ar fáil le haghaidh agallaimh.
  • Beidh portráid an Dr Mike Ryan ar taispeáint i Seomra 23 i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann i mí Aibreáin.

Uaireanta oscailte: 

Dé Luain: 11rn – 5.30in
Dé Máirt agus Dé Céadaoin: 9.15rn – 5.30in 
Déardaoin: 9.15rn – 8.30in
Dé hAoine agus Dé Sathairn: 9.15rn – 5.30in 
Dé Domhnaigh: 11rn – 5.30in

Maidir le Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann:

Tá Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann ar cheann de na nithe is díol spéise do chuairteoirí sa tír ina bhfuil bailiúchán an náisiúin d’ealaín na hEorpa agus na hÉireann ó thart ar 1300 go dtí an lá inniu, agus Leabharlann agus Cartlann fhairsing ann. Tá cead isteach sa bhailiúchán saor in aisce chun taitneamh a bhaint as, foghlaim agus spreagadh a fháil. 

Maidir le Grúpa Zurich Insurance:

Is í Éire an suíomh is rogha le Zurich dá cuideachta pan-Eorpach Zurich Insurance plc (ZIP). Ó thús na bliana 2009, tá ceanncheathrú ZIP i mBaile Átha Cliath agus is é an príomhiompróir riosca do ghnó árachais ghinearálta Zurich san AE. Is é Neil Freshwater POF Zurich Insurance plc. Maidir le gnó baile, díríonn Zurich ar dhá phríomhréimse gnó in Éirinn – Árachas Ginearálta agus Saoil. In Éirinn, fostaíonn Zurich breis agus 1,250 duine.

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