'˜My great great grandfather painted these 100 years before I was born'

A Scottish woman has finally been able to view a series of paintings drawn by her great, great grandfather, more than 100 years before she was born.

Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 11:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 3:00 pm
Moira McIntosh and Ivor Doherty view the paintings by Alexander McFarland at St Columbs Cathedral

Moira McIntosh has spent the last few years researching the life of her painter grandfather Alexander McFarland.

However a chance meeting on a genealogy website with Derry amateur historian Ivor Doherty, has led to her visiting the city and finally seeing her ancestor’s work for the first time.

“It’s surreal,” Moira told the ‘Journal’ as she visited St Columb’s Cathedral where they put three of McFarland’s paintings out on display for her to see.

Alexander McFarland's St Columb's Cathedral.

“For many years I had hoped to find something that my grandfather had painted, but I never expected this. Ivor Doherty has been the catalyst for all this.”

She revealed how she and her husband George live in Invergordon, and have already travelled to Dunoon where her grandfather is now buried.

“Alexander was an artist and sometimes a tailor,” she said. “I suspect that when the art wasn’t going so well he did some tailoring.

“He was born in Strabane in 1809 and married Ann Simpson in Strabane in 1835. I wonder if there are any family who know of him. I don’t know if he had any siblings.

Alexander McFarland's Great James' Street Presbyterian Church.

“It’s so surreal being here and think that at some point and looked at these views and painted these scenes. I would have loved for my mother to have been here and seen the paintings for herself.

“He was never a known artist so we never would have expected to see anything like this.”

Ivor Doherty explained how Alexander McFarland had painted scenes of Derry and interiors and exteriors of churches.

“He painted the outside of Gt James’ St Presbyterian Church, Shipquay Street looking from the Diamond downwards and Bishop Street from the Diamond towards Bishop Gate, He also painted the interior of Long Tower and St Columb’s Cathedral,” he said.

Alexander McFarland's scene of Bishop Street.

He thanked Ian Bartlett from St Columb’s Cathedral for his hospitality and for putting McFarland’s work on display for Moira to see.

“I was able to show Moira the prints and then bring her to the actual places to see the places as they are now,” said Ivor. “There are five paintings that we know of, some of these have been reproduced on tourist notice boards outside the Richmond centre on Shipquay Street and another outside the Masonic Hall.”

Ivor and Moira are keen to find out more information on Alexander McFarland, his life and his paintings, and about his life when he moved from Ireland to Scotland.

If anyone can help they are asked to contact Ivor on [email protected]

Alexander McFarland's St Columb's Cathedral.
Alexander McFarland's Great James' Street Presbyterian Church.
Alexander McFarland's scene of Bishop Street.