Monaghan student is chosen overall 2015 Competition winner – First time in memory that top award has gone to Co. Monaghan

Dublin, 15th April 2015 – For the first time in memory, the top prize award and overall winner in the annual Texaco Children's Art Competition, held this year for the 61st time, is a young 18-year old artist from Co. Monaghan – Frances Treanor, who, until her graduation last summer, was a student at St. Louis Secondary School in Monaghan Town.

Her prize-winning work – a self-portrait executed in the most unusual of mediums – black ballpoint pen – won first prize in the senior 16-18 age category of the Competition. So life-like and finely executed is her work, one can see almost every strand of her hair and every reflection in her eyes. Completed by her in just two weeks, her work was said by Professor Declan McGonagle, Chairman of the judging panel to have been executed "with the skill and delicacy of a master'."

Now studying art alongside her twin sister, Maeve, at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Frances is one of seven children born to Anne, a languages teacher, and her farming husband Sean, whose home is at Drumdart, near Emyvale. No stranger to the Texaco Children's Art Competition, Frances featured amongst the prizewinners in 2012, when she won a second place award in her age category, and again in 2013. Her 2012 work entitled 'Lighting Up The Imagination' featured in an exhibition in Tokyo in which a number of other Texaco Children's Art winning paintings were exhibited.

Asked how she felt upon hearing of her success, Frances replied, "when I was told I had won, I was so shocked. I never thought it would happen."

"I've done many portraits in pencil before but this time I wanted to try something different, something I had not done previously. I had seen black ballpoint pens used before and I thought that, since this was my last year entering the Competition, I would give it a shot. It certainly paid off," she added.

Noting that fine art portraits are her particular favourite, Frances attributes much of her artistic achievements to the encouragement and inspiration she received from her art teachers at St. Louis – Teresa Mahony and Stephen Penders, himself an artist and the first to discover and encourage her talent. Away from art, Frances is an accomplished pianist and piano teacher.

In winning the coveted first prize, Frances fought off competition from thousands of young students from across Ireland who took part in the Competition. She will be presented with her €1,500 first-prize at the prize giving ceremony in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham next month, when all of the 126 winners will be in attendance.

Also in Category A, second prize (€1,000) was won by Oliwia Widuto (age 16), a student at Loreto College Coleraine, Co. Derry, for her work entitled 'Gramps on Morphine' while third prize (€750) was won by Janné Strydom (age 17), from Gorey Community School, Co. Wexford, for her entry entitled 'Wexford Harbour'. No stranger to the competition, Janné was a Special Merit Award winner in both 2011 and 2012.

In Category B (14-15 years), the €450 first prize was won by Dublin student Vitaly Dergachev (age 15), a pupil at Wesley College, Ballinteer, for his painting entitled 'Wisdom'. Vitaly was a Special Merit Award winner in 2014. Second prize (€350) was won by Lucy Deegan (age 15), from Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach, Carlow Town, for her work entitled 'Herons'. Lucy was a Special Merit Award winner in both 2013 and 2014. Third prize (€250) went to Clíona Fitzpatrick (age 14), from Malahide Community School, Co. Dublin, for her study entitled 'Tomatoes and More'.

In Category C (12-13 years), first prize of €350 went to Nicole Forster (age 13), a pupil at Wilson's Hospital Secondary School, Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath, for her portrait entry. Second prize (€250) was won by 12-year old student Sadhbh Simpson, from Loreto Dalkey Primary, Co. Dublin, for a work entitled 'Treehouse'. Sadbh was a Special Merit Award winner in 2009. Third prize (€200) went to Ethan Cheung (age 13), from Bangor Grammar School, Co. Down, for his pencil sketch entitled 'Portrait of my Dad'.

In Category D (9-11 years), first prize (€250 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by 9-year old Stephen Walsh, a student at Ratoath Senior National School, Co. Meath, for his colourful painting entitled 'Hydrangeas'. No stranger to the competition, Stephen received a Special Merit Award in 2014. Second prize (€200 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Orla Nolan (age 11), from Newtown Dunleckney National School, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, for her delightful work entitled 'Poetry Of The Feet', while third prize (€150 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Charvi Goyal (age 11), from Loreto Primary School, Rathfarnham, Dublin, for a study entitled 'School Self Portrait'.

In Category E (7-8 years), the first prize of a €200 Art & Hobby gift voucher was won by 8-year old Laoise McDonald, from The Paint Box, Barna, Co. Galway, for a colourful piece entitled 'Blooming Flower'. Second prize (€150 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Pippa McIntosh (age 7), from Kinsale Art Academy, Co. Cork, whose creative collage is entitled 'Jungle Journey', while third prize (€125 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Monaghan student Sophia Goodman (age 7), from Scoil Naoimh Éanna, Carrickmacross, for her entry entitled 'The Nice Flowers'.

In Category F (6 years and younger), the youngest age group in the Competition, first prize winner of a €150 Art & Hobby gift voucher was 5-year old Ciara Ward, a pupil at St Malachy's Primary School, Castlewellan, Co. Down, for her artwork entitled 'Fabulous Flowers'. Second prize (€125 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Seán O'Reilly (age 6), from St Anthony's Boys National School, Ballinlough, Co. Cork, for his work entitled 'Button Tree'. Seán was a Special Merit Award winner in 2014. Third prize (€100 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Poppy Love (age 6), from Hansfield Educate Together National School, Huntsfield, Dublin, for a study entitled 'Me And My Dog Cheeko'.

In Category G, reserved for entries from children with special needs, first prize of a €400 Art & Hobby gift voucher was won by 16-year old Conor Marley, a student at St. Gerard's School and Support Services, Belfast, for his painting entitled 'Natural Close Up'. Second prize (€300 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Dublin student Roisín Murray (age 16), from St Michael's School Holy Angels, Chapelizod, for her sketch entitled 'Christopher Reeve Superman', while third prize (€200 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Michael Ahern (age 18), from Our Lady of Good Counsel, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, for his work entitled 'Night Boat'.

Final judging was carried out by the Chairman of the judging panel, Professor Declan McGonagle, Director of the National College of Art & Design, assisted by preliminary judges Dr. Denise Ferran (Artist & Art Historian), Eoin Butler (Artist & Lecturer in Visual Arts), Seán Kissane (Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA), Aoife Ruane (Director, Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery, Drogheda) and Colleen Watters (Head of Learning & Partnership, Ulster Museum, Belfast).

Announcing the awards at a reception held in the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane at Parnell Square, Dublin today (Wednesday, 15th April 2015), James Twohig, Director of Ireland Operations for Valero, who company that markets fuel in Ireland under the Texaco brand, paid tribute to the winners, praising their skill and enthusiasm. He also thanked the many teachers from schools throughout Ireland who have given their support to the competition throughout its 61 years history.

This year, the top 21 winning works will remain on exhibition in the Education Gallery at the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane until Sunday, 31st May. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday each week and admission is free.

The Texaco Children's Art Competition is the longest running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland - and popularly regarded as Ireland's longest-running sponsorship of any kind. It has 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 have had their talents recognised and a springboard on which many have risen to national prominence. Aside from giving students the space to give expression to their talent and skill, the Competition has focused a spotlight on the quality of art teaching in Irish schools and the importance that the educational establishment attaches to the subject of art education.

Past winners whose early interest in art and the arts may well have been encouraged by their participation in the Competition include artists Graham Knuttel, Robert Ballagh, Bernadette Madden, Dorothy Cross, fashion designer Paul Costello and former broadcaster and artist Thelma Mansfield. Other notable past winners include Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD (a four-times winner), PR guru and columnist Terry Prone, ICTU General Secretary David Begg, actress Jean Anne Crowley, musician Ethna Tinney, Trinity College Professor of Contemporary Irish History, Eunan O'Halpin and the late novelist Clare Boylan.