Catherine Cearney and Laura Brennan


The Artist

Catherine Creaney - Portrait of Laura Brennan
Catherine Creaney - Portrait of Laura Brennan

Catherine Creaney is a self-taught artist, working primarily in portraiture using oils, pastel and pencil, and employing a highly realistic style. A regular exhibitor with the Royal Ulster Academy and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Creaney has been awarded several prestigious awards for her work, including the Rowel Friers Perpetual Trophy (RUA, 2014) the ESB Keating Award and Silver Medal (RHA, 2015) and the Jim Naughton/TileStyle Bursary for Artists (2019, Business to Arts Awards) among others.

More recently, in 2022, Creaney won the Smallwood Architects Prize for Contextual Portraiture and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London. Creaney was also shortlisted for the annual national portrait prize at the National Gallery of Ireland in 2015 and 2022.


The Sitter

Laura Brennan was born in Ennis on 20 September 1992. Following a diagnosis of cervical cancer in December 2016, she joined the HSE campaign for HPV vaccination of teenage girls to prevent cervical cancer. The vaccine that was not available in Ireland when Laura was at school.

In becoming the public face of the campaign, she helped increase uptake of the vaccine to 70%, which saved many lives. Laura spoke openly about the arduous treatment for her cancer but maintained her positivity and sense of humour. During the last years of her life, she worked on a documentary about her life, This Is Me, which was screened after her death. Laura died on 20 March 2019, aged 26.

The College worked with the Brennan family to commission a portrait of Laura after her death, the portrait marks the first commission by the College of a non-medic person.

'Laura’s beautiful portrait will be a constant reminder to doctors and so many people for generations to come of the power of advocacy to improve the health of the nation. Despite being so unwell from her disease and its treatment, Laura’s voice was always strong … [her] tireless work was a great example of doctors and advocates working together in a powerful way’.

Prof Mary Horgan, RCPI President