Portrait, 'Donal O'Sullivan Beare'

15 Sep 2020

Oil painting: 'Donal O'Sullivan Beare', 1859 (copy of 17th century original), portrait, signed by Pedro Micó.

Ref: UCCHS.1914.001 © University College Cork

O’Sullivan Beare is standing, dressed in Spanish armour, a plumed helmet is on a table by his side. In his right hand he holds a truncheon, and his left rests on the hilt of his sword. Legend: ‘O'Sullevanus Bearrus Bearrae et Beantriae Comes Aetatis suae LIII Christi Vero Domini MDCXIII anno’ (translation: O’Sullivan Beare, Count of Beare and Bantry, age 53, In the year of the true Christ 1613). In the upper-right hand corner is a coat of arms, with four quarters bearing a bear, deer, an arm holding a sword and three lions passant. Surmounting the shield is a helmet with a rayed coronet and the motto, ‘Gaudet Patientia Duris’ (translation: Patience rejoices in adversity).

Artist: Pedro Micó, Salamanca, Spain (c.1800-c.1863). 

The original of this painting is now located at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth: The artist of the original oil painting is unknown but was probably a court artist of Philip III of Spain.

Inscription: ‘Pedro Micó pinto en Salamanca, año 1859’ [translation: Pedro Micó painted in Salmamanca, year 1859].

Date: 1859 (copy of 17th century original)

Provenance: This copy of the original was commissioned by the Right Rev. James O'Laverty (diocese of Down and Connor) in the summer of 1859, in correspondence with Fr James F. Mooney, Salamanca, where the original was hanging at the time. "The painting, which was pronounced by all who saw it to be an exact copy of the original, was forwarded on the 18th of September, 1859, to … Liverpool, … and I received it in perfect order. On the copy is inscribed: "Pedro Micó pinto en Salamanca ano 1859" (O'Laverty, 114).

The painting was advertised for sale in the auction of Monsignor O’Laverty’s collection, at the Parochial House, Holywood, Northern Ireland (see advertisement in Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday 29/05/1906, p.1.) The sale included ‘a life-size Portrait of O’Sullvean [sic] Beare, an exact copy of the Original in Salamanca’. The auctioneer was John Cramsie, Atlantic Buildings, 28 Waring Street, Belfast. The portrait was purchased by Francis Joseph Bigger MA Solicitor MRIA (Belfast 1863-9/12/1926) at this auction sale.

Bigger published an article about the portrait of Donal O’Sullivan Beare in 1910 in the Journal of the Ivernian Society (a journal that was published in Cork between 1908 and 1915). He describes the painting and also gives some account of copies made from this painting and where these have been published.

On 21/1/1914 Francis Joseph Bigger gifted the painting to UCC (see report of the presentation ceremony in UCC, in Cork Examiner, 22/1/1914, p.8). Information relating to Bigger’s connection with the painting is located in papers at the Belfast Central Library, Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EA, Northern Ireland, including correspondence from Sir Bertram Windle in 1913 and 1914. Windle was President of University College, Cork and also chairman of the Ivernian Society. Monsigner O'Laverty's library is now at St Malachy's College, Belfast (  


Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare / Domhnall Cam Ó Súileabháin Bhéara (1560-1618), after the retreat following the Battle of Kinsale (1603) emigrated to Spain with many other Irish. There, King Philip III conferred on him the title of ‘Conde de Birhaven y Senor de los territorios de Bearra y Beantry’ (Richardson, p.131-2). Much has been published about the wider family of O’Sullivan Beare and its part in Irish history, both in Ireland and Spain. See, for example, a lecture by Dr Hiram Morgan, UCC, ‘Un pueblo unido …: the politics of Philip O’Sullivan Beare’, later published as a chapter in Irlanda y la monarquía hispánica, Kinsale 1601-2001: Guerra, politíca, exilio y religion, edited by Enrique García Hernán  (Madrid: Universidad de Alcalá: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2002), 265-82.

The College of Salamanca took in Irish students, both lay and clerical from the late 16th century until 1951. In 1608 the Irish College was incorporated into the University of Salamanca. Donal Dermot O’Sullivan Beare, son of Donal, died in 1659 leaving a daughter, Doña Antonia Francisca O’Sullevan, countess of Birhaven. She died in 1718 leaving what little she had to her nephew and the remainder to the Salamanca College, including the portrait (see Henchy, 222).


Bigger, F. J., ‘Domhnall Ó Súileabháin Beara’, Journal of the Ivernian Society 2: 6 (January 1910), 95-99 (1910-FJ-Bigger-Portrait-OSullivan-Beare)

Gwynn, Denis, ‘The O'Sullivan Beare portrait, a link with Roger Casement', Cork University Record 20 (Christmas 1950) 

Gwynn, Denis, ‘O'Sullivan Beare's portrait (presented by F. J. Bigger)’, Cork University Record 26 (Christmas, 1952) 

Henchy, Monica, ‘The Irish College at Salamanca’, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 70:278/279 (Summer/Autumn, 1981), 220-227

O'Byrne, Emmett, 'O'Sullivan Beare, Domhnall', Dictionary of Irish Biography

O'Laverty, James, ‘Antiquarian jottings: Portrait of O'Sullivan Beare’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology 11:3 (1905), 113-117

Richardson, Regina Whelan, ‘The Salamanca archives’, in Maynooth Library Treasures, ed. Agnes Neligan (Dublin: RIA, 1995), 112-147

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