Colm Mac Athlaoich, Illustrator

Colm Mac Athlaoich, a childhood friend of the author, grew up the son of a cellist and began playing the trumpet at an early age. The first time Gwendolyn became aware of his immense artistic talent, beyond his gift for music, was during a rehearsal in Dublin when the conductor felt compelled to halt proceedings and demand to know the cause of rustling down the back in the brass section. A few nervous giggles were followed by a hushed silence that fell over the group of musicians as a piece of paper was passed from one hand to the next, each messenger smiling as they caught sight of the paper on its way through the ensemble, until it finally landed in the outstretched palm of the maestro.

Michaelas Music House

"Colm Mac Athlaoich, you have a nerve young man! But at least the likeness is impressive and deserves a round of applause... even if you have interrupted Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony for it." The conductor chuckled and with an amused shake of his head, accompanied by the sound of cheers from those assembled, handed the incriminating piece of paper to the young violinist.

Looking down, she began to laugh. With a steady and experienced hand, the trumpetist had drawn a picture, unmistakably recognisable as a caricature-like embodiment of the conductor.

The precocious artist was ten. Nearly two decades later, Gwendolyn still has the picture, hoarded together with other more and less serious works made by Colm.