A new portrait of Irish author Edna O'Brien will be installed at the Irish Embassy in London later this year.

The painting, which has been purchased by the Irish State, was formally unveiled at an event in the city last night, attended by Ms O’Brien, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK Adrian O’Neill and Northern Irish Artist Colin Davidson.

Speaking at the event, Ms O’Brien said sitting for the painting in her home last September brought back memories she had not thought about in many years.

"I felt I was being stripped, but stripped in a good way that would be necessary to what would be eventually on the painting," she said.

Originally from Co Clare, Ms O’Brien emigrated to London in 1958, where she still lives today. Her first novel?'The Country Girls’ was published two years later in 1960.

She established an international reputation as a novelist, short-story writer, memoirist, poet and playwright. In a 2012 review of her memoir, former president Mary Robinson referred to her as one of the great creative writers of her generation.

Mr O’Neill said he was delighted that the portrait will have its permanent home at the Embassy of Ireland in London.

"In years to come I am sure visitors to the Embassy will gaze on the portrait and be delighted that the Country Girl has returned home," he said.

Mr Davidson said he hopes that the portrait captures the spirit and courage of the award-winning author.

"I felt honoured to have the trust of someone who was a heroic and important influence in the shaping of today’s Ireland," he said. ?

Ambassador Adrian O'Neill (L) with Edna O'Brien and artist Colin Davidson

He has previously painted public figures including President Michael D Higgins, Seamus Heaney, John Hume, Christy Moore, Brad Pitt and Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Mr Davidson is also the creator of the Silent Testimony series, individual portraits of 18 people who experienced loss during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

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