Michael Flaherty was born in Cloghane, Brandon Co. Kerry. Michael Flaherty’s true vocation to painting came out of curiosity. He attended school at Killarney, then graduated with a BA in UCC and a H. Dip in Maynooth in 1974. He never really wanted to teach so he took a year out lived in Inniscarra and came to drawing almost out of boredom. He states that he basically found a pencil, “I thought this was it – it was like discovering language” . He took night classes at the Crawford and benefited from his teacher of John Burke. He then applied to Sligo School of Art and was accepted on enthusiasm alone. Here he was taught by John O’Leary. It was here that he found his style. He spent some time in Edinburgh but he returned to Kerry after the death of a relative in 1988 and evolved this style until it was personal to him.
Michael has a “remarkably assured technique” and is “incredibly fresh, incredibly instant. He captures very quickly scenes which he’s very familiar with”. He is uninhibited in his use of paint, working in layers of thick, painterly impasto to the third dimensional . His use of colour is bold, vibrant, daring and unconventional . His response is the depiction of a scene, or an object or an animal as filtered through his imagination, hence the colours are heightened, making the scene more intense and the sense of movement more vital.
Flaherty spends at least eight hours per day painting, and he might work on ten paintings at a time. His output is astounding, his subject matter ranging from the landscapes of his native Kerry to Tuscany, fuchsia, montbretia, heads which have a strong sculptural element to them and finally animals. He is obsessed with painting but continually sets himself new challenges, and never compromises his artistic vision.