Ruth was one of the first wave of professional young artists I met when I came to Waterford.

Ruth Ahern

She had a great glint in her eye, a dazzling smile and wonderful work ethic. She approached life with a laugh and would playfully dismiss whatever was getting her down with a line like “ah, sure what else would I be doing?” With friend and co-conspirator Maeve Tumulty she painted full size pigs for Jim and Emer at the Waterford Fringe including one that now resides in my backgarden. Its original colours long gone except for around the eyes.

Tiger - former Council Pig originally painted by Ruth and Maeve
Tiger – former Council Pig originally painted by Ruth and Maeve

For Waterford City Council Ruth and Maeve also converted Jenkins Lane (a heavily graffiti’d piss alley) into a place of urban mystery that referenced Deice places from the past. Such was their skills, the walls remained largely graffiti free until it was painted over a couple of years back.

Bosomy Snail by Ruth Ahern

Ruth was an early member of the Live Art group that started in Greyfriars. She would also, at times, model for it – apparently keeping up the banter and slagging through-out her poses with some of the older members. Some years ago she was awarded an exhibition in the Tower Hotel. She confessed she wasn’t sure what the management thought of some of her more exotic pieces. But underneath her easy going exterior, Ruth was a serious artist with a wistful, articulate take on the world. When not exploring human nature, she would explore form so as to better her technique and her practice.

Ruth was also a great sports woman – naturally talented in all pursuits who could push herself further than those around her. Ruth is probably best remembered, by my colleagues in Waterford Council, as a keen and talented soccer player. And I have to confess, that her scything, sliding soccer tackles on not just senior executive officer Edward Ruane, but also on the former Town Clerk and Director of Service Paddy Power on behalf of the Arts Office Team keeps me smiling. My abiding memories of Ruth will always be placed within the frame of her wink at me as Paddy Power sailed through the air a full three feet above her following a particularly crunching tackle.

Ruth passed away just before Halloween this year. She is survived by her husband and best friend Stephen and their two wonderful daughters Nora and Juno.

– Conor Nolan, December 2014.


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