Cuneo’s UDR painting ‘The Search’ revitalised

An important painting depicting a familiar Troubles-era scene has been restored and unveiled to highlight the ongoing work of the Ulster Defence Regiment Benevolent Fund.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 5:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:12 pm
Unveiling of The Search at Belfast City Hall (L-R) Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, CBE, Rt Rev Lord Eames, Alderman Tommy Sandford and UDR Benevolent Fund trustee Charles Bennett

‘The Search’ by renowned artist Terence Cuneo features a patrol carrying out what was one of the UDR’s key roles between 1970 and 1992.

The regiment – which amalgamated with the Royal Irish Rangers in 1992 to become the Royal Irish Regiment – was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for its service during Operation Banner and is entitled to be known as the Ulster Defence Regiment CGC.

Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle unveiled the painting at Belfast City Hall on Thursday before it was rededicated by Rt Rev Lord Eames.

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UDR veterans John Dunbar (left) and Jack Dunlop (also Trustee of the UDR Benevolent Fund) with their granddaughter Anna Dunbar at the unveiling of the Terence Cuneo painting The Search in Belfast.

Terence Cuneo was best known for his post-World War Two paintings, but a significant point in his career was his appointment as official artist for the coronation of Elizabeth II. More than 260 serving and former UDR CGC soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice and hundreds more were injured or traumatised as a result of the Troubles.

The fund was established in 1972 to ensure those who served or their dependants who are in need would be looked after in years to come. Over the years it has helped thousands of former soldiers and their families.

Yesterday’s unveiling event was hosted by The High Sheriff of Belfast, Alderman Tommy Sandford, who has chosen the UDR Benevolent Fund as one of his charities for this year.

Benevolent Fund trustee Charles Bennett said: “The Search by Terence Cuneo signifies one of those key moments in history when ordinary people decided to join their local regiment and serve their country to help bring peace.

“Over that period tens of thousands of men and women served and some 27 years later since the Regiment existed, there are many who need our assistance. The Benevolent Fund provides support to those former members of the Ulster Defence Regiment and their dependants who are in need due to illness, disability, infirmity, poverty or other adversity.”

Mr Bennett added: “Spending in the region of £400,000 annually, on occasion providing life-changing assistance to those who face difficult times in their lives, help is tailored to the individual’s needs and can come in many different forms. Today we acknowledge that sacrifice by ensuring that such a moment in history remains intact.”

From 1954 onwards, the works of Terence Cuneo included a small mouse, sometimes lifelike, sometimes in cartoon form and these became his trademark after 1956. They can be difficult to detect, and many people enjoy scouring his paintings to find one. Even some of his portraits of household names contain a mouse. The Search painting contains the mouse.

For information on the UDR Benevolent Fund, including assistance, phone 028 9042 0652 or email [email protected]