Michael Longley portrait unveiled at National Gallery

A portrait of the Belfast poet Michael Longley by Northern Irish artist Colin Davidson has been unveiled at Dublin's National Gallery of Ireland.

The oversized oil on linen went on show in late December 2012, replacing a portrait of the recently-deceased Dublin author Maeve Binchey. It forms part of Ireland's National Portrait Collection and is already proving very popular with visitors, according to gallery curators.

Born in 1939, Longley is among Ireland’s most distinguished literary figures and has published more than a dozen collections of poetry. He has won numerous awards such as the Whitbread Poetry Prize and the TS Elliot Prize.

Like Longley, Davidson was also born in Belfast and is also the recipient of prestigious honours. Currently the president of the Royal Ulster Academy, his work is held in many public and private collections in Ireland and the UK.

Another similar-sized portrait of Longley by Davidson was exhibited in London’s National Portrait Gallery as part of the BP Portrait Award during the summer of 2012.

Ireland’s National Portrait Collection has been expanded in recent years with several portraits of prominent figures from Irish life such as veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne and Olympic athlete Ronnie Delaney.