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Tom Moore painting donated to restaurant

Tom Butterfield of Masterworks with Tom Moore's Tavern owner Bruno Fiocca, holding a newly donated portrait of Tom Moore by Irish artist Robert Rothwell (Photograph supplied)

Guests at Tom Moore’s Tavern can now get a peek at a unique piece of historical artwork, thanks to a special donation from Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

Tom Butterfield, the founder of Masterworks, recently donated a print from Irish artist Robert Rothwell’s portrait of Tom Moore.

Mr Moore was a famed Irish poet, singer and songwriter who spent some time on the island in 1804 and wrote some of his more popular works under a Calabash Tree near to the Hamilton Parish tavern.

The original of the painting will be stored in Masterworks collection, while the print will be available for tourists and locals to enjoy while dining at the local eatery.

Mr Butterfield said in a press release: “It was brought to my attention earlier this year by a friend of mine that this rare piece was being stored in England and it seemed like an important work of Bermuda history that we should have in our possession.

“Tom Moore was the first person to speak romantically about Bermuda. Before that there was no sense of the island’s beauty, nature, mystique and atmosphere recorded anywhere so he set the pace for tourists to come to the island by sharing about how our scenery set his heart aflutter.”

Mr Butterfield said he felt “very lucky” to be able to include this exclusive piece in the collection at the museum.

Since it was founded 29 years ago, Masterworks’ goal has always been to feature a variety of mixed media — writers, poets and musicians — who have found inspiration around Bermuda. “Now Masterworks will have the original and the print will stay at Tom Moore’s for its guests to enjoy. Many people like learning about the history of the island and this will give some credence to the idea of Tom Moore’s visit some 200 years ago.”

Bruno Fiocca, owner of Tom Moore’s Tavern, said he felt excited and grateful to put this portrait on the walls of his restaurant.

“Tom Butterfield is a customer here and was very kind to recently donate this portrait of Tom Moore, which we believe was done circa 1834,” he stated.

“I was very delighted, surprised and happy that I could receive such a beautiful gift. I am also honoured as it’s an important part of the history of Tom Moore and is something we can share with our guests when they come here to eat. It will be hung on the top of the fireplace in the main dining room.”

Mr Fiocca said guests were always asking him about the story of Tom Moore.

“They think this was his house, but in actuality he lived further east in St George’s,” the restaurant owner explained.

“I always mention what he did when he visited Bermuda back in 1804, which adds to their experience here at the restaurant.”

From his research, Mr Fiocca learnt Tom Moore first came to the island as the Registrar of the Court of Vice Admiralty. The 23-year-old struck up a friendship with a local woman by the name of Nea Tucker.

“Many of his poems were written about Bermuda and Nea — some of which were written under the Calabash tree on our property,” the restaurant owner said.

“Tom Moore’s stay on the island was only three months, but he eventually went to the United States and Canada, before settling back in Ireland.

“He became very famous in the UK after sharing his manuscript and poetry and from that people were inspired to visit the island and learn more about his life. In the early days, people would come to the tavern, which was originally a house, and have something to eat — that’s how the restaurant was born.

“The Calabash tree Tom Moore and Nea sat under was damaged by hurricane Emily in the 1980s, but it has since been restored and remains here 200 yards away from the restaurant.”

For more information visit: www.bermudamasterworks.org or www.tommoores.com.