Markey died early in January 1999, following a sixty-year career. His life as
a merchant seaman freed him from the parochialism of his Northern Irish
contemporaries. He was acquainted first hand with members of the School of
Paris, and many strands of European modernism, particularly Cubism and
While the art establishment of the 1960s and 1970s ignored him, art dealer
Oliver Nulty tirelessly financed exhibitions and publications, slowly building
up a reputation, which began to soar in the 1980s and 1990s.
His greatest works - expressionist-influenced landscape, heavily-outlined
clowns, still-lives and erotica - place him in the first division of Irish
twentieth-century art. With his genius for composition, his utter originality of
mood and humour, and his gift for brooding atmospherics, he is even regarded by
some (including this writer) as a rival in importance to such established
figures as Yeats, Henry and le Brocquy.