Travelogue

I have been looking forward to writing about my travels in Ireland for quite some time. To date, I have made 5 painting trips to the beautiful Emerald Isle. I have fallen in love with the astonishing landscape and the lovely Irish people.

For this, my first travelogue, I will sum up all 5 of my journeys to Ireland, which have occurred each September, since 2001, and in addition, a trip in June 2004.

In 2005, I started traveling to the California coast, and although I have yet to write a formal travelogue, you can learn quite a bit about the Southern and Central California coast by reading the commentary next to the paintings I've posted in the California gallery of original oil paintings on this website !

Ireland.

  • The notch in the mountain in the background is named "Devil's Bite", and legend has it that from that bite, came the famous Rock of Cashel; the castled seat of the kings of Munster A.D. 360!

Oil on Linen, on Panel, 8" x 10" &co
  • View from the Cottage Gate
  • The notch in the mountain in the background is named "Devil's Bite", and legend has it that from that bite, came the famous Rock of Cashel; the castled seat of the kings of Munster A.D. 360!

    Oil on Linen, on Panel, 8" x 10" &co
  • Original available for $800

I first went at the invitation of friends from Vermont who had bought and renovated a lovely cottage in their ancestral County Tipperary, which is in the Midlands. On that first, exploratory trip, I covered alot of ground, traveling as much of the country as I could in 3 weeks (Ireland is about the size of the state of Maine).

I discovered that I loved, in particular, the West of Ireland, with its unbelieveable ocean views, its varied and mountainous terrain, its fishing villages, and what I came to think of as "vertical" sheep. Sheep everywhere - on the most precipitous inclines, in the middle of the road, in pasture after hedged pasture.

I traveled to Donegal and Sligo in the North, through Connemara and Galway and The Burren, heading south, to County Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, on to County Cork, and the stunning Beara Peninsula and around the southern coast to Kinsale and Waterford, and up to Dublin. and of course, I spent some time exploring County Tipperary itself, which is just lovely (its all so lovely). That year, Tipperary had won the All Ireland Hurling Championship, and there were signs everywhere proclaiming, "Up Tipp!" Tipperary has the stunning Silvermine Mountains, and the Shannon River to its north, separating it from County Clare.

 
  • Not far from where I stood painting this scene, between Killarney (County Kerry) and Bantry, is the Pub that bills itself as the highest Pub in Ireland!

Oil on Linen, on Panel, 12
  • Sheep's Eye View, West Cork
  • Not far from where I stood painting this scene, between Killarney (County Kerry) and Bantry, is the Pub that bills itself as the highest Pub in Ireland!

    Oil on Linen, on Panel, 12" x 16" ©2004
  • Original available for $1100
 
 

On my second painting trip to Ireland,

the following September, I stayed a month. The weather was spectacular. I completed 20 paintings, returning to Tipperary, and my beloved Dingle,and Beara Peninsulas. I was looking forward not only to revisiting favorite areas, but favorite people, as well. And meeting new people. There is, of course, a strong literary tradition in Ireland. Perhaps it has something to do with a climate that can be quite wet and rainy. It surely springs from an oral tradition, and the gift of gab is alive and well in Ireland. People both value and and actively participate in conversation. Conversation is a spontaneously creative, warm and humorous thing. Eyes sparkle, faces smile. Responding to my exuberance about Ireland, one Irish lady said to me, "Ah, yeah, it's a lovely country, if only they could put a roof over it. Or if people were born with umbrellas on their heads!"

  • Oil on linen on panel, 12
  • View from Cleevaun, Dingle Peninsula (Heifers)
  • Oil on linen on panel, 12" x 16" ©2002

    Currently in the collection of:
    The Leinster Gallery
    28 South Frederick Street
    Dublin 2, Ireland

I was especially looking forward to painting on the Dingle Peninsula, with its exquisite beaches, and mountainous passes, and harbor, and the spectacular Slea Head Drive, and Mount Brandon, and lively Dingle town, itself. The previous September, on my first visit there, I stayed in town, at the little Bed and Breakfast attached to the well-known restaurant, Doyles Seafood. Returning at night, that first trip, after painting all day, I was so looking forward to a pint, and dinner. Okay, and another pint. I was exhausted, but exhilarated, and on alert as I navigated my rented car, driving on the left! through the very narrow, very crowded streets of Dingle, there to park in a small space across from the Doyle's Seafood. I was doing an excellent job, and only just tapped the black Mercedes behind me. Whose driver was in it. Who turned out to be the owner of Doyles. We got out of our parked cars at the same moment, and I hurried over, and said in response to his raised eyebrows, "But I only just kissed the front of your car!" And with eyes full of merrriment, he took me in his arms, and welcomed me. I have returned to stay with Sean, and his wonderful wife, Charlotte, several times since. In fact, one year they housed and fed me for a week in exchange for one of my paintings! They also own another Bed and Breakfast, Cleevaun, just outside of town, and it is spectacularly set. The views from their back yard are amazing.

  • This scene is just across, and a short way up the road, from Seaview House Hotel

Oil on linen, on panel, 10
  • Inlet, Ballylickey, West Cork, Ireland
  • This scene is just across, and a short way up the road, from Seaview House Hotel

    Oil on linen, on panel, 10" x 14" ©2002
  • Original available for $700

Another person who was wonderful to me on that trip, and subsequent trips is the lovely Kathleen O'Sullivan, proprietress of Seaview House Hotel, formerly her childhood home, gorgeously situated, among gardens, in Ballylickey, between Bantry and the Beara Peninsula. And she operates an excellent restaurant in Seaview House. I checked in for a couple of nights, and then would disappear every day, all day long into the evening, exploring and painting. I was in heaven. On the morning I was to check out, I encountered Kathleen at the front desk, on my way in to breakfast, and announced," Ms. O'Sullivan, I don't want to leave!" And so she accommodated me for another night. This went on for a couple more days, and on the morning I really did have to check out, she inquired, "What have you been doing while you were here?" "I'm a painter", I explained, "and I'm pretty sure this is the most beautiful place on earth." She asked if she could see my work, and ended up buying one of my paintings.

Meanwhile, back in the Midlands, in County Offaly, a short drive from where I was staying in County Tipperary, is the remarkable Birr Castle. It is a Norman Castle dating from the 1100s, and now presided over by the 7th Lord and Lady Rosse . The grounds and formal gardens are incredible. There is a suspension bridge, a lake, a waterfall. But most incredibly, there is the Great Telescope. It was constructed at the castle in the 1840s, by the 3rd Earl of Rosse, and for 70 years was the largest telescope in the world! All the more remarkable considering Ireland's notorious cloud cover!

One can visit the museum and gardens at Birr Castle any time, but on Sundays, the entire castle grounds are open to the public, until 6 p.m. So I showed up one Sunday afternoon, to paint the lake(Footbridge). And, as always, while I was painting away, the curious would come watch me for awhile. And, as always, so intent am I while painting, I am pretty oblivious to the passage of people, and time. But I'd been at it for some time, and was very aware that I had to finish the painting, and pack up, and leave the grounds by 6 p.m. and the crowds were getting thinner.

And the sun was getting lower. And I was racing. I knew I had a pretty good painting on my hands. And suddenly strolls over a threesome, a younger man casually dressed, and an older couple, more formally dressed, to see what I had painted. And as it was time to start cleaning up, I chatted with them as I scraped my palette, and cleaned my brushes. And I experienced a flash of intuition. "Are you, by any chance, the Earl of Rosse?", I addressed the younger, more casually dressed. "Is this your castle?" And it was! He was out for a walk about the grounds with his gardener, and his gardener's wife. They were very admiring of my painting, and Lord Rosse let on that his wife, Lady Rosse, was also a painter, and was about to have her first exhibition, in London, the following month. And then wondered if I might like to come back; they had 2 guest cottages on the castle grounds! And so I did, the following September, and met Lady Rosse, who invited me for coffee in the castle, and a tour of her castle studio! I expect she'll be very successful in her career as a painter.

 

And so, the 3rd trip to Ireland,

including a week at Birr Castle, was in September '03. This time I spent a week in Dingle.

  • Oil on Linen, on Panel 9
  • Breakfast in Dingle
  • Oil on Linen, on Panel 9" x 12" ©2003

    Currently in the collection of:
    The Leinster Gallery
    28 South Frederick St.
    Dublin 2, Ireland

The painting, Heading out, Catch of the Day, Dingle, reminds me to comment about the fuschia hedges which are everywhere and in full bloom in September, in Dingle. Every road is lined with them, and so are many pasture hedges, like the one in the painting. It is just so beautiful. Also in September, the omnipresent blackberry bushes are laden with ripe fruit. And I did want to mention that the scene depicted in the painting, Breakfast in Dingle, was painted in the breakfast room at Cleevaun, the B &B owned and operated by Sean and Charlotte Cluskey.

Then on again to Kathleen's Seaview House Hotel in Ballylickey, near Bantry, County Cork, for a week, during which I explored the nearby and sensational Mizen Head, and Sheep's Head.

By the way, in transiting from Dingle to Ballylickey, I went via the Ring of Kerry, and spent a few nights in the wonderful town of Kenmare, gateway to the peninsulas as well as Killarney National Park.

And, finally ended up in Dublin. There is so much art in Dublin! The Irish love original paintings. The National Gallery of Art is a treasure. And there are so many great gallerys! So, I set about visiting them, this time with work in hand. And Loretto Meagher, owner of The Leinster Gallery, 28 south Frederick Street, said yes!!

 
 
 

I originally planned to return in June, '04,

because Loretto at Leinster Gallery in Dublin was planning a spring exhibition which I wanted to attend. As it turned out, her plans changed, but I decided to stick to mine, and took the opportunity to explore the east side of the Emerald Isle. How fun it was to be in Ireland in June! The days were amazingly long. There was light until 11 p.m.! I had enough light to complete 2 paintings a day! And true to reputation, the Southeast of Ireland is the sunniest. But first I headed north. From Dublin, I drove about 40 minutes on the fabulous new highway to Drogheda. This is the land of the Battle of the Boyne, and the home of Ireland's best known prehistoric monument, Newgrange, an enormous burial chamber, intricately decorated and designed, such that on the winter solstice, at sunrise, the inner chamber glows orange with light for 17 minutes. Nearby is the tumulus at Knowth, which has the greatest collection of passage tomb art in Europe. Continuing north to the Cooley peninsula, I spent a day in Carlingford, painting the dramatic ruins of an old abbey set on a shore of Carlingford Lough , and looking out to the Cooley Mountains.

Upon completion of that painting, I decided to take advantage of the remaining evening light to venture into Northern Ireland. I was immediately struck by how prosperous it looked! And a funny thing happened to me there. Mindful of the current dreadful exchange rate of dollar to euro, and the expense of gasoline in Europe, I was delighted to find a gas station in Newry, just over the border, which advertised the cheapest price per liter of gasoline I'd seen. So, I filled 'er up. Only to discover that of course, the price was in sterling pounds (English), not euros, and the exchange rate of dollar to pound was even worse than that of dollar to euro. In fact, it turned out to be the most expensive tank of gas I've ever bought!

Now I headed south of Dublin, to the famous County Wicklow, and the Wicklow Mountains. I stayed in Arklow, which I enjoyed. It is right on the coast, with beach and shipyard, and quite the active harbor, where one evening I watched the town's 8 to 15 year-old Sea Scouts learn to use any number of small vessels. And it was not a very long drive to the famous Glendalough,a 6th century monastic complex set between 2 lakes in the Wicklow Mountains.

And then I headed to Kilkenny, a thriving town with lots of contemporary craft, and shops and restaurants, and home to Nicholas Mosse Pottery. For the last couple of years, I had been using Nicholas Mosse Pottery in my still lifes, and the September previous I had driven to Bennettsbridge, just outside of Kilkenny where the Nicholas Mosse Studio and Country Shop is located, and introduced myself to Susan Mosse, proprietress. I showed her what I had been painting. She is wonderful. And she bought notecards and giclee prints from me, for the store, on the spot. And invited me to come visit, and view her gardens, on a future visit. And so here I was. It was the highlight of this trip. Did I mention that she is wonderful?

Not to mention, modest. Her gardens turned out to be a desmesne, rivaling Birr Castle. Go visit. Kilfane Glen and Waterfall. Jerpoint Abbey is nearby. County Kilkenny is beautiful. And you can buy studio seconds at Nicholas Mosse for a good price.

Having come this far, I think I will leave tales and illustrations of the September '04 painting trip for the next travelogue. In which the heroine gets truly waterlogged as the Gulf Stream conspires to share the Florida hurricanes with the West of Ireland.

 

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