Sketching Ireland #17

Cliffs and an Off World Experience

Lately, I have been posting detailed instructions on my route. This stems from my love of maps. In my family, during our cross country days, I was more or less the navigator. Give me a reliable map, I rarely get lost. Anyway, though I appreciate detailed road instructions, it occurred to me that you the readers may find it a little tedious. So, I will endeavor to keep it short. However, Sketching Ireland is also a travel blog and I hope it would be useful for any of you who want to go on an Irish road trip. Meanwhile, click on this Google Map link and follow my route.

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Now, our next leg of our tour are to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren National Park. We left Dingle taking the N86, first heading East to the town of Tralee. But just before Tralee, in the fishing village of Blennerville, as we crossed a long bridge, we found a neat windmill. I opted to save this sketching subject for later projects. From Tralee, we got on the N69 and headed north. This drive was very long to the next leg and unfortunately, most of it was somewhat tedious. Since, I’m on this road virtually, I can cheat (haha) and jump from point to point. For those of you who’ll actually drive on it, I suggest you make a number of stops. One stop could be into the town of Listowel on the N69. Chow down then visit the Lartigue Museum where you can take a ride on a 19th century style steam engined monorail. Also, if you’re fortunate, you can enjoy watching a 19th century horse race. After Listowel, I went another 10 miles north on the N69 where I ran into a natural road block at Tarbert, a 2 mile wide estuary and the closest bridge is about 20 or so miles east at Limerick. Thank goodness for ferries.

We crossed the estuary where we got on the N67 and went north. This drive was not as boring since we hugged the coast most of the way. From where we crossed the estuary, it was about 30 miles to the Cliffs of Moher. About 20 miles in, I came upon a place called the Spanish Point. What I read was that back in 1588, several surviving ships of the Spanish Armada (that failed to invade England during Queen Elizabeth’s reign) made landfall here. They found a friendly shore and many Spaniards stayed. Now, 10 miles on we hit the coastal village of Lahinch and went on the R478 that took us straight to the Cliffs of Moher.

Here are some comments. “The Cliffs of Moher absolutely take your breath away. Their sheer size and length are hard to comprehend unless you’re actually there in person.”

“Scenic cliffs stretching 700 feet over the rugged Atlantic coast.”

“Rain or sunshine you will not want to miss walking the Cliffs of Moher. It is a great walk from end to end. The views are incredible (hope your not afraid of heights) and with every step, you’ll see something new to take a picture of.”

For my sketch subjects, I first drew a young girl sitting on the edge of the cliff. Of course, the visitor center there discourage anyone from getting close to the very edge. I also sketched an artistic sculpture that represents the cliff’s many attractions. Even the birds enjoyed it. I collected more photos for much later drawing projects.

After enjoying the cliffs, we got back on the R478 going east. The R478 eventually turned into the R476 which took us into the Burren National Park.

The Burren National Park is a place of great natural beauty. There are various marked trails in the Park that take you through many fascinating and beautiful habitats, such as calcareous grasslands, woodlands and limestone pavement.

The Burren, which comes from the Irish word “An Bhoireann” meaning a place of stone, is the largest expanse of Limestone Pavement anywhere in the world. It is written that the Burren with its innate sense of spiritual peace has an extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, megalithic tombs and monuments that are even older than Egypt’s pyramids. This is a region which was largely sculpted over the last two million years by God and his glaciers, through the exposure and submergence of its landscape to ice, ocean and the plate movements of the earth.

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In the center of the park, on a very high mount, is an odd spiral formation that many have described as being alien. So, just for fun, I sketched out this out-worldly scene but also included the space-suited form of Matt Damon from the 2015 science fiction hit film, The Martian.

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For my next sketch subject, I found north of the park, the Burren Perfumery which is a family owned business hidden away in the heart of the Burren hills. They are a small, west of Ireland-based company making cosmetics and perfumes inspired by the landscape around them. Outside their quaint shop is a man-shaped topiary laying in an old rusted bath tub. I had to draw it.

In my next post, we go into Galway which is just north of the park.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch12 – part 4

THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, SidonCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius stood aside as the brothers, shaking their heads, went into the workshop. He joined Jesus by the woodpile. He was staring down the beaten track that led to the Old King’s Road then he looked up with a smile.

“Peter and the others will be here by mid day. I intend to go north to the Phoenician coastal plains so that they may rest. Do you still wish to come? It will be several days.”

Cornelius considered it as he forlornly gazed at the grazing donkeys near by. He unconsciously started rubbing his backside in contemplation. Both Jesus and Simon broke out laughing and said sympathetically, “Nay, Cornelius, I will not subject you to more discomfort.” He mirthfully pointed to a wagon by the side of the workshop and two mules.

Jesus got up, rolled up the sleeves, and then proceeded to pick up some planks. Cornelius was about to help but then Jesus said, “No. This I must do with my brothers alone.”

The rest of the morning, Cornelius watched, fascinated, as Jesus worked side by side with his brothers; the earlier argument forgotten. Jesus, assisted by his novice brother, Jude, worked on a dining table that was ordered by a merchant relative in Cana. By mid day, the table was fully assembled. Jesus was doing some final touch ups when the rest of the Twelve arrived. After they ate their mid day meal, the mules were hitched to the wagon. The table was loaded on the wagon for delivery to Cana. As they all waited patiently on the wagon, Cornelius watched Jesus and his mother quietly talk to each other. He saw sadness in her eyes as she said her farewells.

They spent about a week around the plains south of Sidon. Because they were in Gentile country only a few recognized who Jesus was. It was a time of rest and not contending with crowds. It was also a time for lessons.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Sketching Ireland #16

“Dingle All the Way”

“Dingle Bells… Dingle Bells… Dingle All the Way!”

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Well… okay… I am being a little bit corny. But our 6th leg is to the Dingle Peninsula on the western coast of Ireland. From the Kilarney National Park, we get back on the N71 and drive north into the city of Kilarney. The N71 ends on the N72 which goes goes west. Now, looking at Google Maps, I could have taken the fast flowing highway that would have taken me straight north to a town called Tralee and then go left in another highway into the peninsula, but I wanted a more scenic route. So, I turned left on the N72 and pass the north bound highway (N22) to Tralee. However, I’ll only be following it for a couple of miles until I can turn right on the R563. If you’re following my route, the landmark to look for is the Golden Nugget Pub & Restaurant. That might be a good place to get food. If you do or did, please contact me back or leave a comment.

I travelled the R563, again using Street-view which ends on the N70 at Milltown then I made a short daunt on N70 to Castlemaine where I turned left on R561. I vicariously rode through wide fields, orchards, working farms and hamlets which was enjoyable. But I have to admit that my expectation to see the Atlantic again was high on mind and lo… after six miles, there it was! Well… technically, the waters to my left is a large estuary. Even virtually, this was exciting. I again thank the Lord that He has given me a good imagination. I mean I can smell sea salt in the air and feel the cool wind blowing against my… imaginary… chocolate brown leather jacket. (I wish I could really wear one.) Now, I wish I could have stopped at a very long beach (Inch Beach) that I drove by. It look liked it went as far as the horizon and it reminded me of another long beach in Washington State minus thousands of giant drift wood. Okay, I’m reminiscing. So, to finish it up, R561 ends at the N86 into the town of Dingle. Now, let’s pretend that we spent the night in the town before go unto the Slea Head Drive.

Slea Head Drive

Considered one of Ireland’s best scenic routes, Slea Head Drive circles the western edge of the Dingle Peninsula. It is filled with beauty and history all its own. In the west, where Ireland’s literary history is rooted and richly celebrated, it’s Irish first. To the north and south are centuries-old ruins. Sprinkled among them are beautiful beaches, rolling hills, and dramatic cliffs. Slea Head Drive is a diamond among the gems of the Dingle Peninsula.

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Starting just west of Dingle Town, Slea Head Drive (R559) is about a 30 mile loop, that takes you to the very edge of Ireland. The route is fairly well marked, and prominently featured on area maps. It’s an easy, enjoyable drive that will occupy the better part of a day.

I couldn’t have described it any better. What you read above is actually from a blog article, Ireland Scenic Slea Head Drive Dingle Peninsula by Travellatte dot Net.

Now, for my sketch subject, I used a colored Google Map of the peninsula as the base. Then I marked the R559 route in red. This is the Slea Head Drive. On the right corner, I wanted to sketch out a portion of the highway that had a fantastic cliff side view that you can drive on at the bottom left corner of the peninsula.

During the first part of the drive, you’ll pass bucolic fields dotted with grazing sheep and occasional views of the coast. The road comes closer to the sea as you near Ventry. There is beach there that sometimes sea lions come ashore to sunbathe. After which you come to the cliff side road and a number of historical sites.

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Dunbeg Fort is a promontory fort that dates from the iron age. It is preserved beautifully, and you can see why it was located here. The views are expansive, and on a clear day they are absolutely spectacular! [from storiesfromhome.wordpress.com]

Driving on, you’ll find a site of stone houses like the behive stone hut as a testament to the harsh weather the early Irishmen had to contend with. Then you’ll come to the Slea Head Point where you’ll find a crucifixion monument. There you’ll have selfie opportunities with the nearby Blasket Islands in the background. As you continue on, keep your eyes peeled for broaching whales.

The rest of the loop (in Street-view mode), there were more stunning coastal views and I like going through quaint villages. I wish I can show more. So, for the rest of the sites, I’ll provide some links below. See you all on my next post.

Louis Mulcahy Potterywww.louismulcahy.com

Riasc Monastic Settlementlink 1, link 2 & link 3

The Gallarus Oratoryclick HERE

Caherdorgan Stone Fortclick HERE

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Sketching Ireland #15

A lot to see at the Kilarney National Park

google-map-N22-muckross-w.jpgComing into the Kilarney National Park means we have come to the halfway point of our itinerary tour of Ireland. Now, I promised myself not make anymore stops. ‘Boy!’ The temptation to make a couple of more stops… well… was really tempting, but I perservered. Thank goodness that the drive on the N22 (even a vicarious one) was really nice, especially when you get into the mountains.

To get to the National Park, we have to enter the eastern suburb of the city of Kilarney. Look to your left for a sign, White Bridge (if it’s still there) or if you have a Google Map App, your turn off is left on the Ballycasheen Road. When you go down the street you’ll go under a railroad bridge (max height 14′ 7″). Just as you go through the bridge, you’ll see a White Bridge Caravan & Campground to your left. Then you’ll know you’re going the right way. After that you have 2 options of routes to the national park.

You can take what I think is the quickest way and that is by going straight on Ballycasheen Road which will turn into the Woodlawn Road. You’ll be driving through mostly residential area. After 2 miles or so, you’ll end up on Muckross Road [N71]. Turn left on N71, cross the river and you’ll be in the park. The other route may take a little bit longer due to narrow lanes but it is more scenic. You’ll drive under canopies of tall trees, past beautiful houses and large manicured fields of grass. Ah… to smell the aroma of all those trees. So, after White Bridge, turn left on Mill Road, cross the bridge and enjoy the ride. At the end, you’ll also hit the N71. My personal choice is the Mill Road route. When I finally reached Muckross Road, my vicarious plan was to camp overnight at the Flesk Caravan & Camping Park. Now, we go into the national park.

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Killarney National Park is Ireland’s oldest National Park and it includes the world famous Lakes of Killarney, as well as the mountains and woodlands that surround them. So, for my sketch subject, I laid out the park and the lakes, highlighting the main attractions. As you can see, the Muckross House is the focal point within the park and it is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape.

Muckross House and Gardens is a furnished 19th-century mansion. It stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes. The mansion itself was built in the Tudor style back in the 17th century and has sixty-five rooms. If you’re a fan of Downton Abby, well with the size of this house, imagine how many servants it would take to service this house. As to the gardens, the lord of the land undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were added. I wish I could show you. [Wikipedia: Muckross]

After the house, I suggest you do most of your exploring on a horse drawn cart locally called a Caleche. Of course, you can hoof it yourself but the trail (marked in neon green) that circumvent the Muckross Lake is about 3 miles to the trail bridge and then another 4 miles back to the mansion. Stop by a small narrow lake called Doo Lough and do some rowing on it’s calm water. For selfies, the trail bridge and the ol’ Weir bridge may give you more memorable scenic pictures.

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Not too far from the house is the Muckross Abbey, which is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the park. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary. It’s a ruin like many abbeys I have ran into here in Ireland. What is interesting about this ruin is that sometime in the past, someone planted a yew tree in the center of the courtyard/cloister. It is fully grown and well… you know much I love drawing trees.

After which, drive a little south and visit the Torc Waterfall. The waterfall is approximately about 2 miles from the house and is signposted from a carpark off the N71. A short walk of approx 200 metres brings you to the waterfall. The waterfall which is approximately 20 metres high is at its best after heavy rainfall. From that point steps lead to another viewing point at a higher altitude on Mount Torc that provides a panoramic view over the Middle Lake.

As a final part of visiting the Kilarney National Park, get back into your vehicles and drive to the north edge of the largest lake called Lough Leane. There you’ll find the Ross Castle which is a 15th-century tower house and fortified keep. It is major tourist attraction. I believe you can also take lake tours there.

On my next post, we head to the Atlantic coast of the Dingle Peninsula. See you then…

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch12 – part 3

THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, SidonCG-book-cover-w

“Cornelius?” Jesus approached him. “I have matters that need attending at Nazareth. Do you wish to accompany us and be welcomed in my mother’s house?” Cornelius nodded his ascent. “Good! Matthew will wait for Peter and the others to return sometime tomorrow. They will meet us there.” Jesus looked at where Cestus waited by the picketed horses. “I suggest that you send your horses back. The trail we take will not be easy for them.”

“Are we going to walk to Nazareth?” He was not looking forward trekking through the Galilean range just by foot.

“No. We have these.” Jesus pointed amusingly to where Simon was leading three gray donkeys from behind the thickets.

“Very well,” Cornelius said laughingly. “I will send Cestus back with the horses.”
Nine hours later, Cornelius’ bottom was sore. Riding this small donkey was a challenge. At first, he rode it like his horse, but without a saddle and only a woolen blanket to separate him from the animal’s ridged backbone, he regretted it. Besides which his feet was hanging very close to the ground and managed to stub his toes on every boulder on the narrow trail. After an hour and much chiding from a laughing Simon, Cornelius relented and shifted his sitting position so that both legs were on one side with one knee resting on the base of the ass’ neck. He slipped off a couple of times but after a while he got the hang of it. Though Cornelius missed riding his horse, he had to grudgingly admit that they did good time. For these small animals were better suited for these rocky terrains.

They traveled mostly southwest from the Capernaum basin over the Galilean Range. By early night fall, they skirted around the north base of Mount Tabor and finally came upon the Old King’s Road which would take them to Nazareth. Cornelius recalled that this road, which was rebuilt by Roman standards, was as old as the time when the ancient Chaldeans raided the independent city states of this region. It was one of a network of established caravan routes as far as the great cities of Babylon and of Nineveh which was no more. This particular route led south through Gaza all the way into Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest king of Babylon, led his vast armies down this road vanquishing what was left of the Philistines, all of Egypt and eventually Judah and Jerusalem. When they arrived at the house of where Jesus grew up, Mariam, his mother, was there waiting expectantly.

Cornelius was awakened by heated voices coming from the outside. By the angle of the sunlight streaming through the window, he surmised that the sun had been up for about two hours. He overslept. He groaned as he lifted his aching body off the sleeping palette. He and Simon slept in the wood crafting workshop. Simon, who was already up and about, left food for him on the worktable. Hearing the raised voices again, he goes out to investigate and found Jesus sitting on a pile of roughly hewn logs confronted by his brothers. Simon was standing slightly behind Jesus with his arms crossed and a stern expression.

“In three weeks is the Festival. You must go to the Festival, brother!” exclaimed James. “Many have already left you here but in Jerusalem, there are many there that are awaiting for you to perform your miraculous act. Think of what you can achieve.” As he was saying this, he was gesturing with wriggling fingers above his head.

“It is not yet my time,” Jesus responded quietly.

“Brother, it was you that chose this road. You openly proclaimed yourself to the public. What talk is this that it is not yet your time? Are you afraid that the Pharisees are out to get you? Then how much more should you go down to Jerusalem and show yourself to the people? After all, no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly.”

So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.”

“What are you saying?”

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” The brothers were about to object but he raised his hand up for silence and said, “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because my time has not yet fully come. But soon it will be and you will understand.” [John 7:7-8 NASB]

Cornelius stood aside as the brothers, shaking their heads, went into the workshop.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

Sketching Ireland #14

A Required Stop for my Sister

Halfway to my 5th leg destination of the Kilarney National Park, I saw a blue sign that said Coolavokig Pottery. My sister, who is an enthusiast potter herself, would be pounding on my imaginary helmet to stop. So, for her… let’s go.

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Coolavokig Pottery is located close to Macroom and Ballyvourney on the N22 in West Cork, Ireland.

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At the pottery workshop Robb Bradstock and Meredith Flandreau make high-quality handmade ceramics fired in the oldest wood-fired kiln in Ireland that was constructed in 1977. Here they will show you their workshop. They had a large selection of pottery available in their retail shop and also several one of a kind sculptural pieces.

My sister will probably go ‘Lady Gaga’ on their nicely glazed bowls, mugs, candle lanterns, Pot-pourré jars and simmering scents/oil burners. For myself, I like the iconic sculpted faces of the Theatre. (The sad face is Tragedy. The laughing face is Comedy.)

I encourage anyone on the N22 to make a stop and meet Robb and Meredith. Let these dedicated artists showcase the good old-fashioned process of mixing their own clay, running a potter’s wheel, wood-firing and glazing. Enjoy. [Coolavokigpottery.com]

Okay, in my next post, we’ll not make anymore stops until we reach the Kilarney National Park. See you then.

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Sketching Ireland #13

Another Castle on a Lonely Hill

It is amazing how many castles I find in my vicarious vacation to Ireland. I found castle ruins in the middle of cities, even in residential areas. I found castles rebuilt as high class hotels and as golf clubs. And the last castle (that I sketched) I found was in the middle of a river. I was thinking of holding off sketching any more castles, but then I found this one castle in the middle of no where.

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I was on the N22 looking for something to sketch. I thought I would get some prospects when I crossed over the River Lee but no game yet. When I reached the town of Macroom, take a guess on what I found but yet another castle. Aaarrrggh! (I type out in exaspiration and for fun.) So, I continued on for another 2 miles and lo ‘n’ behold, a lone GE marker led me to another castle… a smaller 13th century castle, the Carrigaphooca Castle, sitting on a rocky knoll about 500ft from the highway. It was just a simple rectangular 5-storey tower tasked as a defensive keep against marrauders who came up the River Sullane and according to history, it was frequently attacked.

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Frankly, I loved the look of the castle in the photo. But I felt the picture needed a couple of battle-hardened Irish warriors. By the way, the ‘Brave Heart’ sword… the heavy long sword was not just limited to Scottish rebels & Mel Gibson.

Click Google map link to Carrigaphooca Castle.

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