Sketching Ireland #18

A City But Not Really a City Feel

We are now coming into the 8th leg of our itinerary tour (vicarious vacation) of Ireland.

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From the Burren National Park Visitor Centre, we worked our way north until we finally hit the N67. The N67 hugs the coast of a large lengthy bay of which Google map provided no name. Since, the city of Galway sits on the northside of the bay, I unofficially dubbed it, Galway Bay. Anyway, driving on the N67 was vicariously pleasant with the Galway Bay always to tour left. There was one part, just after the village of Kinvarra, the water was right up to the highway. A low stone wall was the only barrier that kept us from driving into the water. I liked it. Now, I started to wonder that with this short stretch of water being a sheltered harbor, there has to be castle protecting it. And sure enough, there it was, Dunguaire Castle. Click HERE to see it in Street-view mode. Sixteen miles later, we drove into Galway.

According to another blog writer, Roaming Irishman, “Galway is without a doubt, my favourite city in Ireland. It has an atmosphere unlike anywhere else on the island. It’s got a ‘city but not really a city’ feel, with friendly locals making it a special place to be. When any tourists coming to Ireland ask for advice on where to go, I always say Galway. It’s a city and county with so much charm about it. It is the perfect place to use as an introduction to, or even as a base for exploring, the west coast of Ireland. A very different city to Dublin, a visit to Galway must be on your itinerary.”

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My first sketch is a fountain sculpture in the Eyre Square Park, downtown Galway. The sculpture depicts the sails of a old styled fishing boat called a ‘hooker’.

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Not too far from the park is High Street. It is a long four block brick laid street lined with retail shops, restaurants, cafes and street performers. While there visit any tourist shop and get yourself a Claddagh ring.

gallway-claddagh-ring-w.jpgThe Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship (the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty). The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of the same name in Galway. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century. There are many legends about the origins of the ring, particularly concerning Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway circa 1700, who is said to have invented the Claddagh design as we know it. Legend has it that Joyce was captured and enslaved by Algerian Corsairs around 1675 while on a passage to the West Indies; he was sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him the craft. King William III sent an ambassador to Algeria to demand the release of any and all British subjects who were enslaved in that country, which at the time would have included Richard Joyce. After fourteen years, Joyce was released and returned to Galway and brought along with him the ring he had fashioned while in captivity: what we’ve come to know as the Claddagh. [Wikipedia]

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My last sketch, I titled it, ‘Old Man by the Sea’. This old Irish fella was sitting on a rock at the tip of a pier at the mouth of the River Correb spilling out onto the unofficial Galway Bay. In the original photograph, he was staring out mostly on an empty bay except for some swimming pelicans or maybe even swans. So, I included in my sketch, a sailing hooker (a Galway fishing boat) and a pelican on the foreground.

In my next post, we take a very very long drive to Northern Ireland.

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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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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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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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Sketching Ireland #12

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course… Of Course

We are back on the road again. Leaving Blarney, we get back on the N22 highway going west. Our next leg is to the Kilarney National Park.

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Now, that is a long ride especially if you are on a fantasy motorcycle towing a teardrop trailer. So, as I follow the N22 in Google Earth [GE], I’m going to make a number of short stops.

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My first stop is a sketch about a school that not only teach you how to ride horses but on how to perform majestically on them in equestrian competitions. The Lee Valley Equestrian Centre is a family oriented full service equestrian centre, which strives to offer programs suitable for every rider in the family, and some that might even tickle the fancy of the non rider! They offer a riding school for all ages; Natural Horsemanship & Livery; Dressage for exhibitions and competition; Horse trekking through quiet roads and much more. [content from their website]

The sketch above also gives me an opportunity to describe the process of how I made up the final composite. Let’s look at the map again. If you notice on the Google map, I marked out 2 black dots. One dot is closest to the N22 (Lee Valley Equestrian Centre) and the other (Carrigadrohid Castle) is about 2 miles north of the equestrian school. So, how did I choose this 2 clearly unrelated destinations into one drawing?

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First things first, as a practice, when I’m on GE, I basically check out markers closest to the road I’m following. In this case, about a mile north of N22 [#1], I was attracted to a photo marker [#2]. When I clicked on the marker, I got the photo [#3] with the label, Lee Valley Equestrian Centre. Two things clicked for me, I love horses and ruins. However, because Sketching Ireland is also a travel blog, I needed to identify where that picture was taken. Now, most photo markers pinpoint the spot where the photo was taken. But by looking closer at the satelite view [#2], it does show the equestrian centre with it’s large indoor riding arena, 50 acres of grass and large stables… but NO bridge, no ruins in the nearby vicinity. So, what I did next was googled the Lee Valley Equestrian Centre and found both a website and Facebook page. I quickly ‘Messager-ed’ them to inquire about the photo and got an immediate respond which I appreciated. The photo was taken when the school took a number of students horse trekking to the Carrigadrohid Castle about 2 miles north of the centre. The castle itself sits in the middle of the river [#4].

So, if you are travelling that part of Ireland, please drop by the Lee Valley Equestrian Centre and have some fun.

Google map link to Lee Valley Equestrian Centre
Google map link to Carrigadrohid Castle

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