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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Sketching Ireland #11

Kissing the Blarney Stone?

Cork is suppose to be the 4th leg of our itinerary tour of Ireland.

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Cork, just inland from Ireland’s southwest coast, is a university city with its centre on an island in the River Lee, connected to the sea by Cork Harbour. It is written that Cork is easy to get around on foot and there’s an incredible energy about the city. No matter what day of the week, or what time of year, Cork is a hive of activity. The streets are busy with locals and tourists alike, the sound of live music fills the air, there are some fantastic restaurants, cafés and pubs, and there are so many things to do in Cork city that you will have more than enough to keep you entertained. But alas, I have decided to by pass the city and go straight to an adjacent town of Blarney.

There, we will find the famed Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone.

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Built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftans, Cormac MacCarthy, and has been attracting attention ever since. Over the last few hundred years, millions have flocked to Blarney making it a world landmark and one of Ireland’s greatest treasures. Now that might have something to do with the Blarney Stone, the legendary Stone of Eloquence, found at the top of our tower. Kiss it and you’ll never again be lost for words. [content by blarneycastle.ie]

Realisticly, I would not have been able to climb those ancient stone steps to the castle’s battlements and then bend my back, hang my head over a gaping hole some 60 feet high and then kiss a stone embedded on the battlements’ overhang. In my sketch of the castle, the highest point is the battlement and you’ll notice on the facing side is a jutting overhang. That is where the Stone of Eloquence is found.

The Blarney Tree

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You know how much of a tree hugger I am, so when I discovered this gigantic tree in the forest area of the castle grounds, I had to draw it. What I heard is that the tree is actually a Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata). This tree is only about 100 years old and is indigenous to North America, introduced to Britain and Ireland in 1853 by William Lobb.

Fishing in Blarney

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As I was vicariously driving around the grounds, I came upon a scenic stream with (in my opinion) an aesthetically attractive tree. While sketching the scene, I felt it needed something. So, I included a father and his son leisurely fishing away. I wonder if fishing in the Blarney Castle’s ground is allowed.

Some Changes

In my next post, I am going west to the 5th leg of our itinerary tour of Ireland. However, I am going to make some changes. For one thing, my Sketching Ireland posts will be a lot shorter but a little more frequent. So, on the way to the next leg, I’m going to make a couple of stops. See you then.

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Sketching Ireland #10

Walking Downtown Waterford

When visiting Waterford, Viking Triangle would be the first place to see starting with Reginald’s Tower right at the river’s edge. You can’t miss it. Just as the main river-side avenue turns right into Parnell Street, look for a medieval tower which is also the site of the first tower built by Vikings after 914. Reginald’s Tower is Waterford’s landmark monument and Ireland’s oldest civic building. Re-built by the Anglo Normans in the 12th century the top two floors were added in the 15th century. Until about 1700 the tower was the strong point of the medieval defensive walls that enclosed the city. The tower now houses an exhibition on Viking Waterford and is managed by the Office of Public Works. The tower, by the way, happen to form the apex of the triangular settlement, an area known to this day as the Viking Triangle.

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I would have loved to sketch it except I was more attracted to an authentic replica of a viking warship which visibly sat right next to the tower. For fun, when I drew the ship, I decided to include History Channel’s The Vikings’ character image of Ragnar Lothbrok played by Travis Fimmel.

From the viking ship, walk down a narrow lane (Bailey’s New St.) about 2 blocks, past an old abby, you’ll find 2 museums (Medieval Museum & Bishop’s Palace) that are part of the Viking Triangle. These museums including Reginald’s Tower houses treasures from loot by Viking sea pirates, Norman invaders of the Medieval era and Waterford’s prize collections of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

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For my sketch subject, I chose a pair of bronze viking thrones ornately sculpted to depict a viking warrior and a shield maiden. These seats are open for tourists to sit on and you can find them in a plaza in front of the Bishop’s Palace Museum.

From the museums, I decided to do a Street-View exploration of the surrounding neighborhood. I was on Broad Street corner Peter Street, when I found, to my delight, the Bagel Factory.

 

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Make my order: 2 onion bagels, lightly toasted to golden brown, a thick spread of cream cheese, 3 thick strips of bacon… let’s make that 6 strips instead and 2 eggs fried over easy. Oh boy… yum.

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Just down a block from the Bagel Factory, I found a corner that I could not hesitate but sketch not because of the Spokes bike shop or even the Sweet Corner found there. I chose it for my sketch subject because of the wall art.

Okay, I’m leaving Waterford and driving west along the coast to Cork.

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Sketching Ireland #9

Waterford & Wexford Counties

We are finally getting into the third leg of my Irish itinerary adventure. I need to clarify that Sketching Ireland is again a fantasy vacation. I am a quadriplegic vicariously driving through the highways of Ireland. How? I thank the Lord and Google for a fantastic internet virtual programs called Google Earth & Maps. You see, when I implement Google’s Street View program, I get a 360 degree picture of the place I’m exploring. It is like I am almost there. I am doing this for fun and also as a way to promote myself as a graphic illustrationist and as a virtual assistant.

Anyway, from Kilkenny (our last stop), we go back on the M9 and head south. I don’t mind saying that I was really tempted to make several stops. Google Earth displayed several markers to say that there may be interesting attractions there. But I decided to stay the course and head straight to Waterford. The M9 ended at the River Suir which was the natural boundary between County Kilkenny and County Waterford. We crossed the river on a very modern bridge unto a highway that hugged the river to another highway that goes into the city.

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[1] Waterford, which means in old Norse as “ram fjord”, started out as a Viking settlement back in 853 AD. It is said that the city is the oldest, historical and quite an upbeat city in the sunny south-east Ireland (www.ireland.com). This is definately a must see place, however, we are not going into city just yet.

My Ireland Itinerary Plan suggest we first head to the coast to Hook Head which is actually across the river in another county (Wexford). How do we get there? By ferry, of course!

[2] Passage East Ferry

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So, we circumvented Waterford using the by-pass expressway that is south of the city to a fishing village called Passage East. That is where we catch the ferry that frequently crosses the River Suir. Because I love ferries, well sketching one was a no brainer.

[3] Hook Lighthouse, Co. Wexford

From the ferry, we head south to a narrow peninsula to the village of Churchtown on Hook Head. Driving farther down from Churchtown, we followed a two-lane road to the rocky tip of the peninsula where we found the oldest working lighthouse in the world. This is clearly a tourist destination complete with guided tours, rest rooms, restaurant and even handicap access. There were a number of photos of the lighthouse and waves breaking on a rocky shores. I decided to hold off on sketching this scene for later but instead I opted to make a thunbnail sketch and place it on the map.

Upon driving toward the lighthouse, I noticed (via Street-View) a camper parked off the road. Seeing no no-camping signage anywhere, I wonder about boondocking here overnight. Afterall, I am vicariously towing a souped up off-the-grid teardrop trailer. Ah… imagine waking up to gulls squacking and waves crashing.

[4] An Abandoned Cottage in Graigue Little

 

WF-graigue-cottage-w.jpgOn the way back to where the ferry is, I turned off unto the wrong country road. Fortunately, I was happy to find an abandoned cottage which was practically overgrown with foliage. This was a definate sketch subject. (By the way, the kid on the bike is a re-use.)

[click here for Google Map STREET-VIEW link]

[5] Fishing Boat

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My next sketch subject is a fishing boat that was moored at the same fishing village where the ferry took me across the river.

[6] Wedding on the Island

On my way back to Waterford, I came upon a small island east of the city. It had no other name except “The Island”. Frankly, I was hoping for an Irish name or even a Viking one. The island had a 16th-century castle that was converted into a classy hotel and an extensive golfing range through out most of the island. The island was also a popular wedding destination. Access here is by a small ferry.

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I was only attracted to it because Google Earth was displaying a great many photo markers, two of which caught my attention and I did not hesitate to combine into one sketch subject.

In my next posting, we’re going into Waterford.

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Sketching Ireland #8

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile

Again, it is said that, Kilkenny is a popular tourist destination in Ireland. Well regarded for its cultural life, it has always tended to attract culturally aware visitos. Art galleries, historic buildings, craft and design workshops, theatre, comedy, public gardens and museums are some of main reasons Kilkenny has become one of Ireland’s most visited towns and a popular base to explore the surrounding countryside. Points of interest within the city and its environs include Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kells Priory, Kilkenny Town Hall, Black Abbey and Jerpoint Abbey. [content from unknown resource]

We focused on Kilkenny Castle in our last post. From the castle, you can’t leave this city without walking through Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile.

Ireland s Medieval Mile in Kilkenny Medieval Kilkenny

The Medieval Mile is a discovery trail running through the centre of Kilkenny City linking the Anglo-Norman castle and the 13th-century St Canice’s Cathedral with much more in between. Of course, it does not really look that medieval with unpaved muddy streets. The Medieval Mile is set up for tourists and is not just focused on ancient history. There is a lot to see and I wish I could show you more but I can only sketch so much.

St. Kieran’s Street

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I wanted to sketch a fun place where you can shop, mingle and eat. That place, in my opinion, would have to be St. Kieran’s Street. It is a long and narrow back ally street nicely paved with dark bricks, lined with cafes and a variety of retail shops. It is also a place that in occasion is cordoned off to allow street vendors and performers. By the way, the Roots & Fruits may have closed.

St. Canice’s Cathedral

A tour of the city usually would include seeing nine churches and two cathedrals. The largest of which is the St. Canice’s Cathedral.

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St Canice’s Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It was built in the Early English, or English Gothic, style of architecture, of limestone, with a low central tower supported on black marble columns. The internet had provided hundreds of photos of both outside and in. For my sketch subject, I chose an inside perspective from the vantage point of the podium of where the Scripture is read. From the drawing, you can see the high pointed arches form entrances from the nave into the choir and the two transepts. Between the nave and each aisle is a row of five black marble clustered columns, with high moulded arches. The nave is lighted by a large west window and five clerestory windows, while the aisles each have four windows.

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In one of those naves, I found the stone tomb of John Grace. I have no other information on who John Grace is, but with its intricate carvings, I had to draw it.

Biddy Early’s Pub & Kilkenny Beer

Kilkenny offers all sorts of tours and I also read that there is even a guided merriment tour to the 70 pubs in the city. Biddy Early’s Pub happens to be one of the best. By the way, the pub is right next to… get this… Sweeny Todd Barbershop and the letter T of Todd is shaped like an old styled swith razor. Who said that the Irish had no humor?

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I also found out that Kilkenny has their own beer.

Well, we’re finally leaving Kilkenny. We’re heading south to the coast. See you at my next posting.

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Sketching Ireland #7

Said to be Most Beautiful Castle in Ireland

When in Kilkenny, the must see attraction is the Kilkenny Castle.

kilkenny-castle-1-w.jpgThe castle was built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several route-ways. It was a symbol of Norman occupation and in its original thirteenth-century condition it would have formed an important element of the defenses of the town with four large circular corner towers and a massive ditch, part of which can still be seen today. Few buildings in Ireland can boast a longer history of continuous occupation than Kilkenny Castle.

Explore the Castle   Kilkenny Castle.jpgFounded soon after the Norman conquest of Ireland, the Castle had been rebuilt, extended and adapted to suit changing circumstances and uses over a period of 800 years. The castle’s website (kilkennycastle.ie) provided an artist’s impression of what the medieval castle would look like. As time went by, the castle eventually deteriorated to ruin and abandoned. The property with its ruins was transferred to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for only about £50.

The Lord Ormonde sold the abandoned castle to the Castle Restoration Committee for a ceremonial £50, with the statement: “The people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this deterioration. We determined that it should not be allowed to fall into ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland.” He also bought the land in front of the castle from the trustees “in order that it should never be built on and the castle would be seen in all its dignity and splendour”.

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Today, Kilkenny Castle is open to the public all year round and is largely a Victorian remodeling of the thirteenth century defensive Castle. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to see this grand country house and walk through its fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.

There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland. Part of the National Art Gallery is on display in the castle.

Rose Garden

kilkenny-castle-diana-w.jpgLocated on the north-west side of the castle is a formal garden with axial paths radiating from a central fountain retains much of the basic form that could have been there during the ducal period. The existing fountain is probably the base of an original seventeenth-century water feature. Two lead statues stand on pedestals near the castle: one is of Hermes after the original in the Vatican Collection, and the other is of Diana the Huntress. All of the garden features, including the terracing, have been recently restored.

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For my sketch subject, I focused mostly on the fountain. The fountain sculpture is that of three mermaids. I decided to frame it and put on the foreground the sculpture and 2 tourists.

Castle’s Parkland

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The Castle’s Parkland is south of the castle and is made up of fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.

In this sketch, I mostly drew in people enjoying the park. Like the fountain sketch, I thought it would be cool to frame it and a few folks on the foreground (again).

The Watch Tower

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Canal Square is just below the Rose Garden on the banks of the River Nore. My sketch shows a small watch tower (gate lodge) stands guard to a wide public walkway that goes along the river that eventually circumvent the entire castle and parkland property.

In my next post, we’ll finish our time in Kilkenny by exploring the Medieval Mile.

[Contents are mostly from Wikipedia and kilkennycastle.ie]

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