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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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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