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 #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 #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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