Wednesday, May 22, 2013

21st May; Judy's Goat Farm, Glandore, Drombeg Stone Circle, Coppinger's Court

A full day began with witnessing the construction of supports for and planting of beans and peas in rich black soil, the legacy of an old manure heap, at neighbour Judy's "Ardagh Castle Goat Farm".

Lisi and Linda planting, myself watching!
From the rich aromas of the goat farm to the similarly rich, if different, aromas of Kalbo's Café, Skibbereen for coffee and a delicious slice of in-house lemon flan, followed by a drive east along the Atlantic coast to Glandore.

Looking from Glandore towards the sheltered fishing village of Union Hall
Lunch at Glandore, continental style outside at a table on the pavement above the sea on the far side of the road from the restaurant.  Post lunch to the Bronze Age stone circle at Drombeg . . . .

. . . and on to Coppinger's Court.

During the early 1600s this amazing pile was built by Sir Walter Coppinger but he was able to enjoy his home here for a very short while - the building was ransacked and burned in the course of the 1641 rebellion and has since stood as a ruin.  Coppinger who, according to legend gained most of his considerable wealth by adroit use of the law, trickery, document editing and forgery, was not it seems one of the more pleasant  of our species.  He also earned a reputation for dealing swiftly and mercilessly with any opposition to his rapacious ambitions.

Our pleasant day ended much as it began with late afternoon tea and apple tart at "Apple Betty's Café" in Skibbereen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

20th May; with Barry Dawkes

I had hoped, this year, to find a painting holiday I might take to improve my watercolour painting skills.  I found, through the internet, a great number of suitable courses but none at venues or on dates convenient for me.  A after booking a cottage in which to to stay here in Ireland I contacted Barry Dawkes at 'West Cork Watercolour'.  None of the courses he had on offer for the summer coincided with the month I would be spending in Ireland but Barry kindly replied to my enquiry with an offer to make a day with him available to me.

I arrived at 'Crosslea', Barry's home and studio at ten o'clock on a morning which had begun overcast but was improving by the hour.  I was greeted with coffee and biscuits over which we chatted to allow Barry to get an idea of my painting history and aspirations.  We then plunged into some practical work practising basic watercolour painting techniques.  Armed with the knowledge of how to, I then began to make a copy of one of Barry's paintings.  Barry worked with me, making his own copy of his earlier painting, giving me tips as he did so on colour mixing and allowing me to closely watch him apply his techniques.  After an intense morning, during which I learned more in a few hours than I would have in years working alone (If ever!), we adjourned for an excellent salad lunch provided by Barry's wife, Kath.  After lunch Barry and I finished the paintings we had started earlier and began work on and finished a second.  I left the studio at six o'clock; happy and very satisfied  The two paintings I completed with Barry are better than anything I have yet produced, I shall be interested now to know whether I shall be able to maintain and develop my new found level of confidence and ability.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pilgrimage 1; Michael Collins

Since my first visit to Ireland in the autumn of 2011 I have become a zealous student of irish history.  Michael Collins was an important irish nationalist leader.  A signatory to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty Collins subsequently found himself leader of the pro-treaty faction of nationalists in opposition to DeValera's anti-treaty faction.  In 1922 Collins was ambushed and shot by anti-treaty supporters.  This post is a record of my pilgrimages to Collins' birthplace, his home for one of his teenage years in Clonakilty and to the memorial to his death in a gun battle after being ambushed.
Michael Collins birthplace, Woodfield, near Clonakilty.
View from Collins' birthplace dwellings over the remains of the fine house built by his father and destroyed during the civil war of 1922.
The house in Clonakilty in which, from 1904 until 1905 Michael Collins lived with his sister Margaret.
Memorial to the fatal ambush of Michael Collins.
The roadside memorial purports to mark the site of the killing, by pro-treaty forces, of Michael Collins.

The Michael Collins website (, however, has this to say concerning the monument: "The Collins monument stands on the right-hand side of the road from Newcestown to Beal-na-mBlath. It was erected in 1924 on two roods of land purchased by the Irish National Army. Why it was erected on that particular position is a mystery since it does not mark the spot nor even the side of the road where he died. Perhaps the engineers siting the monument decided that it would be unwise to erect it close to the stream on the left hand side and choose a site which allowed adequate space for military honours to be rendered to the First Commander-in-Chief.

The author's memory of the place in the early 1930's is of a narrow twisted road with a continuous strip of grass in the centre and a mud bank on the left-hand side close to the stream (the little river Noneen). There was very little tree or scrub growth. Since then, the Cork County Council have widened and surfaced the road. In the process they have removed the mud bank in places but, more importantly the curve in the road for a length of over 200 yards has been removed. It is important to remember that the road and road fence were differently aligned in 1922 when the Collins convoy passed that way."