Saturday, April 5, 2014

Last few days in Ireland

After a day loitering around the outskirts of Letterkenny while Milly had her first service, we headed back to Fintown for the night. The evening was still and the reflections on the waters of the lough were clear and stunning. I got a little carried away photographing the stunning mirror images ... again though, these are raw, unphotoshopped images, so you're at the mercy of the non-techno-buff photographer!!!

 Next morning we set off for a lovely drive through the Glenveagh National Park area with Cruit Island in mind, where we had arranged to meet Facebook friend and artist, Liz Doyle … rendevouzing at The Viking Inn.

It was lovely meeting Liz and getting a sneak peak of some of her paintings inspired by prayer flags from her recent trip to India. It was also an afternoon of plotting and planning, culminating in me booking a trip to Venice, for a week in July, to participate in abstract workshops with G.A.P. (Global Art Projects). Liz is already booked and Alan decided this was to be my 60th birthday present from himself. Am I a lucky girl or what! I was so excited about all this planning that I clean forgot to take pics of our tea with Liz!

A misty and mystical night was spent up in the mountains of Glenveagh National Park. It was so dark and misty that neither of us took our cameras out that night. We were though, as ever, snuggy and warm in Milly, only jerked occasionally out of our comfort by the horns of trucks as their drivers tooted in greeting as they whizzed past.

We moved on the next day, with a day or two of rest in mind, and found a lovely spot where we spent two nights, at the side of a lough with Glebe House as our neighbour. I managed a bit of painting and generally savoured the space of having my own thoughts in my head for a full few hours. I set up my Milly studio very comfortably in the driver's and passenger's cab to produce a trio of mini paintings and a "Mug" study. 

Pretty nifty motorhome art studio hey?
I'm very comfortable indeed with my easel on one chair
while I'm perched on the other in padded comfort.

Alan took a few shots of our overnight spot next to the lough.

 Two nights in one place is generally accepted as the maximum for not over-staying your welcome when wild camping, so we set off to explore Glenveagh National Park, stopping off to check out what we could see in the Glebe House grounds. The gallery holds the work of Derek Lewis but only opens in April.

Daffodils! We found Daffodils. Lovely, curly, multi-petaled ones. At last. So far all the Daffodils I've spotted we've had to drive past as there weren't any suitable pull-off places. It's the "Yellow Flower Season" at the moment, so a couple of other lovely little specimens have made it into the gallery below. The "White Flower Season" follows next I think - has everyone noticed the colour flower seasons?

I was amazed at how like Connemara a lot of Glenveagh National Park is, and for the next few days I left most of the photography to Alan, choosing instead to just peacefully soak in my surroundings. We spent two nights in the parking grounds of the Park, one afternoon catching the shuttle bus to the castle there for a treat tea of coffee, banoffi pie and aero mint cheesecake. Yum!

This is a view from the castle grounds.
The castle was built by a Mr Adare who obviously had
lots of jingly stuff in his pockets ... and he even built a
swimming pool at the side of the lough!


The views across the lake were good and we found quite a lot of interest in the old-world luxury of the castle gardens … a swimming pool next to the lough (I wonder how often they used that!) and a garden square lined with statuesque busts of Roman-type flavour which I thoroughly enjoyed. To me it looked like they came alive at night and in the morning froze again in the attitude of haughtiness they’d spent the night in … some of them looking like they weren’t talking to the guy on the next pedestal, with their heads averted and their noses high.

Again, I didn’t take my camera out during our two nights in Bushmills, devoting my time to painting mini’s of Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle to replace those which had sold at Gallery 1608, and readying myself for a date with my husband at The Bushmills Inn hotel.

These are the minis I left behind at Gallery 1608 - a silhouette of Dunluce Castle and three Cookson-versions of The Giant's Causeway:

We had a lovely evening together and a stunning meal at The Bushmills Inn Hotel … Duo of Quail with Textures of Pear (Lynda), Guinness and Onion Soup (Alan), Fillet Steak and Mushrooms in Bushmills Cream Sauce (L), Bushmills Tasting Platter (basically a mixed grill with venison, belly of pork, lamb chop and clonakilty black pudding wrapped in a cabbage leaf (A), chocolate mousse to die for!!! (L) and cheese plate with frozen grapes (A) finished off with a Bushmills coffee (L) and a Martini Espresso(A). As Alan so delicately puts it with that grin on his face… Burp!

If you're ever in Bushmills, a visit to The Bushmills Inn Hotel is a must. The pub area creaks of history, with three or four snugs leading from restaurant to bar, built for the smaller people of long ago. It's really difficult not to let your mind wander into stories you've read of deeds good and bad done (a clumsy word, but really the correct one to use here!) in places like this; of hands shaken; of money passed from palm to palm; of shifty looks out of grimy faces beneath strings of unwashed hair and hats; of weapons and connivery; oh yes, and of good deeds too.

Saturday, on our way back to Dublin and then Oughterard – our home village – for a doctor’s appointment and to swap a few things with Ferne and Mathias, we stopped off in Larne to meet with another Facebook friend and artist, Laura Butler, at her exhibition in The Mill. A most pleasant afternoon coffee with a lovely lady! It’s somehow very special to meet up with folk who, without the internet, we may never have crossed paths with. Our lives are definitely the richer for it.

Again, no photographs to show for it, but on Sunday we took a detour from Dublin through Athboy, near Trim in Co Meath, to fetch a keyboard for Ferne. We meandered through Daffodil sprinkled, peaceful farmlands and country roads which we never imagined existed, chiding ourselves for not making more of an effort to find these country gems. We definitely will though, in future.

Next episode I'll introduce you to Maisie Rose.

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