Inishturk

I joined a group led by Clifden archaeologist Michael Gibbons on a trip to Inish Turk and Caher Island this week. We set out from Cleggan harbour at 9.30am and headed for Caher island first, north east of Turk. It is tiny, uninhabited and difficult to access. The remains of an early Christian monastery survive on the island which is an ancient pilgrimage place and is still visited for this purpose today.

 

Map of the islands - Turk and Caher

Map of Inishturk and Caher Island 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, we were unable to land on the island as there was quite a big swell even though the day was warm and calm. This was what we saw as we approached – the water was deceptively still, almost black and oily in appearance but it rose up suddenly in bursts which crashed heavily on the rocks at the shoreline.

 

Caher island just offshore

 

 

 

We turned around then and made our way back to Inishturk, stopping first to marvel at the base of these cliffs – a rupture of black basalt and granite. The light was incredible – it sparkled off the water and diffused as it rose, trapped in the black curve of rock which rises sharply from the water. I wish my photography skills were a bit better – this is my best picture.

 

Cliffs at Inishturk from the sea

 

 

 

We travelled over to the pretty harbour of Portdoon next ( cover photo ) where we disembarked and started our hike. The island is 5km long by 2.5km wide and we covered a good deal of it in the five or six hours we spent there. The landscape is an eye popping mix of undulating hills and valleys with ancient walls and field systems and dramatic cliff top walks. There’s a spectacular view of the Twelve Bens mountain range in this next one.

 

turk 1

 

 

 

The diamond shaped hill in the centre distance ( below ) is Croagh Patrick, an important pilgrimage mountain in county Mayo.

 

The landscape at Inishturk

 

 

Me in hiking mode below.

 

Photo of me in hiking mode

 

 

 

These sea stacks are known in Irish as ‘Buachaill mor’ and ‘Buachail beag’ ( Big boy and small boy ). The cliff views were spectacular and a little scary.

 

Inishturk cliffs viewed from the island

 

 

 

This next one is known locally as the sphynx – an incredible natural sculpture.

 

sea stacks at Inishturk

 

 

 

As we completed the loop back to Portdoon, we began to hear the sound of the sheep and their new lambs which dotted this part of the island – they were very willing to pose for photos..

 

Sheep on Inishturk

 

 

 

Lamb at Inishturk

 

 

 

Lastly, I stopped to take a picture of the post office which also operates as a Bed and Breakfast.

Every single islander we met along the way greeted us warmly and stopped for a chat. I was struck by the thought of living among such a small close community – just forty inhabitants today. This island is less known and travelled compared to it’s neighbours Inishbofin and Clare Island which attract large numbers of tourists in the Summer, but it is no less beautiful. I hope to make a return visit before the end of the Summer.

 

Inishturk post office

Sketches in paint 2

These sketches are all based on the same scene, along the coast just outside the village of Claddaghduff, which is about seven or eight miles from Clifden.
In the vein of loose painting, I completed them very quickly (if they can be called complete). One is on a colored paper and the other two are on a heavy acrylic paper.

 

Painting: Claddaghduff landscape 1

 

 

Painting: Claddaghduff landscape 2

 

 

Painting: Claddaghduff landscape 3

 

 

I enjoy working on a colored ground or paper and it is not quite the same thing as paper that I have colored myself, although I probably need to work on this. Psychologically, one feels more free straight away and I think this usually shows. It has something to do with the daunting hold a blank white sheet of paper has on the mind – it scares us a little. This really should not be the case for someone like myself who has been putting paint on paper since childhood but I do think that it is so.
The other point about these colored papers is that they are very light and not really designed for heavy applications of paint. They tend to buckle especially if larger in size than about A5. This does not bother me especially but may be off putting for a potential buyer/owner of the piece. What is your opinion?

Welcome to my blog!

I have been thinking (and talking) about this blog and my soon to open on line shop with etsy.com since Christmas. It is now almost the end of February and I am very excited to be here at last!
My plan is to share my thoughts about living and working in Connemara in relation to my paintings and the things that I draw my inspiration from.
It’s a big learning curve for me so I hope that the blog will develop as I go along and that some of you will stay with me.

 

 

Cleggan coast painting

 

This is my most recent painting and the one that I have used in my banner. It is based on a part of the coastline near Cleggan which is about seven miles away. The photo underneath is one I used for reference while painting.

 

Cleggan coast photo

 

 

I use photographs to help me make decisions about composition, particularly with the landscapes. I also use them as a starting point for colour choices. The work then takes on a life of its own and my intention thereafter is to evoke the atmosphere of the place, the weather and what it felt like to be there that day. I try to conjure this up in my head when I have my paints ready in front of me. This was a beautiful dry day (unusual in February!) but there was unease in the air and the promise of a rain storm. The afternoon closed in to the evening during the short time that I spent there.