Bog Cotton

I noticed a few strands of bog cotton while taking pictures out on the Bog Road. It usually appears later, around June so these were just a few sparse stands. Later it can be seen in gorgeous delicate swathes between the bog heathers.

 

Photo 1 of Bog Cotton

 

 

This is the single headed variety of bog cotton which likes damp ground but not ground which is completely water logged. There is a many headed form which grows in pools of water and draws up water through it’s stem. This variety uses its leaves which are long and rolled in to needles, to conserve water.

 

Photo 2 of Bog Cotton

 

 

I love it’s hairy delicateness and the way it swishes in the breeze. It holds a promise of Summer which is welcome as May has been unusually cold and wet so far..

 

Photo 3 of Bog Cotton

My Work Space – A Tour in Photos

I will be welcoming RTE’s ‘Nationwide’ team in to my home and studio this week which is a fantastic opportunity – I’ll post the screening date on my facebook page as soon as I know about it. With this in mind, I thought I might do a photo tour of my work space for those of you who read this blog..
I converted our guest room in to a work room for myself about four years ago. I had been using the kitchen table before this and clearing up after each session which was often more trouble than it was worth! Creating a space where I can come and go as time allows was the best decision I have made in recent years.
It is a small room as you can see – there was just enough room for a double bed and two bedside lockers in it’s old life. However, it is perfectly suited to my needs at the moment and I feel very lucky to have it.

 

Photo of Deborah's Workspace

 

 

This is my painting desk (above). It gets great light in the morning, as the window to the left is East facing and this happens to suit my morning work schedule when my daughters are at school. I’ve pinned up some old work, photographs, postcards and things I’ve collected overhead. I change these images around from time to time and add bits and pieces as I find them. Here’s a close up of the board below.

 

Photo of Art Board

 

 

These are my materials – inks, paints, charcoal and my palette which is a flat plastic container with a lid. I am very unfussy about my brushes and I sometimes think the really worn ones make the most interesting marks.

 

Painting Materials

 

 

Painting Materials 2

 

 

I use this desk (below) which is to the right of my painting desk, for sewing. I keep the materials separate and swivel my chair around if I am using my sewing machine. I do a bit of dress making for pleasure and I also do some machine embroidery from time to time. Perhaps some day I will figure out a way of combining the painting and the sewing..

 

Sewing Desk

 

 

This last photograph is a storage cupboard that I have covered with more collected imagery and old work.

 

Storage Cupboard

Wild fuchsia and Nature’s Colours

I took some more photographs of the wild fuchsia flower on a recent walk near my home in Clifden. This pale pink variety is not as commonly found as the bright red strain that adorns most hedgerows here. I love it’s delicate colours – barely pink and pale purple against the vivid greens of the leaves and hedgerow, the colours of early Summer.

 

Photo 1 of pink Fuschia

 

 

Photo 2 of pink Fuschia

 

 

I find it interesting how certain unexpected combinations of colour and tone work so well in Nature. I can imagine this mixture in a fabric print or perhaps some knitwear. Now I’m wondering if I can use it in a painting – it might be worth a try in this case.

Connemara Sheep

I took these pictures of Connemara sheep recently. This is a typical sight here – the sheep often feed and rest near the roadside because the tarmac surface is warm. They wander freely and graze on what they can find among the bog grasses. This one ( below) has just noticed me.

 

Photo of a sheep 1

 

 

This ram is giving me the eye because there are lambs around..

 

Photo of a sheep 2

 

 

How rugged and handsome these weather worn creatures seem in relation to their East coast cousins who appear plump and coiffed by comparison. Another ram decides to ignore me ( below).

 

Photo of a sheep 3

 

 

Then I spot a ewe with her lamb. They move quickly when they become aware of my presence so I take as many pictures as I can. It’s breezy and I’m finding it hard to keep the camera still so some of my shots are just out of focus. I keep all the images however as they will be useful as reference pictures.

 

Photo of a Ewe and Lamb

 

 

Photo of a Ewe and Lamb 2

 

The lamb stays close to it’s mother as they retreat across the heath together. These images remind me of Henry Moore’s beautiful sheep drawings which I will share in another post.

Connemara Colour

I took some photographs on a recent walk along the ‘Bog Road’ between Clifden and Roundstone. This is a protected area so the landscape is preserved and the mountain, bog and lake views can be enjoyed unhindered by dwellings. Along the way I found some lovely old twisted Hawthorns and unexpectedly, a colourful grouping of Willow. Here’s a picture of the Hawthorn – I love the knarled branches and the way it has formed itself in the direction of the prevailing wind.

 

Photo of hawthorn tree

 

 

Here’s a close up of the leaves and twigs which have a lovely layer of lichen. This combination of green and grey seems like a perfect partnership in colour to me..

 

Photo of lichen on hawthorn tree
Here’s the Willow with its colourful and delicate Spring display of catkins (below).

 

Photo of a willow tree

 

 

The next couple of photos are close ups of these bright yellow downy flowers.

 

Photo 1 of Willow Catkins

 

 

Photo 2 of Willow Catkins

 

They almost have the appearance of tiny sea urchins in water as they move in the breeze.

The Coral Strand

I have mentioned the Coral Strand recently as it has been a source for some of my work. It is a most unusual beach as its name implies and I feel that it deserves a special mention here.
It is located a couple of miles south of Clifden and is accessible from the main road that connects the town to the coastal village of Ballyconneely. The strand looks like any other in this area as you approach it and as shown in this photo below.

 

Photo of Coral Strand 1

 

 

However, when you step on to the beach expecting to feel the silky sensation of sand between your toes, the prickly Coral is immediately obvious!

 

Photo of Coral Strand 2

 

 

This ‘Coral’ as it is known locally, is in fact a type of red calcium carbonate forming seaweed called ‘Maerl’. Mannin bay where the beach is found, is largely composed of the skeletons of Maerl that live on the sea bed and thrive in the unusually shallow, sheltered waters of the bay.

 

Photo of Coral Strand 1

 

 

Each piece of Coral is distinctive like a very small clean bone and it mingles with tiny shells and plants in this unique and protected area.

Clifden – 200th Birthday Celebrations

Clifden is celebrating an important birthday this year and there’s lots going on!
200 years ago, a landlord named John D’Arcy founded the town on his private estate. The town plan was triangular in shape, consisting of two wide streets which converge at Market Square and are connected by a narrower street at the lower side. When I look at old photographs of the town, it is astonishing to discover how little it has changed over the generations.
A website has been set up to mark the occasion and highlight some of the events that have been scheduled for 2012. It’s well worth a look, particularly if you are planning a visit to the area.
This photograph below shows Market Square as it was in the 19th century. Anyone who is familiar with the town will recognise Foyle’s hotel in the centre right of the frame and and E.J. Kings pub on the far right. The town is virtually unchanged as it is captured here ( apart from the very recent developments in Market Square ). I find it hard to reconcile the images of the people who have been frozen in time, long since gone.

 

Photo of Clifden in the 19th Century

Image from the Clifden 2012 website gallery and courtesy of the National Library of Ireland
Click here to go straight to the Clifden 2012 website

 

 

The second photo below is of Main Street in the 20th century – perhaps you can guess the year by looking at the cars. Once again, this street and many of its buildings are instantly recognisable.

 

Photo of Clifden in the 20th Century

Image from the Cifden 2012 website and courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland

 

 

This final image is Clifden as you might find it to day. We are looking down at Market Square – Main Street is on the left of the frame and Market Street on the right. It was taken during last years St. Patricks day parade. It is an image bursting with colour, celebration and community and to my mind, shows Clifden at its very best. Note the brightly colored buildings – this is very characteristic of the town – each year the ladders come out and shop fronts are given a fresh coat of paint for the tourist season ahead.

 

Photo of Clifden today

Image from the Clifden 2012 website and courtesy of Terence O’Toole

Spring flowers in Connemara

I took some photographs in the old graveyard in Clifden last week and among them several close ups of the wild flowers on the woodland floor. I included a photograph of the bluebells in a recent post but these were just the most visible plants. On closer inspection, I found a medley of colour and just at my feet!
This first picture is of the wild fuchsia, a plant that is truly synonymous with Connemara and far superior in my opinion, than its cultivated equivalent. I searched for an open flower and found only buds, but how beautifully they hang like ruby earrings. This amazing plant is the longest flowering of all and is found in hedgerows all over Connemara from early Spring right through Summer until the early Autumn.

 

Photo of a Fuschia

 

 

The next photo is of the Celandine, the Lesser Celandine to be precise. This is a personal favourite, more delicate and humble to me than the buttercup or the primrose.

 

Photo of a Lesser Celandine

 

 

And one more picture of the bluebell, just to complete this trio of primary colour.

 

Photo of Bluebells

 

 

Lastly I have a picture of a dandelion clock, still perfectly intact and below that, a delicate white flower that I was unable to identify – help me out if you can!

 

Photo of a Dandelion clock

 

 

Photo of unidentified white flower

Good Friday Photographs

I didn’t have a blog to post this morning but then I decided to go for an early morning walk in the old graveyard in Clifden and take my camera with me. It is less accessible now and not entirely visible from the road. How delighted I was then to discover such a treasure of wild flowers and plants. The delicate blue and pink blossoms of the bluebells make a carpet of colour on the moss and ivy covered ground.

 

Photo of a graveyard

 

 

This old graveyard is no longer in use and many of the tombstones are almost lost. There is only one wall left remaining of the old church, a memory of what stood there before.

 

 

Photo 2 of a graveyard

 

I took this shot because the new church building is visible in the background and I love the shape of this weathered old tombstone.

 

 

Flowers 1

 

 

Flowers 2

 

Here’s a close up of some of the flowers. These beautiful bell shaped blossoms grow in abundance here, especially in wooded areas and river banks.

Gorse and Hawthorn

The wild Gorse is one of the most commonly found plants here in Connemara. We are fortunate enough to have a wall of it in our own back garden. The first few blossoms usually appear in February but they arrived soon after Christmas this year, presumably due to the mild weather. These yellow flowers are always a welcome sight after a long colourless Winter. At the moment the gorse is in full bloom everywhere and it is a sight to behold.
Here is a photo I took of a gorse lined road in Ardbear, just outside Clifden.

 

Gorse in Flower 1

 

 

The gorse stems are thorny and evergreen but the flowers smell like coconut, sweet and summery.
Here’s another picture, a little closer up.

 

Gorse in Flower 2

 

 

And just a mention for the Hawthorn – I stopped the car on the way back in to town to photograph this lovely old tree. I love its knarly branches and moss covered trunk.

 

Photo of a Hawthorn tree