THE RAILWAY BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER ILEN

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This now unused railway bridge runs over the river Ilen in the small town of Skibbereen, West Cork, in Ireland.  This market town used to have a rail connection between it and the large city to the East, Cork.  The railway extended also to Ballydehob and Schull, and to Baltimore.  I have heard it said that in days gone by sugar beet was cultivated around Baltimore, a seaside place close to Skibbereen, and that daily the sugar beet would be transported by train all the way to the factory in Mallow, a town which lies much further inland.

Sadly the railway is no more, neither is the sugar beet production.  The old bridge stands to this day and is part of the West Cork Hotel.  I happened to pass there today and immediately saw that the reflection of the bridge was perfect on the water, so took some photos with my phone and played around a bit with editing.  I wanted the bridge in black and white, but I found that in colour – especially boosted a bit, the result was fine too.

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Skibbereen is a small town in the South-West of Ireland, I plan to explore it more in future and also to learn more about its history.  It has many interesting corners, and lately I am discovering new walks.   Time to start a little exploration!

COMING HOME

‘Coming Home’ is the name of a special, and I would say, a poignant exhibition which has been running all summer in the Art Centre in Skibbereen town.  It aims to commemorate and indeed give value and respect to all the many Irish who died during one of the biggest calamities that hit this land.  ‘The Great Hunger’ (1845-52) it has been called, and it was a famine that was unprecedented in its destruction, indeed it was the worst demographic catastrophe of nineteenth century Europe.  Several million people died or were transported to Australia or Canada, or emigrated to a variety of countries.  There is so much history behind this present exhibition, and the talks, lectures and performances that have been laid on as part of this exhibition.  How moving this has been, and how healthy – not to dwell on the past to remember it with bitterness, but to appreciate and respect those that suffered during that period in Irish history.  Myself as a foreigner I never realised what an effect this famine has had on the present Irish generations, but in a way it has, and that is why it has been so good to bring the hurt and hidden sadness’s from generations past into the open, and to look at this on a nationwide basis.  People are then able to let it go, and to have renewed energy and I think that is what will happen.  This exhibition brought people back from many countries to experience, up to a point, what it would have been for their ancestors.  I went to it early in the summer, and though I am not a very emotional person, I am very sensitive and I could literally feel the emotions around me, I was very moved, but also very happy as it felt like a cleansing for the people who are the survivors and perhaps are living with memories from ancestors that faced starvation, and or, the coffin ships to travel to far off countries in order to survive.

I was speechless walking out of the Art Centre that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my friend Rowena, who is a survivor of ancestors that suffered the workhouse in Ireland, and were transported to Australia.

CHERISHING THE MOMENT

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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During the last few days I visited one of my dear friends, it had been too long since we caught up with each other, and it has been very necessary and a great joy and pleasure to make that time for her yesterday.


Since there was such a super crop of raspberries in the garden I have made plenty of jam, but also the cherries were cheap in the shops, but it’s not as easy to make these into jam hence they turned out runny and we are using the result on ice-cream and in porridge. Delicious!

Summer flowers, it’s good to concentrate on the beauty of nature, especially during days of sadness.

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
― Maya Angelou

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LEAP
It has been a sad start to the week here with one friend passing, and a joy later on in the week with visiting a precious friend who is very ill. It makes for quietness and reflection in my own mind. Realising, of course that nature, the beauty of nature, the flowers, the insects, the summer sun and evenings, the delightful scents in the meadows, the nearly full moon in the sky right now, the ripe red berries in the garden, the stillness of the river reflecting lush summer trees found along its banks all help to make life beautiful and meaningful. Letting go is an essential part of growing a little older too.

ART EXHIBITIONS IN TOWN

Today there was a bit of a whirlwind blowing through town, at least for us as we wanted to attend openings of three separate Art Exhibitions, one of which above showed the works of Maurice Henderson.  Maurice, an old mate of Ian’s had sent him the invitation, and I was lucky to be invited along.  I have been following Maurice’s work too for a decade or two and have always enjoyed his use of colour.  I was very impressed with his current work, and the above photo is of my favourite painting, makes me think of a bluebell carpet in among trees in early spring.  The exhibition is called:  ‘Light and Atmosphere. It runs for another 9 days.

Second opening was later on in the evening.  I went on my own to this.  A great exhibition called: West Meets West – showing work from three artists from Cornwall.  Phillip Booth, Matthew Lanyon, and Tony Lattimer.  The above large painting is by Matthew Lanyon and it is my favourite, it immediately had a strong affect on me and just gave me such a good feeling.  The widow of Matthew, a lovely lady, told me that this is one of the early works of Matthew.  Very sadly Matthew passed away recently.  Top sculpture above left I was also quite impressed with, very colourful and clever use of wood and metal.  The artist, Philip Booth explained about his work to me which was very enlightening, his primal inspiration is the landscape of Cornwall, and in the case of the sculpture above it was the rocky shore along the coast.  As I have been out of circulation in Skibbereen’s Art world, I am only getting back into the swing of things and was happy that while I was scanning the room for familiar faces several new people just started to talk with me, it felt good and we had interesting conversations.  One of such conversations was with a woman called Anastasia, also an artist, an amazingly inspiring woman.  I also finally got to meet fellow wordpress bloggers Finola and Robert of https://roaringwaterjournal.com.  It was like meeting old friends as I follow there blog closely.  Very nice.

The last opening of the night was at the smaller but nevertheless lovely Art Gallery in North Street in town.  A young woman, Tara Laubach’s work was also a revelation, beautiful works of soft colours, with lots of expressions of emotion.  I need to go back to get a closer look as there were so many people that it was difficult to get a good look tonight.  The exhibition is called ‘Fiery little Ashes – a Cinderella story’.  Much enjoyed the reading by the young artist.

And finally we were treated to poems by two different poets, these were short but good and they wrapped up an evening of culture in this small town in West Cork perfectly.

Afterwards I discovered that there was also a new exhibition in one of my favourite Galleries, the Catherine Hammond Gallery in Bridge street, which I missed the opening of today, but no doubt will visit during the week.

I think that I am finding my feet again in West Cork, saw a lot of lovely people today and interacted with them, always a good grounding method when you have been away for a long time, feel at home again even if it took me the best of two months.

DELIGHTS OF ART AND YOUNG MINDS

Last week there was the yearly Art Festival in our town of Skibbereen. It is getting better every year, and what nicer way to explore it than with my two growing grandchildren, who are little artists in their own way, and they take an intelligent interest in art.

So we set off on our exploration of some of the exhibitions, and there were many, they were held all over the town. We did not strictly stick to the Art Trail, we started off at the Uillinn Art Centre where we wanted to see the work of John Kelly. There were his beautiful landscapes, which were scrutinised by our young artists, including technique and paint finishes.  Our main interest though was Kelly’s group of paintings which he produced during his stay in Antarctica, and on his way there in 2013. The wall was covered with these works, large and small, the whole collection told us his story of that journey, and the girls were quite impressed. I wanted them to take away this idea of telling a story in a collection of small paintings. Later in the day we were going to get paints and boards to try our hands on this idea.
Some of Kelly’s other works did get some comments, even some raised eyebrows.
The paintings in Catherine Hammond’s Gallery got much approval, and favourites were picked, this exhibition was called ‘Contemporary Realism’. A little Gallery further along in Bridge Street was really interesting, at least for me it was, and the girls took it in their stride too. Vauney Strahan’s works were an education for me and I had to look her up on Google, I do like her art very much, here is a link to her profile; http://www.saatchiart.com/vauneystrahan
Least interesting to the young minds was the Old Bottling Plant where we saw works by Angela Flowers, though some of Angela’s works were fabulous.  And the exhibition by Paul Cialis, ‘Saints and Sinners’ did not even get a look into, which was just as well, because it was a little beyond their age group.

We were all three getting tired, taking in a lot of visual stimulation can use up energy fast! So we just popped into one last exhibit, a re-creation of a shop of the early twentieth century, the girls loved it, they were looking all over it. It showed them a example of shopping before the supermarkets started.

We went home after buying the art materials, and we started to paint, after a pizza meal, and lots of banter with Ian. Both grandchildren gave a very individual interpretation to what they saw during the day; my 9 year old painted a beautiful image of a horse, incorporating colours and combinations she noticed today, and my 8 year old painted an ice scene with penguins after John Kelly’s paintings.  It is very nice to be able to share the love of art with my grandchildren, and lovely to see young minds at work, and hearing their opinions on what they observe.


Paintings also exhibited were by Karen Billings, and earlier on in the week I attended an excellent event called ‘Dark Matter’, Greg Sholette in conversation with Katherine Waugh. The topic was ‘What’s missing in art and politics in an enterprise culture’. Enjoyed a lot.


The Souvenir Shop


Works by the two girls

THANK YOU FOR THE ROSES

Yes, thank you for the roses, the beautiful sweet scented wild Irish roses that have been planted along the road, the link road in Skibbereen. What a foresight the town-planners had when they decided on what to plant along this road, the shrubs too are interesting and lovely, but most of all I love this time of the year because of the luxurious roses, what a delight for the eye and much nourishment for the mind and soul. I went for a walk today along this road and back through North street, I found more roses along a stretch there too. Could not resist illustrating this blog entry with full sized photos (phone pics)  just to feast our eyes on these roses.  Please enjoy this blessing.

“And the shower of roses spun around me, inviting me to take part in their ever-present waltz.”
Gina Marinello-Sweeney

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INISH BEG GARDENS SKIBBEREEN

On the road between Skibbereen and Baltimore, West Cork, there is a most beautiful garden, it is the Inish Beg Estate and recently Ian and I visited it together with my daughter and my five grandchildren, it was a lovely afternoon and being the month of May so many flowers were in bloom, the gardens were looking so very beautiful, the many trees with fresh green foliage, the Rhododendrons, all varieties, were flowering. From a herb and kitchen walled garden, to a fairy house among the trees, everything is thought of.  The children enjoyed it very much too, running along the paths and discovering all sorts of things including sticks which they then ended up comparing with Ian’s walking stick.  And of course they loved the fairy houses.  These gardens comprise 97 acres of woodland, organic pasture and farmland, formal gardens including a the before mentioned walled  garden.  There is an orchard, a bamboo grove and a sunken garden.  And something I did not know about but is mentioned in the brochure of the ‘West Cork Garden Trail’ is that there are 4km of carriage drives.  There is a lot more to this garden and it would be worthwhile to look it up on-line if you are coming to visit West Cork I think.  We just enjoy it as it is so close to where we live.  The birds were singing their hearts out, everything was so very peaceful and beautiful.  We were lucky with the weather, I think that this is Ireland at its best.

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A SMALL TOWN IN WEST CORK

Today during my walk around town, I took some more photos to add to my photo database on Skibbereen town.  I have made this place my own since I came to live here in the nineteen-eighties.  A small market town in West Cork, it has a population of about two thousand.  There is quite a bit of history attached to this town, as is natural of course.  The river Illen runs through it and is a great asset and could be made an even greater focal point.  Anyway, Skibbereen has so much to offer, it has a well run and active Art Centre, beautiful shops, even seven charity shops, and it is quite close to the coast.  I have so much I would like to see happening in the future planning of this town.

So I started to make a collection of photos of all sort of corners and angles of this lovely place, actually I have not even started yet when I think of how much I can still do.  It makes my walks interesting, a great hobby of mine.  Town planning and architecture has always interested me, when I used to paint water colours many years ago I was always excited about townscapes, the shapes of roofs and little corners, so pleasing to the eye.

BRIGHT BERRIES ALONG THE ROAD

While walking along the ring road at Skibbereen today, in a landscape beautifully lit up by an October sun in November, I was amazed how many bright berries I could see. Well done Cork County Council for planting these shrubs some years ago, they have all grown very well and the variety of berries is just brilliant. Cars were flying by but with a view of the town, and the river Illen it is all very picturesque and a great walk to get into condition with – about two kilometres all round.
So I set about to identify my shrubs tonight.  I am not familiar with many shrubs at all. And I was so delighted to find that one of the shrubs was the Sea buckthorn.  Some years ago I bought a bottle of the oil of this berry, and here they are growing in front of my eyes and I did not know about it. The shrub is beautiful with very slender grey/green silvery leaves, and the bright orange berries are clustered among the branches. During my research I came across another wordpress blogger, she had a recipe for buckthorn pie on her blog and I decided to copy the link as some people might find this interesting.
http://rakkaudellapaula.com/2015/01/27/sea-buckthorn-berry-merengue-pie/comment-page-1/#comment-85
I am glad to find out more about the buckthorn berry as it is yet another food source, and something to experiment with, one can make a hand cream and I guess much more besides, I read health tonics, and cosmetics.
The berry is said to be very nutritious, containing high levels of anti-oxidants.
The shrubs are very touch, grows easy, and are thought not to need much water. They can even tolerate salt thrown on roads for the ice in winter.

The dogwood is growing along the road here also, it’s red branches are most beautiful in winter, I remember seeing them last year, wishing for snow of course as then the red branches will look brilliant against the white snow.

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Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

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This is probably Viburnum Opulus”  (Guelder rose)

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Dogwood (Cornus alba) berries and flower

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This is probably cotoneaster and the wild rosehip everyone is familiar with.