Liverpool Buzz

Off to Liverpool on Ryanair!


The city is over 800 years old and still rockin’ with thousands of university students, sports fans, tourists, and regular Scousers roaming the streets and along the Mersey river.

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Lots of visual vignettes and kitsch. Have a look…

The Four Lads are made from jelly beans (or maybe chiclets).

IMG_6233 IMG_6235 IMG_6244 The Four Lads are made from jelly beans.

And mixed opinions about the monarchy.



The Tate Liverpool had a show–Blind Spots–featuring mostly black and white works by Jackson Pollock. He made this body of work almost entirely in 1951. At the time critics had mixed reactions. These pieces deviated from his colourful action paintings and held a darkness perhaps due in part to the affect advanced alcoholism was having on his life.

A gargantuan building in Liverpool is the Gothic Revivalist Anglican Cathedral. It dominates the city from atop a hill. Architectural details abound, as do examples of modern art that are housed within its walls, including a depiction of The Good Samaritan, in this case a woman.

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Artist John Buchanan, who was born without hands in 1908, was put into care at the age of 9. His creative ability was nurtured at the Oxford Art School and he excelled at lettering. His story is told here (the fifth down on the page).

Example of the design work of artist, John Buchanan, who was born without hands.


The main lure of the weekend was to attend “The Darby” an emotional roller coaster soccer match between the two hometown teams: Liverpool FC and Everton FC. This match was at Goodison Park, home of the Blues.

Translation: “Nothing but the best is good enough.”
The bobbies are guarding the VIP entrance to the stadium.

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The team is one of the original six and the stadium is just about as old.

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The match was a frenzied affair for fans with veins throbbing and curses reigning and cheering exploding and songs uniting all. Final score: 1-1. Liverpool’s manager got sacked right after the game and was gone before we made it back to Ballyvaughan.

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Close Ups at the Flaggy Shore

Yesterday and today were productive and filled with learning at the college. Last night the emerging Irish artists in residence, as well as the American alumni residents, held open studios for us to visit and chat. There is so much to absorb that it will be months, if not longer, before it all filters through my creative practice.

The first draft of my own digital drawings were printed today, after which we had our weekly artists’ talk, featuring: Rory Prout, Hazel Egan, Patricia Farrelly, and Miriam O’Connor. Each is Irish and working in different media. Miriam and Hazel are two of the people I talk to regularly.

Then Ryan and I discovered the Flaggy Shore. We hopped out of our car and a couple of locals said hello. After a few moments, Ryan said to one fella: “Were you painting the church fence?” “Ya, ’bout two weeks ago. Did I take your photo?…or did you take mine?” “I don’t think either one of us had cameras,” said Ryan. “Well take yourselves down to the Flaggy Shore, and enjoy.”

This is what we found.

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The Book of Kells

The Burren College of Art has an exact replica of the Book of Kells, thought to be crafted in a scriptorium on Iona and after a Viking raid, in Kells around 800 C.E. The original is at Trinity College Dublin.

Please click each image once to enlarge, and twice to really make the detail pop.

Details of the limited edition Book of Kells, donated to the college.
Details of the limited edition Book of Kells, donated to the college.

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Weekend in Belfast

Friday found us on the train to Northern Ireland via Dublin.

On board Irish trains.
On board Irish trains.


As a kid Belfast came to life for me on TV news clips of tanks and violence, hunger strikes, assassinations and outrage. With peace winning out, visiting this city was on the top of my list of places to see.

Two remarkable women were responsible for leading the peace movement.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1976
Awarded to: Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan

Presentation Speech by Egil Aarvik, Vice-Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, on the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1976 in the University Festival Hall, Oslo, December 10, 1977.


Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

On August 10, 1976, a remarkable incident occurred in one of the streets of Belfast in Northern Ireland. A man, in an attempted getaway, comes tearing down the street in his car, trying to shake off his pursuers. Suddenly a shot rings out, and with a mortally wounded driver slumped over the steering-wheel, the vehicle swerves into a fence, knocking down a mother and her three children. The mother, though badly injured, survived, while her three children were killed on the spot.

Surely this incident was not so remarkable? No, unfortunately, it was not. Wherever war stalks the land, and terror and violence erupt, the killing of innocent children is in no way remarkable. Incidents of this kind are merely a logical result of the mindless brutality of war. We have seen and heard this so often that we are in danger of forfeiting the ability to react in horror. Worse still, every single act of violence merely nurtures hatred, fostering in turn more and more violence.

The event in Belfast on that August day in 1976, however, gave rise to something entirely different, and it is for this reason that it was so remarkable.

In the area where the three children were killed lived a housewife: she heard the thud as the car crashed into the fence, and as she hurried to the spot she took in the whole horror of the scene. At that moment something happened in that woman’s mind: it was like the bursting of a dam.

What she saw shocked her profoundly; but even more, she was overwhelmed with a passionate desire to make a stand against all violence and terror. Now, for heaven’s sake, something must be done! There was no time for deliberation and planning: she never even thought of anything like that, but acted intuitively, as her heart dictated. She started to go from door to door in the actual street where the tragedy had occurred. The cup of horrors had now run over: the time had come when the ordinary man and woman must rise in protest against this senseless use of violence. It was no longer a question of political attitudes or religious convictions. There was only one remedy: the people themselves must cry halt. Radio and television showed a certain amount of interest in the housewife’s campaign, and she was given an opportunity of making a broadcast appeal to the Irish people not to capitulate to terror. Peace must not be allowed to sit idly on the touchlines: now, for once, peace must march!

Her appeal found a ready response. More and more people rallied to her call. One of the first to do so was an aunt of the three children, and these two women now marched boldly out into the no-man’s land of war, proclaiming their simple, heartening message of reconciliation. From these small beginnings sprang what today, the world over, is known as the Peace Movement of Northern Ireland.

Today, that housewife and the aunt of those three children are with us, and today these two, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, have come to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 1976.

For more read:

Evidence of the war in Northern Ireland.
Evidence of the war in Northern Ireland.


Belfast today has an energetic feel to it. Rebuilding after the war slowed when the recession hit hard in 2009, but in the past two years things have been looking up. Many buildings are being renovated, there are streets full of restaurants, shopping districts, young people, and families, public art, sports fans and Titanic visitors.

Belfast buildings by night. The city is a walker’s delight with nooks and crannies off main thoroughfares, and well marked trails. If you get mixed up, the people are more than helpful.

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There is no official word for people from Belfast, but they know what the region is called:


Pop Culture here in Norn Iron:

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After a breakfast at the Saint George Market–a gargantuan concoction of potato bread grilled with sausages, bacon and egg, called a Bap–we set out along the waterfront to the Titanic Museum. It overlooks the original dry dock and proved to be one of the best designed museums I’ve ever visited.

State of the art Titanic Museum.
State of the art Titanic Museum.

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The last event for us was a hockey game between the Belfast Giants and the Braehead Clan (near Glasgow). Yeehaw! Belfast loves hockey! Every one of the 5000-6000 fans was into it and us two Canadians felt right at home.

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Chocolates, Tea Rooms & Perfume

A treat for all the senses today. First stop a Burren chocolatier, Hazel Mountain Chocolate. They import cacao beans from Cuba and process them into a delicious assortment of sweets for the discerning gourmand.

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Their tea room offerings were a delight to the eye and the palate, too. We sampled cheesecake made with goat cheese, baked fresh daily.


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So many flower species are unique to this area, that it boasts its own Burren Perfumery, in business for over 40 years.

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The seaside village of Kinvara provided a few quirky sights.

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The Russell Gallery in New Quay features fine art from artists based in the area. The work is varied and engaging, and includes pieces from the BCA’s Dean, Conor McGrady as well as our host Ciara’s father, Manus Walsh.

Tomorrow our visitors head to Cork, so we’ll say so long to them until the next time, and thanks for the precious memories.

Dolmen, Castle and Ennis

Millennia ago humans lived in the Burren on the karst. They buried their dead at the Poulnabrone dolmen, a megalithic tomb, where remains of men, women and children were found.

One of the few portal tombs in Ireland.
One of the few portal tombs in Ireland.

The setting is stark on the limestone landscape.

Miles of karst surround this ancient site.
Miles of karst surround this ancient site.

IMG_5724Sitting in the windy parking lot, Tom, a local craftsman, set up shop. He was genuinely curious about us and chatted while he stamped names written in the Ogham alphabet onto jewellery.

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Next stop Dysert O’Dea Castle, built in the 15th century.


The castle had lots of artefacts from many periods in history.


The road took us to Ennis for a short visit to the yarn shop before it closed and then back home again.

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The Wild Atlantic Way

The road to the Cliffs of Moher took us up over Corkscrew Hill again, through Lisdoonvarna and along the coast to one of Ireland’s most popular attraction. The Visitor Centre and several retail outlets are built right into the hill.

Underground shopping at the Cliffs of Moher.
Underground shopping at the Cliffs of Moher.

Snippets of French, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew and Danish caught on the wind as we took in the sights. The sun was bright, and the breeze stiff. Truly a beautiful part of the world. Looking west, past the Aran Islands that are visible from the mainland, the next stop is Newfoundland.

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The Wild Atlantic Way is the route that hugs the ocean, and it felt great to be sprayed by the salty surf. Ciara, our host, recommended stopping in Fanore for fish and chips, so we did, at O’Donohue’s. Some went for the pan fried crab claws, fresh from Galway Bay. Tasty!!! The owner, Paddy, who had briefly lived in Toronto, made sure we had a quality experience.

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The last stop on our tour was the beach, complete with a surfer. I got to dip my toes in the Atlantic. Yeehaw! Another fine day in Co. Clare.


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