Ireland Sketches Part 2


There were streets in Galway where music and performances of all types  were going on non-stop all day, several on each block at times. I wanted to stop to enjoy all of them, but was busy with the workshop for the most part. This bonnie Irish lass sitting with her hurdy gurty (sp?) let me sit with her and told me about her instrument as I sketched.


and this young man was playing with a young violinist and three older traditional musicians inside a pub nearby.


The music is informal each night and the musicians play as if around a table in a home, taking many breaks to sip a pint and chat with people. In fact they sit around a table in the window and everyone else stands (which is why my line is so fractured here: there was scarcely room to move!)


On the last morning in Galway I found this colorful street for a last sketch before we moved on.


While my friends got the castle tour, I stood out front of Dunsquaire Castle for a sketch, first with a watercolor pencil.


After we’d checked into our B & B in Fanore by the sea, we headed over to the one local pub where musicians were playing traditional music and (bear with me a bit more!) we all sketched musicians.


This was the irresistable kind of toe tapping fast paced Celtic music that’s a real mood lifter. The mist had settled in thickly outside but seemed to lift noticeably in the friendly atmosphere of the pub, where children danced on the stage in front of the musicians.


Our teacher from the workshop Shari Blaukopt joined us for dinner and sketching.


And of course we got to chat with the musicians.  When I asked the name of their group, I was told “the three stooges”, which of course was a joke. They just play and the people who show up are the group for the evening. I loved this kind of natural spontaneous music making I found in Ireland, showmanship without ego.


I was surprised at all the modern housing in Ireland. Not the thatched roofs and moss covered stone cottages I’d expected. But we also found the ancient ruins, older than any I’d seen in Italy, like this wedge tomb from 4000 B.C. on the breathtaking landscape of the Burren.


and the sun came out for a while!


We were packing a lot of sights in that day. So I opted for a collection of pictures I wanted to remember. Our luck with the weather held as we continued on to more hiking on the Burren and the famous Cliffs of Moher.


There’s a bit of travel craziness on this page.  It had been a very long day and driving in Ireland is an adventure at best and harrowing and confusing at worst. We had both. It was another few days til we had learned the logic of the road signs and more.

Next: onward to the Ring of Kerry



Ireland Sketches Part I


Here I am in my sketch/travel uniform! outside a favorite pub in Galway, Ireland where I was in pursuit (among other things) of traditional music and musicians to sketch! This was a couple days into a three week sojourn in Ireland and  England, constantly on the move with friends/fellow sketchers. The trip culminated in Manchester, England with the International Urban Sketchers Symposium.

Now that I’m home again and enjoying my big screen computer and consistent wifi I can reconstruct the trip by sharing my sketchbook, and hope to bring you along for the fun.


fountain pen and watercolor in Strathmore Mixed Media sketchbook, 5 1/2″X8″

The beginning. . .Aer Lingus, San Francisco to Dublin, non-stop.


Our hotel on the beach in Donabate,  a short train ride north of Dublin.


In the hotel dining room, over a restorative bowl of fish chowder with impressive chunks of salmon and mouth watering brown bread I launched into the first of many sketch studies of “typical Irish faces”. I was soon to discover that the Irish people lived up to their reputation for having the gift of gab.


On the train ride into Dublin we met Ann Marie, who took it upon herself to introduce us to her city on her way to work. We later learned that this kind of welcoming spirit was to be found throughout the country. One is treated almost like the long lost relative come home to visit (and perhaps I was!)

After our tour of Trinity College we wandered into the Old Stand pub for some lunch.


Wandering around the city we stopped to enjoy the street musicians, and later sat on a stoop by the river to sketch the Ha’Penny Bridge in a bit of drizzly rain. We were to learn that rain could and did materialize at any moment throughout most days.


Next stop was Galway, where there was rather a lot going on! An arts festival for one, with street performers on every corner. The banners celebrate Galway’s designation as 2020 European Capitol of Culture! We had come for a three day sketch workshop with teachers Marc Taro Holmes, Shari Blaukopf and Roisin Cure. You probably notice here that rain is either immanent or just occurred.


So I had to tackle not only the challenge of quick sketching of buildings with confusing perspective but the flat light of an overcast sky and outright downpour. No wonder this sketch looks as somber as an Edvard Munch painting! No sooner had I sketched it and started to add color than a cloudburst drove me to seek shelter so I could finish.


Another day the rain drove the class into the museum where I spent a lovely half hour sketching a ship which was hanging from the third story.


Another day I found shelter from the rain under the Spanish Arch where a minstrel was playing his tin whistle.


In the evening I pursued the search for authentic Irish music and the faces of the people, in pubs of course. My urban sketch friend Cathy and I had fun with this, but attracted a wee bit of attention. We were corrected by the gentleman in the picture who declared he was Swiss.


Some of our “Irish” subjects turned out to be another variety of European, or rather, we ran into the EU version of Ireland, which is multi-cultural. And then of course there was Cathy, who is Irish American, not to mention myself. . .


And then the sun came out as the class was sketching the (orange) sculpture in the Square, until that is, the rain washed away the watercolors before we could move.


. . .but not until we had watched a growing crowd enjoying the sunshine in the Square.


Stay tuned for more Galway sketches and beyond. . .