I spotted this lighthouse from out at sea on the way from Dingle to Galway. My best guess is that it’s Bull Rock off the Kerry coast. Something about the position – not at the top of the rock but perched lower down right at the cliff edge – makes it seem especially remote and on guard, and under threat of tipping into the ocean it watches over.
Seasons move quickly in the mountains. This particular day started in spring, then suddenly plunged into the depths of a winter snow storm before tentatively resting in a warm summer. The upside of being on a mountain is having a great view to watch the seasons come and go; the departing snow clouds here created an incredible contrast with the bright sun.
Croagh Patrick overlooks the hundreds of islands of Clew bay. From atop the mountain the perspective creates the impression that the islands go on forever and stretch into the sky, especially when the weather hides the horizon. Different islands flash brightly and fade away as clouds and their shadows drift by.
My parents are both from Tralee so I’ve spent a lot of time here. It’s a long bay bordered by mountains to the south, so when the weather roles in from the Atlantic it hits the mountains and creates beautiful clouds and rain showers all along the bay.
Ireland may not be the most reliable place for a sunny day out at the beach, but sometimes what we get is far more interesting. Find the right beach at the right time and you don’t just get white sand and blue sky, but a whole rainbow of colour light. The expansive stretch of sand at Curracloe makes a great canvas on which to watch those colours drift by on the wind.
The best way I can think to describe this day is metallic. A steely grey sky casting a heavy sort of light that makes the sea look solid and cold, and puts you off leaving the shelter of your car. But not this dog, who seemed right at home patrolling the approach to Achill and keeping an eye on the odd sheep.
The Sky Road is a place you might end up if you drive to the west of Galway and then keep heading west until you run out of road. The name fits; from the top of hills you can peer down at houses made tiny by the scale of the sea and sky that dominate the view. On a windy day you can almost feel the land being torn into the islands that stretch out to sea, and you can definitely feel the power of the wind driving in from the Atlantic.
In the midst of the city it’s easy to forget just how close the mountains and the sea are. A few minutes travel and you can be up on the hills with a view over the whole of Dublin bay. The iconic chimney stacks would be lost in a more high rise city, but in Dublin they stand up to catch the light of an evening rain shower to create an unmistakable view.
If I were to pick a theme for this exhibition it’s ‘good timing’. Whether it’s catching a glowing sunrise or retreating snow storm, or having a sheep dog pose against a dramatic seascape, these paintings are made of moments that come and go in minutes or seconds. Timing makes the difference between just another landscape and a unique, unforgettable moment. This exhibition has been more than ten years in the making. It has been incredibly enjoyable to put together as I have pulled out some of my favorite memories and pictures from a decades worth of travels around Ireland.
The Sky Road is a place you might end up if you go to the west of Galway and then keep going west until you run out of road. It is just one of the incredible parts of Ireland’s coastline featuring in this new exhibition. Opening on Saturday August 11th, the exhibition will run for one week at The Gaslamp Gallery in Gorey.