My life in Ireland

In 1972 kwam ik voor het eerst in Polranny, Ierland. Het werd mijn ‘thuis’ buiten Nederland.

Mike pruning the Griselinia

Polranny, Co.Mayo, Ireland is my home away from home since 1972.

The kitchen gets painted/De keuken wordt geschilderd

Ik ben deel van een groep vrienden die zichzelf de Polranny Pirates noemen. De plek bestaande uit een huis en een Folly omgeven door een hectare tuin is vanaf 2008 ondergebracht in Stichting Polranny Pirates.

There I’m part of the Polranny Pirates a loose group of creative friends who have made the house, Folly and surrounding garden in Polranny their hideaway. In 2008 The informal situation was formalized into a foundation: Stichting Polranny Pirates

A picnic along the Atlantic drive/ Een picknick aan de Atlantische kust

In Polranny houd ik me vooral bezig met het onderhoud en de verfraaiing van mijn leefomgeving. Ik heb er ook de geneugten van de Engelse taal ontdekt en het tekenen in de openlucht. 

Ierland Last year's wood is for the stove - Peti Buchel

De kachel in de Folly/The stove in the Folly

Mrs Masterson at the grave of her husband/Mrs Masterson aan het graf van haar man

When in Polranny I keep myself busy maintaining and beautifying my environmentIreland has taught me to love the English language and sketching in the open air.

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My life in Ireland

426 Working from home during Covid 19

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:48 PM (Peti Buchel)


425 DIYing during Covid times

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:47 PM (Peti Buchel)

From Fanore I drove straight to Bellharbour. I always thought that Bell Harbour got its name from the bell shape it has. but apparently not. It was the first time I had to find my way to Berry and Frank on my own and was a bit hesitant. It didn't help a local was on my bumper. I took the first turn off more to get rid of him than that I knew that this was the right road. It wasn't. It led to Corcomroe Abbey where it ended in the car park. I decided to do the Abbey some other time and drove back to take the next turn off. After the chocolade factory I saw Berry and Frank's house clearly in the trees. It had the sun on it and looked inviting. I was very graciously received and felt free to suggest to Frank if he wanted to do a bit of work on his Grand Design: the greenhouse. Fortunately he had to do some sawing on roof beams that suck out too far. I took my chair from the car and set to work. Frank is a writer and teaches at The Burren Art College in Ballyvaughan. It is a private fully qualified school with under graduate, graduate and phd programs. Most of its students come from America. Corona has done havoc to its student body. There are only a handful of students left. Mostly phd candidates. Frank who teaches mainly undergraduates has no work. He doesn't mind at all. Now that he tasted freedom again he doesn't want to go back to teaching. He already has finished one novel and got it placed with a agent in the UK and he is working on another. He also is working on this greenhouse that straddles a field stone ruin in his garden. The project was started some years before, with the taking down and repairing of the loose stones on the walls. But since lockdown he has given it a great big push. It is his first DIY project and by  the look of it there has gone a lot of thought into it. Frank has kept all the joints simple. For some reason the clunkiness of the build has acquired an elegance all of its own.

424 View of Fanore

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:46 PM (Peti Buchel)

 On the last day of my stay in The Burren I took from Kilmoon the road north to Fanore. It was a lovely day. The sun was out and the sky was clear. As the sun came over Slieve Elva the details in the landscape were set of by dark shadows. I stopped at the T crossing above Fanore before the road went zig zagging down to the coast. Fanore beach was below me and Connemara across from Galway Bay was at eye level. What a great way to say goodbye.

423 Mullagh More

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:45 PM (Peti Buchel)

 From Skaghard we did not drive on towards Boston, but turned back to take the narrow lane back to the turnoff and the hippie settlements. On the stretch with the 'pavement' and the 'boulders' Ank was so kind to stop the van and while I was drawing she buried herself in a book. It was a striking spot with bare trees marking the horizon and the end of the 'pavement'. To the left the impressive Mullagh More mountain rose up, but it was not visible on my canvas. So I moved the mountain a bit till it fitted into my sketch. No harm done as the Irish would say. When I had completed my sketch we continued, but instead of going left on the turnoff we went right in the direction of Carran. But before we got there we drove past the remains of a saint's church, the ruins of the mansions of local landlords  and last but not least over a pass with the remnants of a penitential station. From Carran we took local lanes that in summer had misguided me till I was at cross roads where I sketched the two churches. Ank who knew the road as well as her back pocket did not make the same mistake and drove straight on to Kilmoon. Slowly but surely my task of bringing The Burren to life in my sketches was drawing to a close. There will always be landmarks and views I 'had not done' for one reason or the other, but I was getting the feeling that an overall sense of the place was established. Still one day to go.

422 Faking it in Skaghard

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:44 PM (Peti Buchel)

 After I drew Sean in his cottage we went outside. The weather wasn't great for sketching outside, but I hoped against hope that I could draw a farmyard scene preferably with Sean, a cow and a tractor. But the cows were away in the fields and the yard was very industrial surrounded by several buildings of different eras. There was the old homestead turned into a workshop. Across from it stood a shed from a later date and at the head of the yard was a big new hangar style farm building.  In side the building was the farming equipment housed with in front a traditional Massey Ferguson tractor with a 95 Galway numberplate. It looked as if had just come from the assembly line. That was my chance. I asked Sean if he would drive out the tractor so I could draw him driving it while I could sit in my folding chair inside the hangar and keep dry. I took on Sean's profile first and let him then return inside his warm cottage while I finished the drawing. Sean had told Ank and me about his farm yard cat having had kittens and his task now to catch them all and bring them to the vet to get neutered. Soon one of the bunch who was already quite grown up appeared and sat down under the tractor next to one of the front tires fixating me. I could not resist the temptation of working him into the sketch. Of course the cat would never have sat there if Sean had been really driving the tractor. But I was more than happy to let the cat expose the fake working scene.

421 Visiting cattle farmer Sean

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:42 PM (Peti Buchel)

 On the Wednesday Ank took me in their van to the east of The Burren an area still unfamiliar to me. We drove first via Kilfenora to Corofin on the most south eastern corner of The Burren. There she filled the van with diesel. There aren't that many petrol stations around and one has to choose prudently. From Corofin we went north. That route I had partly taken in August, but now we kept pushing north east instead of due north. We left the main road that would take us to Boston and took a lane through a wooded area. When Ank took another turn I had lost all sense of direction. At the start of the new turnoff there were several hippie settlement in the bushes. Next we were in a bare 'pavement' area with the remarkable rounded 'boulders' sticking out of the ground. The lane got narrower and less travelled. And then we were in green, grassy Skaghard in the townland of Boston. It was there that Sean kept a cattle farm that had been in his family since before Cromwell's invasion. The parents of Sean had let Ank&Els camp in one of their fields when they first travelled together to Ireland. How they had ended up in Skaghard the story didn't tell, but ever since they have been great friends with their hosts and later with their son Sean. Sean is a traditional Irish bachelor, keeping a very healthy, modern and neat farm while living in his parents cottage without having ever changed the nineteenth sixties interior. The Aga had pride of place. On both sides stood an arm chair one for Dad and one for Mom. There were three chairs at the dining table and Sean sat on the one across the wall where a spanking new TV was mounted. Ank told me that Mom and Dad had married late and Sean had been an unhoped for and welcome addition. Sean is a very neat and kind and caring man who clearly cared a lot for his old friends Ank&Els.

420 In the valley of Ought Mama

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:41 PM (Peti Buchel)

 In the evening A&E took me to visit their friends writer Frank Golden and his partner social worker Berry Guthrie in the Valley of Ought Mama. Ought Mama is the ancient name for a location at the back of Bellharbour encompassing a mountain, a valley and a glen. It means 'at the bosom'. I had visited Frank and Berry with A&E years before and was excited to see them again. Word had come to me, that now they were both working from home. I wanted to see how that was done and draw them at it. They live in a specious self-designed house set well back from the road behind a working cattle farm. It has floor to ceiling windows that provide great views of the garden and the surrounds all the way to Cocomroe Abbey. A&E were going to do some electrical work before dinner and during that time I could do my drawings. But I was too excited to sit down and do drawings of people faking for me to be working from home. Instead I did this sketch of the chaotic verticals of nature and the regimented verticals of human endeavor interspersed by the horizontals of homely and personal fabrics. It had all the elements I love in one vista. What more does one want? By the time A&E had finished with the electrics and Berry and Frank had cooked a delicious dinner I was also ready and had chilled sufficiently to socialize. Socializing can be a chore for me but sketching does chill me out. I organized with the hosts that I would come back two days later for some serious work. Darkness had descended as we drove back. Ank drove their large van with Dutch steering. Because this was their habitat I wanted to see how Ank tackled the many sharp bends at the Cork Screw Pass. Every time I misjudge the same bent. Ank very slowly approached that particular bent and so did I the next time and it worked!

419 The Cathedral of St Fachtna in Kilfenora

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:40 PM (Peti Buchel)

 The rain was coming down in buckets when I set out to see if I could do something with the old cathedral of St Fachtna in Kilfenora. A&E had told me that the active Church of Ireland part of the building might be closed but that the preserved part under a glass roof that housed two crosses would be open. If so that meant I was protected from rain even if I could not draw the church from the car. They also told me that there was a road leading right up to the church something I had not discovered when I had been there in August. The rain came down so heavily that even with the windshield wipers going at full speed I hardly could see where I was going. I parked the car in the market square and went on reconnoiter. Everything but the graveyard was closed, but I discovered the lane that lead right up to the original front gate.  It is now a back street to a builders yard. It had enough room to park with a view. Even during that short walk I got soaked and freezing. The water had even dripped inside the coat at the neck and soaked the sweater. But I managed to keep the sketching paper dry. When I came back to Kilmoon all I wanted was to get dry and warm. Two years before A&E had told me that there was something wrong with the chimney of the Box. Now I went to question it. Let's try it out they suggested. Of course it worked and worked well. Problem solved. I went to the shop in Lisdoonvarna and bought a bale of briquets and kindling. With the turf and wood A&E provided it was enough to keep me warm and comfortable for the rest of my stay. Might as well. One doesn't want to catch a cold in times of Covid.

418 The Martello Tower of Finavarra

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:38 PM (Peti Buchel)

In the hope to get another coastal view fit for a sketch I drove out of Ballyvaughan towards Bellharbour and beyond. Inlets everywhere and even a castle, but not what I was looking for. Where the N67 rounded a corner to continue towards Kinvarra I drove straight on onto a big elongated peninsula following the road that took me back paralel to the mainland. I was in the townland of Finavarra a properous looking rural community. It went on and on and ended right across from Ballyvaughan. There at the end of the headland amid young bullocks and sparrows getting ready for mass departure stood the Martello Tower I had already drawn from Ballyvaughan. Be yond the tower was Galway Bay and Cappanawalla mountain. Place enough to find good parking for the car. And I was on my way. Martello Towers can be found all along the Irish coast but mainly in the east. They were built during British rule in the early 19th century to withstand a Napoleonic invasion. Based on Genovese defense works on Corsica they were called after a tower on Mortella Point. Sadly the name got botched up in transcription and ended up as Martello instead. The towers were two storys high. They held a garrison and had a flat roof that was wide enough to hold a large cannon that could turn 360 degrees. The Martello Tower of Finavarra had a separate building next door for the garrison. The ruin of that building is still existing and appears in the sketch too. On the way back I stopped by an unmanned roadside veggie stand where I bought some spuds and carrots to give to A&E. They new immediately whose the veggies were from: 'Nolan's'. The roads in The Burren maybe long but the place is small enough for everybody to know everything.

417 The coast road to Ballyvaughan

Monday October 12th, 2020 01:37 PM (Peti Buchel)

From Ballynalackan castle to Fanore the coastal road cuts through an amazing landscape. Bordering on the ocean on one side and a wall of rounded rocks on the other side it is a pavement landscape livened by big boulders sticking out of it. Rounded and molded by the workings of time, glaciers, wind and water. An all in a monochromatic light grey. But will it work in a sketch? I wasn't sure about it. So I slowly drove on. It didn't matter that I only drove 30km an hour as the road was empty and there wasn't any traffic to hold up. And then I was in Fanore and the landscape had chanced. Suddenly there was more green, sand, and homes. I was nearing the entrance to Galway Bay where there would be a lighthouse clinging to the edge of a cliff. I wanted to draw that lighthouse, but that proved impossible. I took every side road leading into craggy peninsulas in the hope to get a view. But all for nought. The mountain came down to the shore and the road narrowed considerably. With the mountain rising up steeply on one side and a retaining wall on the other side there was no room to park and get a good look. There it was the lighthouse standing on a small headland below the road. There was a parking space on the mountainside of the road, but with the wall shielding a view of the building and the fact the it was situated lower, made it impossible to even see it properly leave alone draw it. That was a disappointment. I had to drive all the way into Ballyvaughan to finally find a good pace to draw. But it was a pretty sight with the Martello tower beckoning in the distance. Ballyvaughan was deserted. Gone were the merry staycationers with their bicycles and camper vans. 

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© Peti Buchel