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

238 Getting ready to go on the road

Sunday December 10th, 2017 01:08 PM (Peti Buchel)
A few days after Bert left I was without a home. Everything was rented out to artists. In the house were bookseller Annemarie Behrens and her partner price winning author Isabelle Hoving. Janpeter Muilwijk and Katja Bosch had moved into the Folly and painter Cassandra van Veen and architect Alex Mens occupied the Claggan Cottage. It was time to load the Ford Fusion and go visiting. But first I went to Klaus to get the Ford serviced. He said the same thing the man at the NCT had told me the tires on the back wheels badly needed to be changed. But unfortunately Klaus himself couldn't do it. He was going to visit his son in Austria the next day. Klaus has 'retired'. His wife doesn't want him to spent all the time in the garage anymore. He agrees. He does want to spent more time visiting family, doing 'fun' things. But after a while it's boring too, he admits. He loves nothing better than to work on a car. Even though nowadays there is hardly anything left to do on a car without the computer, special brand related software and passwords. So just every now and then when the home walls are closing in and children and siblings are visited and there are no more 'fun' things to do, the black Mercedes parks in front of the garage, the metal doors rattle open and Klaus puts on his overalls and his peaked cap. Apparently he will still help out his old time costumers but you can't always rely on him being there for you always. Good for him. He tells me to go to a tire shop in Castlebar, but before I can do that, I get a flat. It's Richard Henry who helps me out as he does more often nowadays.

237 The Claggan Cottage

Sunday December 10th, 2017 12:26 PM (Peti Buchel)
It had been busy with artists in Polranny, but it got busier still. From the third week of July till the end of August the Folly would be occupied too. And the mails kept coming in of people requesting if they could stay. After the opening of the exhibition I had spoken to Nora O'Donnell and had asked her about the Claggan Cottage in Ballycroy that she and her husband Sean own. The year before she had told me she wanted to sell the cottage and if I heard of somebody would I please let her know. In March Pam Noda had been very interested (see post 163). But when Pam expressed interest it suddenly wasn't for sale anymore. Akkie and Con when they were in Polranny in March had expressed interest renting it when they came back in June, but Nora never answered. Now suddenly she agreed that I could let it to artists for Polranny Pirates prices. It turned out Sean didn't want to get rid of the cottage. It is close to his elderly mother's home and as she is not well and he has to visit her often and stay overnight he needs the cottage for breathing space. Fair enough. Bert and I went up to see what we could do to make the cottage attractive for artists to stay in. With a few changes it would be perfect. The biggest bedroom was transformed in a workroom with a big worktable. A Persian carpet and a coffee machine were added and the antique sideboard was filled with books and DVDs. We lit a fire to see if the chimney functioned and Bert wrote the Claggan Cottage into the website of the Polranny Pirates.

236 Travel plans

Sunday December 10th, 2017 12:01 PM (Peti Buchel)
Bert came to Polranny in the beginning of July. She would stay for three weeks. I must admit that I was apprehensive having to spend such a long time with her in the Folly. Earlier that year in March when she was visiting she had been very angry about the dissolution of our little design business and her anger although not directed at me, had spoiled her stay. True, she was still pretty belligerent, but she had hardly time to express it. So much was going on. New artists had arrived and had surprised us by using the house in a novel way. One hour after arrival, Janpeter Muilwijk had already turned the porch in a painter's studio. In the following four weeks he and his wife Katja Bosch would be producing quite a body of work for a planned exhibition. They worked very hard and were very exuberant. There enthusiasm was contagious. Bert had brought me an in depth study on Graphic Novels by my friend Joost Pollmann. I started to read it immediately and it inspired me no end. The time was ripe to rekindle our South Morocco project. That was what we did. Bert still didn't manage to get our contact for Iligh Aicha Aboudamiaa on the phone, but we decided to start to set everything in motion anyway. Bert had a group for Morocco that would start in Tangiers on 8 October. We booked the flight and a rented car for Agadir for 26 September. The plan was to spent 10 days in and around Iligh. Bert would do research and I would make preliminary sketches for a graphic novel. We would then travel together by public transport to Tangiers. Bert would go on with her group and I would stay till 16 October in Tangiers. We would go ahead with the Iligh project wether the Aboudamiaa family would facilitate us or not. Shortly before Bert left Polranny she finally managed to talk to Aicha. Aisha told her that her father was looking forward seeing us and had no problem to let us look at the family papers. The project was on its way.

235 The old post office of Derreens

Monday December 4th, 2017 12:54 PM (Peti Buchel)
Michael Patten wanted to show Con's photos and my sketches again in his pub for the yearly Kildavnet Festival that would take place in August. Michael had been a great help to us and to me in particular. He always had useful, practical advise and as both Con and me had never had an exhibition before we took what he suggested seriously. Before Akkie and Con left again we went to see him. The weather was lovely, we sat down on the picknick benches across the pub and I started to sketch the scenery. Michael being always busy and running around arrived a little later. He pointed at the little building next to the pub that I was drawing. It was where the old post office of Derreens used to be in. Like so many of the rural post offices it had closed since An Post had gone private in the uneasy eighties. An Post was no longer considered a service to the people but was now a for profit company. 'This building,' Micheal said. 'Will not be there much longer if it is up to me.' He set out to explain that he had plans to build there instead a nine room hostel. 'If I ever get planning permission'. he added. It seemed a brilliant idea. There is nothing going on that part of the island except a couple of B&Bs. People would drive through 'doing' the Atlantic Drive but very few would stop and stay. South Achill could use a place like Pure Magic the popular surfers hostel and restaurant. It could bring the cyclists and ramblers down from the Greenway. We wished him luck with his venture. In the beginning of September just before I left for Amsterdam I heard he had gotten planning permission. Good for him!

234 Aidan Crotty

Sunday December 3rd, 2017 01:18 PM (Peti Buchel)
To call the appointment with Rose Meehan of the National Museum of Country Life chaotic is the understatement of the year. It didn't really matter because the reason of the chaos was interesting enough. At the same time was the grand opening of an event in the grounds of the museum complete with finger foods and local luminaries. The event was a show of the uses of osiers or willow and other twigs and reeds. There were stands of basket weavers and other relevant handicrafts, there was a collective that makes temporary constructions out of reeds and there were artists who made on the spot sculptures out of twigs. One of the artists was Aidan Crotty from Sligo whom I sketched while working on a statue of some kind of fantasy animal. I later got acquainted with him and am now 'friends' with him on Facebook. In real life he is a painter. He paints the type of things I like to see: the rubble around us of every day life. The unimportant things like gas bottles and ugly structures. He also paints 'on location' with loose and quick but sure strokes and that can be nicely soppy. To come back to Rose Meehan, eventually she connected us to one of her curators or whatever. We will be fitted into the calendar for three months in the winter of 2018/19. Three months? Will they be open all that time? We shall see.

233 Killeen

Sunday December 3rd, 2017 12:42 PM (Peti Buchel)
I have this thing with corrugated iron. I love it as a cheap, light, universal cladding material. I also like the rhythm of its ridges. I love it so much I had the roofs of house and Folly covered with it. The best thing was that the old roof underneath could be left on. That meant no costly demolishing of the old roof, no doing away with the rubble and no problems with being exposed to the elements while the new roof is putten on. And it gives extra insulation. Of course one can only do it if the rafters are still sound. I go around recommending it to anybody who wants to hear about it. Anyway when Con wanted to visit the old cemetery in Killeen on Clew Bay where he had in 1974 taken pictures, I wasn't really interested in the old Celtic Cross and Holy Well the place is famous for. I stayed in the car and put my hand to a rendition of a couple of abandoned metal sheds.

232 The donkey foal

Sunday December 3rd, 2017 12:13 PM (Peti Buchel)
An important event was staged by Annie Masterson when Akkie and Con were still in Polranny. The Boys have one donkey. But donkeys like company so they made an arrangement with a farmer named I think Tony Gallagher in Corraun who also has one donkey. They wanted to put them together. Six months of the year the two donkeys live together in Polranny and the other six months they stay in Corraun. Now one is a boy and the other a girl donkey. The inevitable happened in Polranny and in June the foal was born in Corraun. We had to go and visit the happy parents. It was a beautiful day. The farmer lives next to the Compass Bar and has a wonderful view of Clew Bay and Clare Island from above. In the long, narrow, sloping field the donkeys were first out of sight, but the farmer quickly went down to hustle the little family towards us for viewing. The donkeys were a bit shy and restless because of all the attention and wanted to get out of the way as fast as possible. But the farmer blocked the way till I finished the sketch. Unfortunately the daddy donkey was too frisky to get into the frame. All the while Annie was also urging me to hurry up because 'We couldn't leave the poor old geezer standing there in the field'.

231 The National Museum of Country Life

Saturday December 2nd, 2017 12:36 PM (Peti Buchel)
Because our work looked so good together on the walls of Ginger & Wild in the Ballycroy Visitor Centre, Con and I decided to stick together. Rose Meehan of the National Museum of Country Life at Turlough had contacted Con. She was interested in hanging his 1974 photographs in the Museum for their historical value. Con insisted I would also participate. One day in June Akkie, Con and I drove to Turlough to meet Rose Meehan. To my embarrassment I had to admit that I had never been to the museum before. I knew where it was of course and had passed it many a time on the way to Horkan's Garden Centre that is situated next door. It is a bit funny how this monument of everything that was wrong with colonial Ireland, is now the Museum the conserves the traces of the lives of the oppressed peasants. The house is a Victorian pile built with a lot of black cut stone and slate with many small fake Gothic windows and chimneys. It stands in a beautiful park. The grounds however are bisected by the N5 that runs to and from Dublin. There are also many stables and out-buildings in the same style and a wonderful glasshouse. The people that had ordered this to be built weren't going to mingle with the locals that's what this pile conveys. Still it is great to sketch. When made into a museum a very modernistic hard edged block of glass and concrete was added. I do have to come back to make more sketches.

230 Postcards

Saturday December 2nd, 2017 12:14 PM (Peti Buchel)
In post 209 I wrote how I met Mary Nicholson at Achill Secret Garden. Mary makes postcards from photos of the flowers and things in the garden. They are sold to visitors. The postcards are not the John Hinde kind with a picture on one side and place for a message and the address and stamp on the flip side. These were more like the Hallmark cards, but without the pre-printed message within. The photo is glued to the front on a piece of folded stiff paper. There is a separate envelop and everything is sealed into a cellophane cover. As an experiment I had asked Mary to make some for me. On the night of the opening Mary had travelled down from Co. Monaghan with extra postcards. Mary had done a wonderful job. That was the first time postcards of my sketches were put up for sale. It proved to be a great success. Over the summer I sold more than 200 postcards in Ballycroy alone. I had no idea how to handle this new venture. Later I heard that it is all about bulk. I should have chosen 5 to 10 sketches and have 250 or 500 printed of each. Instead I went for diversity. I had a few prints made of as many sketches I had on a given location. Maybe it made the overheads more expensive, but people liked the choice they had and most bought more than one at the time. Later Mary got my postcards sold in different locations and Con also had Mary make postcards of his black and white pictures. The strange thing was that my prints didn't sell as well as my postcards and with Con it was the other way around. In this sketch Nicola is selling some of my postcards over the counter at Ginger & Wild.

229 Hanging the pictures

Friday December 1st, 2017 12:48 PM (Peti Buchel)
It was a delight to have the pictures of Con Mönnich and me hung in the Ballycroy Visitor Centre. Nicola Stronach is very serious about getting everything just right. Nicola put a lot of time into the many black and white photographs of Con and prints of mine. It came out beautiful. She also put a lot of effort into the opening. Which was a great succes. The day before Akkie and Con had arrived from Holland. Sean O'Donnell and Willem van Goor were seduced into giving a little talk. There was finger food and wine. Mrs Masterson came with Mary, Joan, Nora and husbands. Ken and Toke came and Michael Patten and many more of my friends. There was also a good turn-out from Ballycroy itself. It was a lovely evening. The exhibition hung till the beginning of August. It inspired Nicola to hang more Ballycroy related work from different artists. Con's old black and white photographs sold very well. After the end of the exhibition Nicola kept two walls for us. In October the Visitor Centre closed and so did the gallery. Till Paddy's Day next year. Con and Akkie will be back too and Con is full of plans for a new project that will be entirely on Ballycroy. On the sketch Nicola and daughter Molly are hanging the pictures.

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© Peti Buchel