Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sketchbook Journeys - Ireland: Days 13-16

With only three days left until we had to fly back to the US, our wonderful Irish adventure was coming to a close. As we left the west coast and pointed our car toward Dublin, I was feeling a little worn out and ready to head home. Two weeks is a long time to be on the road, and I missed my little grandson Nicholas so badly! I really couldn't wait to hold that baby again.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"
(Click on any of the pictures to see a larger view.)

One night, we stayed in a quirky old inn near Nenagh, in County Tipperary. It was surrounded by park-like grounds with meandering trails that we could stroll around on to explore the area. There was a lake with flocks of swans and ducks, a pasture with grazing horses, and some deep, dark woods with huge old trees. It was so idyllic!

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

I was wandering around by myself the morning we were going to leave and came upon a Victorian walled garden, hidden between the woods and the barnyard of the old manor house. It was so cool! I felt as if I had stepped into the pages of The Secret Garden.

Detail of Ashley Park House

Before we packed up and headed for the city, I took some time to do this sketch of the house. It was so nice sitting there drawing, just enjoying the peace and quiet of that pretty, secluded place.

On our way to Dublin we stopped at the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens in Kildare. The National Stud is the Irish national horse farm where generations of champion thoroughbreds have been raised. On the grounds of the farm are the beautiful Japanese Gardens, created in 1906 and recognized as some of the finest in Europe. Not exactly what I expected to find in Ireland, but a pleasant surprise that I really enjoyed.

Watercolor, pen & ink, (and coffee), 7" x 10"

Walking through the gardens, we followed a path which traced the journey of man from birth through death and afterlife. I thought it was so interesting, and profound in a lot of ways. I loved the part where the man gets married, and the path widens, "so that two may walk abreast." Then comes the "Difference of Opinion", where the husband and wife take their own separate paths for awhile, eventually reuniting after going through some rough places.

Detail of Japanese Gardens

I wanted to remember our walk through "The Life of Man," so I cut up the brochure that told the whole story and glued all the little pieces of text onto a collage page, with the story spiraling around on a path to the center. It's not a particularly successful sketchbook page, but at least I have a record of a place that I really enjoyed.

Collage, watercolor, 7" x 10'

Our last day in Ireland was spent touring Dublin, so I dedicated a few pages to some of the things we saw there. We took the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour, which was a fun, stress-free way to get around the city and learn about its history.

Collage, watercolor, 7" x 10"

Trinity College was an interesting stop. We took a guided tour, and, at the end, I had a little time to sit on the steps of the dining hall and draw the famous Bell Tower. Later, when I painted it at home, I decided to liven up the gray stone structure with the glow of late afternoon sunshine that had warmed me while I sat and sketched.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

The main reason I had wanted to visit the college was to see the famous Book of Kells that's on display there. I think it was worth the trip to Ireland just for that!

Collage, watercolor, 7" x 10"

I like this cappuccino background painting that I did on the final text page of my journal. Doesn't it feel warm and cozy?

Watercolor, pen & ink, 7" x 10"

And finally ...

The End


  1. It was fun reading your story about the quirky old inn on this last leg of your trip. The garden area that you described sounded very interesting in trying to reflect a person's life - and great idea to try to include the interesting brochure text in a collage page. I started recognizing some things when you got back to Dublin as I visited both Trinity College (and the Book of Kells) and the Guinness Museum back in March. The Celtic knots on different pages were a neat touch.

    Ah.....what an unbelievable adventure you had with your mother. I have thoroughly enjoyed the tale that you have woven with your reflections, paintings, and collages. Your journal is simply a treasure.

    As I reflect on this virtual adventure that I've enjoyed through your journal I really want to say "Thank You" for sharing! I have really enjoyed the ride.

  2. Something about these sketches seems to capture the essence of place better than a photograph ever could. Your images are beautiful and full of personality. I clicked over from Claire's and enjoyed browsing here.

  3. Hi, Leslie! What a delightful blog you have! I've spent a (too) quick twenty minutes skipping through your posts and will definitely be back! Love the sketches of Ireland—what a phenomenal dream-come-true story.

  4. Thanks for your sweet comments, everyone. And Joanne, I agree about a sketch being able to capture the essence of a place better than a photo. They have so much more life to them, it seems - maybe because we pour so much of ourselves into them.

  5. Thank you so much for posting your travel journal from your two week holiday in Ireland. I couldn't help tearing up a little as I read each of your entries, and only wished that I had kept a journal during my own trip. Your beautiful pictures so remind me not only of the wonderful places that I enjoyed, but feeling of being there as well. I can't wait till I return again, this time ...I will create a journal of my own.  
    You are an inspiration!

    1. I, too, am longing to return to Ireland. I think about it almost every day. There's something about that place that pulls me back - I'll get there again some day.


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