Friday, July 31, 2009

Sneak Peek... "Enchanting Ireland" Exhibit opens this Sunday...

Click on images for larger view...

"Wet your Whistle"... 10x8” oil
Another tribute to two Irish staples… Music and Guinness. Guinness is the bevy of choice in Ireland. All you have to say is, “I’ll have a pint”, and a Guinness is brought to you in about two minutes… it takes that long to be poured correctly according to the best barkeeps. Guinness is celebrating their 250th anniversary this year. Founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness in Dublin at St James Gate, it has been the bevy of choice not only in Ireland but many other countries ever since. The name Guinness means more than beer … Every generation since Arthur has played a major role in contributions to the country through philanthropy and service. In fact, the Guinness name, in Ireland, is revered like George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Martin Luther King Jr. are in the U.S. The Guinness Storehouse since it began has been known to that take care of its employees. Even in the 1700’s they offered pensions and housing to their workers… and in the event of death… they continued the pensions to the wives. The old saying to every daughter was “Marry a Guinness man, he’s worth a bundle dead or alive.”

"Ladies View"... Ring of Kerry, Killarney, County Kerry, 14x18" oil
Ladies View is a scenic point along of the Ring of Kerry, in Killarney National Park, Ireland. The name comes from admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit. Ladies View is the most famous and photographed view of Killarney and is approximately 11 miles from the town of Killarney, one of our favorite stays during our visit.

"St. Patrick's Cathedral... Interior View"... Dublin, 24x12" oil
Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, also known as The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick, Dublin founded in 1191, is the largest church in Ireland. The present building dates from 1220. This interior view is from the altar looking toward the entrance.

Side note: Saint Patrick (c. 390 – 460) was a Christian missionary, who first brought the Gospel and Christianity to Ireland and is recognized as the patron saint of Ireland.

"O'Carroll's Cove"... Ring of Kerry, 11x14" oil
The Ring of Kerry is part of the mystical & unspoiled region of Ireland that has attracted visitors for hundreds of years. The Ring is in the top ten most scenic drives on the Planet… a 112 mile drive along the Iveragh Peninsula in the south western region offers some of the most spectacular scenery and beauty beyond question. Jagged cliffs work their way down to the North Atlantic Ocean. One of the crowning jewels of the Ring is O’Carroll’s Cove. The strand here is one of Ireland’s many pristine beaches.

"Poulnabrone Dolmen"... The Burren, County Clare, 24x30" oil
The Burren, a great rocky expanse in County Clare, is one of the world's truly unique places in that it can supports Arctic, Mediterranean and Alpine plants side-by-side. Its ancient, awe inspiring stone structures hold secrets from the past that may never be unraveled. Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen is an ancient stone tomb dating between 2000 - 2500 B.C. It's just one of the many ancient historic monuments dotted throughout Ireland.

"The Fairy Tree", 24x24" oil
Ireland is steeped in superstition and folklore that is handed down from generation to generation. Some stories have been in written form since the 8th Century but most originated over 2000 years ago when druids passed on stories orally from one generation to the next. Like the Gaelic language itself many of Irelands legends have links with those of ancient Celtic races throughout Europe. Irish folklore is rich in tales of fairies, leprechauns, banshees, and other supernatural beings. One such folklore is that of the Fairy Tree. When a lone Hawthorne , Ash, or Oak tree is growing in a field it is best to let it be… it is considered a Fairy Tree. The Fairy Tree is supposed to be a magical gateway into the little folk's world. Some believe the fairies live in the tree; others believe the tree is a door or gateway for the fairies to pass from their realm into our world and then back again at their whim. It is a superstition that if one interfered with such a tree then bad luck would follow because this was the home of the ‘little people’. Some superstitions have deep roots… recently a road was being upgraded to a major highway and one such tree was in the way – so instead of chopping it out – they built the road around it. This is true… Tami and I traveled on the highway that conveniently curved around a lone Hawthorne tree or should I say, “Fairy Tree”.

Side note: Be sure to look closely at this painting… you never know what you might find.

"Solitude near the Long Walk"... Galway, 18x24" oil
The Long Walk is a street lined with colorful houses located on the banks of the River Corrib where it meets the Galway Bay. Along this street Galway's gentry of old used to go for strolls. People today still stroll the promenade at The Long Walk which is mentioned in Steve Earle’s recent hit song “Galway Girl”… from the movie PS, I Love You.
Well, I took a stroll on the old long walk
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay

"Fields of Tipperary"... County Tipperary, 11x14" oil
When we think of Ireland, we think of the Emerald Isle, the shamrock, the "Wearing of the Green" and the 37 other almost proverbial shades of green. The landscape of Ireland is unsurpassed in beauty. The Emerald Isle boasts the fact that one can see “40 shades of green” an expression made famous by our own Johnny Cash. After a trip to Ireland in the early it seems “The man in black” was also enchanted… so much that he recorded an album in 1961. The most enduring of Cash's Irish songs is "Forty Shades of Green", including the confession that "most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town, and most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown".

"Annie Moore... Farewell Dear Ol' Erin", 12x24" oil
Immigration has played a major role in Irish history… past and present. The potato famine in the mid 1800’s brought millions to the United States to elude starvation… many have been immigrating ever since to live the “American Dream” . Only within the last several years has Ireland’s economy thrived. I asked a local woman in Killarney, “Why do you treat Americans so good here?”… her response… “Because you opened your borders to us when no one else would … we would have perished.” Made me proud to be an American. Annie Moore (January 1, 1877 - 1923) was the first immigrant to the United States to pass through the Ellis Island facility in New York Harbor. She arrived from County Cork, Ireland aboard the steamship Nevada on January 1, 1892, her fifteenth birthday, She was accompanied by her two brothers to meet their parents who had come to the United States in 1888. As the first person to be processed at the newly opened facility, she was presented with an American $10 gold piece. Annie Moore is honored by bronze statues at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and in Cobh (pronounced Cove), the Irish seaport from which she sailed. My model of Annie for this painting was the statue of her in the port town of Cobh, where the majority of the Irish immigrants left their home for a new life in Amerikay.
Statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland... my model for Annie in this painting.
"Pat Murphy of the Irish Brigade"... 8x16" oil
This painting is my representation and acknowledgment of the Irish in America. While in Ireland I noticed the local folks look just like us… then it dawned on me… they are us. I did some research… there are over 34.5 million U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry. This number is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself (4.1 million). Their contributions are too great to list… they are a part of our history just as we are a part of theirs.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War an estimated 170,000 men born in Ireland joined the Union Army, whereas only 40,000 were in the Confederate Army. At the Battle of Fredericksburg they were directly opposed to each other and cheered each others bravery. The title for this painting comes from a song of that period with the same title…
With a pipe in his mouth sat a handsome young blade,
And a song he was singing so gaily,
His name was Pat Murphy of the Irish Brigade
And he sang of the land of Shillelagh.
The day after battle, the dead lay in heaps
Pat Murphy lay bleeding and gory,
With a hole in his breast from some enemy's ball
Had ended his passion for glory,
No more in the camps will his letters be read
Nor his voice be heard singing so gaily
For he died far away from the friends that he loved
And far from the land of shillelagh.

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