12 May 2013

Donegal Dispatch

Amber sky and lavender hills, a buzzard crying and wheeling through the morning air, a pair of deer still and startled and then disappearing into the woods, the pale glimmer of primroses offset by the depths of violets and bluebells ... not a bad start to my first morning in Donegal. As the sun rose, a walk through woodland brought me and Izzy (and Molly, her Spaniel host) to a gorgeous cove with golden sand, shushing waves and a magical just-after-dawn light.

There are compensations to being woken very early by an impatient Schnauzer.

Donegal sunrise

A walk is often better shared - Iz and Molly blaze the trail

Donegal sunrise - Shell Beach
The sun rises higher, and is caught behind the cliffs of Ards Quartzite

Primroses in the woodland
North Donegal, the Ards peninsula, a Capuchin friary on an old estate, generous hosts, lots of laughs and this year's first swim in the c-o-l-d Atlantic! It truly was a retreat from quotidian worries. Thanks to JW and family (including S. of course) for such a lovely time.

As well as woodland, the old estate had a five-acre (yes, you read that correctly) walled garden. Sadly neglected now as the friary has only a handful or brothers and priests still resident, it must have been an astonishing enterprise in its day. All the glasshouses, complete with underfloor heating, are gone, and only some of the fruit trees and the ruins of the Head Gardener's house (built into the structure of the walled garden) remain.

The door to the secret garden, photo by catchlight.ie (thanks B.)

Remnants of a different time
The old orchard in the walled garden at twilight
There wasn't too much time for drawing (lots of other things going on) but I tried a bit of seaweed attached to a limpet, complete with its own collection of small barnacles, elevator doors shut tight, and also started sketching Yew foliage, for a project that the Irish Society of Botanical Artists--together with the National Botanic Gardens--is running this year.

Sketch of seaweed, limpet and barnacles
Yew sketches
This week gets off to a different start as the day-job requires me to sit in large meeting rooms in Brussels ... thoughts of far Atlantic horizons, golden sand and the haunting glow of bluebells won't be far away.

Small dog, golden beach
Have a good week all.


  1. Such a gorgeous place, will go one day xxxx
    Great to see some sketches for the ISBA, I've not started yet!

  2. I think you'd like it claire! I'm looking forward to seeing your work on the orchid once you start!

  3. Beautiful pics and stories Erica - lovely blog, thank you.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Vicki! Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. I just discovered your blog! You have some very lovely photos.

    1. Welcome Sarah. Glad you enjoyed the photos. It's easy to take lovely photos in north-west Ireland, to be honest, they nearly take themselves. Ontario provides plenty of potential too I'd imagine!