Posted on 26 Comments

Bád Eddie, Bunbeg, Ireland

Painting of Bad Eddie by Emma Cownie
From Magheraclogher Beach (Bunbeg)
From Magheraclogher Beach (Bunbeg) (Private Collection)


I decided to apply the detailed techniques I have used for painting the hilly city of Swansea to the rural homes of the coastal townland of Bunbeg. I am usually drawn to painting old fashioned Irish cottages, as I like their clean lines and simple shapes. This time, I decided to challenge myself by painting modern Irish houses. The homes of this part of Bunbeg are almost all modern homes, although there are one or two old cottages tucked in amongst the two-storey houses. I found the arrangement of houses on the hilly a pleasing one. I was particularly keen on the road that snakes its way down the hill on the far left of the composition. I decided to leave out all the lamp posts as I felt the cluttered the scene. However, the real joy of the composition is rather unexpected (if you have never seen it before, that is) shipwreck on the right-hand side of the painting. Bád Eddie. 

Mageraclogher beach, Bunbeg,  on the West coast of Donegal,  is a vast, beautiful, and usually windswept beach. It is like a natural amphitheater. In its center,  fleetingly illuminated by the autumn light, just for a moment is the ruined hulk of a boat.

Painting of Bad Eddie, Bunbeg,Ireland

Bád Eddie, Ireland. 

This is a shipwreck, known locally as Bád Eddie, Bád meaning boat in Irish/Gaeilge.  I initially thought “Bad Eddie” was a nickname like Paul Newman’s character in the movie The Hustler, “Fast Eddie”. It made me think the wreck had been some sort of errant boat, but no it just means Eddie’s Boat in Irish. This is, after all,  Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore), an Irish speaking area of Ireland. 

There are shipwrecks and there are shipwrecks. I am very familiar with images of bones of the Helvetia that have lain submerged on Rhossili Beach on the Gower Peninsula for over 120 years. Bád Eddie, however, is loved in a way that the Helvetia can only dream of.  She has starred in a pop video with Bono and Clannad, no less! She has had a film about her life made and broadcast on the TG4 the Irish language channel (see the film below, it is well worth watching), she has her own popular Twitter account too – Bád Eddie @CaraNaMara

Bád Eddie’s Twitter Page

Bád Eddie, isn’t her real name. She was actually named Cara Na Mara (Friend of the Sea). Her first career was as a fishing boat and she was originally built in Brittany, France, and bought by local fisherman Eddie Gillespie. In 1977 she needed two planks repaired and she was towed ashore onto Magherclougher beach and somehow got left. The repairs were never done and she has lain here for over 40 years.  So this, if there can be such a thing, is a  happy shipwreck. No one died when this ship was washed up. No one had to rescue the crew.  There are no sad memories, except for Eddie who never fixed his fishing boat.

Bád Eddie in her better days: From Twitter

In fact, Bád Eddie has helped create nothing but good memories.  Over the years she became the playground to the local people and families on holiday in Gweedore. She has featured in thousands of family holiday photos and locals include her in their weddings, communions, even christenings. Sadly, the Atlantic Storms have taken their toll on Bád Eddie, and there’s less on her today than when I saw her two winters ago.  

Decorated for Christmas: Image Donegal Daily

The locals love her and also recognize that she is a big tourist attraction and they want her preserved to keep that tourism alive. So there is an ambitious plan to create the first permanent sculpture in the sea in Ireland, a stainless steel full-size replica of the boat, incorporating what is left of the structure. I think a sea sculpture is a brilliant idea. There are some amazing sea sculptures in England,  “Another Place” by Antony Gormley at Crosby, Near Liverpool in England and “The Scallop” by Maggi Hamblin at Aldeburgh, on the Suffolk coast – both have had their share of controversy (The Scallop has been called “The most controversial piece of Art in Suffolk”) but  they have certainly increased tourism to their areas. I don’t imagine the Bád Eddie sea sculpture will cause too much controversy. The difficulty is around getting enough money together to build it.  The project has the support of Donegal County Council, but more funding is needed so a gofundme campaign has been set up.

You can support the campaign here


Read more about the campaign to save the wreck here. 

Watch Bono and Clannad  with Bád Eddie

Wild Atlantic Way Stories 

Bád Eddie

26 thoughts on “Bád Eddie, Bunbeg, Ireland

  1. I hope Bád Eddie will have a new life as a sculpture, although your painting of it is beautiful enough. The problem with a sculpture is what to do to make sure the ground under it will not get absorbed by the sea.

    1. Thank you, Hein. Yes, I don’t know hwo they “fixed” the sea sculptures at Crosby and Aldeburgh. The Antony Gomley pieces are incredible – they are 100 life size standing figures. They have found away to stop those getting washed away!

  2. I’m sure she was sad to have been abandoned, but she has surely felt redeemed by the love of the village. I hope the sculpture comes about.
    Your painting is delightful. I like the balance you struck with detail and quiet passages.

    1. Thank you, there is so affection for the boat, I hope they manage to build the sculpture. I had initially thought they could just replace it with another boat, but that’s not the point. People want Cara Na Mara. I think I sea scultpure would be very fitting because the coast of West Donegal is dominated by the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not a sea. It’s an Ocean. It can be very wild too. Generations of people have made their living through the sea and had died on the sea and even today holiday makers can get into trouble on the sea – that’s true everywhere, I guess.

      1. That is very true. I think people think they are safe because of technology, but that won’t always save them.

  3. She is now a skeleton ship. Sad to see this but she is a wonderful addition to your painting. Amidst the colors and lines she is a reminder that nothing lasts forever. Oh my…I seem to be waxing philosophical. Time for bed I think!

    1. Only objects carved in stone last a very long time, like the pyramids. Some artists are keen on exploring impermanence and will deliberately use materials that fall apart or rot quickly, not me.

  4. Such a beautiful area, Emma, and I love your painting. 🙂 🙂 The boat is certainly deteriorating and a sculpture including it is a wonderful idea. I hope it happens.

  5. Love this painting Emma! It tells a story!
    Now go climb that mountain in the back and do a painting from there! Maybe get your husband to wheel you up there?

    1. I was thinking of a getting a drone to move about for me….I wont be climbing any mountains for a while…I go VERY slowly on the flat at the moment. I have made the mistake of going beyond my ankle’s current capacity and paid the price (pain when ever I moved it) so back to the beginning and work up tose muscles all over again *sigh*. It was a bad break, Wayne and there’s a lot of metal in there (3 pieces) and a lot of screws so its going to take time!

      1. Sounds like a good idea Emma! I was the same way with my ankle. Your going to set off the alarms at the airport!

      2. Definately, if I ever get to go to an airport ever again!?! We arehaving local lockdown here are are not allowed to leave the county. Fortunately that includes some lovely coastline along the Gower coast, so that’s not as bad as full lockdown where were had to stay local (ie 5 miles of out home) which meant we were stuck in the city!

      3. I think the whole world is going to have to shut down but of course as per usual the crazies will go screaming like a chicken with it’s head cut off!

      4. you can read the writing on the wall as well.

      5. Oh and another thing – I saw a photo of a grizzly bear. Boy, do they look different to your bears! Yours are much nicer!

      6. I do not trust Grizz! Too unpredictable,they scare me.

      7. Yes,they scared me too when I saw their photos!

      8. Trust me Emma,when your out in the bush and you come across a Grizzly,it’s way more alarming than a picture!

      9. I believe you! Have you ever?

  6. Hi. Thanks for another great post. I have shared the image of the shipwreck Bád Eddie, Ireland; with all the appropriat attribution provided and a link to your original post; scheduled for Friday. I have also shared the video Out of my Mind (Acoustic Piano, Opacas Music) featuring your work in my Music Box- scheduled for Monday Nov 02. Best Regards.

    1. Oh, Goff, that’s so kind of you. Thank you!

      1. My, pleasure. Have a wonderful day.

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