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Glenlough Bay, Donegal

Glenlough Bay _Emma Cownie

In my last post I decribed visiting the abandoned fishing village of An Port tucked away in a remote corner of the Donegal shoreline (read it here).

We were inspired to seek out this very remote spot by American artist Rockwell Kent, who visited and painted the area in the 1920s. I was waiting for a book on the artist to write this post but it only had a couple of sentences about his visit to Ireland so the delay was unwarranted.

https://www.wikiart.org/en/rockwell-kent/sturrall-donegal-ireland-1927

Sturral, Donegal by Rockwell Kent
https://www.wikiart.org/en/rockwell-kent/sturrall-donegal-ireland-1927

Annie McGinley's House at Port (from the far side of the cove)
Annie McGinley’s House at Port (from the far side of the cove)

 

Rockwell Kent enjoyed Donegal and had originally intended to stay longer. He stored his larger paintings in Annie McGinley’s family home in Port (see my previous post about Port) but  he actually spent most of his time in the neighbouring valley of Glenlough. He rented a old barn (byre) from hearing-impaired farmer Dan Ward. He lived in it with his second wife, Frances, and used it as his studio. The paintings of the views from Glenlough, especially of the bay and the giant sea stacks, are quite remarkable.

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas later stayed in Glenlough in the summer of 1935.  His stay didn’t go too well, he found the soliditude difficult to bear and he described himself as “lonely as Christ”. He left without paying his bills (although his editor later paid them).

Glenlough Bay - Rockwell Kent
Glenlough Bay – Rockwell Kent

 

When the Sunshines, Rockwell Kent
When the Sunshines, Rockwell Kent

 

Following in Rockwell Kent (and Dylan Thomas’s) footsteps is easier said than done. For a man who loved to visit and paint inacessible and elemental places in Newfoundland, Alaska, Terra Del Fuego and Greenland, maybe this should not be a surprise; even a century later.

The Road to Port
The Road to Port

 

Glenlough is an anomaly in this modern world. It is a lost valley. It’s located on the lip of a gale-swept edge of north-west Ireland. It’s an inacessible part of a very remote county. No one has lived there for more than 30 years. There is no road in and no road out. There isn’t even a footpath. The local farmers ride the curves of the rough landscape on their quad bikes.

There is a song “The Road to Glenlough” by fiddler, James Byrne, from near by Glencolumbkille, Donegal. The title must be some sort of joke as there is definately no road to Glenlough. I know, I have looked very hard for it. You can find Glenlough Bay on a map. Here. Where that red tag is.

Map of the North of IrelandMap of the North of Ireland – the red tag marks Glenlough Bay, Donegal

Map of an Port and Glenlough Bay
Map of an Port and Glenlough Bay – its all rock and blanket bogland

Google confidently suggests that route to Glenough Bay is quite straight forward. The straight white dotted line should immediately suggest wild over-confidence on the part of AI. Compare it to the dotted blue line, which is the single track road to An Port.  This road/track does not exist. Road to Glenlough

We decided to (sort of) follow the coastline from Port and climb up the very steep hill to Glenlough. The map only gives you a hint at how truly rough and rugged the terrain is. Its all elevated upland bog with and massive bolders dropped by glaciers thousands of years ago. The first part of our “walk” invovled a scramble up a steep path strewn with rocks (see photo below). I had my walking poles with me and I clambered  up this section like a weird four legged beast. I have a lot of pins and screws in my left leg from a bad break I had two years agao, and this section terrified me. I would not have done it without the additional help from the poles.

View of Port from above
View of Port Bay from above

 

We first passed the remains of the village of Port.

Ruined house at Port

With walking Poles: Photo credit: Seamas Johnston
With walking Poles: Photo credit: Seamas Johnston

 

The climb up hill seemed to go on for ever. Up and up. First we followed sheep tracks upwards. The sheep aren’t very interested into getting to Glenlough and so we were on constant lookout for ways upwards in the right sort of direction. The sheep track kept vering off to the left and right. I had never walked somewhere where there was no human path before. I found it quite exhausting looking for a way up. The ground was springey underfoot. It’s bogland. It was mostly dry. It was one of those cimbs where you keep expecting to reach the brow of the hill but there’s just more boggy incline, going up and up!

It's a long way up hill
It’s a long way up hill

Eventually, there were spots where we could pause and take our bearings. The view was something else.

View from ridge above Port
The view from ridge above Port

I haven’t mentioned that it was very windy too. We stayed away from the cliff edge. He sat in the shelter of a dip in the landscape to eat our sandwiches and look at the view towards An Port.

Fence to stop the sheep getting blown off the cliff top
The fence is to stop the sheep (and daft tourists) getting blown off the cliff top

 

A painting of sea stacks From Port to Glenlough (Donegal)
From Port to Glenlough (Donegal) Emma Cownie

Dont go too near the edge!

Dont go too near the edge!

Donegal Ireland, Rockwell Kent
Donegal Ireland, Rockwell Kent

Finally, after a lot of walking when we were thinking of turning back, it appears. Our view of Glenlough Bay. We stand and gawp at it in wonder. It is vast and the colours are vivid. The colour of grass on the stacks is an intense green, the colour of the sea is a cold blue. The sea water is very clear and you can see the massive boulders on the raised beach from up here. It is hard to covey how stunning it is in a photo or a painting. We watched the shadows cast by the clouds pass over the landscape. It was mesmerising. The last time I starred at a landscape in such wonder when was when  we visited the incredible Grand Canyon.

Glenlough Bay
Cloud shadows over Glenlough Bay: Photo credit Emma Cownie

I wish we could have got closer but we were already very tired and decided to come back another time to go down to valley of Glenlough itself. I am not sure I am able bodied enough to make it down to the beach (see the video by Unique Ascent below) but we could come back with a drone camera and take photos. I just want to see the buildings where Rockwell Kent and Dylan Thomas stayed all those years ago.

Glen Lough - One of Rockwell Kent's "Missing" Irish paintings
Glen Lough – One of Rockwell Kent’s “Missing” Irish paintings

 

The Cottage , Rockwell Kent
The Cottage , Rockwell Kent

 

Unique Ascent’s video makes the visit to the shore of Glenlough Bay look so easy!

 

Over Glenlough Bay, Donegal-Emma Cownie
Over Glenlough Bay, Donegal-Emma Cownie

 

The Rock Climber’s Guide by Unique Ascent 

https://uniqueascent.ie/glenlough-bay

Glencolmcille the rugged soul of Donegal

For more on Rockwell Kent

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/searching-for-the-road-to-glenlough-1.1155107

http://bellender.com/an-port-annie-mcginleys-rabbit-pie/

Click to access The-Missing-Irish-Kent-paintings.pdf

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/visual-art/before-cong-got-john-wayne-glencolmcille-got-rockwell-kent-1.3539050

IRISH ARTWORK BY ROCKWELL KENT AT SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK

For Dylan Thomas’ visit to Glenlough

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/im-10-miles-nearest-human-2404375 

 

Click to access The-Missing-Irish-Kent-paintings.pdf

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Paintings of Árainn Mhór/Arranmore, Donegal

Arranmore Donegal

I recently join the Stair Árrain Mhór – Árrain Mhór History Facebook group and was overwhelmed by the positive response I received from the members when I put my most recent post online there. I was asked if I had any more paintings of Arranmore for them to see, so here’s a collection of all my paintings of the Island that I have completed in the last two years.

Where it reads (Private Collection) it means that the painting has been sold. I hope you enjoy looking at them. 

To see my Donegal paintings for sale click here

Poll na mbadaí (Harbour of the Boats) Arranmore, Ireland.
Poll na mbadaí (Harbour of the Boats) Arranmore, Ireland (soon to be in Private Collection).

 

Painting of old cottage on Arranmore, Donegal_Emma Cownie
Brightening Up (Arranmore, Donegal)

 

Darkening Clouds On Maghery
Darkening Clouds On Maghery, Ireland

 

Painting of Arranmore lane, Ireland by Emma Cownie
After the Rain, Arranmore, Ireland (Private Collection)

 

Landscape Arranmore Ireland
Stone Shed Arranmore Ireland

 

Landscape painting Donegal
View From Poolawaddy (Private collection) painted in early March 2020

 

Painting of The Two Tin-Roofed Sheds, Ireland
The Two Tin-Roofed Sheds, Ireland

 

Red Roofed House Painting
Rusty Roofed House, Arranmore, Ireland

 

Irish Landscape painting_Emma Cownie
The Two Red Roofed Houses, Ireland (Private Collection)

 

landscape painting of Arranmore Island_Ireland_Emma Cownie
Down the lane, Arranmore (Private Collection)

 

Painting of Arranmore, Donegal, Ireland_Emma Cownie
Cloughcor, With Errigal Behind (Ireland) (Private Collection) 

 

Donegal painting
View from Arranmore (Private Collection)
Donegal painting of area around Cloughcor, Arranmore
Around Cloughcor (Arranmore) (Private Collection) 

 

Painting of Donegal Island of Inishkeeragh_EmmaCownie
Over to InishKeeragh (Private Collection) 

 

 

Donegal landscape painting for sale_EmmaCownie
Gortgar, Arranmore

 

From Cloughcor To Maghery (Arranmore) (Private Collection)

 

Painting of Donegal cottage
House by the Wild Red Flowers (Arranmore) (Private Collection)

 

Painting of Donegal. Arranmore.
Old Courthouse, (Arranmore Island) (Private Collection)

 

There are also some small watercolours I did when I could not get to my oil paints and easel due to a broken leg/ankle

Watercolour of an old white cottage with a new slate roof, Arranmore, Ireland by Emma Cownie
House on the hill,, Arranmore, Ireland
Watercolour of Irish cottage, Donegal
The White house, Arranmore, Ireland
Watercolor of Old White Cottage, Arranmore, Ireland by Emma Cownie
Old White Cottage, Arranmore, Ireland
Watercolour of Arranmore, Ireland
Two Red Roofed Sheds, Arranmore, Ireland

 

Some of the above paintings are available to buy as prints on artamajeur.com

 

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The Road by the Loch, Ireland

Landscape Painting of Donegal Ireland by Emma Cownie

A while back I came across a quote on the internet that has stuck in my mind:- “If I knew the world was to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.” I was quite struck by this sentiment, especially in the light of current events.
I could not remember who said it. So I did some research. I was intrigued by what I discovered online. I found a number of statements:-

  1. It was originally said by Martin Luther, a 16th century German monk yoJyC
  2. It was originally said by Martin Luther King Jnr, the 20th century African-American Civil Rights Campaigner. NzGsK
  3. It wasn’t said by 1) or 2)!

This puts me in mind of one of my favourite internet memes by that teller-of-truth Abe Lincoln…
Lincoln-quote-internet-hoax-fake
Just joking!
The apple seed quote apparently originates in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, in the Protestant Confessing Church, which used it to inspire hope and perseverance during its opposition to the Nazi dictatorship.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter who said or when (although there’s a lesson about taking things at face value there) because I like the sentiment. No matter how dreadful things seem, they will pass. Eventually.
Here is my apple seed for this week.

Donegal Ireland landscape painting Emma Cownie
The Road by the Loch, Ireland (80x60cm/ 31.5×23.5″)