Posted on 2 Comments

At the foot of Scraigs, Fintown (Donegal)

Herron's Farm, Fintown Donegal-Emma Cownie

There’s a good reason why landscape painters use the “landscape” orientation for their canvases – i.e. the longest side is horizontal  – and that’s because you can fit more landscape in that way.  I have recently discovered another good reason – social media and wordpress thumbnails don’t like tall narrow paintings and will automatically crop them.  This one-size fits all is especially irritating in the case of my most recent painting below, as the thumbnail cuts out the focus of the painting – Con Herron’s farm at the foot of the massive hill – Scraigs, which is part of the Bluestack Mountain range in Donegal.

So looking at the thumbnail you just see the  top of the mountain! I am pretty sure than no one will be clicking on that to see the full size image. It’s no better on pinterest!

Top of the moutains - Thumbnail
Top of the moutain – Thumbnail


So I have had to play around and put the image on a backing to widen it.

Scraigs, Fintown
Scraigs, Fintown – extra background added on


I also use mock up software (from to get a sense of the scale of the painting.


C:\Users\emmaf\Downloads\2023-07-06 10_38_15-Window.jpg
Mock up from


Another Mock up from
Another Mock up from


Map of Scraigs and Bluestacks
Map of Scraigs and Bluestacks – ignore the red route. Fintown is at the top of the map.


I often look at the rocky tops of the mountains and hills in Donegal and wonder how often, if ever, they are climbed by people. The farmers in the past must have been incredibly fit  (modern day ones surely use quad bikes) as I am often surprise to see fencing winding its way over the top of these craigs. I look up the Scraigs on the internet and find that it features on a website called “” with a summit map but no one has yet written a review of their climb. So I suppose intrepid climbers must ascended that craggy summit but probably not from this angle! There seems to be an easier route from the western side.

Herron's Farm, Fintown Donegal-Emma Cownie
Herron’s Farm, Fintown Donegal-Emma Cownie


If you ever get the chance to read the “Tales from the Bluestacks” or “The Hills: More Stories from the Bluestacks” a collection of short stories published in the 1980s by American academic-turned sheep farmer Robert Bernen, they are well worth the effort. He and his wife lived in the Croaghs in the 1970s. I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s so it doesn’t seem so long ago to me but his stories, such as the coming of motor vehicles and later on electricity to the area,  reveal a way of life that has now pretty much vanished. I like to think that 92 year old Con Herron, whose farm lies that the bottom of my painting, was part of that world.

Robert Bernen Short Stories
Robert Bernen Short Stories


Scraigs features on a another hiking website here:

Read Irish Times article on Robert Bernen and farming life in the Blustacks here – worth it for the photgraphs of the interiors of the irish houses alone!

Listen to an RTE radio documentary on Robert Bernan here 

See the painting for sale here