Its hard to miss them, they scatter the landscape of Ireland like giant pieces of sculpture fashioned by the passage of time into strange irregular shapes more beautiful in death than in life; monolithic, defiant and resolute. They have faced cruel winds, wars, famine and the anger of another mans creed. They are the skeletal remains of so many simple parish churches.
My interest in these monuments is artistic, not religious, but it is hard to stand in their ruins on a beautiful summers day and not be moved by the wild flowers smothering the grave stones and birdsong filtering through glassless windows and not think of the poor people who knelt in these humble buildings asking to be delivered from their suffering and pain. How hard their lives must have been. It was on just such a day that I found myself painting St Dubhán’s church (top) on the
. All around me the farmers
were gathering in the harvest and the air was filled with the sweet aroma of
freshly cut hay. The cycle of the seasons and rotation of the crops would
begin again soon and I was struck by how much had changed since the church was built
in the thirteenth century and at the same time how little had changed. Hook Peninsula
St Mary’s church, Schull, (above) westLady’s
Cork dates from the 16th
century and is situated in a stunning location overlooking Schull harbour and .
The church became ‘ Roaring Water Bay ’ after the
confiscation of church lands by Henry V111 but it would appear the graveyard
continued to be used by both Protestants and Catholics. The Church
was hit very hard by the great famine (1847 – 48) and the old section of the
graveyard contains the famine burial area which had to be doubled in size in a
single year to cater for the victims. Mizen Peninsula
St Bubhans Church (top). Both images painted on tinted paper, watercolour and gouache.
St Mary's Church, Schull (middle). Pen and watercolour
Lady's Island, County Wexford (bottom). Watercolour from my sketchbook
Post published by Tomas King 5th Oct. 2014