Friday, 2 of December of 2022

My Cill Rialaig Diary.

Day 9, Tuesday 10th March 2009

Road to the edge of the world.

Plan A is to paint a big triptych of the Skelligs from Glen Pier. Sea fog nearly completely obscures the islands and plan A is not to be. Plan B is to travel further to Valentia Island and paint looking back towards Puffin Island. But the sun, above the sea fog, is directly in my eyes, putting an end to plan B.

I push onwards towards the Atlantic side of the island, driving down a rocky track. I walk the last 20 minutes of the track to be sure I won’t get stuck and will be able to turn the van at the end. Walking through the windswept bog I can smell the sea salt and hear the distant roar of massive waves on rocks, but there is nothing to be seen. Suddenly I am standing on the edge of Europe and realise, “oh-my-god, this must be the place Noelle was telling me about”.

A flat plane of bog simply drops away in to the ocean, where massive waves swell up and crash into cliffs. I am very excited as I walk back to collect the van and my painting gear. I park head to wind and set up my easel in the slipstream. The energy of the place is relentless and the painting is good. Giant rock formations look like over dimensional chocolate cake tumbling into the sea and the waves are the frothy cream. There is no horizon between the water and sky with the sea mist so close.

Bray Head, Valentia Island.

A little red van comes bumping down the track, past my position and across the bog at the cliff’s edge on a trail invisible to me. He knows his way around and is probably here to cut turf a few hundred yards away. I observe the ‘turf-cutter’ take out his tools and place something small on the ground in front of him. He then whacks the something across the plane towards the cliffs edge. Was that a golf ball? It slowly dawns on me that this place is the Kerryman’s private Atlantic driving range, and no turf will be cut today.

I finish the painting as the mist moves in and the rain starts. Grinning I bounce back along the pot-holed track towards my Kerry home. John from Glasgow invites me for a bevvie at his place later, to see off Stefan who is returning to Austria the next day. I am on a high after my day’s work and drop my idea of a night shift in favour of joining them mixing beer, wine and whiskey. They say  not to mix your drink – but it can be so much fun.

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