Climbing the Floppy Mountain

I am settling into a fairly regular routine now. Most days I get to school around 10 and stay until about 6. I’m not getting a ton of work done right now. I do some research for my thesis and have been spending quite a bit of time writing about the art I have been doing and why I am doing it. I think that I needed to sort of step back and re-evaluate what was going on in my art. But in the last few days the need to do that feels finished and I am back working away at my stuff.

I had a pretty random week that I am posting pictures of: an early morning walk to school, hanging out in the boat in the back field, the Peace Arch borderline at Blaine slowly being created in the studio, a day trip to Ennis, and an Irish Studies hike through the National Park.

Cappawalla emerging behind the castle:

Looking back down the road to school:

Jess and Steph in the boat:

The border between Steph and my studios (she’s from Victoria BC):

Saturday shopping trip to Ennis. We shopped, ran errands, had great pizza, and eventually made our way to a pub.

Cruises pub. They are famous for the music nights which I have never attended. But I do really like it. I especially like that you can sit outside under a cover and watch a match on the tv on the opposite wall. I don’t quite get what’s up with the stove, I think this wall was once part of a house which got torn down and is now an alley.

I find this to be a strange sort of thing to advertise:

Robert Ellis at the New Hotel has been bringing in great music. So far I’ve seen a band that played a hybrid of traditional Indian and traditional Irish music. It sounds sort of like a strange idea but was great. And last week he had an amazing Basque band:

The strange floppy mountain in the national park. It was formed by mountains pushing up in France. It looks like a collapsed souffle. We were on some sort of crazy schedule so Gordon made us climb it in two hours. The only break we got was ten minutes at the top. But it was fun and beautiful. I LOVE this class.

And luckily it was gorgeous out. So far we’ve had great luck with the weather on our trips, but I think that may be changing as it’s been pretty wet this week.

There are no real paths. Gordon just points to where we need to get to and then starts leading us through the hazel scrub. It really makes you feel like a kid when you would just go and explore.

At the first of the steps (slumps). Those are turloughs behind me (lakes formed by the underground rivers of the Burren overflowing and flooding the fields), they should not be forming until November but are everywhere. The summer here was even wetter than in Seattle and I’ve been told that there will be widespread flooding this winter in our area as the water has no where to go. Luckily I live on a raised area but the fields around us will definitely flood.

Mike and Eileen above the cool swirly patterned Burren pavement in the valley below.

That’s Gordon D’Arcy. He’s pretty amazing. He knows about everything we come across and is constantly enthusiastic. I like this picture,

It reminds me of this painting, The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich:

The Bronze Age cairn (tomb) on top of the mountain:

The crazy swirly part of the other side of the mountain:

The strange and sweet horses that escaped their pen and followed us down the rest of the mountain. But it looked like they maybe did this all the time because there was a second gate further down that did stop them.

At the bottom we ran into a herd of about 80 of the indigenous feral goats of the Burren. They are an ancient species that roams the hills. Some of their horns curl all the way down to the ground and back up toward their heads. Just like the puppet goats in The Sound of Music, which this trip seemed a bit like.

At first Gordon had us keep our distance, but soon he couldn’t help himself and he and a few others of us (me included) snuck up closer to the goats until they moved away a bit.

Me with a separate bunch of goats leaping away over the rocks. They run REALLY fast, and make giant leaps across and over rocks. If I had known that before I may have hesitated in sneaking closer to the big herd.

Bad weather coming in across the Burren:



We did a quick trip to Dublin this week. For some reason I was required to go, but what that reason may have been totally eluded me. But I did enjoy myself. I just wish they would plan these trips after the grad students have received their financial aid so we aren’t forced to overextend ourselves.

We always start these trips at IMMA, The Irish Museum of Modern Art. It’s one of my favorite museums. It’s in the 17th c. Royal Hospital Kilmainham, across the grounds from Kilmainham Gaol. Also the museum has a really nice formal garden which I like to wander through.

That’s my housemate Chris asleep on a wall. I seem to keep finding him asleep in strange places.

The grad students all went out for a night at the pubs and dancing. This portion was in a huge empty chrome/ red velvet/ leather filled gay bar.

Sean and his girlfriend Erin:



Temple Bar:

The most amazing looking street musician I have ever seen. And he was really good. He played a hybrid of trad Irish and heavy metal guitar solos. And he was REALLY into it.

A muppet man on stilts:

A leprechaun and a bunch of German people:

More stilt performers:

Me about to get on the bus:

My home, my fairy fort, and the best walk to school ever!

Inside. It’s very cosy and comfy (except a real couch would be nice). My room is downstairs and looks back to the entrance to the Fairy Fort. We have a nice fireplace -it is excellent for dancing on top of, a crappy tv with 2 channels, and a very depleted bar/ hutch. Most of the post-grads came over for a potluck on Friday, which turned out to be very fun and now I need to stay at school late late late tonight to make up for lying in bed all day yesterday watching Old School over and over.

Outside. We essentially have 5 yards: the entry area and greeny area near the entrance, the empty rectangle of grass surrounded by fuschia bushes, the picnic lawn, the kitchen garden and outdoor eating gravelio, and The Fairy Fort.

The Fairy Fort. Yes, I have a fairy fort in my backyard. It’s an empty ring that surrounds a group of trees. We’ve been told it is a fairly fort and considering how it is kept and the fact that the house was placed behind it off the road, it makes sense. So we are treating it like a fairy fort and being careful not to disturb anything and call them The Others, not fairies when we are at home.

The walk to school. That’s my dog buddy Rex, he lives up the side road and waits to walk me to school.

A little clown cow that likes to stare at me.

School is way across the field.

The beautiful white horse that lives on the corner.

Not Rex, this is Girl Rex. I don’t know her real name. She waits for Rex and me and then walks with us the rest of the way to school.

The Flaggy Shore

I visited the Flaggy Shore last week with my Irish Studies course. It is a little further up Galway Bay and is a good example of the burren going down into the ocean. My favorite traditional Irish restaurant Linane’s is there, but unfortunately this time I couldn’t stop and eat.

I’ve been learning about how the burren was formed. The limestone was once the bottom of an ocean and is covered with fossils. Which I somehow had never recognized even though they are all over the pavement. Then the ocean went away and the bottom became land and was covered with dirt. Then came the last Ice Age and glaciers scoured the dirt off the limestone, which has never really been covered up since. Leaving this surface of the moon-like landscape.

That is my geology lesson for you. I think it is understandable why I chose art over science.

Fossils in the pavement:

Striae on the pavement which show the direction in which the glacier receded.

Very peaceful cows. They are on a disused walking path and have no reaction at all besides mild curiosity to people being near. Most cows start a bit or freeze and stare.

Pretty yellow thistles:
That’s algae. They live in shallow bowls on the rocks. Which they make because they eat the limestone. I had always thought it was moss and that the scoops where from erosion.

Pretty fields on the walk:

Eileen, one of the new MFA’s on top of the martello tower. Martello towers are scattered along the Irish coast. Wellington had them built because he feared that Napoleon would land in Ireland and attack England from the west (and pick up some new troops among the Irish).

Some of the students climbed in using the rope ladders. You climb up to this hole, climb down to the center, climb up to another hole on the inside, then go up the stairs to the top. We ran out of time so I couldn’t go up, but some of the other grad students want to go so I’ll go then.
This old farmer came by on his tractor and seemed to think it was hilarious watching all the girls go up so he sat there and just watched and watched.

Just a small part of a very strange shrine on the walk back to the bus:

Look at the feet of the nearest cow. The farmer was herding them down the road riding his bike and waving a stick at the cows

Cows eating hydrangeas and staring at me:

Geese and old tree trunks in a hay baling yard:

I can’t remember the name of the family who owned this great house. But during the war of independence it was a garrison for the black and tans. So it was torched.

First Week Back

I’ve been back in Ballyvaughan for 5 days now. So far I have had 2 lovely evenings out in the pubs, moved into my amazing cottage (there is a fairy fort in the backyard), met all the nice new people, been up to Connemara, have come to wish I had done some real work on my thesis this summer, started on my art work, and caught the first of many terrible colds. The weather has been pretty bad and I am already using my SAD lights. I think that my roommate Chris and I are going to have a little potluck this weekend, but I will have to be feeling a bit better.

Here’s some photo’s from my Connemara trip (that’s my housemate Chris asleep on the bus):