Appletinis and Turf smoke – where else would you get it?

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn Inis Oírr
Tinteán no.12, oil on canvas, 2015

Ah yes, it was a lovely opening to an art exhibition. Believe it or not, we had Appletinis, especially made for us by Seán. This concoction, which was the favourite tipple of JD (in the television series Scrubs), is an apple martini containing mainly vodka and apple juice but with a dash of allsorts of other delights added in. Nice. I never had it before. And the turf smoke? This was especially produced for the occasion by Pacella Uí Chonaola.

Have you ever noticed, in the West of Ireland, the distinctive smell of a turf fire burning? You can smell it on the wind. It only comes from burning ‘sods’ of turf, you won’t get it from factory-produced peat brickettes… oh but it brings back such sweet memories. It always reminds me of the first time I travelled to Connemara, a long, long time ago…

But yes, I was going to tell you about the official opening of my solo exhibition: “Tinteáin” in the arts centre on Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands. It was opened officially by the poet Dara Ó Conaola who lives on Inis Oírr with his family. I really appreciated the welcome they gave me there and, as I said, his wife Pacella organised a tiny turf fire (on a little saucer) which added something extra special to the atmosphere in the gallery for the opening. They are a very creative family and both Lasairfhíona and Macdara have brought out CDs of their music. (I’ve been listening to these CDs all the time in the studio, since I returned home)

photograph of Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Fionnuala Rockett, Fionán Ó Conaola, Pacella Uí Chonaola, Dara Ó Conaola at Aras Eanna, Inisheer art exhibition
Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Fionnuala Rockett, Fionnán Ó Conaola, Pacella Uí Chonaola agus Dara Ó Conaola ag an oscailt

But the reason we had the scent of turf smoke was because the paintings in this exhibition was a series of empty fireplaces, from old abandoned houses in County Donegal. We thought that the scent of burning turf would evoke memories of the old days. I began this series a couple of years ago as part of an exploration of Irish emigration and, no doubt, the islands have seen more than their fair share of emigration over the years…

Bhí lóistín agam aríst in Áras Éanna agus mé ag crochadh na pictiúirí don taispeántas agus thaithin sé sin go mór liom. Tá an t-ionad ealaíne seo suite i sean-mhonarchan athchóirithe ar an taobh thiar de Inis Oírr. Monarchan fíodóireachta a bhí ann tráth ach anois, tá amharchlann le 75 suíocháin ann chomh maith le dhá ghailearaí ealaíne, caifé, cúpla ceardlanna, stiúideo mór agus áit cónaithe fairsing do ealaíntóir.

photo of the sea at Inismaan by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
“Tá muid faoi dhraíocht ag ceol na farraige”

Tá an stiúideo an-dheas, le fuinneog mór ag breathnú siar. Más ag gabháil le péintéireacht atá tú, chuireadh sé gliondar ar do chroí a bheith ag obair ann. Agus tá radhairceanna álainne ar an oileáin, go h-áirthe má tá tú ‘faoi dhraoíocht ag ceol na farraige’. Athraíonn an aimsear go minic anseo agus níl foscadh ar bith le fáil má thosnaíonn sé ag cur báistí agus tú i bhfad ó bhaile. Caithfidh mé a admháil, mar sin féin, go raibh aimsear deas agamsa ann (!). Go h-iondúil bíonn an t-ádh liom, buíochas le Dia.

Tá muintir na h-áite an-cháirdiúl (tá aithne ag gach duine ar mo dheartháir Fearghas a bhí ina chónaí ar Inis Oírr fadó). Mar sin, thaithin an turas go mór liom  – go h-áirithe mar go rabhamar i gceartlár na Gaeltachta agus go raibh deis agam mo chuid Gaeilge a chleachtadh.

Atlantic sky by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Ceo, 25 x 30cm, acrylic on canvas, 2015


Now, so I told you about the Appletinis, and I told you about the scent of burning turf…what else?  Well, I had quite a few paintings in this show. I had eleven paintings of fireplaces and fourteen paintings of the sea and sky… These sky paintings were verging on the abstract – they were referring to possibilities, I suppose, or to the promise of new life.

This exhibition is nearly over now but I’ll be having another showing in Dublin in October this year, with the Olivier Cornet Gallery, but that’s another story.

Your comments are always welcome, thanks for your interest, eoin

You can see more work from the exhibition at:



  1. I could get completely lost in ‘Ceo no.5’. Work looks great. Look forward to seeing it when it gets to Dublin.


  2. The paintings I’ve seen are brilliant, some of them almost photo-realistic (that is a compliment, not an insult, although I know some artists who would take it as such), and as for the turf fire, that was a stroke of genius. People often ignore the importance of the olfactory sense in relation to art. The smell of a turf fire is something so distinctive it cannot be forgotten; and the combination of the art and that beautiful scent must have made quite the lasting impression.


  3. I must admit I’ve never heard of Appletinis, but it sounds so Lithuanian! (We have quite a few words that end in -inis, for e.g. megztinis, which is a jumper/pullover, tinklinis – volleyball.) I’ll have to give it a try, although I’m not too keen on vodka, yet apple juice is one of my favourite drinks.

    I love the idea to add some turf smoke – very inventive, very Irish and very “together” with your chosen subject (if one can say so). K.

    P.S. I managed to find 11 paintings for my first ever solo exhibition. Nothing grand – no opening evening or cocktails, just some wall space in the local library. It took me a week to write something about myself, so I hope I won’t get noticed… and at the same time I hope that people will like my paintings. Very mixed feelings…


    • Hi Kristina, best wishes for your own exhibition, I hope you’ll write about it and show us some photos of your paintings on a blog post soon. For me, it’s always a bit exciting and a bit nerve-wracking to put on an exhibition. Congratulations to you! It’s good to put your work out there in the public eye. I’m sure you’ll get some nice comments. (Have you left out a visitors’ book for people to write their commentS?) All the best, eoin


  4. Hi Eoin,
    Saothar álainn ansan agat! (Cé nár éirigh liom ach leath dóibh a fhéiscint! Bhí dream ceoltóirí ag baint úsáid as an dara seomra – Féile Craiceann a bhí ar siúl an lá sin) Bhain mé an taitneamh as mo thuras beag go hInis Oírr, nach áit fhíor álainn í?
    Your hearth paintings are so beautiful, the photos do them no justice.
    Casfaimid ar a chéile lá éigin is dócha!
    Le dea ghuí, Deirdre


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