Now I don’t know much about Ulysses but I know what I like!

Temple Bar night, a watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Nighttime, a watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

So you know about James Joyce and Ulysses and about Leopold Bloom – and you know of course that Bloom bought two buns to feed the seagulls down by the River Liffey on that fateful day…

Actually I didn’t (until recently) but I joined a group of sketchers on their Joycean odyssey last Sunday and I learned all manner of useful information and juicy aspects of Ulysses that I hadn’t known before.

Now, you might well ask what was I doing on a Joycean odyssey (I can barely spell the word) but bear with me as I elaborate and explain a little further.

So, Dublin Sketchers get together every Sunday to sketch – a different place every week. They start sketching at 2pm and then meet up at about 4pm for a drink and a chat. Everyone is welcome. They are part of the global Urban Sketchers’ community.

Seagulls by the River Liffey, a page from my sketchbook, Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Seagulls by the Liffey, near Merchant’s Arch – a page from my sketchbook

And this year, the group is involved in a special project entitled: Drawing on Joyce Sketchbook project, and once a month, they visit Joycean landmarks and they explore Joycean themes in their Joycean sketchbooks.

(These sketchbooks will be exhibited as part of the James Joyce Centre’s annual Bloomsday Festival in June this year).

So last Sunday, we were sketching in Little Britain Street and sketching on Grattan Bridge, sketching under the Merchant’s Arch and finally coming to rest in Mulligan and Haines’ pub on Dame Street. James Moore did readings at each stop and it really brought the text alive for us.

James Moran reading from Joyce's Ulysses under the Merchant's Arch, Dublin Sketchers. Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
James Moore reading from Ulysses under the Merchant’s Arch, Dublin

Now, Olivier Cornet is also organising an exhibition as part of the Bloomsday Festival, in association with the James Joyce Centre and he has invited yours truly to take part, along with Robert Russell, Nickie Hayden, Maser and Paula Meehan (poet).

So that’s why I joined those ineluctable sketchers last week. And why I fed (and sketched) the seagulls. Live by their wits. They wheeled, flapping.

I’m working in watercolour these days. The painting at the top might end up in the exhibition at The Olivier Cornet Gallery. Too soon to say, I’m still working on some others… Your comments please – down below in the Comments Section.


#eoinmaclochlainn   #irishartblog




  1. First: What a great idea – to have a common theme for urban sketching, and to have a reader joining you!

    I like your night-work, the entrances looks a bit like your beautiful fireplaces …?!
    And I also really like the sketchbook page, would be great to see more of them.
    Happy sketching!


  2. Hi Eoin

    I really get homesick when I read your posts. What a great city it is that you reside in. I miss it so much. I don’t get home very often and when I do I love walking around the streets of Dublin. Although I can’t say I like the newer parts of it very much. Too much glass and steel for my liking. Although Mrs Mac loves all that; she works for a structural engineering firm. Anyway: keep up the good words and pictures


    Sent from my iPhone 8



    • Thanks Niall, I suppose I’m a bit nostalgic myself for the old town. And you’re right – it’s changed a lot since the days of Coláiste Mhuire and Parnell Square and Moore Street – and going out to the Páirc (what day was it? Thursdays? I’ve forgotton) Sorry for making you homesick but – Thanks for reading and sharing, slán go fóill, eoin


  3. Good to see you continuing your journey in art, literature, and all concerning the love of our isle, as the haven for artists in many disciplines, Eoin.
    What a sadness that we have only our past cultural glories to sustain us with little evidence today of any – tangible or factual – belief, understanding, or committment to sustaining our unique and rich heritage across so many disciplines.
    How long can a nation depend on only past cultural glories rather than supporting living artists who are divorced from the supports by the authorities whose remit is to sustain and promote dance, music, (INCLUDING TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC!😦) poetry, literature. sculpture. and so on. We already have been descending the slippery ladder of neglect for too long.
    Reductions in funding has been just one thorn, but lack of understanding /ignorance/indifference, amongst many of our public representatives is appalling and absolutely unacceptable. Every candidate for election to the Dail should be asked to declare to their electorate their stance/understanding/perception of the place the state must play in relation to support/advancement of the arts in Ireland before, we sink (as in health-care AND education at this time) to a low from which a climbing back to best-standards, as per the models of our European counterparts, becomes impossible.


  4. Tá do chuid water-colours thar barr! Go hálainn ar fad! Nach álainn an smaoineamh an grúpa ag sceitseáil le chéile ag ionaid éagsúla?!


  5. Eoin, I love your watercolour, very powerful. I agree with Sigrun that they have some of the same qualities as your fireplaces. And they are certainly the antithesis of those watery Victorian watercolours people think of when one says ‘watercolour’.
    And I also enjoyed the page from your sketchbook, I knew you could draw obviously, but they are really good (the seagulls, and just the way you use line). The urban sketching group sounds like good fun and a bit of work too, with refreshment at the end. warm regards, Sarah


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