Nature, photography

An idea that could spread and spread…

photo of Forget-me-nots by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

My brother told me once that if I planted Forget-me-nots in the garden, I’d never see the end of them and you know, he was right.  They spread.  They pop up everywhere.  (It’s wonderful).  They came from my mother’s garden and they always remind me of her. (She passed away 21 years ago next Monday)

But I was over in Glasnevin Cemetery where my parents are buried and I had an idea.  That graveyard is so cold, windswept and stony that nothing grows there – nothing that is – except maybe for Forget-me-nots?

So I had an idea for a new art installation. A secret “time-based” piece, what you might call: “Guerrilla art” and this was it:

For the sake of all those lonely, un-tended graves where no one visits, what if I were to plant Forget-me-nots – firstly on my parents’ grave – but then the following year, the seeds would’ve blown around and established themselves in nearby graves and then, as the years passed, they would spread further and further until every year, for the month of May, the whole graveyard would be covered in a carpet of tiny skyblue flowers, and the poor lonely souls need never feel neglected again.

photo of Forget-me-nots by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, that was my idea – and I tried it once but no, even the Forget-me-nots couldn’t eke out a living in that barren place.  So that was that, or so I thought, and the years passed and even plastic flowers wouldn’t stay put where they’d been put.

But then, one day I went to check on a flowerpot I’d brought over from our garden, a pot which had contained some healthy Campanula flowers.

Photo of Campanula by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Now Campanula, as you probably know, is the type of flower that would grow out of cracks in the wall if you let them (see above) but no, even they had withered and died in this arid desert of a place.

But wait!  The pot was still there; the dead Campanulas were still dead but now, there were some Forget-me-nots blooming in the pot instead!

So now, don’t tell anyone! This is just the start. Maybe, just maybe we have a new project – happening all by itself this time. Maybe Mother Nature liked my idea and decided to take it on, herself!  What do you think?

Gentians on Inismaan

An focal scoir:  Deartháir eile liom a thóg an pictiúr seo thús. Dúirt sé gur Ceadharlach Bealtaine an t-ainm oifigiúil ar na bláthanna gorma seo (na Gentians) ach go dtugtar Pabhsaeir na Maighdine orthu ar Inis Meáin. (Ach dúirt sé freisin go dtugtar Pabhsaeir na Maighdine ar aon bhláth ghorm ar Inis Meáin). ‘Sé Lus míonla an t-ainm oifigiúil ar na Forget-me-nots ach is maith liomsa Cuimhní na Maighdine a thabhairt orthu. Céard é do mheas?

Isn’t there just something extra special about blue flowers?


Irish art, Nature

At least the Swallows are still returning…

watercolour sketches of swallows by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
a page from last year’s notebook

Yes, I’m well aware that the world is now officially in a state of complete ‘chassis’ but I’m going to ignore that for the moment and tell you instead about what happened at the weekend.

Even better, to describe it more elegantly, I’ll quote from Gearrscéalta an Phiarsaigh, the short stories of Patrick Pearse. It’s in Irish but I’ve added my own (loose) translation below…

Cluineadh go tobainn glór nár cluineadh san áit le tuilleadh agus leathbhliain. Glór beag bídeach. Glór fann fíorbhinn. Ceiliúr mear meidhreach, agus é neamhchosúil le h-aon cheiliúr eile dá dtagann ó ghob éin. Le luas lasrach thiomáin toirt bheag dhubh aneas. Í ag eiteall go h-ard san aer. Dhá sciathán leathna laidre uirthi. Déanamh gabhláin ar a h-eireaball. Í ag gearradh na slí roimpi mar shaighead a chaithfí as bogha. D’ísligh sí go tobann, thiontaigh sí, d’éirigh arís, d’ísligh is thiontaigh arís. Ansin rinne sí caol díreach ar Eoghainín, í ag labhairt in ard a gutha…

Translation:   Suddenly a sound was heard that hadn’t been heard in the place for over half a year. A tiny, twittering voice. A stray, puresweet voice. A joyful celebratory birdsong, like no other. At the speed of lightning, a tiny speck appeared from the south, flying high above the land. Wings spread wide. Forked tail. Slicing through the air like an arrow from a bow. She dived suddenly, she turned and rose again. She dived and turned again. She made straight for Eoghainín, joyfully, joyfully…

And I’ve added a tiny clip from my short film “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” to celebrate the return of the swallows. If you can’t see it immediately below this, you need to click into the actual blog…

That piece of music was by Davy Spillane, by the way.   Slán go fóill,  Bye for now, eoin

“Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” – the 9 minute version

Nature, photography

What’s the best Birthday present you ever got?

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of apple blossom

Yes, well some years ago, I got a present of a tree for my birthday – an apple tree – and every year, around this time, those delicate pink and white flowers open up to greet the sunshiny days of Spring.

“Efflorescence”, that’s the word to describe our little tree ‘in the state of flowering’ and that’s what’s happening right now in our suburban garden.

Later on, of course, the wind and the rain will come howling down from the Kimmage Crossroads and tear at the branches and send the petals flurrying and swirling into the air until only the pluckiest and the stubbornist of the buds will remain to develop and grow into lovely green and rosy apples.

In Celtic tradition, the apple tree was a symbol of purity, wholeness and fertility. They say that applewood was burned by the druids in various fertility rites. The apples were highly valued because they would keep over the long winter months.

But for me, the apple tree is a reminder of the rhythms of nature and of the cycle of life. Rotha Mór an tSaoil. Isn’t it amazing, when you see the tree in winter, to think that in a few short months, it will be completely transformed from bare branches to an abundant mass of flowers – and then again – to sagging branches, laden with luxurious fruit!

I have a series of apple paintings which I return to from time to time. (Here’s one of them below). But they have to be real apples, the sweet juicy ones. Did you ever get a nicer gift?

small oil painting of Halloween Apple by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Halloween-Apple-no.2, 20 x 20cm, oil on canvas

Irish art, Nature

The blackbird and the flying snails

oil painting of Blackbird by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

My brother tells me that it’s listening for earthworms. That blackbird on our lawn is certainly on the lookout for something – but our hardworking earthworms?  I’d much prefer if he went for the snails. Those snails are the bane of my life.

Well, just one of the banes, I suppose, but those snails have been causing major problems here in Harold’s Cross ever since we began to grow our own vegetables.

I had a plan. Not a complicated one, I would simply drop them over the garden wall. Next door’s garden was just an unkempt lawn and nobody lived there, but d’you know – those snails used to come back over every night! My brother tells me that they’re like homing pigeons, they can find their way home. And I’m sure of it now because every morning, when I went out to check, there’d be less and less green shoots and more and more gastropod devastation.

I became a bit desperate. I used to go out at night with a torch and a saucepan, and I would search and find every single marauding mollusc and… but what to do with the seething, sluggy mass of Pulmonata?

I had a catapult. I would launch those slimy pulmonates into space, right over the roof of the house behind. Now, find your way home from there, you slug!

Bhuel, bhí go maith agus ní raibh go h-olc. But I was out in the garden one night around midnight. The sky was clear, the stars were twinkling bright. (I love to stand in the garden those nights and listen to the distant hum of the city). Then I heard something fall on the lawn; there it was again! Something landed behind me. I turned – and something hit me on the back of the neck! Something small and slimy…

And even though this is a terrible story (and very little to do with my art practice), I reckon I’ll be preparing the ground soon for another season of slugduggery. Any sensible suggestions would be very welcome.


Gaeilge, Nature

Kingfisher – an rud is annamh is iontach!

painting of kingfisher by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
A Kingfisher in Bushy Park, Dublin

Scroll down to read the English version. Is rí-annamh a fheicim an rí-iascaire (an Kingfisher) ach bhí an t-ádh liom inné agus mé amuigh ar shiúlóidín i mBushy Park, i dTír an Iúir.

Nach iontach an t-éan é – lena chuid cleití gleoite gealgháireacha – mheasfá gur chóir go mbeadh cónaí air sna Trópaicí, nó i nGáirdín na nAinmhithe b’fhéidir, mar chonaic mé go h-éasca é, a cholainn lonrach ag glioscarnach i measc na craobhacha loma gheimhriúla.

Bhí a chleití ar ghorm na spéire, agus bhí dath rua nó oráiste ar a ucht.  D’eitil sé leis ansin agus ní fhaca mé aríst é ach d’fhan an t-aisling liom agus mé ag triall ar bhaile.

Yes, I saw a Kingfisher the other day, a fleeting glimpse of that ethereal bird. Bright sky-blue feathers standing out against the bare grey branches of Bushy Park. How is it that such an exotic creature has made his home by this little woodland pond in Dublin? Was it a heavenly blunder? Or was he created on some crazy whim, to bring joy to this wintery world? – I can think of no other explanation.  Can you?


photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Bushy Park, Terenure
Woodland pond in Bushy Park, Dublin.

I did that painting of a kingfisher a long time ago for a book by O’Brien Printing – I wonder is it still in print… But I’m thinking these days, that with all the trouble in the world, and climate change in particular, maybe it’s time to revisit that subject and see where it takes me.  

I’m reminded of the old mandarin in China who, when he disagreed with the emperor, he took to sitting by the banks of the Yangtze to spend his day fishing. A quiet and dignified protest.

Your comments are always welcome.


Irish art, Nature

The Diaspora and the Irish weather

oil painting of empty fireplace by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Fionnuala tells me that it’s called ‘the anti-cyclonic gloom’ . It’s nothing to worry about, it’s not terminal, but it generally keeps our little island shrouded in a misty, fecky, damp grey miserable blanket of cloud for most of the month of January.

She also tells me (she’s doing a climate course) that the third week in January is most likely to be the dampest, feckiest, miserablist week of them all. But the other day, let me tell you that it was 10 degrees celsius in Dublin – the same day that it was snowing in Venice – so that can’t be bad!

But why am I telling you this? Well, this ‘anti-cyclonic gloom’ is probably the reason that I’m painting empty fireplaces again, my “Tinteáin Tréigthe” series, because if one ventures out these days in search of inspiration, up in the hills around Dublin, one might find oneself on a fool’s errand: – Nothing to see, it’s all over lads, have yez no homes to go to?

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of a cottage in Donegal

So I wander off and investigate some deserted old cottages instead. I have been painting empty fireplaces in abandoned homes in the hills for a few years now. I think about how central the fireplace once was to the home, how people used to keep the fire going throughout the night and throughout the year, and how the fireplace really was the heart of a home.

Seeing them abandoned and cold, each with their own distinctive personality, was quite moving so I started a series of paintings as a requiem for those people who had gone, a memorial to the Irish diaspora.

and if you don’t believe me, check out:





art, Nature

If you’re feeling the winter’s discontent…

painting of snowdrop by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

The three wise men – I always think that they get a raw deal here in Ireland. They arrive on the last day of Christmas, just as everyone is taking down the Christmas decorations, dumping the Christmas tree and going back to work. Not a fun time to visit Ireland, you might say.

Yes, it’s still dark and still pretty miserable here but there’s one thing that always gives me a boost – and that’s the snowdrops. Every January, they force their way out of the cold ground to greet the new year. They pop up outside our back door and they nod their little heads in the wind and rain. They’d bring a smile to the grouchiest of people.  This year, the first one arrived on the 7th of January, the day after those three “wise” men.

But, having noticed the solitary snowdrop, I then started noticing that there was purple campanula in bloom all over the patio. Surely that’s not supposed to happen until June or July? So I know that it’s extremely cold across mainland Europe these days but on our little island, it has been ‘extremely’ mild this year.

painting of Bluebells by Yanny Petters
by Yanny Petters

Now, as you know, I don’t normally paint flowers – but I know some artists who do. There’s Yanny Petters who paints on glass (see above); there’s Nicola Lynch Morrin, Bid Flinn and Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris (see below). All of these images are on their websites which are well worth visiting (see the links below).

Nicola Lynch Morrin
by Nicola Lynch Morrin
painting of yellow tulips by Bridget Flinn
by Bridget Flinn
painting by Sarah Zoutewelle Morris
by Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris
Decor-Art UK photo of snow on pine
by Decor-Art UK

And then there’s photographs – another friend of mine has beautiful frosty photos on her website at:

Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris

Just a thought – I realise that all these artists are female. Is this a coincidence, I wonder, or do real men not paint flowers? Naw… Van Gogh painted flowers; So did Emil Nolde. Any thoughts?