art exhibitions, watercolour

Sketching on the Island of Adventure

water colour painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Ireland's Eye, Howth, Co.Dublin

Well, that was the best idea I had for a long time! Last weekend Fionnuala and I went out to Ireland’s Eye, a wild and wonderful island, just north of Howth Head in Co. Dublin.

I hadn’t been there since I was a boy and, to tell you the truth, I was a bit afraid that I’d be disappointed, that the cliffs wouldn’t be high, that the strand wouldn’t be long, that the seabirds would all be gone, but no – it was just as I remembered – it was just like our ‘island of adventure’.

My Dad had a recitation all about it. We all knew most of the lines by heart. It was about a young couple who rowed out to the island for the day… Happy memories.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Gannets on Ireland's Eye

Cormorants on Ireland's Eye. Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Herring Gull on Ireland's Eye. Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

We had our sandwiches watching the Gannets wheeling around the sea stack. What a place to build your home! It’s nesting season at the moment so the seagulls are fiercely protecting their nests. (Yes, we were very careful.) We saw Cormorants feeding their young in the strange way that they do (see above). The chick actually sticks its head down the parent’s throat!

It was wonderful to sit there on the island and watch the ever-moving, turquoise sea. I did some sketching, something I haven’t done in a while.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Fionnuala Rockett on Ireland's Eye

Photo of Eoin Mac Lochlainn in ruined Church on Ireland's Eye

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Martello Tower on Ireland's Eye

Evening came. I stood up. “I suppose we’d better be heading back to Howth”, says I. “Howth be jiggers”, said Fionnuala, “let’s go on to Lambay!”

PS:  Speaking of sketching, there’s a great exhibition entitled: There’s a touch of the artist about old Bloom on at the Olivier Cornet Gallery this week. It’s a visual response to James Joyce’s Ulysses – sketching on location in the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter. Curated by Olivier Cornet, Jessica Peel-Yates and Marie-Hélène Brohan Delhaye, it’s the result of a four-day sketching event exploring the fabric of Joyce’s Dublin.



art, watercolour

Unique, innovative, interesting – and likely to make an impact!

painting of three toed sloth by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Oh, such a pain having to fill out all these forms – Remembering, Reconciling, Presenting, Imagining and Celebrating – these are the official themes for Ireland 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising… and in order to be successful, projects must correspond with one or more of those themes. And also be unique, innovative, interesting and likely to make an impact! So for instance, with Imagining:  we have to try to release the creativity of our people (in particular our young people) as we anticipate a better future for all…

I’m just a simple artist, I really haven’t time to be releasing the creativity of our people. It takes so much time. I just want to get some time alone for a change, time in my studio where I can concentrate on my work…

But I got a lovely phonecall the other day, a little voice at the other end of the phone, my 9 year old nephew Eoin asking if I could paint him a picture.  “Of course I can”, says I, “and what would you like?” Well, he was writing a book and he needed an illustration… “Great”, says I, “and what’s the book about?”  “Three-toed sloths”, he said… Now I wasn’t expecting that, but I said I’d give it a try…

And it brought me back to earth. Yes, I can still draw and paint, that’s what I do. But all this remembering, reconciling and presenting stuff has created a huge amount of red tape for us. I know that it’s well-intentioned but to tell you the truth, it’s been getting me down lately. I will remember and I will present – but as far as I can, it’ll be in my own way, and it’ll be my own personal reflection. You could say that I’m taking a leaf out of young Eoin’s book – and I reckon that he’s likely to make a big impact in the neighbourhood.

Your comments are always welcome. Just click on the little brown speech bubble on this blog post and put your comments there. Thanks, eoin

art, Nature, watercolour

Natives helping each other in these troubled times

illustration of red squirrel by Eoin Mac Lochlainn


3 Red Squirrels – yes, I saw 3 Red Squirrels yesterday. Now, those of you not living in Ireland may not realise the significance of this occurrence but let me tell you that this was indeed a “VSE”, a very special event.

Ok, so the truth is that the Red Squirrel is a native Irish species but it has been brought close to extinction by the larger North American Grey Squirrel which was introduced into Ireland by some ‘eejit’ at the beginning of the 20th century ( I’m quoting Colin Stafford Johnson here, who presents the exellent nature programme entitled “Living the Wildlife”).

Now, Grey Squirrels are nasty and whenever they arrive in an area, the resident Red Squirrels (who are extra cute) usually disappear within 5 to 15 years. Tragic. But there were 3 Red Squirrels in a wood near Dublin yesterday. Was this a record?

The image above is one I did for a book that my brother and I collaborated on some years ago. Cóilín Mac Lochlainn, who is an environmental journalist and photographer, could tell you a lot more about this, but there’s talk that Pine Martens (native species) are growing in number in Ireland and that they are preying on Grey Squirrels – thus improving the lot of our native Red Squirrels… Apparently, as the Reds are lighter they can escape to the highest branches where Pine Martens dare not venture. The heavier Greys are not quite as nimble so…

unfortunately for them… curtains.  Nach ait an mac an saol.

If you have any Red Squirrel stories, we’d love to hear from you.

more about my own work at:


art, Gaeltacht, watercolour

If you’re looking to get away from it all…

water colour sketch of lighthouse on Inis Oirr by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Did you know that there is an arts centre on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands? I spent some time there this summer. A fantastic place. Bare limestone like the Burren landscape in Co.Clare but there’s something extra special about living on an island.

It’s a Gaeltacht island – the islanders speak Gaelic, the Irish language.

Bhí sé an-dheas a bheith i mo chónaí ansin ar feadh tamaillín. Bhí mé ann i mí Aibreáin. Bhí sé i gceist agam scríobh faoi seo ó shin ach bhuel, bhí rudaí eile ag tárlúint gan stop. Tá taispeántas agam ar Inis Oirr faoi láthair.

PS: the art centre is called Áras Éanna, it’s in a former weaving factory in the west of the island.

art, Art musings, Nature, watercolour

Where to find Silence

My Irish readers will know of the Burren, a mysterious landscape of bare limestone, weathered and fissured by ice and rain on the North West coast of Clare. One particularly unusual aspect of the Burren is that rare species of Alpine and Mediterranean flowers grow side by side in the grykes and fissures of the rocky landscape. Yes, the cracks in the limestone are called “grykes”, so I’m told, and the flat bits are called “clints”.

And here’s a quote from the Burren National Park website – “Among the many varied and beautiful flowers which have come to symbolise the Burren are spring gentian, mountain avens, shrubby cinquefoil and bloody cranesbill and, on the higher terraces, the hoary rock rose” – don’t ask me why they have such unseemly names – but why all this wonderful information, you might ask. Why indeed?

watercolour of the burren by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, I visited the Burren recently and it really is a wonderful place. But for me it wasn’t because of its flora, or its grykes or even the clints. I think that it was the silence that got me. I stood there in the limestone wilderness. In the far distance I could hear a cuckoo calling. Close by, a gentle breeze rustling in the undergrowth, bees, a grasshopper… ciúnas, suaimhneas, quietness…

if you’d like to see some more of my sketches, do write to me, it’s very nice to get your feedback.


Cló, Exhibitions, Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, watercolour

See the Northern Lights in Co. Donegal this December

I’d like to draw your attention to a group exhibition that opens tomorrow evening at Cló in Mín a’ Leá, Co.Donegal. It includes the work of Ian Joyce, Oona Hyland, Nuala Ní Fhlathúin, Mary A Fitzgerald, Heidi Nguyen, Kordula Ludwig Schwan, Liz Doyle, Rebecca Strain, Anna Marie Savage … and myself.  The title of the show is Northern Lights/ Na Saighneáin.

watercolour painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Na Saighneáin – casadh an file Cathal Ó Searcaigh orm i mbliana, nuair a bhí mé ag caitheamh tréimhse cónaithe thuas i gCló Ceardlann na gCnoc i nGaeltacht Thír Chonaill agus thosnaigh muid ag caint faoi na Northern Lights. Na Saighneáin a thug sé orthú. Dúirt sé liom go bhfaca sé iad uair nó dhó os cionn Mhín a’ Leá ach gur annamh a thárlaíonn sé. Ní raibh siad le feiscint fhaid is a bhí mise ann, fairíor, mar ní raibh an aimsear ró-chineálta. An rud is annamh is iontach, ar ndóigh.

Ach bhí roinnt mhaith comhráití againn i rith na h-ama sin, fear an-spéisiúl é, agus bhí muid ag caint lá eile faoi dhán a bhí scríobhta aige dár teideal dó “Na Bailte Bánaithe”. Dán faoi na daoine a mhair sa cheantar tráth agus mar a mhaireann siad go fóill i gcuimhne na h-áite. Mar a deir sé:  iad ag tionól ar na seanfhóid i mbailte beaga bánaithe na mbunchnoc, i Mín na bPoll, i bProchlais, i Mín na gCapóg…

Agus thosnaigh mé ag lorg na seanbhailte seo, ag dreapadh isteach i seantithe tréighte, ag sceitseáil is ag smaoineamh, ag iarraidh sórt eicint teagmháil a dhéanamh leo b’fhéidir, leo siúd – i mbéal an uaignis. Agus thosnaigh mé sraith nua pictiúirí de thinteáin tréighthí, pictiúirí le dathanna uisce…

Beidh tuilleadh eolais faoi “Northern Lights/ Na Saighneáin” ag

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