Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spanish Point Rockpools





Acrylic on paper, painted on location in 2001.

A little story about Spanish Point: it's near the tiny town of Miltown Malbay, in County Clare, which comes alive every summer with the Willie Clancy Summer School. Willie Clancy was a famous uileann piper from Miltown Malbay, and the summer school has workshops for almost every instrument used in Irish trad music, as well as set dancing and step dancing workshops. And the afternoons and evening have brilliant music sessions in every pub, sometimes 3 sessions to a pub, it's the busiest week of the year in Miltown Malbay, and we used to call it 'Willie Week'.

We stayed in this lovely old house in Spanish Point, near where I sat down to paint the picture included in this blog posting, that was owned by a slightly whacky couple from Limerick city, the woman and her sister ran the B&B during the summer months, and they are still the two funniest people I have ever met. But then Spanish Point has more than its fair share of eccentrics.

There was the story of the car that went out in the tide one year, when a few young Yahoos from the city decided to bring someone's Dad's very expensive German car out onto the sands at the big wide beach at Spanish Point during low tide. Naturally the car got stuck in the soft sand, and nothing but a tractor and a chain would get it out. Only - they didn't get a tractor on time, they underestimated the speed of the incoming tide, and abandoned the car, thinking that they would get it when the tide went back out again. So a few hours later they went back to the beach, and the very expensive car was gone, dragged out to sea by the Atlantic currents. It's probably mush at the bottom now. Keeping company with what's left of the Titanic ... not much of an exaggeration when you think of the force of those currents.

And then there are the extraordinary foxes that live in the area. Foxes are so smart, and live right beside us but often we don't notice them. My other half went outside to our car one morning to get something out of it, and forgot to close the car door when he came back inside - as it was a clear, sunny morning, we thought it would be fine to leave the door open to air out the car anyway. But then this fox materialised out of the undergrowth beside the house, and slunk into the front of the house, in the shadow of the car, and around and climbed right into the car and sniffed around. Now I'm not against foxes per se, but I have been close to them physically and they are inclined to be a bit smelly - I didn't want this one getting comfortable in the car, and I certainly didn't want him pooing in it, as it was a rented car. So my other half ran out and the fox jumped out of the car and ran away.

Another brilliant story of the foxes of Spanish Point: Foxes are foragers as well as hunters and consumers of small animals, and Spanish Point in July and August is like a great big picnic to a fox, what with the campsite and the leftover food humans leave lying around in dustbins and what have you. One man staying in the campsite arrived back to his tent late at night a bit worse for wear from the drink, and just pulled out his false teeth and stuffed them into the pocket of his jeans, then pulled off his jeans and left them outside the tent, with his wallet and cards and cash and everything in it. When he woke up the next morning, the trousers with teeth and wallet were gone, so naturally he assumed human involvement, and called the police. Only the trousers, complete with false teeth and wallet, turned up on the lawn of the house we were staying at, run by the two mad sisters. One of the ladies found it, picked it up and brought it inside, found the wallet, and then put her hand in the other pocket and found the teeth. So she called the police and reported what had happened. It turned out that none of the money was missing from the wallet, nothing at all was taken, but the trousers were a little - ahem - ripe from being worn day and night for several days, and teeth marks in the trousers indicated vulpine involvement - the trousers had been taken by a fox, presumably because the ripeness of the trousers in question was irresistible. Between the false teeth and the smelly trousers, the poor man who owned them was so embarrassed that he cut short his visit to Spanish Point, and left that very day.

This painting was framed up in November 2011, more than 10 years after I painted it. 

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