I haven't done a blog post for a while but no better time than now as I launch my new Ireland Road Trip print collection and give you a little insight into how it came to be.
The idea to paint beautiful scenic spots from around Ireland has been on my to-do list for some time. I knew it was going to be an awesome project but as time went by and other projects got in the way it got put on the long finger. It didn't help that there are SO many gorgeous Irish beauty spots I just couldn't make up my mind where to begin.
So a couple of months ago I took the bull by the horns. The clincher light bulb moment was when I realised the answer to where I should start was right under my rather prominent Magee nose. Sure wasn't it the Wild Atlantic Way that my family used to holiday when we were little kids?? So that is where I've started my collection, painting some of the key Signature Discovery Points on the Wild Atlantic Way which is special to me and I have painted them in gouache.
Ireland is a wonderful country to do a road trip. There is a crazy abundance of beauty to behold in every county in Ireland, and because our green isle is relatively small it's quite possible to take in a lot of splendid sights in quite a short length of time unless you get distracted by other things like the general craic that you may come across along the way.
My parents were great for road trips and in the old days they used to pack us four young Magee's into the car and head off down the country on holidays in the summer. The Atlantic west coast was their favourite spot. My Dad had a dear friend from Limerick he called O'Connor, and we would often meet O'Connor and his family down in Kilkee, Co. Clare. (His name was Joe but he was always 'O'Connor' and likewise he called Dad 'Magee').
We used to stay in a hotel called the Atlantic which is long gone now. I was very young in the Kilkee days so probably the late '60's (oh God I'm old!!). I remember the excitement every year when Mum and Dad would buy us shiny new buckets and spades even though we probably had a load of them already but every year was like the first time, they had to be brand spanking new. Same with the little fishing nets with the bamboo handles.
Dad had us convinced that we would catch crabs and shrimp at the pollock holes. Ah innocence. I was very young but I do remember sitting at the end of rock pools for hours sweeping my net in the water catching nothing but perhaps a slight chill. We would then walk along the sea front and I have clear memories of people selling bags of periwinkles you would eat with a pin which fascinated me, along with the word periwinkle which I clearly thought was a cute word and actually I still do. We never tried them however, we bought 99's instead.
As you know I like drawing cars and particularly VW's. At this point I'd like to mention that my dear old Dad, the great influencer, had a thing about Volkswagens and drove these cars all the time. In the Kilkee days he had a white VW like this.
Then we got a VW minibus JUST like this.
We thought the VW bus was the business. There weren't many people in our town driving these at the time and us Magee kids got some slagging but we didn't care. We would drive around the countryside and our little heads could see everything we were sitting so high up. The dog would come with us on holidays too and she would sleep inside the bus at night. Therefore you will notice a few VW's appearing now and again in some of my Ireland Road Trip illustrations because I really just had to.
We took our minibus to Achill Island in Co. Mayo a few times and we stayed in a little guest house in Keel. The lady there, who I think was American, would bake us fresh doughnuts served hot and sprinkled with sugar, oh God they were beyond delicious. Memories of exploring the deserted village, the ruins of cottages abandoned during the famine. Also the beautiful powder white sand on the beach, rippling waves, and the dog racing along the sand like a lunatic which we especially loved because she wasn't normally the most active.
And oh! the absolute gore of seeing a dead basking shark hanging upside down on the pier, but anything gross or gruesome like that was always made better by a visit to a shoe shop anywhere, in any town. I used to pester my parents to let me try on shoes as it always helped me feel better because strangely enough I was shoe-crazy at that early stage in my life (maybe not so surprising if you take note of the red socks and white sandals 'look' in the photo above. I was probably just a desperate child trying to find a decent pair of shoes!).
Driving to the stunning Keem Bay and walking on that beach is truly etched on my mind. The road approach, the cliffs, ending up at the most beautiful beach I've ever laid eyes on like somewhere you might see in the Caribbean. I have included an orange VW bus in my Keem Bay illustration which has a little family inside just like us!
Thanks for reading my blog post you have great patience! I'll leave it at this and the hope that you enjoy seeing my new illustrations and reading some of my childhood memories. I look forward to adding more paintings of this beautiful green isle to my collection very soon.