While I've been busy trying to do my work and make sense of the fallout from the Cloyne Report -- and if you want to read that, scroll down to Tuesday's post and to a few before that -- the Brother's been continuing his epic artistic cycle around Ireland.
We left him, last Thursday, painting in Clonakilty, before going to stay with some lovely people who refuelled him with spicy food and tea in a specially-bought big blue mug. More painting the next day, and then some sightseeing in the afternoon, visiting Drombeg Stone Circle, Glandore, Union Hall, and Castletownsend. The hospitality continued with tea being -- as the wonderful mother of a wonderful ex of mine said when I first set foot in her house -- on tap, and then he was away leaving behind him a lovely painting of Red Strand.
Having stayed on Friday with the same old friend he's stayed with on Wednesday, he set off again on Saturday, battling cramp as he cycled through west Cork, backtracking a few miles to South Ring to paint some more, listening to the curlews, and the terms, and the tide, putting on an extra T-shirt against the cold, and muttering in exasperation as boats he was painting would sail out of sight. In a heroic bit of stereotyping, a lady he'd never met before came out of her house, approached him, and bestowed upon him a mug of tea and a big plate of sandwiches and cakes. With two paintings nearly complete, and an hour and a half behind schedule, he saddled the bike and faced north then west again, heading off back through Clonakilty and onwards through the hills to Skibbereen. Settling in there was a near run thing, as his bike took a puncture, his phone got sickly, and a B&B that had promised him a room turned him away on arrival, saying they'd given it to someone else. Still, a wonderful hostel stepped into the breach, giving him for the price of a dorm bed a family room where he could paint in privacy into the night.
Sunday then saw him painting in the tranquility of Skibbereen, and then refuelling with tea and some much needed food before heading north towards Bantry, tired though he still was from the punishing effect of the back roads of rural Ireland. Monday began with him eating his breakfast with mixed feelings, noting that every time he finishes a rasher himself, he misses his dog. Even with another night's rest, he set off that day at far from peak condition, his calf still hurting from the cramp that'd first struck him on Friday, and his knees still far from happy with the punishment they were getting, ploughing his lonely and determined way past sights both bleak and beautiful.
Still, tired and sore though he was, he found time to admire gorgeous views whilst drinking tea and made it to Glengarriff, aching and exhausted from spending the day marvelling in pain at the beauty all around him. The view out his window was great, and perhaps nicer still in the morning.
I was reassured to see him tweeting again on Tuesday, as in the dead of night he'd tweeted a deperate cry that his tablet had died, rendering him computerless, but following a friend's advice and trying the hard reset had been all he'd needed to do to resuscitate the beast. He said his goodbyes to Glengarriff, where the local Gaelic club had obviously won something recently, and headed north, to torture his knees further by climbing through the mountains to Kenmare. Off he went, then, to great encouragement and with someone else having attempted a rendering of him with the air of, as someone said, 'the conquering barbarian about him'. Somehow his knees did the job and got him through Caha Pass, over the mountains, and out of Cork into Kerry, his ninth county, in one piece, consumed though he was with a bottomless craving for tea as he arrived in Kenmare and settled down in the street to paint.
More painting in Kenmare was on Wednesday's agenda, as he supped his tea and wondered how the weather would turn out. It was -- technically -- dry, but it was dark and cool and hinting at rain. Taking his paints to the street again, he settled down outside the aptly named Cupán Tae where €2.50 got him three pots of tea, and he'd no shortage of people to talk to. Onward and upward then on a few mouthfuls of brown bread to Moll's Gap, and down along a bumpy twisty road, thankfully free of coaches, through Muckross to Killarney itself, pushing just a few miles further to a little cottage and hot teapot, wrapped in cosy anticipation. During the night he fell asleep at the table last night, and waking shivering and with tingling feet, he took some more tea, making everything seem better, and then went to bed.
As for today? Well, last I looked he'd been watching a match, and muttering darkly about how frustrating it can be when you're chasing the sunset while painting a field of hay, only for the farmer to come along and start baling it. Now if only you could make the sun stand still...
As I keep saying, you can and should follow him on his blog and especially on Twitter, where his hashtag's #paintingtour. And again, as I've also said before, if you think there's a chance he might be passing within twenty miles or so of where you live and you have a bed to offer and fancy a painting, you should let him know. Just send him a message. It's not called social networking for nothing...