21 July 2011

Eolaí and his Painting Tour: Week Three

You remember Tuesday, when all the rest of us were wondering how the interrogation of Rupert and James Murdoch was going, admiring the forensic questioning by Tom Watson, Louise Mensch, and Paul Farrelly, and sighing at the opportunities wasted by the other eejits? Well, while all that was going on, the Brother was sitting on the bank at the side of a Cork road, painting a bridge over a river, more-or-less oblivious to the slices being cut from Murdoch's cucumber.

Yep, week three of the Brother's Painting Tour of Ireland has drawn to a close. In his first week he'd cycled and painted his way through Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Carlow, and Kilkenny, while his second one saw him pedalling through Carlow and Wicklow into Wexford, from where he turned west and had been pushing on through Waterford. We'd left him in Dungarvan...

He painted into the night in Dungarvan, as he does, working through his back-up supply of Barry's teabags, and wishing he could have brought a teapot. With his various devices leaking power more quickly than his knees, he turned them off to charge up and concentrated on the painting.

Friday morning was damp and overcast, as he plotted his journey west and when asked what he'd like for breakfast decided the main criterion was size: 'Something big'. The staff at the B&B gave him a second pot of  tea without him needing to ask. He needed it. He recorded some optimistic words for us, and then set off, heading south to Rinn, one of the less obviously likely spots for a Gaeltacht, and onwards, but before long being barraged with rain, such that, as he put it, 'Don't remember cycling with my eyes closed before.' Still, he made his way to St Declan's Hermitage -- reputed site of one of Ireland's pre-Patrician Christian settlements -- where he sat on an Ardmore clifftop and painted in the rain. Onward then, thoroughly sodden, past a rain-scorning fire in Ardmore with the smoke filling the bay, past the Round Tower and over the bridge on the Blackwater Estuary into Cork, his eighth county, there to take shelter from the rain in Youghal.

(Youghal's B&B, he has since revealed, had the most impractically conical taps, which couldn't be turned off until he'd dried his hands, and even then required the aid of a towel. A design flaw, methinks.)

On Saturday morning he recorded another message for us, left his B&B, had a look around, and set off again, fighting the wind as he pedalled southwest to Garryvoe Beach, where he settled down in the wind to paint at the beach, looking over towards Ballycotton island and setting about a commissioned painting of Ballycotton lighthouse, till the rains came down and the winds blew and beat against him, scattering his painting and his canvases, hiding from sight all he'd been painting. Gathering his stuff he sheltered as best he could in the rocks as the tide started to rise, creeping towards his bike, crippled as it was by a bungee hook having caught itself in a wheel, twisted around an axle and locked onto the spokes. With the water two feet from the bike, he dragged it to what he thought was safety and desperately tried to prise out the hook with a paintbrush, snapping the brush as he did so. Still the tide rose, and so he emptied the bike, and carried it and everything to safety among the rocks, there to call for help and wait, on the rocks, for the cavalry to arrive and whisk him away to Carrigtwohill.

Arrive they did, and it wasn't long before the Brother could pronounce himself 'Happy, and safe, and warm, and dry, and full of food, and fixed of bicycle, and full of wine. At home Hannigan.' 

Sunday was a day of rest, from cycling if not from painting, as he got stuck in to that on his stool in the garden, painting a little corner of the Hannigans' world for them.

Monday then saw him setting out a afresh, with Google Latitude, hitherto falsely claiming he was in Drogheda, now lying and placing him in Lucan. Off he went then past some very colourful houses zigzagging his way across Great Island towards Cobh, where he set himself up to paint and learned that our old Maths teacher hadn't told us the whole truth when he'd said that between two stools you fall to the grounds. Sometimes one can collapse of its own accord, and to your public embarrassment

Yes, that's Cobh Cathedral, sadly in the news for all the wrong reasons nowadays.

Still, with the painting done it was time to take another ferry, to cycle on to Carrigaline, and to accept the hospitality of the Swearing Lady and her Gentleman.

(Somewhere along the way he saw this lovely view. No, I can't for the life of me figure out where. Sometimes it's as difficult to disentangle the narrative threads as it is to -- well -- unhook a rogue bungee cord.)

Tuesday was another scheduled rest from cycling -- despite having crossed continents with them back in the day, the Brother's knees aren't what they once were, and besides, there's not much point cycling between friends if you're not going to spend time with them -- but painting was still on the agenda, and shopping too, successfully for canvases and less so for vaseline. While the rest of us were busy watching Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks trying to deceive parliament*, he settled in at the side of a Cork road, by a bridge over a river, painting under a grey sky. Well, it was grey to start with. It was green when he was done. With the painting finished, and somewhat perturbed by Corkonian men winking at him, he settled in to savour some tea and to adjust his Painting Tour Website, with particular reference to what he eats, all the while half-watching a gory Japanese film, avoiding the gore by ducking behind the computer screen.

Wednesday morning saw him painting till lunchtime, working out his route, and then setting off again, though progress was slow as he pedalled west, with him suffering from stomach cramps. Still, he took a break at Inishannon, where he responded to some Twitter banter about him and the Tour de France by posting a picture he painted once of what he saw as he approached Grenoble and the Alps on a bicycle, before riding over the Col du Lautaret back in 1996. Slowed down though he was, and sticking to the back roads, he resumed the cycle and carried on towards Clonakilty and beyond, craving tea the whole while. Still, it wasn't long before his mission was accomplished and he could merrily proclaim, '8 mugs of tea, a beer, and a big plate of lasagne - me and the bike are settled in Clonakilty'.

And so to today, day 21 of the Painting Tour, with Clonakilty to be his base till Saturday, as he's a few paintings to be doing. Last I heard he looked like he was working very hard.

As I've said more than once now, keep following 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...

* In my humble™ opinion.

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