Meitheal Book- Raystown early medieval site A while back I was commissioned to do an illustration of an early medieval burial at Raystown for the then NRA. The book, written by matthew Seaver, will be launched on the 12th of December, at 5 pm at the Royal Irish academy, 19th Dawson st, Dublin if people want to swing by and pick up a copy. NB: I did an interior illustration, the cover, shown here, was done by the very talented Simon Dick It can also be purchased online here: http://wordwellbooks.com/Raystown
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Thursday, 24 November 2016
|16th/17th century boy|
|Bronze Age ritual|
The book 'Archaeological excavations in Moneen Cave, the Burren, Co. Clare' by Archaeopress has just been released which has commissioned illustrations by myself inside. As written on the back of the book about the cave:
"In 2011, cavers exploring a little-known cave on Moneen Mountain in County Clare in the west of Ireland discovered part of a human skull, pottery and an antler implement. An archaeological excavation followed, leading to the discovery of large quantities of Bronze Age pottery, butchered animal bones and oyster shells. The material suggests that Moneen Cave was visited intermittently as a sacred place in the Bronze Age landscape. People climbed the mountain, squeezed through the small opening in the cave roof, dropped down into the chamber, and left offerings on a large boulder that dominates the internal space. The excavation also resulted in the recovery of the skeletal remains of an adolescent boy who appears to have died in the cave in the 16th or 17th century. Scientific analyses revealed he had endured periods of malnutrition and ill health, providing insight into the hardships faced by many children in post-medieval Ireland. "
One of the 2 illustrations I did, show the adolescent boy from the 16th/17th century who was found in the cave. He had a head of a normal 14 year old but the body of a younger child because of various periods of malnutrition. It seems he crawled into a hole in the cave to die, an end to probably quite a sad and miserable life. The 16th/17th centuries being such terrible periods of Irish history with the Tudor conquest of Ireland, various rebellions and plantations, you can well imagine the kind of hardship suffered by the normal people in the time.
The other illustration shows the Bronze Age activity, which showed signs of being used ritually. It seems either a person or people left offerings ontop of a large boulder inside, which may have been some kind of altar. Here its interpreted as a female shaman of sorts who was doing the ritual depositions and that the offerings were done facing out, rather than inwards. Its probable that someone like this would have done the depositions on behalf on the community and could well have spent days inside communing with whatever spirits or gods etc they had.
The facinating book is available in archaeopress here:
And the book is being launched at Hylands Burren Hotel, Ballyvaughan on Friday 9th December 2016 at 7 pm, its free and will feature a lecture by Dr Brendan Dunford, Burren Programme. all are welcome
Sunday, 20 November 2016
Friday, 4 November 2016
Continuing on from my earlier images of the exterior of a 19th-20th Century Irish farm cottage (shown here: https://goo.gl/YMPdRb). I actually enlarged the house after further research showed me that they were often this size rather than smaller. Cottages of the time usually contained a living room with a fire, a bedroom and a parlour.
The bedroom was often behind the wall with the fire so the heat could spread there and sometimes had an upper loft for more beds with a small window. The Parlour was a room that was left untouched unless they had guests or the priest visited, the usual living was done in the living room by the snug fire.
Saturday, 15 October 2016
I was commissioned by the Roscommon County Council a few months back to do an illustration of Rathcroghan, one of the ancient Royal sites of Ireland. Today it was just featured in the national newspaper Irish Times in an article about the site. The article itself can be found here:
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Continuing on from the earlier Irish cottage illustrations, here is one of the women shown in the last image. Her character design is a combination of some reading and alot of visual research into clothing at the time, good thing about this period is there is loads of photographs in the late 19th-early 20th century of Irish women.
And yes, in case you find the pipe smoking hard to believe, there is a rare photo of a woman smoking from back then, so threw it in as I thought it fit her character nicely. The second imager is front, back and side of the same character.
PS it wasnt done for #Inktober's #Inktober2016 but it is in ink, so its the right month for it :)
Monday, 26 September 2016
|Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat- a restored famine village on Bolus head, now used as an artist retreat|
|Just a sketch playing with drawing from imagination|
Was off sketching around the ring of Kerry over the weekend, where me and several other artists from the sketch group 'Sceitse', rented a house on Kells Beach. We spent a few days sketching while hanging out, exploring and having a laugh, great times!
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Carrying on from the last day, here is the same cottage I designed but in a wider landscape with people.
The above little sketches show thumbnails I did before this final. I actually did another page of thumbnails before this where I tried to figure out the general perspective I liked and what was to be around the cottage. Nearly all were sourced from late 19th-early 20th century photographs of Irish cottages as was the cottage itself. That reference, combined with a bit of research into Irish cottages and particular design choices was how the final cottage and scene were decided.
Anyways, after I finished that page of thumbnails, I kind of knew the general perspective I liked for this cottage and the general scene I wanted, the three little ones were the final questions I wanted to answer before I did the final image below.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
A design sketch of an 19th-20th Century Irish farm cottage.
The sketches around it show my process, from little thumbnail sketches in the upper left, to orthographic views (front & back) in the upper right and the final perspective drawing centre.
Though I often do the orthographic drawings in pencil after the little thumbnails and change them once i have finished the final perspective drawing as I usually change the design when Im doing the perspective image and need to re-edit the orthographic images to match.
Thursday, 1 September 2016
Friday, 12 August 2016
As you may guess, originally Egyptian Pharaohs weren’t buried pyramids, but in Mastabas, which were slanted subterranean single story rectangular tombs. It wasn’t until King Djoser, around 2680 BC, that the architect Imhotep had the great idea to start putting one Mastaba ontop of the other. This idea, which created a step pyramid, was to be the start of a long line of pyramids stretching thousands of years. The next great builder of pyramids was Sneferu (2613-2589 B.C.), creating the first true pyramid as he filled in the steps to create the familiar angular shape we know today as pyramids. It was his son though, Khufu (2589-2566 B.C.) who was to create the largest pyramid the world would ever know (around 147 meters). Khufu’s son Khafre was to build the second largest (only 10 meters shorter), this shortness he made up for by building the Sphinx(apparently one of the largest statues in the ancient world). Finally there was one more in the triad of the Pyramids at Giza, which was built by Menkaure, Khufus grandson, which was also the smallest (66 metres). After this the Egyptians started making smaller and smaller pyramids and never again would such large pyramids ever be built.
The illustration shows the great pyramid at around the time of the funeral of Khufu. The great pyramid of today is more yellow but thats because of the removal of outer encasing of white Tura Limestone, which was re-used for mosques in the middle ages (a similar thing happened to Roman buildings in Europe for churches). It must have been an awe inspiring sight at the time though, a bright shining white gigantic pyramid surrounded by desert, many jaws must have dropped. There are a few theories as to why the pyramid shape (besides the practical one), it could have been based on rays of sun or a stairway to heaven for the pharaoh’s soul, or as the Egyptians also believed the mound was the shape the world was as it rose from the primeval waters so could this artificial mound be echoing the same. Unlike what the movies tell us, it was Egyptian Farmers who built the pyramids, not slaves, in fact the Egyptians had very few slaves. During certain times of the year when the farms were flooded by the Nile, the farmers would build the pyramid as a sacred duty on their time off, this would have taken many many years as you can imagine! There is a reason as well that the Pyramids were built in desert areas as to the west of the Nile was desert, which were barren but it was also where the sun set, so believed to be the land of the dead by the Ancient Egyptians.
At the base of the great pyramid you see an enclosing wall made of the same white Tura Limestone, this was transported many miles and across the Nile to Giza. Attached to the enclosing wall is the Mortuary temple, before the Pharaoh died he set aside lands for the maintenance of a community of priests, whose duty it was to maintain this temple and provide offerings for the dead Pharaoh long into the future. Attached to this in turn is the causeway that was for the procession carrying the body of the Pharoah from the Valley temple below to the Mortuary temple shown here. The Valley temple was at the Nile itself, it was here they deposited the body via boat from the western side of the Nile, where all the cities were. They are not sure as to the purpose of both temples, but the Valley temple may have been used to mummify the Pharoahs body before it was transported via the causeway, while the Mortuary temple was where other rituals may have taken place, and afterwards, where offerings were left to Khufu.
You can also see 4 smaller pyramids at the great Pyramids base; 3 of these were the queen tombs, one may have been for Hetepheres, mother of Khufu, another for his queen Meritetes, and another to Henutsen who was his 2nd or 3rd wife. Each of these queen pyramid’s, also had small chapels, which like the mortuary temple of the pharaoh were for offerings to be made to them. Only found recently, but behind these queen pyramids is a 4th smaller pyramid that was for the Pharaohs’ ‘Ka’, something similar to a soul or a spirit. Around these you will notice a myriad of smaller structures, these were the aforementioned Mastabas, after the Pharaohs started being buried in pyramids, the mastabas were still being built for officials and the upper class. There are many more mastabas at Giza now, but what is shown here are the ones believed to have been built at the same time as the pyramid itself. One of the people buried in the mastabas is Kawab, the eldest son of Khufu. Actually one theory is that the mastabas closest to the small pyramids were the sons of the associated queen. Another person of note buried in one of the mastabas is Hemiunu, who may have been the architect of the Great Pyramid itself, he was buried in a mastaba near the pyramid.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
A few months ago, I did a map of Kilmallock town in southern Limerick for Abarta Audio Guides. What you see here is just the base, more information, a background etc were done ontop by others. Twas a great commission though, as I have known about Kilmallock for a long time and as a town with so many great historical sites, it deserves way more fame and tourism than it gets. So was glad to do my part to help make that, hopefully, happen.
|I just did what you see here, more information, a background etc were done ontop by others. So this is essentially just the base of the map|
|Closeups of some of the drawings in the map|
Monday, 11 July 2016
|Round Hill Motte & Bailey, now overgrown with trees, but you can see how huge it is|
|Various photos of myself (in blue) getting some handson experience with Geophysics|
Yesterday I helped out the remote sensing survey of Round Hill outside Lismore, a very impressive Motte & Bailey (which may even be a late medieval conversion of a pre-historic hillfort!). Had fun getting some handson learning of some of the techniques of geophysics. Check out the great Adopt a Monument Ireland scheme, they are doing some amazing work around the country trying to reconnect communities with their local heritage and take responsibility of them. Give them a like and your support! https://www.facebook.com/AdoptaMonumentIreland/
Thursday, 30 June 2016
Monday, 25 April 2016
Sunday, 24 April 2016
|Guided tour of the centre by Prof Aidan O'Sullivan|
|The early medieval beehive hut|
|sketching the Mesolithic hut|
|They lit a fire inside the beehive hut so we could chill out and soak up the vibe|
More about Sceitse here:
Wednesday, 20 April 2016
Continuing on from my post a few days ago of the outside of a Medieval parish church and its environs, here is a cutaway of the interior of that same church. It is mostly based on evidence from the eastern side of Ireland, so would be firmly within the anglo-Norman area. Since most medieval churches in Ireland were left go to ruin after the reformation, very little evidence of the interior of medieval churches survives in Ireland, besides the walls and structure itself, essentially everything made of stone. Because of this, the layout and walls etc are based on Irish evidence but the rest mostly comes from Britain, i.e. everything that isnt stone. So the interior of the church structure is mainly a combination of Wells, Co. Carlow, Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny and Faithlegg, Co. Waterford. There are two main parts in a parish church, the nave and the chancel, ill deal with both individually
The nave is where the parishioners were situated in a church during mass, everyone who wasnt clergy essentially. Probably the first thing that would grab most peoples attention is the wall painting and its colour.We are so used to the drab and plain interiors of churches these days, it would quite surprise us just how vibrantly colourful medieval churches were. Most people were illiterate so wall paintings served the dual purpose of beautifying an interior and helping illustrate some of the biblical stories. Its the same with the houses, most were many vibrant colours, it seems the people of the middle ages were quite colourful lot! The interior wall painting here is mostly based off Kempley with elements from other churches in Britain like St. Johns the Baptists church in Clayton, Attleborough church in Norfolk, Broughton in Cambs, and copford church in Essex.
Most people would have stood in the nave but from excavations there has often been found a small number of seating, most likely for the rich or better off in the community. The seating here is loosely based off ones found in AllSaints, Incklingham, UK. The stoup beside the door is based off one in St. Mullins co. Carlow, this would have been used to baptise babies, these are often found by door, essentially so children were baptised before they entered into the church proper. The statue recess is based off such a recess in Kilfane but could have been a wall press too. Separating the nave from the chancel is the Rood or chancel screen, a partitition that divided the interior space of all churches, this one is based off Barton Turf Church, UK. The roof is Kempleys' roof and it is theorised in England that alot of their churches had ceilings created by the tie beam or bottom collar, instead of open to the roof, which would have been plastered over. The reason for this is that ceilings would have been easier to keep clean, could be even painted on, as the upper parts of the roofs often could be very dirty, full of cobwebs and even bats, so keeping them out of view from below, made alot of sense.
The crowning glory of a medieval church was often its chancel window, the one here is a lovely tracery window in the east gable of Killeen, Co. Meath. Many windows in churches would have had glazing or stained glass but others would have just remained open, only to be closed by wooden shutters that could slid into place from the inside. The altar itself is based on one in St. Caimins church, Inis Cealtra, co, Clare. Illustrations from the time show a cross and two candles ontop of a table cloth as alter decorations, as well as wooden board around the base of the alter. Altars are usually found in Ireland to be either against the gable wall or almost abutting it.
On either side of the altar are two statue recesses, found in Kilfane church in Kilkenny. The statues throughout the church are loosely based on ones from the middle ages found in Fethard. co. Tipperary and others from Medieval Waterford city. Just above the altar in Kilfane there was a slight rectangular recess, here I inserted alabaster carvings, which have been found in churchyards in Ireland and were probably imported from Nottingham and elsewhere in England.
To the left of the altar is the sedilla and the piscina. The piscina is from St. Mullins in Carlow, piscinas were used to wash the holy vessels after the mass. This is the recess closest to the chancel gable on the left wall. Usually besides them were priest seats or sedillas, which are kind of self explanatory, the priests or deacons could rest here in various parts of the mass, this particular double seat is from Kilfane.
Saturday, 16 April 2016
An illustration of a medieval parish church based on several parish churches I have visited around Ireland but also with evidence from Britain. Parish churches were one of the most important structures ever built in Ireland, as with parish churches came the division of land into parishes. This division seems likely to have begun before the arrival of Normans but it was with the Anglo Normans where it reached its zenith and continues even to this day as one of the ways of dividing the land.
Its hard for us to imagine these days, the power that the church had in the middle ages. It was a power so complete and utter that there was no escaping it. They were the most powerful institution in the middle ages, often in some places, more wealthy than the King himself. Like a local lord, peasants and serfs, had to work some of the year, for free, on their lands. They didnt pay any taxes and they also received tithes from peasants and serfs, that is one tenth of everything they made. You can imagine this made them extremely rich. Also in every important stage of life, there was the church, when you were born, when you died, when you got married, when you gave birth and after, it was always there. And if you shirked your duties to them or didn't pay your tithes, you could be spend time in the stocks or flogging and you may not get your place in heaven in the end. Im sure sometimes they resented this but at the same time, these were extremely devout people and probably believed by doing these things for the church, they were doing it for god too and their place in the after life.
The Church here shows some typical features of parish churches in the middle ages. For instance an embankment is often found to surround an old church, which would have had Lychgate entrance, none survive in Ireland, as with many religious artifices here could be a result of the destruction brought on by the reformation, so this based on British examples. The graves themselves have been found in excavations not to align to east-west, but rather are more often aligned to the element that they are closest to, e.g. aligned to the paths or the church itself. Also a common feature of medieval church graveyards would have been the yew tree, as it was was in prehistory and still to this day, its probably because the yew trees needles sterilize the ground around them, so prohibiting other plants to grow. Also notice the house within the graveyard, this is the priests house, which would have been a common feature within many medieval churches areas.
The Parish church here is the typical of a high medieval church with both chancel and nave. The nave was the part where the parishioners would sit, or more often stand, while the chancel is where the alter was and was the holiest of holy in a church. The nave was the responsibility of the community itself to take care of with their time and money, while the chancel was the responsibility of the clergy. The church also has a double bellcote, the feature with the bells, which is often found in medieval churches in Ireland, this specific one is based on the one in Dalkeys medieval church, in Co. Dublin.
The door is based on one I visited recently in Kilsheelan in Co. Tipperary, which is probably a Romanesque doorway from an earlier church moved to Kilsheelan when the Normans built the church there. The windows are based on ones found in Wells, Co. Carlow, which are high medieval windows, note the sandstone, which is Dundry stone. Dundry stone is often found in churches in the east of Ireland, its an imported stone from Dundry in south west England and is one of the signs of an early or high medieval church. Also note the roof is covered in clay tiles, there has been some found in Dublin during excavations very similar to the ones shown here.
Im nearly finished a cutaway of the interior and shall post it in the next few days or week, we can continue the exploration of medieval parish churches there so stay tuned!
Thursday, 31 March 2016
There were three major forces that fought in the Easter Rising on the Irish side; the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan. I had only had time for two illustrations of the groups in the 1916 Easter Rising, the latter two. Two of these forces were quite closely related, the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan, kind of male and female sides of the same coin. While the Irish Citizen army were a socialist armed force, originally created to protect workers from police after the Dublin Lockout of 1913.
After the Ulster Volunteer Force was created in the north to protect the Ulster Protestants from Home Rule (which they believed Home Rule was Rome Rule), the rest of Ireland took a leaf from their book and created the Irish Volunteers. In the case of the Volunteers though they were created to defend Home Rule from possible British aggression rather than oppose. They were started in 1913, originally just training with sticks, they eventually became armed when they smuggled guns into the country in 1914 from Germany, shortly before the breakout of World War I. They were a huge organisation, with close to 200,000 members at their peak. When WWI started, the irish Home Rule party in Westminster supported Britain in the War in return for a promise of Home Rule when the war ended, so most of the 200K Volunteers went to fight for Britain because of it.
But a section of it decided to stay home and not fight for Britain. It was part of that element that made up the bulk of the forces on the Irish side in 1916, probably only around 1,000 or so members, though there was only about 1,400 in total on the rebel side. They were involved in alot of the key fighting, the most bloody of the battles in Mount Street Bridge, where a handful of Volunteers (17 I think) held off thousands of British soldiers for a day in a tiny area. It was this battle that was to have half of the total of British dead in the Rising, as the British command used the same idiotic tactics as they did in the trenches, sending wave after wave of soldier at the enemy, in highly exposed positions as the rebels fired down on them from the protection of the houses.
Setup in 1914, they were very much the female side of the Irish Volunteers, and played a key part in the Easter Rising. For many women, they saw the rising as an opportunity to win equal rights in a new country, away from the oppression of women in the British Empire. During the rising the Cumann na mBan mostly didnt take part in any of the direct fighting, instead played a supporting role like running messages, tending the wounded etc.
It was in the Irish Citizen Army, that women actually fought in the Rising, mostly under Countess Markievicz in St Stephens green, with Connolly (leader of the Irish Citizen Army) believing alot more in the equality of women than many others. Here women as well as men took up positions in the park, showing the lack of military know how of the leaders of the Rising, as the park was dreadfully exposed and allowed the British to take over buildings around the park and fire directly down on their exposed positions, kind of the opposite of Mount Street Bridge battle. Eventually they had to retreat to the College of Surgeons nearby and stuck it out there for a few days. It was Countess Markievicz who was to take over Cumann na mBan after the Rising and revitalise it a new in the following years.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
Easter Monday, Dublin GPO 1916
"All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born."
The well known above quote by WB Yeats about the Easter Rising of 1916 hits the nail on the head. On Easter Monday, 100 years ago, everything was about to change when Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 rising, stepped out before the GPO in Dublin and read aloud the proclamation of the Irish Republic:
"IRISHMAN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom."
It was to be one of the seminal moments in Irish history and one that marked the beginning of the war of independence in Ireland. In other words, something worth commemorating with an Easter Rising 1916 Illustration!
To give a very brief account of the Rising (I mean super brief!), it mostly occurred in Dublin city where a group of idealistic Irish men and women took over key parts of Dublin city. Their aim, to inspire the rest of the country to rise and from the rising to create an ideal country for all, one where both men and women were equal as well as all those of every religion. Unfortunately for them, they were more idealists than military men, some being poets, teachers etc. After 6 days of intense fighting on the streets of Dublin, there was no hope of victory as the British had shipped in thousands of reinforcements from Britain to quell the rebellion, I believe something in the region of 16,000 soldiers, which massively outnumbered the small band of Irish Rebels, something around 1,500. Also only parts of the rest of the country ever rose (as another part of the rebellions leadership, specifically Eoin MacNeill, disagreed with the rebellion happening then and countermanded the order to rise, so many did not come out) and so they were eventually defeated.
Its ironic but it was the British heavy handed reaction to the rising that cemented into an inspiration it was to become. With General Lowe, the general in charge of British forces giving the order to take no prisoners, which encouraged some angry English soldiers to shoot civilians and surrendered combatants. And the general shipped in to deal with the defeated rebels, Maxwell, blundered and executed the leaders, turning the leaders into the inspiration they had aimed for, those martyrs who died for their ideal Ireland. In fairness to the British army though, these were men more used and trained to fight in WWI France than an urban rebellion, which required more delicate handling.
In summary though, these events turned the rising into a shinning symbol of national herocism for many, a sacrifice to awake a nation. Which it helped to achieve, as soon after public opinion sharply turned away from home rule through peaceful means to that of complete independence through the use of force, and so the rising was the first real steps of the Irish war of Independence.