Monday, 14 April 2014

Sketch Anatomy

Sketches done today in a mini Sceitse, a group of adventure sketchers in Ireland (more here where we went to UCC Medical department to sketch their anatomy models and casts. The top is a 1830's Austrian wax model that they had from actual cadavers, the bottom is a modern plastic anatomical model of the head muscles. It was a great part of a day out, lots of fun conversation, jokes galore and some good sketching time! Like every Sceitse

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Drink & Draw Sketches

Sketches done while at the Cork Drink & Draw last night. I have been going since the start but last night was the biggest turn out yet I believe. The first sketch is actually from a life drawing and portrait workshop they had at the start. The latter are sketches from my mind while drinking and drawing later. If your in Cork its well worth going to them!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Bishopsland Late Bronze Age Smith

The above is an illustration of a Late Bronze Age Smith, based on finds found in the Irish Bishopsland hoard. To start I have to thank Dr. Charles Mount for giving me advice and finding me extra information on this hoard, his help is always much appreciated. Thanks is also due for the ideas, feedback and critique by Dr. Billy Mag Fhloinn, and his invaluable experience of bronze age metalworking certainly shed alot of light on the tools and process

The Bishopsland hoard was found in Co. Kildare in 1942. It contained quite a few items but it is believed by some to have been the hidden baggage of a travelling smith. A travelling smith isnt too strange an idea, as even up to relatively recently you used to have travelling craftsmen, some may have fixed your tools, others may have sharpened them etc. The items in the hoard believed to have been used for metalworkering were: a series of 3 socketed hammers, a small anvil, a vice and an engraver. There was more items in the hoard too, like a few woodworking tools as well as a sickle, a socketed axe, a saw, a tweezers, and a flesh hook among others, but these may have been items he was creating and selling or perhaps as some suggest, this smith was also a woodworker. There is believed to have been even more items in the original hoard but it was dispersed soon after being found.

The vice is the item that is inserted in the table, how this operates is completely Billy Mag Fhloinn's idea. It involves a shaped hole in the table that one inserted the vice into, once the vice was inserted a certain length in, the shape of the hole forces the arms of the vice closed clamping on to any item in its grips. This idea was put forward as the vice didnt have an obvious tightening mechanism. The wooden base of the anvil is a fairly simple addition to the tool found as is the simple wooden shaft in which the socketed hammer was inserted on and attached with strings. As for jewelry; the rings and bracelets were found in the same hoard but the twisted torc is actually from the Annesborough Hoard of the same period. With clothing, the red top is inspired by clothing from Danish bog bodies of the time, while the apron is just a simple practical leather apron that is pure guesswork, as no smithing clothes have been found. The hairstyle is inspired by the prevalence of razors found at the time, its quite possible that razors would lead to some interesting hairstyles and facial hair, looking at alot of tribal societies elsewhere hair this is often the case.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Sketches from Sussex

Sketch of a reconstruction of Mt Sandel and a scene in Ashdown Forest

Fern the great German Sheperd that belonged to the friends I was staying with
The white cliffs known as the Seven Sisters

Sketches from my latest travels, recently I visited friends of mine Sussex county in the UK for a time and got lots of sketches done as I travelled around the South Downs with good friend, Landscape Painter Richard Smythe.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sketches from the Gaeltacht

Day 1 sketches

Sketches up Mount Brandon

Sketches from the end of a walk up Brandon

Sketches for a trip over the weekend to the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht in the Dingle Peninsula. I was there learning Irish but got a good amount of sketching in too at the same time

Monday, 24 March 2014

Taxidermy Sketches

Sketches done while at the Mini Sceitse event in UCC today, where we went to sketch some Taxidermy animals. Sceitse is a group of sketches that meets monthly or sometimes twice a month to sketch various things. More can be seen on the groups blog:

Friday, 14 March 2014

Toberdaly Yoke

My reconstruction of the Toberdaly yoke, This yoke was  found in Ballybeg bog, near Croghan Hill in co. Offaly. Its been dated to about  889-543 cal. BC which is late Bronze Age to early Iron Age. Before I go into it, I should start off by saying Im indebted to Charles Mount for pointing me towards this particular artefact and also finding me a great article in Archaeology Ireland about it. And I'm equalled indebted to Cathy Moore and Conor McDermott whom supplied lots of other articles about this particular yoke and other yokes found in Ireland and Britain, as well as some great reference that I could use, thanks guys!

Back to the yoke, only one part of the yoke was found, which was one of the collars. But the other collar and the central section were missing. So I had to look at other yokes found in Ireland, like the Lisbellaw and Enniskellen yoke, and I tried to adapt their design to the general design of the Toberdaly yoke. Part of the leather harness was still on the yoke when found, specifically the leather strap you see on the right side of the yoke that is tied with a wooden peg and straps around from the outside to the inside of the collar itself. But the rest of the harness I had to guess at, specifically the parts that strap the yoke to the cattle and plough. Not sure how accurate this would be but I did my best while looking at harnesses for animals usually and thinking about they might work with the yoke.

The yoke was found to be made of Ash, which is a strong, elastic and shock resistant wood, and was still being used for yokes in the early medieval period. The yoke is what is called a withers yoke, which is one of two types used in early medieval Ireland and before, the other is a head yoke, which is attached to the head or horns, while wither yokes are instead attached around the neck.

There has been sixteen yokes in total found in Ireland, which are assigned to the Iron Age and early medieval period. I love the way in the legal tracts of early medieval Ireland, there is no responsibility for injuries inflicted by yoked oxen or cattle and no claims can be made, seems even back in those days we were trying to sue each other!  A cattle horn was found nearby too, and thought to be contemporary with the yoke, so quite possible it belonged to the cattle that drove this yoke.


1. Throwing off the yoke-Michael Stanley, Conor McDermott, Cathy Moore and Cara Murray- Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 6-8
2. Of Bogs, Boats and Bows- Irish Archaeological Wetland Unit Survey 2001-Conor McDermott, Cara Murray, Gill Plunkett and Michael Stanley-Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 28-31
3.  Masters of their craft: worked wood from Annaholty, Co. Tipperary
4.  Report on the Archaeological Excavation of Merrywell, Co. Meath from Mr Clonee- North of Kells, January 2009
5. A social History of Ancient Ireland- PW Joyce
6.  Irish Archaeological Wetland Unit Peatland Survey 2001- Supplementary Archaeological Survey Report
7. Early Yoke Types in Britain-Alexander Fenton- The shape of the Past 2- Essays in Scottish Ethnology

Thursday, 13 March 2014

My Studio

Welcome to the studio, it never looks this clean but I thought id take the opportunity to clean it, usually its an insult to pigs its so dirty. Its not quite a room but part of our (myself and my girlfriends), apartment in Cork city centre. This windowed area sticks out from the building, almost like a windowed balcony, which over the past 2 years it has been a great spot to work. From this window I sometimes take a quick break having a coffee, watching people pass by, talking to themselves like crazy people or wondering around drunk (lots of winos in the area), I have even seen several car crashes in the nearby cross roads. I used to use the windows to do gesture drawings of people passing by, but these days my sketching is onto to different things.

I have my studio split between the two desks, one is my trad art side and the other my digital world. Its nice to have them a bit separated like this, so sometimes I can just turn my back on the computer, which can be a distraction. On the digital side there is the usual sound  scanner, printer, my trusty old wacom tablet tucked in beside the desktop there. Its still in great nick after owning it for about 8 -10 years, a credit to Wacom as a make. I have lots and lots of books, in two little cupboards as well as a large shelves off to the side, not shown here, they are filled with reference material, books on; archaeology, history, maps, travel books, art, mythology and folklore as well as Irish language books/Leabhair Gaelainn.

On the trad side I have another desk with little baskets for lots of brushes and another one for lots of pens, my half pan watercolour paints, as well as the usual drawing desk and adjustable desk lamp. I never stick my art pieces directly on my drawing table, only stick them to a plank of wood, or most often, an old animation disk I have, shown here. This handy disk allows me to carry it around to wherever I want,  like if Im stuck on a piece of the body or pose and I walk over with the disk to draw it in the mirror or keep it on my lap if I feel like it. Also I hate drawing in just one angle, never understand how people do that, and so Im constantly moving the art piece in circles to get the right angle for the pen stroke. Not so important in paintings though but the studio is nice for having lots of natural light for colour.

Just under the drawing table are the 6-7 books I have on the go at one time, dont read them all continiously, generally do that with about 2 or 3, the rest I pick up once every few weeks, sometimes months, to read a chapter. I have 2 big boxes under the drawing desk, filled with art tools I never get around to using, various stuff I have collected over the years, some I have tried once and always planned to return, alot I never got to use, never enough hours in the day and all that. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Le Cheile Interview available

In case you missed the interview I did for Le Cheile, it is now available online. If your interested in having a listen, it can be found here:

Friday, 7 March 2014

Exhibition Opening night photos

People at my opening in UCC on Wednesday

A talk by Dr. Kevin Murray of the Sean Gaeilge/Old Irish department in UCC

Sean Nós singing by Muireann Ní Chonnaláin

Sean Nós singing by Pádraig Mac Cárthaigh

Photos from the opening night of my exhibition 'Mothú Aite/A sense of Place' that took place on Wednesday the 5th of March. There was a talk by Dr. Kevin Murray, followed by sean nós performances by Muireann Ní Chonnaláin and Pádraig Mac Cárthaigh. More photos of the event can be seen here:

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Raystown Early Medieval Funeral

This is the last of the illustrations I was hired by the NRA (National Roads Authority) to do last year. This time it shows an early medieval Irish funeral scene, based on archaeological evidence found in Raystown, Co. Meath, as well as evidence from the period in Ireland and further afield. This image would have not been possible to make without the expert guidance and advice of Mary Deevy of the NRA and Matthew Seaver of UCD, so its as much a product of their's as it is mine, so a big thanks is due to them!

With that said, ill leave the rest of the explaining to the well written NRA writeup:

"It is the early medieval period, some 1,500 years ago; an elderly woman is being buried in a simple earthen grave within the enclosed cemetery at the centre of her settlement. She is laid close to her ancestors, so close her grave disturbs an earlier burial whose bones are carefully gathered and placed on and beside her body.

This image is inspired by the discovery of a large cemetery-settlement on a ridge surrounded by the tributaries of the Broad Meadow River, which were used to power up to eight watermills on this site throughout the early middle ages. We do not know what this woman died of, but she appears to have lived to a relatively ripe old age. Analysis of her bones did not reveal evidence of any particular trauma other than the usual signs of wear and tear (mild arthritis and osteoporosis) associated with advanced age and a physically demanding working life.

The site was discovered at Raystown, Co. Meath, during pre-construction archaeological investigations on the N2 Finglas–Ashbourne road scheme in counties Dublin and Meath. Matthew Seaver directed the excavation on behalf of CRDS Ltd and kindly provided specialist advice to the artist J G O’Donoghue. The excavation results will be published as an NRA Scheme Monograph in the near future."

Monday, 24 February 2014

Exhibition in Cork News

My Exhibition was mentioned in the Cork news on Friday!

Sketch from Sketch Caving

Some interesting things in the under world
Sketch done while on the latest Sceitse trip, Sceitse is a group of artists and illustrators that meet once a month in Cork or somehwhere in Ireland to sketch. More can be found here:

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Exhibition Change of Dates

Due to a strike in UCC next week, there has been a change of date for the opening night of my exhibition (details in poster & below), so I am now reposting this as I dont want anyone to show up at the wrong day. The new opening date is 5 pm Wednesday the 5th of March, sorry for any inconvenience or confusion caused.

FB Event for Opening night here:
Opening Night- 5pm Wednesday 5th of March
Dates of Exhibit- 12th February to 30th of April
Venue- Seomra Caidrimh, O'Rahilly Building, UCC
Normal Opening Hours- Mon-Fri- 10:30 - 12:00, 15:30 - 16:30, 20:15- 21:00.
FB Event for the Exhibition itself:

'Mothú Áite/A Sense of Place' is a solo exhibition by emerging Cork illustrator JG O'Donoghue. The exhibition will be opened by a talk given by Dr. Kevin Murray of the department of Sean- Agus Meán-Ghaeilge/Early and Medieval Irish. While the exhibition itself explores the Irish landscape through the perspectives of language and archaeology with pieces of art and illustration on placename's, fairytale's, archaeology and the Irish language itself.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Edercloon Bronze Age Tóchar

This is part of a series of 4 illustrations I was hired to do for the NRA (National Roads Authority), two of the others Woodstown and Clowanstown are already online, Ill release the 4th soon. Before I go into the information behind the illustration I would just like to thank Mary Deevy for directing the illustrations and to Catríona Moore for giving expert advice all along the way, it would not have been possible to make the illustration without them.

Edercloon in Co. Longford, was a bog area with an incredible concentration of tóchars from the Neolithic to Early Middle ages, as far as I remember there was over 50 found in this one site. Tóchars were often built to cross bogs from one side to the other and some have been found to be quite substantial, like Corlea bog also in Longford. But this particular tóchar illustrated here was strange because it did not cross the bog but ended in the middle of it, so that its purpose was to provide access to the bog rather than over it.

Ill leave the rest to the NRA writeup about the site:

Three thousand years ago a Late Bronze Age community constructed a wooden trackway in a bog. They laid roundwoods, brushwood and twigs onto the bog surface and secured them in place with long wooden pegs or stakes. Every few metres they deposited wooden objects within the trackway. One of these objects was part of a finely worked, but unfinished, alder block wheel. Another was a twisted and carved hazel rod, like the one at the top of the staff held by the priestess overseeing the deposition in this scene.

This image was inspired by one of a complex of wooden trackways or toghers (from the Irish tóchar) discovered in reclaimed bogland that would have been open raised bog during prehistory. We do not know why they built this trackway—it wasn’t constructed to merely cross this difficult wet terrain, but rather to access the bog itself, but for what purpose? The artefacts and their function within the trackway are also intriguing. They could be interpreted simply as waste wood helping to add bulk to the trackway foundation except that there are clear patterns in the way they were deposited, suggesting it was a deliberate and highly structured act.

The site was discovered at Edercloon, Co. Longford, during archaeological investigations in advance of the construction of the N4 Dromod–Roosky Bypass in counties Longford and Leitrim. Caitríona Moore directed the excavation on behalf of CRDS Ltd and kindly provided specialist advice to the artist J G O’Donoghue. The excavation results will be published as an NRA Scheme Monograph in the near future.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Le Cheile Radio Interview

I will be on Cork FM's 'Le Cheile' radio show this Saturday at 11 am to talk about my current exhibition and its opening night which happens next Wednesday, the 26th of February, at 5 pm (Facebook Event here:

Le Cheile is a bilingual show that is both in Irish and English, hopefully those of ye in Cork will tune in this Saturday!

More information about Le Cheile can be found here:

Monday, 17 February 2014

Sketches from Cork Life Drawing

Two sketches done tonight in Cork Life Drawing Group, the theme of the night was Barbie and the girl had some fun props like a Barbie doll. As always was alot of fun! 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

A sense of Place in the Cork Independent

My exhibition was just mentioned in the Cork Independent today! Above is the article in the paper. Im grateful to the Deirdre O'Shaughnessy and the Cork Independent for mentioning my exhibition in their newspaper. The exhibitions' opening night is on Wednesday the 26th at 5 pm, while the exhibition itself is currently open inside UCC in the Seomra Caidrimh room within the O'Rahilly building. Opening hours are from at the following times : 10:30 - 12:00, 15:30 - 16:30, 20:15- 21:00. 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Clowanstown Mesolithic Scene

Another commissioned illustration done for the NRA (National Roads Authority), this time based off archaeological evidence recovered from the Clowanstown site. In the site excavated there a late Mesolithic walkway of some kind was recovered and also a few of the best preserved Mesolithic fish traps found in Ireland to date. The NRA teamed me up with an expert in the Mesolithic period, Dr. Graeme Warren of UCD, and Im indebted to both Dr. Warren and Mary Deevy of the NRA for their advice and guidance throughout.

The NRA do a better job of explaining the site so I will just copy and paste their words here:

"It is approximately 5000 BC. A man clad in clothing made of fish skin checks the catch in the woven basketry fish-trap that he’s just lifted from the base of the lake. He sits on a simple walkway to which the baskets are tethered. The walkway also acts as a mooring for his dugout canoe, although today his daughter has drifted off in it, distracted while playing with her miniature toy version of the boat. Their settlement is visible in the distance on the opposite side of the lake.

This image was inspired by the discovery of four wooden fish-traps embedded in peat, on the edge of what would have been a small lake in the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age). In addition to these highly important artefacts was the discovery of a possible miniature dugout canoe, perhaps a child’s toy. A number of posts pushed deep into the lakebed were found nearby and these have been interpreted as a walkway or mooring. There were few large mammals in Ireland at the time other than wolves, bears and boar. People lived by hunting boar and birds and by gathering wild plants, fruit and nuts; however, fishing would have been a crucial activity. Cultures with a similar reliance on fish, including the Hezhe in China, Ainu in Japan and others in Alaska, have a long tradition of making clothing from fish skins, which make for very soft, comfortable, warm, waterproof and durable garments.

The site was discovered at Clowanstown, Co. Meath, during archaeological investigations in advance of the construction of the M3 Clonee–North of Kells Motorway Scheme. Matt Mossop directed the excavation on behalf of Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd. Dr Graeme Warren of the School of Archaeology, UCD, analysed the chipped stone artefacts from the site and kindly provided specialist advice to the artist J G O’Donoghue.

For further information about the Clowanstown fish-traps see Issue 2, Issue 4 and Issue 8 of Seanda magazine. Check out another story inspired by the Clowanstown fish-traps at"

Friday, 7 February 2014

Neolithic Village

An illustration of a neolithic village based mostly on general research into possible and common features in Irish neolithic settlements. The settlement is situated on a sheltered slope of a hill close by a water source as alot of Irish Neolithic settlements are found to be. The settlement layout is loosely based on the layout of Monanny, Tankardstown and Corbally settlements, with the addition of a small covered area for flint working. The field system is roughly based off the Céide fields and certain aspects like rubbish pits with wattle covers are possibility's put forth by some which is far more likely since an open pit isnt very good health & safety id say. The houses are based on separate house plans, but with each I decided to take the less conservative route and interpret the plans a little differently.

The little house is based on a house found in Coolfore, it had a gap in the north east corner for a door, and often neolithic houses are found to have upright plank walls but it is possible some had horizontal plank walls, which is what I show here. Also there were three central posts in the house, 2 in the south and one in the north, which I interpreted as being possibly to support some triangular roof structure to let smoke out, as well as support the roof of course. The one with the balcony is based on the Neolithic house found in Ballyglass, I did an illustration of the same house previously and went with the archaeologists interpretation then of the 2nd floor used for storage but I decided to show another possibility for the second floor, that of a balcony, I haven't physically tested this in real life so perhaps my interpretation is wrong here but thought it an interesting possibility. The other big house is from Newtown, now there is a possibility that the plan excavated was incomplete because of later farming damage but I decided to do the other possible interpretation, that the plan excavated was how the house looked. Since there was found to be 3 central postholes quite close together that were roof supports, a roof, like shown, could explain the need for the posts to be so close together


1. A Boom in Neolithic Houses- Gabriel Cooney, Lar Dunne, Jacinta Kiely, Avril Purcell, Cormac McSparran andCiara McManus- Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp. 13-16
2. Being Neolithic: Settling down and Moving about?- Aidan O'Sullivan- Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Summer, 2001), pp. 8-9
3. History of Settlement in Ireland- Reading a Landscape Manuscript: A review of progress in prehistoric settlement studies in Ireland
4. Life in the Neolithic - Gabriel Cooney- Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer, 1989), pp. 51-55
5. INSTAR—Cultivating Societies: new insights into neolithic agriculture and landscapes in lreland- Nicki Whitehouse, Meriel McClatchie, Phil Barratt, Rick Schulting, RowanMcLaughlin and Amy Bogaard- Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Summer 2010), pp. 16-19
6. The Illustrated Archaeology of Ireland- Neolithic Settlement- Eoin Grogan
7. The Illustrated Archaeology of Ireland- First Farmers - Alison Sheridan
8. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland- John Waddell

Monday, 3 February 2014

Sketches from the January Sceitse

Our first stop, Clodagh Castle- The castle that was too young

After lots of shaking while sketching from the freezing cold, we finished up with a nice pint by the Fire, felt like a god send!

A series of sketches from the January Sceitse, Sceitse is a group I organise that do monthly sketch trips around Cork and Ireland. More here:

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Woodstown Viking

A commissioned illustration done for the NRA (National Roads Authority) of a Hiberno Norse man found in a Viking grave near the townland of Woodstown, just outside Waterford city. This is I believe is the only grave found in Ireland where all 4 weapons were in a single grave, i.e. sword, shield, spear and axe. As long as I remember, there is only 2 graves with all four found in Britain, so whoever this person was, he was a Viking of quite high status. Also I have been told that this is  the first illustration of a Hiberno Norseman based on archaeological evidence!

To start I would just like to thank Dave Swift for taking the time to give me some initial advice in regards Hiberno Norse clothing and weaponry and Stephen Harrison who was brought in by the NRA to give expert advice on the the grave, weaponry & costume and the period, as well as James Eogan of the NRA for taking the time to guide the whole process. Cheers lads, couldnt have done it without ye!

For more detail in regards the grave and find, ill just copy and paste the NRA's writeup:

"The first of numerous Viking raids recorded in the Irish annals was in AD 795 on Rathlin Island, but what did these heathen warriors look like? Using evidence from a grave excavated at the ninth-century Viking settlement site at Woodstown, Co. Waterford, artist J G O’Donoghue has visualised a Viking warrior with advice from Viking expert Dr Stephen Harrison. This is the first time a visualisation has been created of a Viking using evidence from Ireland.

As you would expect this warrior is a strong, well-built man, probably aged in his mid-thirties. He is not a thug, however, his eyes betray the intelligence that made the Vikings so successful in indentifying and exploiting opportunities for trade and settlement in the lands to which they ventured in the eighth and ninth centuries. His clothes and belongings indicate his wealth and status, his hair is groomed and his beard trimmed. He wears a woollen cloak. This is fastened at the shoulder with a ringed pin, a native Irish form of dress ornament that Viking men adopted and spread across north-west Europe. His tunic is decorated with tablet-woven bands.

The weapons and other belongings deposited in the Woodstown grave demonstrate the extensive contacts that Vikings had. These were prized possessions and, of course, were the basis of the ‘terror’ that the Vikings spread outside their homelands. However, the weapons also demonstrate the far flung Viking trading networks and how the Vikings were adept at adopting ‘technology’ from other cultures. Dr Stephen Harrison who has studied the weapons and other grave goods believes that the sword originated in the Carolingian world or was based on a prototype from there. In contrast the spearhead and axehead are of Scandinavian origin. The conical shield boss is different to the hemispherical shield bosses typical in Scandinavia; this design probably reflects Viking contacts with the Anglo-Saxon world. The sword is suspended from a leather belt. The other items suspended from the belt (from left to right) are a knife, a whetstone (made of a type of stone that probably originated in Norway) and a small purse. The purse could have contained a set of lead weights that would have been used for trading; the Woodstown site is notable for the large number of Viking lead weights that have been found. This reflects the importance of trading as a significant motivation for the ninth-century Viking raiding and settlement activity in Ireland.

A large selection of the artefacts from Woodstown, including all of the weapons, is on permanent display in the Waterford Treasures at Reginald’s Tower, Waterford City. For further information about Woodstown see Issue 1 and Issue 2 of Seanda magazine. "

Friday, 24 January 2014


This is the opening scene in an illustrated story I'm doing for the upcoming Islander Magazine called 'Black Night", to be released in the next month or so. The story is a fairytale from Cork Harbour, recorded by Thomas Crofton Croker in the early 1800's, about an area known as the Giant stairs between Monkstown and Passage West. Unfortunately it no longer exists as it was partly blown up for the building of the railway there but atleast we still have the fairytales from the place.

The story itself involves a man taking a Currach out to the stairs and climbing them to enter a dark cave at the top. He travels deep within to the otherworld kingdom of a giant named MacMahon, in order to reclaim a child who has been taken by the giant  to work as a servant. I cant give away more until the magazine is realised, so ye will have to wait till then to get the full story Im afraid

An interesting aspect about this story though, compares to the others I have done recently, is from what I can see, by the time Crofton Croker had recorded it, the people of that region of Cork no longer understood Gaeilge/Irish. Because they seemed to have thought the various Anglicised versions of the names in the region (Loch Mahon, Mahon point, Carrigmahon etc) signified a person named MacMahon. While in reality the anglicised Mahon  is probably derived from various geographic features as Gaeilge/in Irish; e.g. Maghmín (level land), Loch Meadhon (middle Loch). I don't mean to be dismissive of such inventive interpretations though, both English and Irish have a place in Irish culture and history and probably at this stage the misunderstanding of Irish is part of our culture as well anyway;)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Young Archaeologists Kit

I worked on the booklets' illustrations in this absolutely brilliant toolkit from Fortified England, it is available for pre-order now! The minute I heard about it I thought it was a great idea! You can find out more about it here:

Friday, 17 January 2014

Tonn Clíodhna

Tonn Clíodhna is the name of a wave at Glandore harbour in West Cork. The story of how the wave got their name starts with either Aonghus in the earlier Tuatha de Dánann tales or Ciabhán of the later Fianna tales, the latter one is the more elaborate so I will just use that one. Ciabhán took a Copper currach out towards the sea, after leaving the Fianna for being too handsome (poor guy!) which raised the anger of the other Fianna, as their women had eyes only for him. On the journey out into the sea, he met Manann Mac Lir, the sea god, whom saved him from being lost at sea and brought him to his kingdom named Tír Tairngire (the land of promise/Promised land). Here during a nights entertainments a daughter of Mac Lir's chief druid, named Clíodhna, fell in love with Ciabhán and they eloped together soon after. At the strand named at the time as Trá Thréite, now known as Glandore strand, Ciabhán went ashore to hunt, while Clíodhna stayed on the boat. But they didnt know that Mac Lir's people had given pursuit. A musician among them, Luchna, played a song that put her to sleep and then they used their magic to summon a great wave which swallowed her.

It is said on a stormy day, when the wind is howling through Glandore harbour you can hear her wailing screams echoing as the waves crash into the Harbours sea caves. I always find that a powerful image, her always reaching for the land and her lover and never quite making it. In the past it was believed that when you heard the plaintive wail of Tonn Clíodhna a monarch of Munster was about to die. Tonn Clíodhna is just one of 3 named Magic Waves in early Irish mythology; the others are Tonn Scéine in Kenmare Bay, Kerry and Tonn Ruairí, in Dundrum Bay, Co. Down. Clíodhna is also believed to be the mother goddess of the Cork region, and is part of a triad of Munster goddesses with Áine/Áinú (who gave her name to the paps of Ainú mountains) for Kerry and Limerick and Aibhell was the goddess for Clare. Some of the clans of Cork have mythology with her in it, and she was later to become the banshee of the McCarthys and told them about the Blarney stone. Her home is now thought to be Carraig Clíodhna (Cleena's Rock) which is a series of stones that are just south of Mallow in North Cork. Near Glandore there is another Carraig Clíodhna, which is a rock that lies in the harbour, here there are more stories of Clíodhna; some say she used to be chained to the rock and others still that she would lure sailors to their deaths there.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Leaba Na Lún

Leaba na Lúin, means the bed of Lún, it is one of several names given to the Cairn ontop of Corrin hill in North Cork, just outside Fermoy. The story goes it got its name from a creature named Lún, or Lon depending on which variation you read, that was said to be a 4 legged amphibious monster with prominent eyes and  a tail that with a single lash could uproot an oak. This creature would leave his otherworld dwelling in the cairn every night to drink from a famous cow named Druimfhionn, which means fair/white backed, starving the locals. So the locals sent for Fionn, the leader of the Fianna, an ancient band of warriors and he came with his giant hound Bran to get rid of the monster. They crept up to Lún's lair on top of the hill and in the ensuing struggle Bran killed Lún.

But the cairn retained the name Leaba na Lúin, according to some stories anyway, others its called Cairn Tighernaigh,and others still Cairn Thierna, during my researching there was something  in the region of 5-7 other fairytales from different times about that hill and its cairn, including one about the famous Munster druid Mogh Roith but as they say in Irish sin scéal eile (thats another story). The white backed cow gives its name to several placenames in the area, for instance Glenabo, from 'Gleann na mBó', meaning glen of the cow, another Ballyorgan Bog or originally known as Corrach na Druiminne (Marsh of the white backed cow) was a marsh at the bottom of the hill that has since been drained. So this was no ordinary cow, most likely, like the story of the bulls in Táin Bó Cúailnge, this cow was semi mythical, maybe even a local diety, as what better symbol of a feeding nuturing nature, than a milk giving cow? Perhaps the story is representative of some otherworldly being sapping the land of its milk, and only Fionn and Bran could rid the land of this curse.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Mesolithic Man Sketch

Usually when I do a painting I do alot of research and try to illustrate as accurately as possible a period of time. But this little painting was just done for fun, not really based on any particular find or research but purely for creative reasons. And it was fun to just kick back and play!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sketches over Christmas

Mount Gabriel Shovel, Co. Cork
Knockadea Cordoned Urn, Co. Limerick

Sketches done over the Christmas break, both items can be found at the Cork city museum in Fitzgeralds park. The first is an alder shovel from the Copper mine in Mount Gabriel in west Cork, which I believe is one of the oldest mines in Europe, and dates to the Bronze Age. As it says in the museum it was probably used to collect debris during the mining and finally was used as fire wood after it had served its purpose and so it is shown partially charred in the museum. The other is a cordoned urn from Knockadea, near Ballylanders, in Limerick, these urns were used to hold cremated remains of people in the Bronze age, and this particular one had cremated bones in it when found in a Cist.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Cadaver Cast Study

I had a chance with a few other sketchers to go study medical casts and models of Cadavers recently, this one was an actual cast of part of a persons head. I believe the muscles shown are the ones that are chiefly used in expression, muscles not shown are those used for other facial functions, like chewing.

Years ago, when I used to make more 3 dimensional artwork, I spent about 2 years studying anatomy but as one of the sketchers said that day, nothing beats seeing it in three dimensions, studying others drawings and photographs of the subject will only get you so far, seeing it in the round is a revelation.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Placename Collection

Currently I have created a deal on a pack of 4 card prints of the above placename pieces I created, they are available over in my shop and can be seen and purchased here: