Saturday, 26 July 2014

Sketches from Youghal

Church in Youghal which still has 12th century elements 

Sketch from Youghals Beach

Sketch of Canon in Youghal

Some of the sketches I did while at the Youghal sketch event in mid July. It was with the group I help organise, Sceitse, and as always with Sceitse, the trip was alot of fun, a good mix of sketching, socialising and enjoying the sites Ireland has to offer. More about that trip on the Sceitse blog:

Thursday, 17 July 2014

12th- 14th Century Normans, Ireland

The illustration shows 4 early Normans in Ireland, from the 12th-14th centuries, during what is termed in Ireland as the Later middle ages.  This is the period before they started to Hibernise (become Irish by adopting Irish styles of dress, language and marrying locally). In the early period they were more directly connected with Britain and France in style, language and culture. For a bit of history, in case you dont know, It was in the year 1169 that the Normans invaded Ireland and they continued to be successful here until the early 14th century, the mid 13th century being their high point when they controlled 2 thirds or 3 quarters of the country. The 14th century  saw the tides turn once again and the Gaelic Irish resurged to dominate the island until the 16th/17th centuries. The illustrations costume, weaponry and hairstyles are based on evidence from Ireland and are gathered from a variety of sources including finds, funeral effigies and illustrations from the time. Ill go through each characters costume and gear and pinpoint what evidence they are based on.


The main person in the image, the knight, is mostly based off the Cantwell Fada, which is a medieval funeral effigy in Kilkenny, probably from the early 14th century. His surcoat, belt, chainmail. shield and shield design, are all from the Cantwell Fada. Though additional evidence was sought from the Athassel Tomb slab, Knocknaman Hill Horseman Figure, and Hackett Effigy but it was largely based on the Cantwell Fada. His sword is a find from Toome, Co. Antrim. dated to the 11th/12th century.


Behind him is a page, his clothing is from Boyle Abbey Co. Roscommon, which has figures on some of the pillars with similar hairstyles and clothing, dated to 1220. His collar is based on the Great Canterbury psalter illustrations though , which is from the 13th/14th century. The reason for this is that the Boyle abbeys figures didnt have clear collars. The spearhead and bollock dagger are from the medieval exhibition in the National museum of Ireland, both Irish finds, but unfortunately I didnt get an exact date or find spot for either.


The nobleman is behind the page, his clothing is based on illustrations from Gerald of Wales 12th century book 'Topographia Hibernica' (e.g. the illustration of Hervey de Montmorency) including the way of suspending the sword. His hairstyle is based on a sculpted head in the porch of the 13th century St. Cannice's Cathedral, Co. Kilkenny . His brooch is loosely based on ring brooches from the time in the National Museum of Irelands collection, ring brooches were a popular form of dress fastener from the 12th-15th centuries. The style of wearing his cloak is based on the famous Bayeux Tapestry, which illustrates the battle of Hastings.  His shoes are based on Medieval shoes found in Drogheda Co. Louth, while his sword is from around 1150-1400 AD, most likely 12th century, found in Cowford, Co. Armagh.


Like the knight, the noblewoman is mostly based off a funeral effigy, this time, the Hackett Effigy in Cashel, Co. Tipperary from the 13th- 14th centuries. Her hair is made up in a Crespine found in High Street Dublin, from the 11th-12th centuries, the rest of the head gear are what they call the Barbette and Fillet, which was popular in Europe at the time. This Barbette and Fillet are mostly from the Hackette Effigy as is the brooch, dress, belt and cloak. I did have to look to other European Barbettte and fillets though to fill it out a bit, so its not identical to the Hackett Effigy. Her shoes are loosely based on the Annaholty Leather shoe and her brooch is based on Ring brooches from around that time, that are now in the National Museum of Ireland.


1. Irish Medieval Swords c. 1170-1600, Andrew Halpin, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol 86C, 1986
2. Ring-Brooches in Medieval Ireland, Mary Deevy, Archaeology Ireland Magazine, Vol 10, No. 2, 1996
3. Treasures of the National Museum, Patrick F. Wallace, Raghnall Ó Floinn, Gill & Macmillan, 2002
4. A Medieval Figure at Calliaghstown, County Meath, John Bradley, The Journal of the Royal Soceity of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol 110, 1980
5. Dress in Ireland, Mairead Dunleavy, Batsford Ltd, 1989

Friday, 11 July 2014

Forest Study

Been studying forests for the last good while now, whenever I get the chance I try to leave the city and go wondering in one. I have visited loads in the Cork region in the last year or so, been wondering in them, soaking them in, and also, of course, sketching them. This is a larger art study of a forest I have completed. I have been trying out new techniques and ideas with ink recently, and seeing what fits and what doesnt with my inking style. Also Im experimenting to see if I can get the complexity of the a forest and some of the feel of them, their intricate detail and richness.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Sketch Island

The cross slab in the monastic settlement
The early medieval church built with dry stone building technique, amazingly no mortar was used in building it
Sketching in twilight while on the island, the view of the monastic settlement from our camp fire
Night sketching-  The sky was very clear that night, like a daytime sky with a very dark ground plane of night
One of the beehive huts on the island of Illauntannig, there was another 2 there also
Inside one of the beehives in the early medieval monastic settlement on the island of Illauntannig

Sketches from my trip with the group Sceitse, fellow Islanders Eva & Kevin were there also, along with 10 other friends. We visited a deserted uninhabited island off the coast of the Dingle peninsula in Kerry, near castlegregory, called Illauntannig. Where13 intrepid sketchers invaded the island for 4 days of uninterrupted camping, sketching and just general fun.

We hung out watching civilisation and life far off in the distance across the bay while we had the time of our lives in an amazing island which constantly changed depending on the time of day, weather, light and which part of it you were on. Also the island had a 1400-1500 early medieval monastic settlement on it, which I set up for alot of the weekend in, as you can see by the sketches above of it. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Fota Mini Sceitse

Belvelly castle sketch
Sketches from yesterdays visit with local sketch group Sceitse. We visited Fota island, to see the folly there, as well as the wildlife park and Belvelly castle

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Rostellan Sketches

Rostellan Portal Tomb
Siddons Tower
Yesterday, myself and a few artist friends of mine, went for a sketch walk around Rostellan woods in East Cork. We stopped at Rostellan portal tomb, Irelands only tidal tomb, where in high tide its submerged in water and also stopped for a bit at an 18th century folly, siddons tower, built on the edge of the same woods. Was beautiful weather, great company and a great things to sketch

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

My shop

In case any of ye are not aware of it, I have a shop on storenvy:

Loch Derg Sketch Sailling

My sketches from the Sceitse trip to Loch Derg, where we spent 6 hours on the loch sketch sailing. More about Sceitse can be seen here:

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Ballyhoura Sketching

Views from Ballinaboola forest walk as I climbed Carron mountain
I drove up to North Cork there on Thursday and did some sketch walking on my own. I went to Ballinaboola forest on the north side of the Ballyhoura mountains, which straddle North Cork and Southern Limerick. Was a very pretty walk up to the modest mountain top, think it was 450 metres. On the way back I stopped in Ballybeg Priory outside Buttevant, probably one of the nicest Priory/Abbeys I have ever visited

Taxidermy Sketches Take 2

Sketch done today while at the Irish adventure sketch group Sceitse, today for a 2nd time we went into Cork University to sketch their taxidermy subjects

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

An Illustrated Life- Book Recommendation

An Illustrated Life- Danny Gregory

This week over in the Islanders blog, we are having a themed week and this weeks theme is recommending a book. So Im going to post the same here on my own blog for yer enjoyment! First off I would like to apologise on the quality of the photos here, as I just have my camera in my phone at the moment.

The book I'm going to recommend, as its good for both professional and amateur, is 'An Illustrated Life'. The book is essentially a collection of sketchbooks, and shows how different artists, designers, comic artists and illustrators etc use their sketchbooks to illustrate their lives or part of it, whether internal or external. While most are professionals, there is one or two here that would be more hobbyist or sometimes are other kinds of art professionals, like architects whom use the sketchbook for fun more than a professional pursuit.

I have found the book a revelation, just to see the variety of ways people use their sketchbooks and their Raison d'être for doing so, some reasons obvious others not so much examples: wild ideas, a form of therapy, connecting to the world, recording their lives, withdrawing from reality, their creative outlet funtime.

Some mention that they make their own sketcbooks with bookbinding, others the different kinds of sketchbooks they use (some wild sketchbooks I had never heard of before, like Japanese scroll notebooks: as well as discussing tools of sketching etc. Some are open with their sketchbooks and let all comers by see them, while others hide in their cars during sketching.

The artists are from a variety of backgrounds, but mostly westerners so Europeans and North Americans. It has some heavy weights like R. Crumb and James Jean as well as alot of others less well known but etching a living in the art field. The production quality of the book is great, nice graphic design and I like the long page format it has, like a large landscape watercolour sketchbook.

I mostly use my sketchbooks to experiment in art, ideas I would never try out in a final piece or to study the world when Im out and about or to tell the story of my sketch journeys but because of this my sketchbooks are often disjointed and all over the place. Looking at these guys makes me want to make sketchbooks with one singular purpose like these guys do, something to be read front to back.

I pick up the book occasionally, just to keep me inspired with new ideas as I sketch alot myself. Im only half way through but it has already been influential in how I use my sketchbook these days and has kept my sketchbooking evolving so its definitely been a great book to read, highly recommended!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sceitse in Imagine FX!!!!

Editors Letter
Double Page Spread

High Rez pages, right click and open in a new tab to see 

Sceitse, a group I have been organising for the last 2 years and a bit has just been featured in a double page spread article in Imagine FX magazine!!!! The magazine is a global art and illustration magazine. You can right click on the image and click "Open in a new tab" to see it in high rez.

Its been one of my greatest achievements keeping this thing going, has been continuously rewarding and surprising what we have seen and what we have accomplished and I have made some great friends because of it and spent many an hour laughing or being inspired. Here's to hoping the group keeps going for another 2 years!

If your interersted, Sceitse welcomes sketchers of all levels and can be found here on FB:

If you would like to see the article in the flesh, you can buy the magazine you can find it easons or online here:

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Young Archaeologists Kit

I did the illustrations for this kit, when I heard about it first I thought it was a great idea, and now even more so, and so please support it by buying one!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Life drawing sketches

Sketches done tonight while attending the Cork Life Drawing Groups weekly life drawing sessions on Monday nights in the other place. These two were from 30 min poses

Friday, 9 May 2014

Black Night Launch

Islander Art and Drink and Draw Cork have teamed up to launch the Islanders 2nd anthology book; BLACK NIGHT on Saturday 4 pm, May 17th, at, Franciscan Well on the North Mall in Cork City.

The art book contains illustrative artwork and stories from a large portion of Islander Art collective members including myself, JG O'Donoghue, as well as Eleanor Reilly, Kevin Gough, Mike Nolan, Marian Noone, Alan Corbett, Wayne O'Connor, Sara Otterstatter and Raul Fernandez.

Drink and Draw which usually is on biweekly alternatively on Tues & Thurs in the Franciscan well, will be having a one off special Saturday session at the book launch. So bring the art supply of your choice and get drawing, painting, doodling, crafting, whatever you have in mind!. Everybody is welcome, no matter the level!

If you ever missed Drink and Draw on a weekday, this is your chance to visit as the Islanders combine with the drink & drawers to make a DRINK and DRAW ISLAND for one day only!

The FB Event is here:

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Islanders on Irish Radio International

The Islanders will be featured in the Cork matters show which is broadcast this Thursday, the 8th of May, on the Irish Radio International station at 9:30 pm. I will be discussing the Islanders and our upcoming illustrated magazine which we will be launching the Saturday 17th of May at 4 pm in the Franciscan well. The FB event with more details is here: The art book contains illustrative artwork and stories from a large portion of Islander Art collective members including JG O'Donoghue, Eleanor Reilly, Kevin Gough, Mike Nolan, Marian Noone, Alan Corbett, Wayne O'Connor, Sara Otterstatter and Raul Fernandez. There will also be a Drink & Draw at the launch and while Drink & Draw usually is on biweekly alternatively on Tues & Thurs in the Franciscan well, we will be having a one off special Saturday session at the book launch. So bring the art supply of your choice and get drawing, painting, doodling, crafting, whatever you have in mind!. Everybody is welcome, no matter the level!

Cork matters can be found on facebook here:

Friday, 2 May 2014

Exhibition Extended

My Exhibition in UCC called 'Mothú Áite/A Sense of Place' has been extended another month! Details are as follows:

Dates of Exhibit- 12th February to 31th of May
Venue- Seomra Caidrimh, O'Rahilly Building, UCC
Normal Opening Hours- Mon-Fri- 10:30 - 12:00, 15:30 - 16:30
FB Event for the Exhibition itself:

'Mothú Áite/A Sense of Place' is a solo exhibition by emerging Cork illustrator JG O'Donoghue. 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.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Islander Magazine in Irish Comic News

The Islander Art magazine, which has an illustrated story from me, was just mentioned in Irish comic book news.The article is here:

Monday, 28 April 2014

Sketch Cycling

Sketch at Blackrock Castle, where we stopped for some coffee and sketching

A sketch of an old Railway bridge, as we stopped on the Greenway walking path from Cork to Passage West

SKETCH CYCLING! Tried my hand at sketch cycling, as in sketching and cycling at the same time. Looks amazing similar to sketch running results, was just as fun too. In case you cant make it out, the bottom two are eva & robert cycling, the rest is an attempt at the foilage on the path

Myself and fellow Sketcher's went on a sketch cycle yesterday, it was the monthly event of the sketch group that Im part of called Sceitse (, which is always a highlight of my month. This particular event we climbed ontop of bikes and went on a sketch cycle from Cork to Cobh, while taking detours to the Marina,  to Blackrock castle and even got to venture around the Great Island around Cobh. Was a great day overall, blessed with good weather & company, chats and fun the whole time while getting loads of sketching in too, I even had a go at sketching and cycling at the same time, twas great fun!

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Islander Art, a collective of professional artists & illustrators that Im a part of, are launching an anthology book; BLACK NIGHT, on Saturday May 17th, at 4.00 p.m. in the Franciscan Well on the South Mall in Cork City, Ireland. The event will be marked by a drink & draw!

The art book contains a story I adapted and illustrated from Thomas Crofton Croker, named Giants Stairs, about a giant who used to live in Cork harbour. Among lots of other illustrative stories from a large portion of Islander Art collective members including Eleanor Reilly, Kevin Gough, Mike Nolan, Marian Noone, Alan Corbett, Wayne O'Connor, Sara Otterstatter and Raul Fernandez.

Hopefully see some of ye there!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A typical Anglo-Norman Irish Village

An illustration of an early Norman (or sometimes called Anglo-Norman) settlement in Ireland, from about 12th to 13th centuries. It has features of alot of early Norman settlements in Ireland, and altogether makes a typical Norman town, which generally had: one main street, lanes and smaller streets at right angles to this main street, defended by walls, towers and accessed via a city gate, a market with a market cross, a hospital outside the wall, a parish church within, and guarded  by a castle.

Its street plan and layout is based on a few of the Norman towns like Fethard, Gowran, Kilkenny, Galway, Jerpoint and Rinn Dúin. The layout of the harbour with its jetties, quays and slipway are based loosely on Rinn Dúin or Rindown in Co. Roscommon. As are its wall and towers, but these are also influenced by the Town walls in Clonmel, Drogheda, Fethard, Waterford and Youghal. Houses of the time are called Long houses as they are quite substantially longer than they're wide. Notice that most of the houses face the street by their gable end. This was common in the middle ages, it was in order to make the most use of their narrow burgage plot (which is the area of land that each house was on and its garden area behind). The houses entrances were still on the long side of the house though, so they had often a small alley that ran beside the houses in order to give access to their doors.

Generally medieval villages like this had one long road, sometimes two (one major and one minor), and somewhere in the major road the road widened a bit, generally at either end or in the middle of it, the latter is the case in this illustration. Where the road widened they had medieval markets and a market cross generally marked the spot. The market cross was also where the town crier would make announcements. There was a find of a circular base for a market cross found in Ireland, which I created here too, but none of the rest of the cross was found. So most of the market cross here and the wooden houses are based off evidence from medieval Britain and Europe. Also the bridge is based on the medieval bridge in Trim and There is a hospital outside the towns gatehouse and a mill inside of it. Its parish church, the church closest to the castle, is based off the church in Dalkey, St. Bregnats, as well as more complete examples found in Britain and mainland Europe.

Its castle is a mixture as well, in plan its similar to Castle Roche and Rinn Dúin. Its keep is a mixture of Green castle (in Co. Down), Rinn Dúin and Trim, while the D shaped tower are a common feature of the time, found in the likes of Trim and Cahir castles. The castle gatehouse is based on St. Laurences Gate in Drogheda, and Carrickfergus's gatehouse. Finally the castle has a rock cut moat around the outside of it and a drawbridge, with a secondary gatehouse on the other side, this latter gatehouse is based on the one in Rinn Dúin.

  1. The Archaeology of Medieval Ireland- by T. B. Barry
  2. The illustrated Archaeology of Ireland- Gothic art and architecture- Roger Stalley
  3. The illustrated Archaeology of Ireland-  Anglo-Norman Towns- John Bradley
  4. The illustrated Archaeology of Ireland- Rural Settlements- Terry Barry
  5. The illustrated Archaeology of Ireland- Anglo Norman Fortresses- David Sweetman
  6. Rinn Duin Conservation and Management Plan
  7. Fethard Castle - a manorial centre and episcopal residence in County Wexford- Ben Murtagh 
  8. The medieval town walls of Drogheda- Conor Brady
  9. Trim in the Middle Ages- A Market Town on the River Boyne- Michael Potterton

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 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