Category Archives: Ulster

Return to the Antrim Coast

This summer we will be back in Northern Ireland for a short holiday and a family wedding. We are very much looking forward to it.

It will be great to be back to a place where so much of my early life was spent and where such great memories abound of people and places.

We will spend some time on the wonderful Antrim Coast and it’s splendid scenery.

Fair Head from Ballycastle Watercolour 16 inches by 12 on 600 gsm watercolour paper.

Recently I painted yet another watercolour of the scene from Ballycastle Strand across to Fair Head and so that triggered me into doing this post which unashamedly uses watercolours painted over the years of this stunning and very scenic part of the world.

If you haven’t downloaded my free guide with watercolours for Ulster then please do so either using the link above or via the iBook store.

This is a much shorter version of some of the paintings from that book.

The Antrim Coast road starts in Belfast but very soon you arrive in Carrickfergus with its great Norman Castle.

Carrickfergus Castle

After passing through Larne the road takes you to  Ballygally where the road is right next to the sea and Scotland seems so nearby across the water.

Yachts sailing off the Antrim Coast

The Coast near Carnlough

 

Watercolour of Ballygally, 11 by 7 inches.

A little bit inland from the coast the remarkable trees near Armoy are a good diversion and if you are a Game of Thrones fan they feature in that programme as The King’s Highway.

The Dark Hedges near Armoy. Co Antrim. The King's Highway in Game of Thrones

The Dark Hedges near Armoy. Co Antrim.
The King’s Highway in Game of Thrones

On the way visit Ballintoy, and Murlough Bay, also used in that series.

Further along the coast is the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and of course the  famous Giants Causway with its incredible hexagonal basalt columns.

 

The Giant’s Causeway at sunset.

 

There is so much more to see on this great Coast so do take the time to visit there.

We will enjoy our next visit and if you can plan a visit to this delightful part of the world which you will enjoy.

Happy travelling

Brian

 

Enhance your Family History Project with Paintings!!

The Black Arch on the Causeway Coastal Route.

                 The Black Arch on the Causeway Coastal Route.

By way of a diversion I thought I might introduce you to an idea I had some years ago which can add some extra interest to the documenting of your Family History project.

Researching the historical background of your family is fascinating but can produce a lot of data and alas that data, whilst interesting to the researcher, does not  make interesting reading for the younger members of your family who may  (??)  one day, show some interest in all that research. I guess it is not till we all advance in years that the history of our families becomes a bit more interesting anyway!

Just leaving the succeeding generations all the data is unlikely to be a successful strategy so producing some form of booklet or document is most likely to be a more useful hand me down for the future. Paper is not  much in fashion these days but a paper book or document, maybe also produced as an eBook as well, is still very likely to stand the test of time.

Even for bloggers like us paper is a good solution for long term storage of all that hard work documenting the past few hundred years.

The heart of your project will probably be the Family Tree but adding narrative to each of the families covered by your research will add some insight of the people in the Tree and their way of life.

I decided that to bring the project even more to life I would include as many photos of the people as I could find but that won’t take you back before the mid or late 1800’s. So to illustrate the histories of the families I decided to add some watercolours of the places they came from, sometimes as they might have been at the time, or just places that they liked to visit. Paintings of the Churches they were married in seemed an obvious choice and where possible the houses they once lived in. Even if these have long been demolished you can sometimes find data to reconstruct the scene, at least to give some context to the narrative. If your narrative can give some insight as to how they lived in years gone by this can be very interesting too. 

You will be pleased to know I am not going to bore you with my research data, but here are a few paintings that I have used to illustrate the Family History Book of the 6 major families that it covers.

First of all a couple of Churches painted as near as possible to the way they looked at the time. An earlier generation of my family were married in Minster Abbey on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent during the exceptionally cold winter of 1911. This was the year I believe that Niagara Falls froze over too!

Kent, Minster Abbey as it would have looked in 1911

Kent, Minster Abbey as it would have looked in 1911

In the early 19th Cenury other family members were married in The Churches of Detling (then spelt

Debtling) in Kent and at Boxley Church, also in Kent

Kent, Debtling Church in 1809

Debtling Church in Kent as it looked in 1809

Boxley Church, Kent

Boxley Church, Kent

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the late 19th century some of my ancestors lived in the middle house below West Malling in Kent.  Here I have tried to reconstruct the scene in 1891. He was the local Weights and Measures Inspector, an inserting job, which invloved testing the beer in the local breweries almost every day!

West Malling in Kent in 1891

West Malling in Kent in 1891

The earliest record that I have so far managed to find is of a wedding in Lenham Church in 1628. I don’t think they had Linseed growing in the fields then but my painting tries to show it anyway!

Lenham Church

Lenham Church

Lastly some branches of my family and my wife’s family hail from Northern Ireland.

So here is the Church of St Anne in Belfast where a marriage took place in 1869. The Church was demolished in the 1890’s and the fine (and still standing) St Anne’s Cathedral was built on the site.

St Anne's Church in Belfast in 1869

St Anne’s Church in Belfast in 1869

Northern Ireland,Carrickfergus - Version 2 (Mandy and Drew)

                                                                          Carrickfergus

And lastly we had, and have, close associations with the whole beautiful Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. This spectacular coastal route has featured in a number of my previous posts. So here is a watercolour of Carrickfergus, the beginning of the Causeway Coastal route and a town with many associations with our families.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this diversion. Back to more recent travels soon!

Brian

Two weekends in May

Our travel recently has been a bit hectic and May has seen us spend two lovely weekends in two very different places.

First of all we spent a few days in Northern Ireland catching up with family and friends.

Some time too for touring around and just a few hours to create two watercolours.

Firstly we visited a very nice Farm shop and cafe in Hollywood called McKees, and from there we had a lovely view of Scrabo Tower and the Mourne mountains.

I could not resist trying to reproduce the scene in this watercolour.

Scrobo Tower and the Mourne Mountains. Watercolour 14 inches by 12

Scrabo Tower and the Mourne Mountains.
Watercolour 14 inches by 12

Another day saw us travelling to Newcastle, right next door to the Mourne Mountains. Just north of Newcastle is Murlough Bay and in this nature reserve there are lovely walks that take you down to the sea. This watercolour  is that view, the beach and the Mourne mountains sweeping down to the sea.

The Mourne Mountains from Murlough bay. Watercolour 14 inches by 12

The Mourne Mountains from Murlough Bay.
Watercolour 14 inches by 12

With many more photos taken over the weekend I now have lots of ideas for more paintings, and an update to my Ulster guide book.

Just one week later we were off to the coast of Normandy in France with some friends. Our main aim was to view the Landing Beaches, Museums and Cemetries associated with the Normandy landings of June 1944. The invasion of France in 1944 heralded the final winning phase of the war in Europe which ended 70 years ago. The sacrifice and endeavour of the brave soldiers, sailors and airman can  be felt as you walk and visit the sights in this area.

We managed to see a lot in a few days and enjoyed Normandy, it’s people, food, cider and scenery.

So just two watercolours so far but more to follow as we managed a visit to Honfleur as we travelled back to Calais and the Channel Tunnel.

From the beach at Arromanches you can still see the mannificent artifical harbour created in June 1944 and some of these colosal structures are shown in the painting.

The Beach at Arromanches Watercolour 14 inches by 12

The Beach at Arromanches
Watercolour 14 inches by 12

Inland just a few miles away is Bayeux, famous for the Tapestry but a really lovely town with a wonderful Cathedral.

Bayeux

The Mill Wheel in Bayeaux. Watercolour 14 inches by 12.

This mill wheel and the river are in the heart of Bayeux with a view across to the Cathedral.

If you ever can, do visit Normandy and the landing beaches. They are amazing memories of a crucial time in the ending of World War 2.

Happy travelling!

Brian

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