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  • By Jerry Ann Fenter

Beautiful County Clare

Wow, time is flying by. The Ireland class was wonderful. I had 11 students and they all were great to be around to paint and to hang out in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The class was in held at Chris O'Neil's studio and guest house in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. First of all I'd like to thank Chris and all the other people at the B & B. What a great time, delicious breakfasts and wonderful tours around the county. All of us had so much fun and my student's paintings were creative and amazing. Chris has a studio to die for. We had lots of room, snacks, and space to put finished pieces. I'd like to thank all of my students who learned so much, taught me so much, experimented with different styles and were just plain brave to follow me to Ireland. What a treat!!

The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren were sights like I've never seen before. We got there with the help of two tour guides and bus-owners who were both very brave to drive the narrow Irish roads (scary) while facing the wild drivers going the other way. Thanks to the Mooneys (both father and son) for getting us to so many amazing places in one piece.

The view from the top of the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs were breathtaking. We climbed a long way up to get to the top to look out at the Atlantic. They are part of what's called The Great Atlantic Way and are a thing to behold. Lots of people from EVERYWHERE on earth were with us hiking, excited, and speaking every language imaginable. We were told to stay behind a rock wall on our part of the hike...but of course we watched other crazy people climbing over it and getting as close to the edge as possible. VERY dangerous. Signs everywhere. We all survived however and then met each other at a very high up coffee and snack shop to wait for everyone to gather for our bus. Some of us spent time hiking up to O'Brians Castle and took some pictures there. Ireland is full of Castles. What a treat!! You can see the Aran Islands and Galway bay from the castle and anywhere along the top of the cliffs that go on for many miles.

Memorial at the top of the Cliffs

In a small area along the top of the cliffs was a spot where many people left bracelets, ribbons, notes and special personal things as an offering to friends or loved ones that had passed. Some people hate this kind of thing (not environmental)...but I....lover of the Prayer Flags of Nepal and other public offering places around the world was moved by this. You see this also in Mexico. I think the world needs more small places where we can remember the beauty of the earth and the lives of friends and family. It's also nice to leave a little part of yourself right there as an offering.

Amazing surprises pop out and surprise you in The Burren

The Burren is a huge area of rocks and boulders that are flat and lead out to the ocean. It's impossible to describe...I've never seen anything like it. Look it up on line and read about it. Once you've seen it you'll want to go there as often as you can. It felt like we were on another planet. Lots of hiking, animal watching and Celtic sights to be found. Wild rock formations. We were lucky that we had a nice day to explore and missed the morning rain.

Flowers pop up from everywhere...but wear good hiking shoes!!!

The people in Ireland were friendly and helpful and kind. The Pubs had tastyl food and Irish music. It was so much fun. On the streets or in the shops if you had a question someone would notice your puzzled face and ask if they could help. They would talk with you about everything. All of your questions would be answered. Great stories were always shared. I felt like I was home. I was lucky to have my daughter, Amy, with me. She and I and the students wandered the many towns we got to visit.

Amy and I spotted The Salmon Bookshop and Literary Centre on Parliament Street in Ennistymon and were greeted by two BIG dogs just resting among the books. ( Also we met amazing people there. Jessie Lendennie, an Irish poet and book publisher was there with a handsome friend of hers behind the counter. So many books, such a wonderful shop. Jessie also took us out to the back of the shop to her garden and her writing studio. I could have stayed there, books, dogs, writing, laughter what else could anyone want. We chatted and were gifted some books that Jessie had edited to take with us. Jessie and I also came up with the start of a plan of a combining poetry and painting classes there together. (we're in the planning stages...keep it a secret)

Other fun things....

*Eating a huge dinner at a famous castle.

*Having delicious breakfasts at O'Neils.

*Hanging out and having food at lots of local pubs...(it's the pub life for me)...even though I don't drink much I had my daily pint at every dinner. Many of my students were from Napa California so of course they had fine Irish wine...but I NEEDED to have my pint of Guinness Stout with the Irish food.

*Seeing the town spa in Lisdoonvarna...(finding out it was part of the reason the town was built in this area). The townspeople are trying to remodel and renew it. It was so much fun seeing the new building and tasting the water...a little sulfur tasting but we did get a certificate that had each of our names on it for being brave enough to drink it!!! They need funding to keep it going. Look it up and donate. These huge leaves were everywhere near the spa and also along the path that we took up to the bridge.

Huge Leaves on the hike near the spa

(fun continued)

*Eating Magnum bars in the tiny store a block from my room. (Got addicted to them in Mexico and was surprised I could get them in Lisdoon).

* Watching my students enjoy and learn to do watercolor.

* The Barack Obama rest stop honoring Barack and Michelle.

*Amy driving on the left side of the road in her rented Skoda. (look it up)

*Watching Gaelic football behind Amy's B & B and finding out the rules.

Going on a boat to visit the caves and rocks below The Cliffs...a wild ride. Here's the captain.

He looks Irish to me!!! Our lives were in his hands!!!

After leaving Lisdoonvarna Amy and I left for Dublin in the Skoda. About halfway there we saw this sign. Barack Obama Plaza! Stopped to check tires, eat some donuts and check out all of the Obama t-shirts, key chains, mugs and so many other items featuring Michelle and Barack.

It was so good to see people who love Barack so much. I didn't hear one mention of Trump from anyone in Ireland. Back on the left of the road, Amy and I were off for a few days in Dublin, going to all the sights we wanted to see. We shared the city with the Pope who was visiting Ireland for the first time in ages! We ran into students from Lisdoon touring around Dublin at the same time. That was great. Then we were off to the Dublin Airport to hop on Ryan Air...the scariest airline in the world...but oddly a very memorable experience. Ryan got us where we wanted to go. We were excited to arrive in Liverpool to see my friends Maureen and Bernard Jones, David and Carole Talbot and to be part of BEATLES week!!!! Maureen and I have written to each other since we've been ten years old. We are avid pen pals. I heard she wanted another girl to write to her in the Oregon Journal! It's always so exciting to stay with her and see her family.

(A whole new adventure to write about later)

One of my students Corinne Jarrett and myself havin' a Coke at a small market in County Clare! She went to school with me at Parkrose High School and is an artist herself. Met some American Iraq war vets at the market who had left the US for Ireland years ago after the war.

My talented group of students at our favorite Pub in Lisdoon.

More soon....Jerry

More art...and sign up for an adventure painting in Mexico!

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