Sketch-Out in Sunny Salthill, 18th May 2014
I was looking forward to this first Urban Sketchers Galway sketch-out all month. The week started off with Galway looking like a dreamland, in a way that a sunny May in rural Ireland can be. All week, I had spent days and evenings drawing; Monday in a copse down a country road with bumble bees around me and birds singing their hearts out; Tuesday looking over the bay at Killeenaran with seagulls letting the breeze carry them; Thursday in Gort, in a sunny town square, chatting to locals, and on Friday, hidden in the bushes like a paparazzo, sitting deep in a flowerbed, painting a client's house. Bliss. I tweeted that if Sunday was half as nice as any of those days, we were in for a treat.
But that tweet was a lie...sort of. I knew that the weather was going to be rotten, as it was promised windy and rainy. I was so disappointed as I had tried to spread the word about our sketch-out as much as I could, and Donal and a friend of his had made some super flyers which they'd passed around Galway.
Now it looked like it would be a wash out.
Miracles do happen, though...the weather guys were WRONG! The sun shone for us and made our day a roaring success.
So let me introduce the crew: Phil is the chap in the green jacket. He's just moved down to Galway. He's going to love it here. And that's Casey sitting beside him. Casey is from Melbourne but she's been in Galway for a while. Jay is taking the photo so you can't see him, but he's from Melbourne too, and he's also made Galway his home. Casey tried to tell him that swimming in the sea here is fantastic, but he wasn't buying it. That's me in the day-glo hat...I'm so used to wearing a million layers when I'm out sketching that I can't quite take off the hat yet, even though it was really warm. I'm from Co. Wicklow and I've lived in Galway since 1991, and I have swum in the sea here. Jay, you're outnumbered. Swim with the tide man...! (in a wetsuit, perhaps...)
Here we see Patrick on the left with Ruth beside him. Ruth, like me, is a geologist who loves to draw. The seventh sketcher was Carmel but she managed to avoid the camera!
You can see the Burren in Co. Clare across the bay. If you've seen The Shire in seen the Lord of the Rings movies, then you have a fair idea of the countryside around there...apparently Tolkein spent time in the Burren before he wrote his books and some of the names of his characters were inspired by old Irish names from the area.
But back to Sunday. That gent in the navy jacket that you can see in the background is Walking The Prom. This is a Galway tradition and every day you will see what appears to be half the city marching up and down along the prom, which is 2km long. It runs from the heart of Galway City all the way out to the very edge of the city, just before Barna. You can see Galway Bay strecthing out beside you and there is a sandy beach the entire length of the Prom which is full of people enjoying the sand and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean from the inside. Women storm up and down the Prom in groups, arms swinging, sunglasses on. They kick the wall at the end in case they think they may not have "done" the whole Prom. The first time I saw that I thought it was a set up, but it's just Galway women doing their thing. Even though I scoffed, there's no point fighting it - I kicked it too in the end.
There's a diving board at the end, just next to the wall that the ladies kick, where the half of Galway that isn't walking up and down is jumping off. Here's a drawing of it that I did last year. Not part of Sunday's sketch-out but a quintessential part of Salthill nonetheless. (If you're around on Christmas Day, join the crazy dudes in Santa hats who swim there for charity...)
Here's Phil's sketch of people enjoying the Prom. That kid hopping on the rocks is so typical...
Kids learn to ride their bikes up and down the prom, weaving in and out of indulgent citizens. My kids learned to rollerblade on the Prom. And there's always somewhere to buy them a 99 (a whipped ice cream with a chocolate Flake sticking out of the top) if you need to bribe, I mean treat, them for any reason. Ruth caught a lucky child enjoying a 99 on Sunday...
And when it's not ice-cream weather, and especially if you're annoyed about something, there is nothing like wrapping up well, grabbing your house keys and pounding up and down in the wild Atlantic wind and rain that is much of the winter here. It's a great place to walk the dog, unless you have a huge boxer who won't stop pulling, no matter what training techniques you employ. The dog in Ruth's picture looks quite well-behaved. Then again, everyone else's always do...
Here's another sketch by Phil, with a nice sketch of Seapoint, where there is an amusements (and I think apartments above). I like that pregnant lady.
And more walkers -
In this pic you can see the road leading up through Salthill. The street is called Upper Salthill. Descriptive. It is full of amusement arcades, ice cream parlours, pizzerias, chippers and shops where you can buy giant inflatable dolphins in case you've had an urge to visit the beach and have forgotten your giant inflatable dolphin.
Jay was great with the photos - thanks man! Here's Ruth's drawing of him...with me in my day-glo hat.
And here is Jay's drawing of Upper Salthill - what a beautiful sky.
And here's mine - that small slug-like thing in the foreground is in fact a very brave baby who has crawled away from mummy to visit the nice ladies beside the bike on the grass - see her watching him? He's wearing an adorable tartan hat but I had already filled in the grass before I drew him so it was a bit late to draw it...
It's a panoramic view, drawn over two pages, so I can't fit in it...here's (most) of the rest of it, with Galway Bay just visible on the right.
So here's to many more - if you can join us next time, we'd love to see you. Anyone at all! Visitors to the city, you're welcome! Galwgians and non-Galwegians alike, come on down. We are planning to celebrate our new Urban Sketchers Galway status with a cup of tea...Phil thinks we should smash it off a boat...Now THAT would be something to draw!!
Looking forward to meeting you!