Winter Sun

…floods through a window in St Patrick’s Cathedral, to illuminate one of the statues of the 18th century great and good of Dublin.

And so George Ogle, is memorialised. An Irish Tory politician he was elected to the Irish House of Commons as a member for Wexford County in 1768 sitting for that constituency till 1796. A brilliant speaker, he delighted in ‘splendid superlatives and figurative diction, whilst the spirit and energy of his manner corresponded to the glowing warmth of his expressions’. He joined the Whig party and, although in favour of extending to Ireland popular rights and legislative independence, he was opposed to catholic emancipation, and was a staunch upholder of the established church.

In 1778, he was challenged to a duel by Barney Coyle, a whisky distiller and member of the catholic board. Although eight shots were exchanged, it appears neither were good shots, as the combatants remained unhurt! Ogle later declared his alleged remark “a papist could swallow a false oath as easily as a poached egg” which led to the encounter had been misreported; he had referred to “rebels”, not “papists”.

In 1782, he became a colonel in the Irish Volunteers, actively supported that movement, and strongly asserted the claim of Ireland to legislative independence. When he retired from the House of Commons in 1796, he became governor of Wexford, but consented to re-enter parliament in the disturbed period of 1798, as a member for Dublin City. He voted against the Act of Union in 1800, finally retiring in 1804.

The statue to his memory, by John Smyth, was placed in the cathedral at a cost of £130, almost £10,000 today.

Model to Actress…

While Sharon’s quintessential red hair and beauty undoubtedly helped her to get modelling roles, she had other ambitions. Some time after the portfolio shoot, she mentioned my pic of her draped in muslin brought her to the attention of casting directors in her burgeoning film career.

Incidentally, Muslin is the most common backdrop material used by photographers for formal portrait backgrounds; and used to mask the background of sets and to establish the mood or feel of different scenes is the cloth of choice for theatre sets and in film. Not a lot of people know that!

Anyway, back to Sharon: she made her screen debut with a minor role in 1988 when she played the role of a junior barrister on the defence counsel in “A Fish Called Wanda”; then went on to appear in an episode of the BBC series “All Creatures Great and Small” in which she played Molly McFeely, the housekeeper to the vets in Skeldale House. Further work followed in “Young Charlie Chaplin”, as a chorus girl and later in an episode of RTE’s Glenroe called “Miley’s New Bullock” for RTE.

Her multi-linguistic skills came to the fore in 2005, when she went on to appeared in the Italian television series “Il giudice Mastrangelo” and her last-known film appearance was in another Italian television series, “Capri”, that concluded in 2010…

Gruaig Rua…

The quintessential red hair of Irish actress and model, Sharon Twomey.

I had the pleasure of working with her on a travel brochure which entailed a weekend in Torremolinos, a little way down the coast from where I’m writing. It was a most enjoyable assignment, because accompanying us was Jan de Fouw, one of a small group of Dutch designers working in Ireland. 

Jan and I had been introduced by Elizabeth Healy, then editor of the Irish Tourist Board’s journal, “Ireland of the Welcomes”. As the magazine’s graphic designer he applied the Bauhaus design principles he’d learned at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague; and as a superb artist he also contributed many line and wash drawings, lino and wood cuts and light-hearted cartoons to illustrate the magazine’s features. Sadly Jan died about seven years ago.

Jan and I interviewed a plethora of models before the assignment, and Sharon stood out as the most suitable for the brief. A little after returning to Dublin, Sharon asked me to shoot her portfolio, a session that led to some pretty interesting work for her, but more on that in tomorrow’s post…

Every Leaf is a Flower…

the impression given when vines in the commune of Saint-Chinian develop autumn tints around a quintessential, pink, French farmhouse; a spectacle that’s been a regular event for some 25 centuries.

Languedoc wine was first harvested by the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC and along with Provence, has some of the oldest vineyards in France. From the 4th to the early 19th centuries, the Languedoc wine region had a reputation for producing high quality wine. Indeed, in Paris during the 14th century, the wines were prescribed in hospitals for their “healing powers”.

During the advent of the Industrial Age in the 19th century however, production shifted towards mass-produced cheap red wine to satisfy the growing work force and during both World Wars, wine from the Languedoc was standard issue for the French army. But its reputation continued to fall.

Today the Languedoc wine region is considered by many connoisseurs to be France’s “New World”. A wine region on the up, producing prime red wines with some rosés and whites thrown in for good measure. It has 12 AOCs, with the most famous being Corbières, Faugères, Minervois, and Saint-Chinian where the pink farmhouse resides.

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra

Rich with shadows, a walkway on Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, a wetland located in Málaga province of Spain. The shallow lagoon, covering an area of 13 square kilometres is fed by underwater springs that pass through mineral salt deposits, so the lagoon is saline.

For the ornithologically inclined, it hosts the largest colony on the Iberian Peninsula of the greater flamingo and is also an important nesting zone for gull-billed tern and slender billed gull, common shelduck, common goose, red-crested pochard, purple swamp hen and crane.

Also to be found are kites, storks, marsh harriers, ospreys, a good reason for the lagoon to be declared a Nature Reserve.

Liverpool Folk

“Liverpool One” shopping centre has taken over part of the city centre featuring remnants of old warehouses that served the south docks, and flattened sites that as kids, we used to call “the debris” – remnants of World War Two’s Blitz.

The people in the complex spaced out, together in one place, yet apart, even in pre-covid days, reminded me a little of those painted by the artist, L S Lowry.

Alive in the mid-20th century, he chose to paint scenes of life in the industrial areas of the North of England, landscapes of drab textile mills and factory chimneys. But most have now gone. Those that remain converted into apartments.

It got me wondering: if with so little of his industrial locations still standing, would Lowry with his distinctive style of painting scenes peopled with “matchstick men” human figures, have opted for more contemporary aspects of life?

Who knows?

Early Sunday Morning…

Mass is over for the village ladies. time for a catchup on local gossip before dropping into the conveniently located patisserie for a gâteau, macaron, tarte, molleux, or a mousse: heaven sent temptations for their just deserts. A scene echoed over most of France, this one is in Neuvic, aka Neuvic-sur-l’Isle in the Dordogne region.