I researched the hell out of this prompt word Coat, trying to find something to tie it with my Irish theme. I finally found a Blue Coat School in Dublin, with a gorgeous building and cool history. Only problem is, to the best of my knowledge, I have never been there. So that goes against my own set of rules. But the place where I have been, actually where I am right now, that is truly amazing, awesome, historic, grandiose, fabulous, and chilly was King John’s Castle in Limerick. So, I wore a COAT. Plus, I really wanted to draw it from life, not a photo. When you have a chance to do some en plain air work, well, you better jump on it.
So, I sat on the veranda of a seafood restaurant with kayakers playing in the rapids of the Shannon river and the sun dancing on the walls of the castle. Seems idyllic, and it was, except the wind. With the wind blasting me, chilling my tea and seafood chowder before I could touch them, making my hands shake, inking and shaking away. I thought I was smart, roughing out my drawing before I got there from a photo, I took the night before. Of course, it was from a slightly different angle, and the lighting was wrong, so I had to redraw it all from scratch. So much for cheating.
King John’s castle is a wonderful historic site to stop at. They recently reworked the castle with an informative and family friendly exhibit detailing its 1000-year history, from Viking camp to a walled city. There is so much death around the place, with so many battles that I could not even begin to explain it. Some fun facts filled with death was when the French mayor of the city raised the draw bridge too early. Causing the death of over 800 knights that were retreating from the British troops. Then there were all those heads on pikes decorating the place. There’s a sign in the museum that states “Head this way” with molds of all the heads on pikes lining the walls that cracked me up.
We stopped at the Castle the night before for the Samhain festival, where there was a lantern parade through the gothic city then across the bridge. Culminating in a crazy man stripping down and climbing in the river and dragging a dragon/swan lamp in the river. The current was very fast, due to a high tide and large amounts of rain according to the kayakers, making this midnight swim a bit dangerous.
Now Limerick has a bad reputation, and we were told not to wander out of certain areas, and certainly not around our hotel the Maldron. Yvonne and I both found the city lovely and completely livable. The city is filled with Georgian architecture. Large houses with high ceilings, detailed brick work, and nice cornices. A massive castle on the river with a large stone bridge, large churches, mills, etc. All in all, we really loved Limerick.