Listowel Race Eve – Aka Day One

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Picking up from where we last left off …
It was an easy and comfortable ride to Limerick. I arrived early in the morning. Though the station had not yet opened, the crows were welcoming with their many “caw-caws”. Indeed there were a few gulls adding their chuckles to make a nice Irish greeting.
The sun rose slowly, it was a Saturday after all. I treated myself to a mocha at the station Starbucks once it opened. Since I still had an hour before departing I did a little sketching and posting. At 8:35 I boarded a big red bus and handed the ticket from airport. The next leg of my journey began.

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I rode the bus from Limerick to Listowel. I took in the amazing landscape and tried to capture some of it on my iPhone using the app Concepts.Busride_to_listowel.jpg
I arrived in the main town square immediately loving the colorful shop-fronts and stone churches. I knew I was in for a treat. Before making it across the parking lot I was warmlyireland-blog-d1-8 greeted by Olive. Bags in tow she led me to what has quickly become my home away from home.
I toured the gallery and apartment.  The amazing studio space I will have all to my own to create in over the next 3 weeks was so exciting. Olive and I picked up a tasty takeaway lunch at Lizzy’s and grabbed a little extra for later nourishment. We shared tea and stories, it felt like we had known each other for years. On the way, we stopped in to the Chic Boutique and met Mary. She welcomed me with open arms. We chatted and laughed.

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In order to stay awake the rest of the afternoon I decided to do a bit of exploring. Leaving Olive to get work done in the gallery, I set off to soak up the town. Excitement was brewing as this was the day before the amazing Listowel races. I walked down by the race bridge to get a glimpse of the track and some the amusement rides going up on the opposite side of the river. I then made my way down to the river side path. I walked, sketched, and met a a lovely german shepherd who I have now forgotten her name. After the encounter I proceed ed back to the castle wall and past the writers museum. I continued to loop around the town enjoying freshly painted store fronts and noting locations to return.ireland-blog-d1-17
I snuck into the book store down from the gallery and found a handsome anthology of Irish poetry spanning back to 1916. I located a local super market and picked up the essentials, Nutella and coffee.
I returned to the gallery sat in the front window and began to read some poetry. While reading I had the pleasure of meeting Anna and receiving a delightful box of chocolates from THE Mary as she will now be know to me. After Olive headed out I made my way to another grocery store further down the road. My first real shopping experience and I forgot to bring a bag, luckily I had my trusty backpack on it only had a sketchbook and iPad so there was room for the milk, apple juice, frozen berries, turkey slices, cheese. But the paper towels, granola, hummus and beef pies I had to carry in my arms. I am sure there were a few other items slipping my mind and my grip.
I heated up my beef stroganoff acquired earlier at Lizzy’s added a slice of Lynch’s soda bread and ate sitting by the window with a glass of wine from the bottle Diane & Jen had left me. A last it was time to visit the pub. I have been hearing stories of John B Keane’s for months now, but as good as they were, they did not do it justice.
The pub is a magical place still run by the family of John B Keane. The sell his books behind the bar and photos of him, the plays, and the films that made him famous cover the walls. It is inviting. It is homey. Its just a place you want to be. It was early yet so there were only a few patrons present when I was greeted by “MieMie” John’s great-grand daughter behind the bar. I ordered my first Guinness and sat at the bar. Soon I was talking, laughing, and drawing like I belonged there. A new crew soon took over for the young barmaid (see video of them) and the bar began to fill. Before long a older chap in a tweed cap saddled up to the stool beside me informing me it was his spot. For a bulk of the evening Donie sat beside me, every so often tell me tales of his friendship with John B and various other antidotes on life it Ireland. I admit I couldn’t understand “every” word but I enjoyed it immensely  non-the-less. He was the first to treat me to what I would learn the next night is an Irish tradition to not let an artist pay for their drink. Before the leaving, I had the pleasure to meet Billy the current amazing owner, brother to Mr Keane and many other folks. Check out a video of me drawing.
My first night was amazing.
What is so wonderful, is that with each exchange, meeting, and adventure I am bonding not only with my new Irish friends but also with my art crew back home who have traveled a similar road before me.
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