Cill Rialaig artist retreat, a restored famine village on the edge of the Atlantic in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry offers a unique environment for artists in search of peace, space and solitude. I was very fortunate to be awarded a residency here in the winter of 2009 and again in the summer of 2010, resulting in an exhibition in the Origin Gallery, Dublin. I was deeply honoured to have my favourite Irish traditional singer and musician Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh of Altan open the show. This is the music that surrounds and inspires me while I paint, stirring, settling, soothing and uplifting, it evokes a deep sense of connection and belonging.
Time spent at Cill Rialaig is truly a “time apart”
The rush and distraction of daily life falls away, to be replaced by a gentle immersion in light, space and peace. Here I lift my eyes to a limitless sky, the ocean stretches to an infinite horizon, and the ever changing weather moves in from the sea bringing rain and sun and the full spectrum of light and mood, colour and energy. Time slows down, and I measure my days to a new and natural rhythm.
Waking with the first light streaming through the tiny loft window of my cottage studio, walking up Bolus Head past fields of sheep, rushing streams and ancient standing stones, scrambling on the rocky outcrops of Valentia Island to the rhythm and roar of thundering waves, and painting in the cottage studio at night, deep peace, a turf fire aglow, music of Altan filling the room.
This is what Cill Rialaig offers me, peace and space and a quiet time to be with myself and my art. A filling of the well of the spirit. Mostly my art is about joy. The pure joy of being fully alive in the world, immersed in the vital energies of wind and water, sea and sky. In Cill Rialaig I discover how deeply connected we are to our past and a sense too of a deeper belonging, in tune with the rhythm of the tides and the turning of the seasons.