Recently went for a walk with the family in Gougane Barra. It is the place where the famous River Lee begins its journey into Cork City and the location where St Finbarr built a monastery on the little island situated to the left of the lake. This was constructed during the times of Penal Law. One of the items within this law which was prohibited, was to celebrate Roman Catholic mass. Being so remote meant it was very popular with Irish Catholics who could celebrate mass with possibly less of a fear of being apprehended and punished for doing so.
When people ever visit cork i always say you should take a spin down to Gougan Barra. The scenery is suberb especially on a clear and sunny day. And it is a photographers dream for capturing beautiful shots with so many elements in one place.
What is really interesting is the forest walks. Now being with 6 children there is only so far you can venture. As what is always in the back of your mind when walking with kids is, how far you travel, it seems twice as long on the way back. Everyone is tired, looking for hiddybacks, plasters, water. You swear you were traveling through the Sahara. So taken the short distance we could travel I managed to capture some nice shots on the phone of the walk into the woods. I didn’t take any pictures of the lake or church. As I have done so many times in the past and with the chaos of walking with 6 kids all under 6, you can imagine you are pulled from pillar to post. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the walk as it was a lovely day and they love looking at trees and letting their imagination run riot of bears and wolves in the forest. Now myself and the wife may have had something to do with that, but its all part of exploring the woods as kids.
There are many native species of flaura and fauna and over 20 species of trees. Notably Scots pine, Japanese Larch, Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole Pine. On reading more on the woods i discovered that in 2014 the woods was temporarily closed to allow for the felling of over 16,000 trees mostly larches, infected with or susceptible to Phytophthora ramorum a pathogen responsible for Sudden Oak Death (Thank you wikipedia). Some of which you can see in the below picture.
If you ever manage to get to Cork in the south of Ireland I would definetly recommend a trip to Gougane Barra. I hope you enjoy the pictures of some of the trees and landscape.
I have passed this tree many times on the way to a local nursery and have been meaning to take a photo of it for a while. While out yesterday with my son, i decided to pull in and get a shot of it. Looks like it was taken in the middle of winter not the start of July.
So yesterday myself and the small man decided to go for a spin to our local nursery. He was delighted trying to grab all the shrubs and plants he could. Hes getting a great start. Next stop an apprenticeship in Japan and he can come back and teach me everything he knows 🙂
For all the lads in Cork, and even Munster batten down the hatches. Theres more bad weather coming and its only going to get worse. They were handing out sandbags in the city center today to business’s that will be affected by the flooding over night and tomorrow morning.
The winds were quite strong this evening, and this is a photo 3 hours before high tide tonight.
Even sea lions were enjoying the lovely weather over the past few days in Cork.
Hopefully it wont affect to many people and no one will get hurt. If it keeps going like this Cork could be the new Venice of Ireland. And dont forget, Tie them Bonsai Down.
Well if you havent been keeping up to date with the photographs that have been coming out of Belgium the past few weeks, here is a video of the winning trees from the weekend. All in HD. Thank you Bonsai Paparazzi.
Well Bonsai Christmas in Cork has passed for another few months. All the excitement packed away into the back off Phil’s van back up to Belfast. The build up to this workshop felt like it lasted forever, and of course the weekend just flew. There was so much anticipation on the run up the our workshop it was hard for it not to drag. But the wait was more than worth it.
Ian and Phil drove the long journey down from the Belfast to get us started on Friday night. The lads began with setting up the room with loads of bonsai goodies.
I have put up my own photos taken during the two days, and some from Ian, Ray, and Piotr. Hope ye dont mind lads 🙂
Ian having a quiet moment to himself
Phil sorting the tables
Everything from trees, soil mix, pots, tools, wire and even bonsai magazines.
Then the club assembled for the start of two days of everything bonsai.
I arrived late from work and didnt hear the end of it till i was going home on sat 🙂
What time do you call this?
There was a critique on club members trees and a demonstration on a pine the lads brought down from the north.
Mark and Peter look for styling options with the tree.
After the pine was fully wired by Phil, we were asked for our own interpretation on what way the tree should be styled.
We all got a chance to demonstrate our artistic side and draw what we thought, and stick it in the pot.
Phil goes to work
And shows us multitasking
It turned out everyone had a different interpretation. Even the way the tree ended up none of us had before hand envisaged.
Just to sit there listen was enough. I had a smile on my face that a slap of a pineapple wouldn’t remove. But the second day came where things were getting serious. Where we had to bring our own trees and work on them. This is a great way to learn new techniques and skills that are just difficult to read from a book. At first everyone introduced there tree and gave a brief history on it.
Peters 5 needle pine
Rays Big Pine
Than Ian and Phil looked over it and asked us what we wanted from the tree today. I must say there was such a variation of stuff it was great to get such a vast spread of trees in one room.
After the evaluation we sat at our benches and began to work. What a great experience.
Ian and Mark working on Mark’s Larch
Ray with the pine
Phil just cant wait to bend this beauty
Matt and Peter working hard
Piotr grafting away with his yew
Me with my chopped hinoki
Ray with his pine
Ian and Piotr
I had decided to work on my hinoki cypress which i have been looking at on my bench for two years unknowing what to do with it. It didn’t take long before the lads gave me the encouragment i needed to start cutting.
I cut a branch which i was determining to remove for two years in two seconds.
The lads helped with decision on wiring and Ian got well involved, to the point i thought it was going in the back of the van to belfast as well 🙂 I was so impressed with the finished product. Even though its just the beginning of this trees life as a bonsai.
Some before and afters
Peters 5 needle pine before
Matt’s Lonicera before
My Hinoki Cypress before
Piotr’s Yew before
Ray’s Big Pine after
Mark’s Larch after
Everyone worked on one or more trees that day. And everyone came away with something. I must say i thought it was a great two days,and i must say a massive thank you to Ian and Phil for the long journey, and all the help and advice over the two days. Well done lads, you have just helped the bonsai addiction reach epidemic proportions for us down here in the Munster Bonsai Club.
For the last two years I have been engaged in Bonsai, I have wondered why there is such a lack of Interest in relation to Bonsai on the Emerald Isle. I was confused when i discovered the amount of clubs in our neighboring United Kingdom and yet we had not a single club in The Republic of Ireland.
You see when I got bitten by the bug, i looked for anything in relation at all to bonsai here in Ireland. I was expecting shops, nurseries, clubs and societies. But with all my enthusiasm I was left as a spectator to nurseries, workshops, club meets and more just across the narrow Irish Sea. All I could find was the cheap mass produced stuff in Tesco and a few local garden centers. So why the big difference?
Has it something to do with demographics? The fact the population is much greater? No I cant imagine that being the reason there is no club in the South of Ireland. Tenerife has quite a large bonsai community and has less than 1 million inhabitants. So it must have nothing to do with Population. Are we Irish just cautious of anything that originates from outside the Island? Quite possible, but why since the spread of the art form from east to west the past century has bonsai been so poorly received in this country? I thought Mr Miyagi would have been a good ambasador. But even Mr Miyagi himself couldn’t spread bonsai like it is in Great Britain. That’s not to say there is no love of bonsai in Ireland, quite the contrary.
When i did a bit of research, I discovered there was a Bonsai Shop in PowersCourt Shopping Center, Dublin. Worth a visit as there is no other shop in the country dedicated solely to Bonsai. On more investigation I discovered there was an Irish web page named bonsai.ie. Bonsai.ie is mainly dedicated to Japanese Culture, but had quite a good few articles and contacts regarding Bonsai in Ireland. The man behind Bonsai.ie Paul Masterson put me in contact with many people around the country who were interested in bonsai. And he continues to be a great ambassador for spreading the art of bonsai around the country. But what I really wanted I suppose was a club, shop or nursery in Cork or somewhere close. I know you might say I’m asking a lot. But then again am I really asking to much?
I then realised there was a bonsai Scene in Ireland. It might be 400 km away but there was a place that had regular club meets, workshops and enthusiasts. I couldn’t believe it. Again there was a club but quite a journey to make the meets. I watched the videos that Ian uploaded to youtube of workshops and Bonsai schools with Peter Snart from Willowbog Bonsai. I thought that NIBS was brilliant and wished we had something like this down south. Here is quite an interesting video on the history of The Northern Ireland Bonsai Society.
I remember being in Venice on my Honeymoon a year and a half ago sitting inside a internet cafe, checking my emails to see had any more people contacted me in relation to starting up a bonsai club. Myself and Piotr met this summer discussing plans to get something off the ground. We both started blogs, to further the attention bonsai may receive in Ireland. And to great extent it helped to gain momentum in laying a foundation. The blog helped me not only to get in contact with other bonsai enthusiasts but also to keep my motivation to gain knowledge and constantly learn.
A couple of months ago I posted a link from Bonsai Empire, showing a map of Bonsai Interest worldwide. And to no surprise The Republic of Ireland showed to have no interest on the map. Here it is below.
But only recently I have looked back at the website,and there has been an updated version of the map. And now Ireland is in the shaded. I thought this Indicated that Bonsai Interest had risen in our country. But it turns out its by continent. Still though its good to see us in the shaded area 🙂 oh what pleases me.
Well even though it might just be by continent I believe we deserve some shade in the next update. Partially due to the fact e we have started to get the ball rolling in the south. With the help of Ian from the Northern Ireland Bonsai Society, Paul Masterson from Bonsai.ie, and myself and Piotr down in Cork. In September the Munster Bonsai Club was initiated
We have people travelling from all over Munster to the club meetings. All the contacts that have been floating around the past few years have finally come together to create something. Something which hopefully in 20 years can have the experience of the NIBS. Something that will be a foundation to build on for the rest of the country.
Only last Month the Bonsai Ireland Hub was set up by Paul Masterson. It is a base for the whole country to discuss everything bonsai.
From the four corners of Ireland there are enthusiasts, waiting for a club to begin in their own region. There has been people coming out of the woodwork the past few months that have been involved with Bonsai for 20 years. Like Mark in Cork, who was part of the original Cork Bonsai Club, which we didn’t even know existed. Here i have been searching for people the past two years and this gentleman only live ten minutes from my house and has a vast collection of bonsai. In two weeks we have our First workshop thanks to Ian and Philip from NIBS. In the space of a few months we have come along way.
So the conclusion I come to regarding the interest of bonsai in Ireland I believe comes down to one thing. Spreading the Art of Bonsai. After World War 2, if bonsai did not spread to the western world, its popularity in Europe, Asia, and even America wouldn’t be what it is today. We probably wouldn’t be speaking about this topic right now. It all comes down to word of mouth, shows, bonsai clubs, societies, advertising on and off the web and just causing a fuss about bonsai. Our sister club NIBS started the ball rolling in the North and we hope to continue that passion in the South. We have a lot more work to catch up with the UK in terms of accessibility to clubs, nurseries and workshops. But with the right communication and organising we can put Ireland even more on the Bonsai Map.
Heres looking forward to what 2014 has to offer and what we have to offer Ireland in regards of Bonsai 😉
Well this year like any year had its ups and downs. But this was a great year where the ups surpassed the downs. There were new people brought in to the world and many left. There were many smiles and laughs, even though sometimes accompanied by tears. My family this year not only increased in numbers but changed for the foreseeable future.
Early on in the year my Wife and I discovered we were expecting our first child for October. That 9 months couldn’t have went fast enough (although my wife might disagree there 🙂 ) Within the 9 months we had many great days and nights awaiting the arrival of our son.
Here he is at 3 months
In April Brad our family Dog at home died at the age of 15.
Within the 9 months waiting for the baby I tried to keep myself occupied with bonsai and photography. With the photography I went out many times with a friends of mine Dave Linehan and Stephen Hackett. Dave Showing us the ropes :).
Blue Bells at Ballyannan Woods.
Carol and the Bump, Ballycotton
There are loads of photos from this year but probably already uploaded. But when the summer came so did the good weather. And my Pool 🙂
During the Year I was trying to establish contacts in Cork and the surrounding areas. I had many contacts with people up the country but not so many in Cork. Of course Ian http://bonsaieejit.com/ in the North was more than encouraging in the area of spreading the love of Bonsai in the south :). He helped very much with putting me in contact with more people around the country and laid the foundation for a club to be built on.
Early on in the Year I met with Piotr http://twinsratbonsai.wordpress.com/ and we discussed how we could reach out to the people of munster who love bonsai to form a club.We took the summer planning and discussing Bonsai. Piotr set up a blog and then I followed suit. Hoping to get more people involved. And slowly but surely we did. We gathered a lot of interest and made new friends. And since we had a number of people from munster who were interested, and we formed the Munster Bonsai Club.
In September we had our first meeting.
And on the third friday of every month the club has met. Now since then i was not able to go as our little man came in to the world on the 4th of October. And that was the focus of my attention for the last 3 months.
It was the most amazing Experience of my life. Watching Noah come in to this world. What a gift. After he was born it was discovered he had pneumonia. We had to stay in the Neonatal Unit for a week. It was some experience. I must say the nurses and doctors that work there really have a calling. During our stay which was quite emotional at the start turned out to be a great experience as we met many wonderful parents and Noah made some new friends.
The Day he was Born
In the Neonatal
And Noah now.
Now since the Birth of Noah, he has kept us on our toes. But every morning waking up to see his smile is worth every scare and sleepless night.
In January Munster Bonsai Club will have its first workshop. Being headed by Ian Young and Phil Donnelly. This I cant wait for.
Anyway this has been an amazing year, and hopefully 2014 will be the same. I just want to wish everyone that checks and follows my blog A Very Happy New Year.