I found the great somber back wall of Donegal Castle to be more powerful, more graphic, than the more famous front views of the 15th century stronghold of the O'Donnell clan. In 1566 the castle was described by a visiting English Viceroy as "the largest and strongest fortress in all Ireland," but The O'Donnell partially destroyed it in 1607 before fleeing Ireland in the famous "Flight of the Earls." The lands and castle were granted to an English captain, Basil Brooke, who restored and modernized it. The Brooke family owned it for generations before it fell into disrepair in the 18th century, and remained a ruin until the Irish
Government brought it back to life in the 1990s.
Against that fabulous white wall backdrop I decided to paint another handsome survivor, an old birch tree that has taken a licking but keeps on ticking, as can be seen by the new growth at its top-most branches.
The third survivor here is the old discarded heavily carved frame I came across years ago and have kept ever since, waiting for the perfect use for it. The frame had badly warped over the years, and was cracked and the finish was worn, but to me it was another symbol of survival, battered and bruised but still a thing of great beauty. I worked on the frame, even tried weighting it down with stones and soaking it in the shallow lake for two days, and was finally able to straighten it enough so that it could accomodate a stretched canvas.