18th December

The Old Pier, Union Hall

Nestled in a sheltered corner of Glandore Harbour on the spectacular West Cork coast, the fishing village of Union Hall with its multi-coloured terraced houses that line the streets and the one-lane bridge have been immortalised in Sir David Puttnam’s film War of the Buttons, and 300 years before then as a retreat for the Dean of Ireland, Jonathan Swift.

And in the 1900s, the harbour and its pier thrived during the herring season when fish was salted and stored in barrels for export. More recently too its name resonated far beyond these shores when the village was the coordination centre in January 2012 for the search of the fishing vessel Tit Bonhomme and ultimately the recovery of five fishermen.

Review The Old Pier Union Hall

A sense of community prevails, possible because the village essentially is a cu-de-sac with no passing traffic so that everyone is there for a reason – and is not just in a transient moment.

 It is not surprising to learn therefore that the origins of this book of twenty-five different impressions of the same scene using different mediums and styles, is a view from the authors’ garden that frames ‘….the cottage of our good friends and neighbours Maura and Malachy Sherlock, the “old” pier at Keelbeg and Poll Gorm Bridge in the background’.

The origins of the book go back to 1995 when Paul and Aileen Finucane, who have had a house in the village for over thirty years, were in Australia. Friend and artist Harry Sherwin won a scholarship to Europe and for a short while stayed in the Finucane’s cottage.

On his return to Australia he presented them with a small oil painting of a view from their garden. Eleven years later another Australian artist, Murray Edwards, stayed with Paul and Aileen and on his departure presented them with a painting, also of the same scene.

While the compositions were quite different, as were the media used - oil and pastel respectively – ‘the contrast between the two paintings gave us the idea of seeing how some local West Cork artists would interpret the same scene.’

The invited artists are from many places outside Ireland: Australia, England, Hong Kong, Latvia, Scotland, Sweden, USA and Wales.

‘For us both, one of the most rewarding aspects of this project has been the opportunity to meet with and hear something of the extraordinary life stories of many of the contributing artists,’ the authors say.

In the foreword, Edward Walsh recalls his early memories of the harbour when he took his wife-to-be Stephanie to sea for the first time: ‘After bearing west towards Poll Gorm Bridge and past the old Keelbeg pier, we locate our mooring and, as the boat settles in the flow, sit to enjoy the view of the snug and welcoming village of Union Hall.'

He adds his pleasure to learn from the Finucanes ‘of their typically creative plan to commission and publish various renditions of the delightful panorama from their garden over Keelbeg pier towards Poll Gorm Bridge.'

And he pays tribute to Paul and Aileen’s ‘charm, persuasive powers and commitment to the visual arts that such a distinguished group of artists has responded so enthusiastically. It records for posterity individual interpretations of a West Cork view that must have charmed the many who for countless generations have paused on the very spot to enjoy the vista as the eye follows the water upstream, inland and beyond.'

Published by Red Barn Publishing, Skibbereen

ISBN 978-0-9537630-1-6

Available to order from www.madeinwestcork.ie

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