Laurence O'Toole

Objects & Paintings

Ireland of the Faeries  —  1996-2002


And Living in the Idyllic Nature.

I had travelled over to Dublin in my early years with my father, a Dubliner from City Quay to visit his “ma”. This had ceased with her passing from this world. It was not until 1988 when a friend of mine moved over to County Cork did I think of returning to Ireland again. When I went over it was as if life had gone through a complete cycle, I sensed an affinity to the land and I knew that one day I would live in rural Ireland. In 1995 my good friend Ted offered me the opportunity to look after the old house whilst he was up in Limerick for a year on an organic horticulture course. I took him up on the offer even though everything was going very well in Birmingham with my work as a Public Artist and with the yoga classes I was teaching. I had however enough of living in a city. I had been living in Birmingham since my return to Britain from Israel and Holland and I had never really wanted to live in a city (Amsterdam was the one exception). Some aspects of the city life had been conducive such as family and friends and earning a livelihood but the down side for me was the noise, pollution and dysfunctionality that can accompany large swaths of humanity living in close proximity. Although Birmingham has some attractive parks near to where I was living at the time in Moseley, I did always miss the close attendance of Nature in its more raw element.

This situation was promptly addressed when I moved to Ireland in October 95. It was indeed another reality. In the three acres of land on the side of the hill around the old farmhouse Ted had been busy growing and planting of trees. The idylls of living in such a wonderful place were tempered to some degree by the simple amenities that the house had to offer. There was no running water, it had to be collected from the famous well but there was by this time a small hut toilet situated a little way from the house. In the winter the old range in the kitchen kept me busy, cutting and chopping timber. The front room that was normally used for storage I turned into a studio although it was like an ice box in winter, in fact the whole damp house was like an ice box with the exception of the kitchen. There was no insulation whatsoever in the house and many of the old windows no longer fitted in their frames. It left me wondering sometimes at night whether it was windier in my bedroom than outside. Living in the idylls of Nature came with its price. I was living as people had lived in generations before, washing and keeping clean with buckets of water heated on the range. Every aspect of everyday living was labour intensive. This was my new reality.

Where do we go from here (part 2)

Regardless of all the new household chores that demanded daily attention I soon set about creative activities and in 96 undertook a further series of Tondos for Coseley Station Project and a few paintings. I found however that I lacked any real drive or commitment. Up until 1991 I had been driven relentlessly, there was never any shortage of ideas. Now however I found I lacked a direction for my artwork. Partly this was due to the fact that before leaving Birmingham I had started playing the guitar again and subsequently started composing songs. This process was to blossom in Ireland. The other creative aspect that was about to be revived after many years was the written word. My long conversations with Ted were to give birth to The Ted Stories. Many of the songs and stories on this site came about during my years in Ireland.

There was one more element that was to take a huge amount of creative and physical energy and time in Ireland, the Rialt na Gcroi Project, the building work went on for years. Subsequently the artwork that I undertook whilst in Ireland was once again eclectic and on a much smaller scale. It was the Rialt na Gcroi Project together with music and story writing that were predominate.


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