week 22: Padraig McCaul

The Art

“Waiting Under Minaun” © Padraig McCaul
100 x 80cms Oil on Canvas ( SOLD)
Twitter: @pmccaulArtist

"Waiting Under Minaun" Padraig McCaul

“Waiting Under Minaun” Padraig McCaul

The Music

“Under Minaun” (5:17 mins) © Helen Davey
(for x5 voices, garklein recorder, lap harp, frame drum and accordion)

Artist notes

Padraig McCaul

This painting is one my own personal favourites. It is based on an old farmhouse in Keel, Achill, which looks out over the Minaun Cliffs. The light in Achill changes every minute of the day and you could paint the Minaun Cliffs every day and make a new, fresh painting of it. They are dramatic cliffs that meet the end of Keel beach and close in the bay.

What I tried to get across in the painting is not the scene or the picture, but that feeling of going for a walk at 6am on a summer morning, when the haze and the light can make the colours look so unreal, when there is hardly a sound and hardly a breeze.

Memorial for the victims of the Clew Bay Drowning on 15 June 1894 at Kildavenet Graveyard, Achill Island. Image by The Banner.

Memorial for the victims of the Clew Bay Drowning on 15 June 1894 at Kildavenet Graveyard, Achill Island. Image by The Banner.


My Music

I was so drawn to Padraig’s colours and the details that he doesn’t include in his artworks. During our discussion, he said he feels that old houses have earned a right to be a part of the landscape. I tend to agree.

Describing Padraig’s windowless houses, Jan Erik Rekdal wrote “… For us they are embedded with layers of time and lives past…”

Researching some of the history of this rugged, majestic island, I was struck by the hardship the communities of Achill Island must have faced as I read about their migration, political issues and famine.

I was thinking about all that this old house must have witnessed, including a tragic seafaring incident – the Clew Bay Drowning in 1894 . The names of those 32 young people and some Gaelic have found their way into my sound-painting.


Lap harp, frame drum, garklein (tiny recorder) & accordion

Lap harp, frame drum, garklein (tiny recorder) & accordion

Amidst my naive associations of Ireland, is the hauntingly beautiful folk music that seems to mirror the enchanting landscape. Looking at Padraig’s painting, I hear those landscapes with their lilting harmonies singing stories in a captivating language that I don’t understand.

My little Celtic collection of instruments is the closest I can get to the timbres I hear in my mind: fife and drum, reed and harp. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the Atlantic ocean “breathing” through my accordion.

oooops! 3 broken harp strings in one afternoon!

oooops! 3 broken harp strings in one afternoon!









I’d love to hear what YOU hear/see in the artwork via the comments section below;  Please feel free to share this around to anyone interested in art & music via the little icons below.

Thanks for  wandering by.

6 comments to week 22: Padraig McCaul

  • Thank you Helen for creating such a beautiful piece of music, it is the perfect musical response and I feel privileged that my painting has been the source of inspiration for it.

  • Silvia

    Oh, Helen, I LOVE this painting (thank you, Padraig, for this wonderful piece of art !) and I certainly LOVE the piece of music you composed as an answer to it! You captured not only the atmosphere of the house, the cliffs, the grassy ground and the light, but also the gentle part of the Irish spirit, of the Irish soul (there is, of course, another part too, which can be quite rough and belongs to the Irish as well !). Both, painting and music, make me feel so homesick, having lived in Ireland for half a year (way back !!) and returned for several journeys since. GREAT!
    Swiss greetings! Silvia

    • Silvia, I’m flattered that this piece makes you homesick.ONe of these days I look forward to very much to visiting Ireland to see and hear and feel the beauty there.

  • Somehow missed this one when it was brand new. Seems somehow quintessential. More than just the pop Celtic we are used to in the States, this feels heartful and appropriate to the strong color and sense of place in the painting, too.

    • Bronle, I got lost in this one for many, many hours. Something about the Celtic thing that carries me far away… I’m really touched by your compliments, Thank you so much.

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