Priest’s Path – Oil Painting

Priest's Path

Priest’s Path

In Ireland the Penal Laws were a series of laws imposed by Britain to force the Catholic population to accept the reformed Christian faith, the Protestant Church of Ireland. This resulted in the suppression of Catholic Church practices including the celebration of Mass. Priests became fugitives but continued to minister to their flock.

It was a complicated situation as many Catholic aristocratic families in Ireland and the rest of the Britain supported the monarchy and had done so from before the English Civil War, when the monarchy was abolished. The monarchy was later reinstated and although Protestant, was still supported by the Catholic aristocracy. Many great houses of the time, in Ireland and England, had elaborate hiding places for visiting priests.

In poorer areas priests hid in inaccessible mountainous or wooded areas. Local legend has it that this island, in the centre of Kilberry Bog, Derryvullagh Island, was one such hiding place. A secret path through the treacherous bogland was known to the locals and it was here a priest would be safe. Most of the Penal Laws were repealed by the late 18th century, the last in 1920 with the ‘Government of Ireland Act’.

A few places remain where one can imagine the bogland as it was then, before drainage and the harvesting of peat. In this painting I was trying to convey a safe refuge in a dangerous place.

The base layer is Alkyd fast drying oil colour. After an hour I switched to traditional oil colours. Recent posts explained my reasoning for this change of paint type. There was a stage when both Alkyd and standard oils were used together. In these mixes I made sure the two paint types were well blended together in case I got a layer of quick drying paint lying on top of a slow drying layer. The manufacturers of Alkyd paint (Windsor & Newton) stress the importance of this as a quick drying layer would seal off the supply of oxygen and retard the drying of the under layer.

I will post the video in a few days. See you then.