A propos of nothing

It is 34 degrees here in Luxembourg. I went to the shopping centre this morning and engaged in bold shopping but at least the clothes I bought are suitable for work. I pretty much expected to spend the afternoon drawing. I have digital stuff lined up to do and I skipped yesterday on a daily sketch project. I also had a load of art supplies to find homes for as I have bought a load of mechanical pencils lately (mostly Pilot and Pentel it seems). I panic buy these things because a few years ago it really nearly failed me to find a 0.3mm mechanical pencil (eventually Kennedy Art). You can buy them in the central Railway station here in Lux and as for what turns up in the run up to the Rentrée (ie, the kids are going on holidays, let’s make them really happy by pointing out all the lovely stuff they have to buy for going back to school in mid September), well it beggers belief. I do not need any ore 0.3mm pencils or, indeed 0.2 mm pencils but I could draw a lot more rabbits and squirrels given Fur Was the Reason.

But the drawing never happened and I’ve only just unpacked the new stationery, never mind the new clothes. My life on twitter went a bit crazy today. The emergency services in Ireland posted aerial photographs of Bray Head in Wicklow. Various elements of them do so every once in a while, and the pictures are beautiful.

Bray Head, however, is an ugly burned out mess following a gorse fire a few weeks ago. It was a huge fire and it cleared all before it. What was underneath was an EIRE stone sign, along with the number 8.

I have a special interest in those signs. About 7 years ago I spent a whack of my time poring over aerial photographs trying to identify what signs were left and, how many were built and with the information I got, I built a website and a map. People brought me information and occasionally sent me photographs. Via information from pilots doing aerial surveys now and again, I learned some sites had 2 signs, for example. It was fascinating and fun, and at a point, I figured I had probably found what ones were likely to turn up. Two, I think, were likely to be still available under gorse but I didn’t expect that to clear any time soon. Neither of them was Bray Head in Wicklow. I had spent hours combing photographs looking for the slightest sign and nothing. At a certain point, the information on the site stopped needing to be updated quite so often; occasionally people let me know if one was renovated and occasionally I got photographs sent to me. I honestly didn’t expect to see any more signs turn up and in that I was wrong.

The photographs of Bray Head are exceptional. The number is still intact. For a sign which hasn’t seen the light of day in years, it is in remarkably good condition. Elements of the frame are still in place. The initial letter E is a bit less healthy looking but in general, compared to the condition of a lot of the signs when I started looking for them, it looks really well.  The shape of the letters if fantastic. I’m really, really excited by this news.

Very few of the signs on the east coast survived – there is some of Howth Head in place apparently but I couldn’t locate it for sure, and there are remnants of the sign around the lighthouse in Wicklow Head too. It’s possible that a few more which have sunk might be more obvious if you knew where to look in light of the recent drought. I’ve been told that the sign in Clogherhead is still there, under the gorse there but I haven’t found it.

The map has been updated to include Bray Head, and I know from social media that discussions are ongoing now amongst people who have an interest in restoring the sign. That pleases me. But the result of this news story is that my online life went a little busier than is usually the case. My site got cited by a bunch of media sites which I didn’t expect.

While we’re at it, the Independent mentioned the site a few months ago as well.