Talk and demo of artist's work spanning 50 years opens Thursday

A talk and demonstration by artist Roy Lyndsay, who famously sold his ‘Leaving Crosshaven, County Cork’, home of the Royal Yacht Club to former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, takes place in Mullingar Library this Thursday, and again in Athlone Library on Thursday March 30 next.

Roy will demonstrate the creation of some of his best known works, including those captured in his book, The Character of Ireland. The hour-long event is a chance to watch the painter at work, and gain first hand knowledge of how he became a respected artist.

While the event is free, attendees will have to register at each of the libraries, by calling the numbers below.

Roy’s book, The Character of Ireland, is a love story in oil painting to the Emerald Isle, capturing her many facets: the raw beauty of her changing landscape, her sporting prowess, island culture, pub culture, storytelling and traditional music scene.

On Achill, by Roy Lyndsay.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” Roy said, “I’ve been doing it for 50 years now, and it’s been up and down, sometimes I’ve been close to being broke and then suddenly someone will buy a painting and I was alright, but that’s what you’d expect. You don’t go into something like this expecting anything else.”

“There’s 90 paintings in the book, along with some of my poems. I reminisce about the different paintings and places I’ve been, and there’s information on sport – racing, sailing, golfing. There’s lots of pub scenes – I like being in pubs, sometimes I drink too much and I stay too long, but as long as I get a taxi home!”

Roy said he was good at drawing in his early school years, growing up on the borders of Tyrone and Donegal, in Castlederg.

“In primary school I won a prize for a drawing that I’d done, of five boys sitting on top of a tank drinking tea. There was no assembly then, just girls and boys either side of a big long corridor, and they announced my name and there was a big hamper of chocolates as a prize. I had to go up through all these people and collect my basket of chocolates and walk back down again. And by the time I walked back down to where I was, all the chocolates were gone, so I went home crying to my mother.

The Story Teller.

“I met the headmaster years later and he told me that he had instructed the teacher to keep every drawing that I’d done.”

Roy first went into textile design, having been thrown out of secondary school for being your “typical rebel”.

“I was sent to England for three years to train in general management and I got a job in County Cavan as a production manager, but I always loved the art and I didn’t like managing people. You can get qualifications to get you into certain positions but that doesn’t mean to say that you’re any good.

“I actually ended up in Belfast during the Troubles, working in a textile factory, and I sacked six UDA guys one day because they wouldn’t do what they were told. They came into the office the next day with guns and held everybody up, and all these guys who never worked a day in their lives, they were petty criminals really, they’d get protection money for hanging around. Anyway, we had to reinstate the six guys, and when I was going out to my car, these guys would be across the road, so it was time to become an artist and get out of there.”

Brandon Head, Dingle Peninsula.

Roy, with his wife and family, moved to Collinstown, and later Bunbrosna.

“I wanted to try painting and I did. I had a number of galleries, in Monkstown and Newtown Park Avenue, the Lyndsay galleries, they were called. I was commissioned to do a whole series for Aer Lingus in 1984, called the ‘Sport in Ireland’ series. Four paintings every month on Irish sport. In rugby, I had the ability to draw all the players as if I was in the centre of the field, get them in proportion, in my imagination I could see him coming from different directions. In horse racing, I could be seated right in front of the jump as the horses came over, I wasn’t of course – you couldn’t be, but that’s what you have to do if you’re an artist. It’s almost like a dream, I say to myself if I were down there, what would it look like and then I do a sketch.”

His work has taken him to the four corners of the island, The Blaskets, the Curragh, the Atlantic, the Diving Board at Lough Owel and Gunning’s of Rathconrath, the Fisherman’s Bar in Cork, racing in Kerry to Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

Omay Strand, Connemara.

“I’ve lived a good life. I was on these boats – hookers, on the west coast,” said Roy, reminiscing on his ‘Passage to the Islands’ painting. “They’ve no keel on them, they’re meant for carrying turf, and because there’s no keel on them, they have a lot of cement on the bottom. There’s a guy lying across the front and as the wave comes in he lets the sail out. I’m holding on trying to balance the thing, they’re all speaking Irish – I don’t speak Irish because of my history, but they’re all talking to each other. So anyway, this other boat tipped over, and all I saw was the sail coming down. We didn’t have any life jackets, they didn’t believe in them. Anyway the race was cancelled, we rescued the others and we went back to Kinvara, and all I longed for was a big pint of Guinness.

“When you look at Ireland, it’s got a lot of different things going on, it’s got sport, lots of different sports, the pub culture, the island culture. Whenever I’m travelling, I meet people and chat to them, I ask about the history of the place.”

Of his painting ‘Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula’, he said: “There was one man there walking his dog and looking over at the Blasket Islands. I spoke to him and learned that his parents were buried there, but of course they took all the people off the Blaskets. He’d go out every now and then,” said Roy, leafing through his book, lovingly curated and presented. “Then there’s the ‘Reopening of the Royal Canal to Ballynacargy’, Willie Penrose is on one of those boats,” he pointed out.

The Net Mender.

It also features some of Roy’s poetry, ‘As the breeze blew down O’Connell Street, at the Liffey Bridge would find, That old man on his way to stand and leave his dreams behind,” from ‘The Busker’.

“Over the years I’ve always written things, for a long, long time it would come to me about half five in the morning. It was annoying me in a way, because you’d be woken up, and later in the morning, when it was time to get up, I couldn’t remember hardly any of it. So I began putting a piece of paper beside my bed, a lot of nights I’d forget.

“One night I got up and I couldn’t find the paper or the pen, so I went into the bathroom and used toothpaste on my finger and wrote it on the mirror. When I woke up later that morning I scared the life out of myself with this writing, and I couldn’t even make it out. A number of poems are in the book, but I don’t know really who wrote them, I don’t know where the ideas come from,” said Roy, adding that he is currently penning songs.

Looking forward to upcoming events in Mullingar and Athlone libraries, Roy, who used to teach textile design in the College of Art, counting the famous Francis Tansey among his students, said: “I would have built up a lot of techniques in my years of painting, ways of doing things such as not mixing paint on a palette, I mix it on the canvas – I don’t know that many other artists do that. If you mix it on the palette, you could end up with 50 different colours and it’s mind-boggling.

Gannets off the West Coast.

“I get the shape of the thing right first, then you look at where the light is coming from, and then comes the colour and the detail. So I hope to impart some of those techniques on the evening.

The event starts at 6.30pm, and to book your place, contact Mullingar Library on 044 9332161 or Athlone Library on 09064421557.