When I was asked to paint An Cloch Mór, or ‘The Big Stone’ as it is known locally, I panicked at the thought of making a huge granite boulder on top of a mountain the subject of a painting. But the client, who had moved to England some time ago, wanted a scene to remind him of home, and it was easy to see why he requested this iconic image with its surrounding views of oak forest, Carlingford Lough and beyond. In fact, it really is a stunning vista from up there.
Located 300 metres above the village of Rostrevor, in County Down, I remember believing the story that it was thrown by Finn Mac Cool during a fight with a Scottish giant. However, geologists explain its presence by suggesting that it was deposited by a glacier during the Ice Age.
The Big Stone was a large feature in my childhood and later youth. When we were very small, my father used to drive us up there at Easter. He would find a whin bush (gorse) and put a handful of the yellow flowers with some hens’ eggs into a saucepan and place it on a camping stove to boil. The whin blossom would colour the eggs, and once cooked, we would roll them down a hill. The winner was the child whose egg was still intact at the bottom — although from memory very few ever were!
In later years, as a teenager, every Easter Monday saw a pilgrimage of young people walk the few miles from Warrenpoint and up through Kilbroney Forest Park to the famous granite boulder. At the top, we would lark about with friends, usually with a beverage (not usually a soft one, I must admit) until sundown.
As an adult, I have taken visiting friends to the spot many times and I never tire of the walk. The area has been declared a National Nature Reserve and an Area of Special Scientific Interest.
My ‘portrait’ of The Big Stone is painted in acrylic on canvas. I hope you like it. 🙂