It’s been a long time since I rock ‘n’ scrolled……..

Hello there,

Well I hope Led Zeppelin don’t mind me mincing their words, but yes its been a long time since I blogged. I remember saying in a previous blog post sometime last year that I was going to run the Dublin City Marathon and yes my dream has almost become a reality. Cycling will always be my no. 1 sport but a few Kilkenny Park runs to shed an extra few pounds and a few duathlons later to stay in touch with the bike I’m well and truly hooked on the running. But, as a newbie runner (whats the Fred equivalent in running?) I’ve succumbed to a few injuries in 2 short years, dodgy knees (I blame age and genes), shin splints (too much too soon and bad bio-mechanics and those extra pesky lbs). So, with a course of prescribed anti-inflammatories and almost 4 weeks of complete rest duly (impatiently) taken plus the introduction of core exercises like planking, press-ups and all sorts of mad yoga workouts later I’m back in the mix. Being a women of competitive nature I am looking to hit a time of 3 hrs 30 mins (I know, a bit ambitious) on this my maiden voyage of 26.2 miles around my hometown. Sure, isn’t Dublin so much flatter than South County Carlow and this is of course is my mantra. I’m using an 8 min mile training programme and the first 2 of the 3 pages have been vandalised front and back with my scribbles of paces and times and calculations of expectations.  When, I finally reach the last page I will feel relieved as it contains the last fortnight of training. During my peak week of training I hit almost 70km and my longest individual run was 34k along the fabulous Barrow line and my sore legs greatly benefited from a quick dip in the cold Barrow river to soothe out those lactic acid filled muscles.

Quick dip in the Barrow
Soothing the legs in the cool river Barrow after 34k run on the towpath (Placebo effect? Maybe!)

Taper (reduction in mileage) is on now and so I am feeling the excitement and anticipation build inside me. Family & friends’ eyes glaze over in unison when I mention with childlike enthusiasm the dreaded “M” word…….These are the moments when I’m glad to a member of Gowran Athletic Club, where the “M” word is greeted with equal enthusiasm and always a coach on hand with great advice to dispense. The marathon word is now well and truly part of my family’s vocabulary,  where it is not unusual to hear my kids utter “how many “Ks” have you to run on Sunday Mam?” or the Hubby’s duty becomes water & fuel gel supplier on the long runs, where his concerned words of “are you feeling ok?” as I slog on by, is met by a dagger look which says “what do you bleeping think?!” but is vocalised between gasps for air as “Yeah, (pant and throw another one in to earn extra empathy) I’m grand!”.  So, while the marathon word has been bandied about the house my 10-year-old daughter Abbie got busy creating a wonderful poster to display from somewhere on the route during the DCM. I hope “Rocket Rachel” doesn’t let her down!

“ROCKET RACHEL” Thanks Abbie, I’ll take that as a compliment;)

With the intensity of training my creativity has taken a different slant and I was delighted to use fantastic photos taken by a friend of mine, fellow cyclist Ken from the Maye cycling dynasty and Rapparee Bike frame builders extraordinaire. Ken is not only a great cyclist but has become an accomplished diver and his photos are taken from a vantage point that only a man with waterproof camera adorned in a wet suit and snorkel could achieve. So, while driving into Kilkenny via the beautiful village of Gowran this afternoon I passed the lovely Glasrai and Goodies shop and what did I spot parked outside only a vintage (I remember that bike when it was new!) Rapparee road bike painted in the distinctive green, red and white colours of Clonard Road Club. Ah, yes the very man I wanted to credit for the use of his wonderful photos had to be inside there, drinking perhaps a cafe con leche or just a cuppa tay. What a small world we live in! So I had great satisfaction creating some new work from Ken’s wonderful images. They are painted in acrylic on canvas and both depict scenes from the rugged County Wexford coastline featuring the famous almost 800 year old Hook Head Lighthouse, which holds the title of the oldest operational lighthouse in the world! The first painting “Reflections of Hook” as seen below portrays the imposing black and white structure

By Rachel O'Hara
“Reflections of Hook” (Acrylic on canvas-size 45.5 x 15.5cm)

with its mirrored image broken in the seaweed strewn shallow rock pools, by contrast my second painting “Rising tide at Hook” depicts the might of the sea, with the ebb and flow & the swell of the water. The whitewash of the Lighthouse is transformed into gold from the setting evening Sun.

Rising tide at Hook Head, Acrylic on canvas 40 x 30cm
“Rising tide at Hook Head” (Acrylic on canvas-size 40 x 30cm)

I’m fascinated at how one subject like Hook Lighthouse can be depicted in such different ways not just by a different artist but by the natural light and time of day and year.  Can you feel the heat of a Summer’s day or the cold of the damp Autumnal wind by studying an image such as these? Or do you just like the colours or the composition, answers wouldn’t fit on a small postcard because no two people can get exactly the same out of one painting. As they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

If you are interested in enquiring about prices of purchasing any of my paintings or indeed commissioning me to paint a favourite scene for you please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m a trader with the Borris Food and Craft Market in the Town hall, Borris, Co. Carlow every Friday from 9.30am -1.30pm and my work can also be found on my drawntosport facebook page, also My phone my number is +353 (0) 87 6397210 and email address is

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back soon!



Sometimes you just need a little bit of divine inspiration…

I was racking my brain all week, wondering what am I going to write about this Thursday, which is my official blogging day. Luckily, I stumbled across a title from a blog called “Running: An aid to the creative process?” by Running blogger David Hindley. So, after reading his interesting post I put my runners on and set off this morning in the drizzling rain for a long, slow run. Snail city eat your heart out. While I plodded along for 12k, the right hemisphere of my brain fought with the left. The latter winning as my mind conducted an arithmetic class. To start I wondered how many strides was I was turning over? 180 per minute being the ideal number apparently. I’ve come the conclusion that when I count, I tend to do it in an infantile fashion. As when I reach the next set of tens just like this sixty-six, sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-ninnnnnne..pregnant pause….seventy! in the meantime I’ve missed the last 2 or 3 strides! Then I have to start all over again! While glancing down at my Garmin, checking my pace, pulse and working out how fast I hope to run my first marathon (Dublin 2015, there I’ve said it) The grey matter becomes a bargaining space, by the end of my run, my imaginary marathon finish time is half an hour slower than I was predicting at the start of my run!

So, this evening as I finished off a landscape painting in my studio of the beautiful town of Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny, I still hadn’t decided what to write. I glanced over at a shelf and noticed a copy of a pen and ink drawing I had done many years ago. 20 to be exact. The picture was done from a photo of my late buddy Dave Garland who passed away nearly a year and a half ago. Anyone involved with Irish cycling in the 80s and 90s and later again would have heard of Dave. Another Northside Dubliner who resettled in rural Ireland. He was one of the stalwarts of Dublin Wheelers Cycling Club. Not only was Dave a talented rider, he was also a brilliant masseur who support many Irish International cycling teams on races abroad. When it came to work he was a gifted stone mason and gardener. But,  most importantly at home he was a loving husband to Louise and fun-loving, caring Daddy to Maud and Ella. He was taken from us way too soon and will remain in all our hearts forever.

Dave Garland
Dave Garland racing in the 80s for the Dublin Wheelers CC

So, I do feel I got a bit of divine inspiration this evening from Dave. This drawing was done in graphic pen and ink. Using fine lines, cross hatching and other methods to build up the picture. Black and white can be very effective in conveying an atmosphere and perhaps it adds a vintage feeling to the image. It is one way of drawing that I really love. It can be a rather slow process but there is often a very rewarding result at the end. Dave is wearing a “hairnet” which was the old name for the helmets of the time, made from strips of leather.

1960s racing helmet

Underneath the hairnet he wears in a backwards fashion a cotton cycling cap or casquette as the French call it. The gear shifting levers which are visible on the downtube of the frame where to be later replaced by the more anatomically efficient STI (Shimano Total Integration) levers which would be combined with the braking system.

sti levers
STI Levers

Woolly jerseys, shorts and gloves that he wears have been replaced by lightweight fabrics that are now made with modern technologies that are more efficient and comfortable. Toe straps were replaced with clipless pedals and steel frames with alloys, titanium and carbon. It is incredible to look back and see that despite how dated the gear and bikes are, in current times the look is classy and would be considered trendy and “retro” now.

So thanks Dave, I dedicate this short blog post to you, also my late Fiancee John Sweeney and good friend Stephen Byrne. Three late great Dublin Wheelers. Gone but always loved and never forgotten. Rachel