Tuesday, August 3, 2010



Rose of Tralee stoneware clay sculpture

While in Ireland, I was amazed at how many times I heard the song, “The Rose of Tralee.” Even though I remember hearing it often growing up in an ethnic community of Italians, Greeks, Romanians and Irish, it took on new meaning to me as I traveled through the small town of Tralee and heard the story of the song.

Rose of Tralee sculpture viewed from the back

Here is a summary of the story:

There was a girl named Mary O’conner who grew up very poor. She became the housemaid to a rich family and fell in love with one of the sons, William. They loved each other and he asked her to marry him repeatedly but she knew he would grow to resent her because his entire family would not approve of the marriage since they were in a different class.

He wrote a song for her but she still refused to marry him.

The pale moon was rising above the green mountains,
The sun was declining beneath the blue sea,
When I strayed with my love by the pure crystal fountain,
That stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee.

She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me.
Oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

One night, William was with Mary when a friend burst through the door and told William that he was accused of murdering another man at a rally. There was a large reward for his capture. William vowed to come back to Mary and then he fled to India where he lived for six years. Finally, he made it back to Tralee. He was getting ready to find Mary when he looked out of the window and saw a funeral procession going by. It was a very large procession and almost everyone in the town was there. When he asked someone who it was, they told him it was Mary O’Conner. They said she was loved by the entire town because she was such a pure, good person. She never refused anyone of anything. William’s heart was broken. He was completely crushed and mourned her for the rest of his life. William moved to New York and many years later, he finally married and had children but he always held Mary in his heart. When his wife died, he moved back to Tralee and was buried next to Mary in the graveyard in Clogherbrien.

Close-up of preserved flower technique used on cloak

I decided to name my sculpture after Mary. I must tell you about her cloak. I got the inspiration for this from Lynn at Her Creative Spirit. Lynn experimented with waxed paper and preserved flowers after reading about it in one of the craft magazines. She posted the method she used and later showed some of the creations she made. I asked her if it was ok if I borrowed the idea for a cloak I had in mind for a sculpture and she told me to go for it since it wasn’t her idea in the first place. I’m always amazed how we as artists can take a technique we learn and change it into our own visions. Lynn is such an inventive artist. I love the bookmarks that she made with her flowers.

View from the left side

If you are interested in more information about my Rose of Tralee sculpture, you can view her on Etsy, where I have placed her for sale. I take all the major credit cards, paypal or a check.

Marcy, my granddaughter, made this UTube video of the night we went to the pub to hear Sadie and Paddy. Paddy is an Irish tenor and what a voice. I fell in love with the story of “The Rose of Tralee” and now when I hear Paddy sing it, tears come to my eyes. Maybe you would have to have been there, in Ireland, in Tralee to really appreciate it though.

Hope you don’t end up with the song running through your brain the way I have the last several weeks.

Here is a picture from my journey. Perhaps you can use this in your own artwork. It is of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. The wind is fierce and the sea crashes in on the rugged boulders. Nature at it’s finest.

Cliffs of Moher

Marcy at the Cliffs of Moher

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  1. Fantastic sculpture, she is so beautiful and so is her cloak, you have done a wonderful work with all the flowers in it.

  2. She looks so majesty, fantastic art work!
    Hugs Anja

  3. Hi Cheryl:
    I love your sculpture and the photos of the Cliffs of Moher are just breathtaking.

  4. Que maravillosa obra de arte!!!!
    Una escultura preciosa, enhorabuena!!
    besitos ascension

  5. Wow the cliffs of Moher look just stunning. How incredibly lucky for you to have visited there!

    Your 'Rose of tralee' is lovely. Especially her dress just gorgeous.

    <3 M

  6. She is stunning. Gosh Cheryl, you are one prolific artist. I love the story of Mary. Sad, but sweet. I was wondering, do you mind if I download (ie copy and paste) you photo of the cliffs. I could see a collage coming out of that one day. What beautiful formations mother Earth gives to us!

  7. I always loved that story. You did a wonderful and amazing job with your sculpture and the cloak. It's beautiful Cheryl! Yes, Ireland is a wonderful place! Your stories are sure making my feet itch to go back again! LOL

  8. Oh Cheryl, what a beautiful creation! Your works truly take my breath away. I wish my pocketbook was a bit deeper ... but then how would I ever choose??? ~ The story of William and Mary is indeed a sad one, but as in all good stories there is a profound meaning to them ...

    By the way, I want to thank you for the ever so generous comment you left on my last post! And I am so VERY happy you find peace at my special place :)~ Wishing you a blessed and blissful day, my dear!

  9. Love the sculpture and the name is so fitting. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful love story with us.

  10. You have created a wonderful wild Irish rose, she's completely beautiful. On a much baser note - I thought you might appreciate this Irish poem,
    The Mouse on the Bar Room Floor
    Some Guinness was spilled on the bar room floor
    when the pub was shut for the night.
    Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
    and stood in the pale moonlight.
    He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,
    then back on his haunches he sat.
    And all night long you could hear him roar,
    'Bring on the g***m cat!' x

  11. Wow! Your doll is gorgeous, and her cloak made of dried flowers is amazing! I saw Lynn's technique and loved her bookmarks. I'd have never ever thought of using that technique to fashion 'fabric'. Bravo! What a beautiful story, too. And thanks for sharing the awesome photo. Fabulous post! Hugs, Terri xoxo

  12. I'm always moved when I hear that story. I love it and I also love your work. The Rose of Tralee is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

  13. Ohhhh look, I am right after my dear friend Terri :)

    Cheryl, you took this technique to another level and it is soooooooo rich, so much texture in this garment of your sculpture, I am in awe of your creation, you are what I have always called a "true" artist :) Such an inspiration and you have been so lovely to me since we met on my blog, thank you for that. I can't believe you called "me" an artist, that means so much coming from you, thank you :)

    The story of Mary and William has tears in my eyes, what a beautiful, pure love. I wonder, did anyone ever write a book of their love story? I used to read a lot of stories based in Ireland, and England from those days gone by, such tragic stories, but full of love and inspiration.

    Take care, and thanks for another beautiful post.

  14. This is one gorgeous sculpture, and I really love the cloak. I must check out the technique and I so love it when others share freely, too. I can't imagine not doing so myself.

    The picture of those cliffs is haunting. I could actually feel the wind whipping and the mist stinging my face. It was the first time I've been cool all day. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this is the one worth cooling me off on such a hot summer evening. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  15. Your granddaughter is Beauti-Full!
    As is your sculpture.
    Another amazing, inspiring post. I love the preserved flower technique and how you used it in an "oh so cheryl" way :D

  16. Fabulous sculpture , I saw the flowers covered with waxed paper on Lynns blog and I thinks its wonderful how we can take ideas and make them our own, Thats what its all about, learning from each other and sharing what we learn. You took it to a whole new level! What Great inspirtion for your art, you must be staying up all night to create!

  17. Wow - what a post! Where to start with a comment? I love the cloak, it's beautiful and the technique certainly intrigues me! Thanks for sharing your experience, inspiration and tears with us all. :)

  18. Cheryl she is just stunning, I love her copper face.Her cloak is fabulous and so creative. You always give me lots to think about and learn something interesting visiting clever you !!!
    Great posting and artwork,thanks for sharing. Hugs Laura. xoxx

  19. Gorgeous sculpture- I LOVE seeing ways that artists employ unusual techniques into their own work! I've been inspired by Lyn's flowers as well as your encaustic works....we'll see if I ever have time to play around with it:)
    And your grandaughter is beautiful by the way!

  20. She's a gorgeous sculpture! I love the way you used the flowers and explained the inspiration.

  21. I enjoyed this wonderful post not only for your beautiful sculpture but a view into Irish pub life and storytelling- a step back into a simpler time of myth and community. A stunning sculpture to illustrate Cheryl!

  22. WOW - I just marked it as a favorite on Etsy - Cheryl this is an extraordinary sculpture - and the technique you used for the cloth/flowers...just stunning. And what a beautiful story full of inspiration.

  23. Cheryl, your Rose of Tralee piece is beautiful and is based on such a poignantly beautiful story. I was curious about the cloak you made
    and appreciate you sharing how you did it. Amazing effect! Gorgeous!

    One day I would love to visit Ireland. It seems like such an enchanted land. The pics of the cliffs of Moher are magical. I thank you also for sharing the vid of Paddy and Sadie singing the song of Mary!



  24. oh my! I'd heard about the story but never knew the details... the irony of tragedy (if that makes sense:),great inspiration for art but too sad!I love the sculpture! I'll have to check out that flower technique - that cloak is gorgeous!!

  25. Your work is so stunning - I kept looking at all the angles and admiring your talents. Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of the Rose of Tralee. Have a wonderful week ahead.

  26. What a sad story about real love. Your work is again gorgeous!

  27. Your lovely work is a beautiful interpretation of "The Rose Of Tralee"!!Thanks for including the story behind the Rose of Tralee! I have never read that before! Also the picture of the Cliffs of Moher is breathtaking!! Thank you for sharing this picture and the suggestion to use it for art!! I would love to use this image in my work--all I could think of when I saw it was the "Romantic Renaissance" period!I am placing your badge on my sidebar and plan to visit you often! You are esuch an insrpiration!
    Thank you, Kym


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