A river steamer meets an arriving sailing brig in this high skied and inviting work by William Coulter. Coulter, the renown San Francisco maritime artist, was born in Ireland, and sailed home on at least two different occasions. Here, he is in Dublin Bay, a port bordered on three sides by her city on the east coast inlet of the Irish Sea, created by the convergence of the Rivers Liffey, Dodder and Tolka.
The sidewheel steamer, possibly carrying a pilot, is the traditional workhorse of the United Kingdom’s waterways. Their iron-and-steel shipbuilding industry was established in the foundries long before American industry tried to catch up. A smaller cutter comes toward the slow coasting brig that is attending to the small rowed craft of men departing. The Howth Peninsula marks the harbor’s northern point, with its elevated hill and small island outcropping, Howth Head, where today stands the Baily Lighthouse.
The “Emerald Isle” lives up to its name in this fine painting, as Coulter puts a sparkle in the water that he would have a hard time finding a match for in the cold Pacific off San Francisco. The shallows of Dublin, although beautiful, are notorious for their hidden rocks and shifting sandbars, and even veteran skippers would need the local pilots to stay clear of them all. In a ironic twist, the Irish name is derived from “Dubh Linn”, or “Black Lake”, undoubtably driven from the difficulty in navigation and the dangerous Irish Sea when a easterly wind prevails.
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