Northern Ireland

Posted by Ellen

In 1775,  a Scotch-Irish gentleman named James Stuart planted about a hundred and fifty beech trees to dramatize the driveway leading up to Gracehill, his new estate in County Antrim, in the far north of Northern Ireland. 

Over the years, the trees have grown together over the road, creating the Dark Hedges, an often-photographed tree-tunnel landscape recently featured in the HBO series Game of Thrones. The eighteenth-century driveway is now a public street, Brogagh Road; what's left of the Gracehill estate is now an eighteen-hole golf course. The Stuarts mostly emigrated to Canada.

James Pion, a wedding photographer from Gainesville, Florida, caught this early-morning view.

Posted by Ellen

Avram Dimitrscu's father was a musician in a Romanian concert band, behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s, the band toured western Europe, including the Channel Islands, where Avram's mother, a native of Belfast, Northern Island, was working at a resort hotel. They fell in love, and when it came time for the band to return to Romania, she helped him hide and eventually defect.. Avram was born on the Isle of Jersey and raised in Belfast. His parents ran a catering business until the 1990s, when travel to Romania became possible. Then they bought a truck and began operating a charity, collecting donations of food, clothing, and everything else, and driving all the way across Europe every month or so to deliver the contributions to Romanians in need.

Avram grew up during the troubles in Northern Ireland, in a Catholic part of town, and enrolled as an art student at the University of Belfast. He worked at a McDonald's near campus during the school year but spent his summers abroad, in Maine, where he worked as a camp counselor at a boys' camp. It was there that he met fellow-counselor John Stein. Avram and John traveled together, and Avram spent time in Alabama with all the Steins--always with his sketchbook in hand. Eventually, he married an American woman and moved to the town of Alpine, in the Big Bend area of extreme west Texas. He paints, illustrates, teaches art, runs the Dimitrescu Gallery, and surely still keeps his sketchbook close at hand.

This is his "Tiny Chicken #8."