Festive Cork - My Big Surprise!

Festive Cork - My Big Surprise!

The season of hot toddies and bobble hats is almost upon us. Although, for me, Christmas preparations began way back in May, when John Dolan, the editor of the Holly Bough popped by my home to discuss the art work for the front cover of this year's festive magazine. A very very exciting time for me and this little business and for my family also. It was hard keeping it a secret for so long.

We chatted through some ideas and chose my signature higgledy-piggledy style with a festive feel for good measure. I illustrated over 30 well known buildings and landmarks. Towering into the snowy, wintry skies are the spires and towers of Cork's iconic buildings such as St Fin Barre's Cathedral, St Francis Church, and Shandon Bells. Have a closer look at the clock face on the four faced liar, did you clock it's telling the wrong time? 

I photographed each building for reference and sketched on site. The illustrations were then created on paper in my little home studio with watercolour pencils before scanning and collaging them together in Procreate to create the final festive scene. I will share a reel of the entire process so you can have a little peek at that.

Photographs of the illustration process.

The magic of the city at Christmas holds a special place in my heart. I have very fond memories of being in the thick of the hustle and bustle of the English Market on Christmas Eve, where my mum, Mary, would buy spiced beef, a pure Cork tradition. We also used to pop into Roches to get a few last minute bits. 

Photograph of the illustration being finalised 

My grandmother, Peggy, spent a lot of time visiting relations, who had a sweet shop on Dunbar Street. This area of Cork is really special to me, particularly South Chapel. Pinocchio’s is one of the most magical and loved shops in the city and holds a lot of dear memories for many people. Fiadh adores this little shop, full of character and charm. I included Sutton Buildings, as that was where my dad, Jerry, grew up. He often brought us there as children. The tree of remembrance is also featured and is special for so many people. Growing up we played Christmas concerts in the City Hall with Ballincollig Concert Band which always started the festivities. As part of illustrating the cover and the launch we got to meet the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, which was really special. 

Photographed with Cllr. Kieran McCarthy,  Grainne McGuinness, editor of the Echo, John Dolan, editor of the Holly Bough and my parents Mary and Jerry Foley, and Fiadh. 



Photograph of the cover reveal with John Dolan, Editor of the Holly Bough.

We grew up with the Holly Bough in our home and I always loved the cover and the cover reveal is really exciting. Illustrating the cover is something I will cherish. 

Now to get cracking on the Diffney quiz, one of my favourite Christmas pastimes. 

I want to sincerely thank John Dolan and all the Holly Bough team for this wonderful opportunity to illustrate this year's cover. 

I hope the illustration brings a sense of nostalgia and joy for all the Holly Bough readers.

Merry Christmas and don't forget to get your copy of the Holly Bough. 

Fiona x

Photograph of a copy of the Holly Bough





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