Author: inesephoto

Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons II

Knockmealdowns

On a cold winter morning, shortly before the sunrise, we are traveling from Newcastle across the eastern part of the Knockmealdowns. The images below show the change of the light as the sun makes its way up in the sky.

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

More sheep.

This road will take you to the Mount Melleray Abbey .   You see it in the distance with the Knocknafallia mountain (666.5 m) in background.

Mount Melleray

In my previous post, I wrote about the other way to cross the Knockmealdowns. What links these two roads? Both of them can lead you to the famous Cats Bar where you can get a nice lunch and spend a good time in the evening. Photographs taken over the years.

cats bar

cat's bar cat's bar

Also, both of them can eventually take you to Lismore, but that’s another story for another time.

Lismore

Thank you for traveling across the Knockmealdown Mountains with me. If you are going to Ireland and travel from Tipperary to Waterford, try these two roads – R668 (R669) and ‘Unnamed’ road from Newcastle, Tipperary.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons I

Last winter I posted Comeragh series to introduce my favorite mountains. Today I am taking you just a couple of miles west to the Knockmealdown range. We will cross Knockmealdown mountains twice – from Clogheen and from Newcastle, in summer and in winter. Today I will also share a few ten years old photographs from my hike across the western part of the range. Good old days 🙂

But first we have to drive through the village of Ardfinnan, and the most famous feature of Ardfinnan is not its castle, but its gaggle of geese. My former colleague, who is originally from Ardfinnan, once told me that it was his great-grandmother who left her geese to the village in the beginning of the 20th century. I cannot tell you how many generations of geese passed since their common ancestors waddled on the banks of River Suir. In winter they fly to the Marlfield lake and return by the end of February. It is a very well organised group, and you can see them crossing the road and walking around as they please.

Young goslings look very cute.

We drive to Clogheen and turn onto the road that takes us to The Vee  (V), a sharp hairpin bend. It is a scenic drive through the forest and the rhododendron bushes, up the side of the Sugar Loaf Hill. The Vee road was built after the Great Famine of 1847.

The Vee

As we are approaching The Vee, suddenly a breathtaking view opens up.

The Vee

Galtee mountains stand at the other end of the Golden Vale.

Patches of farmland change color with the seasons.

I think it is a good time for a good song about Kitty from Knockmealdown 🙂

Even better view after the switchback.

The Vee

The road goes on the side of the Sugar Loaf Hill, a mountain peak with elevation of 663 m. From the road you can see (and easy reach to) a beehive-shaped stone monument, the last resting place of the eccentric Mr Samuel R. Grubb, appointed High Sheriff of Tipperary (1855-1921). Mr Grubb came from a former Quaker family who had been cast out of the Quaker Society for their great fondness for dances and similar amusements. In his will he requested that he be buried “in a beautiful and romantic spot on the side of Sugar Loaf hills“, and his coffin be placed upright.  Tenants and employees of Mr Grubb carried his coffin to the grave.

The sheep are everywhere, adding excitement to the drive.

We stop at the viewpoint above the famous Bay Lough. Knocknalougha (Knockaunabulloga) Hill  is covered with thick rhododendron growth and looks all pink in May. As beautiful as it looks, rhododendron is an alien species, and spreads like a weed.

Why is Bay Lough famous? I will tell you everything in my Halloween post 🙂

The rest of the road looks more or less the same. On some stage the road forks: you can drive straight and visit Cappoquin, or take the right turn to Lismore.

Knockmealdowns

Here are some photographs taken during the epic hike from the Bay Lough car park to Araglin. In the picture below you see the Bianconi hut and the Grotto. The hut served as shelter for Bianconi Coaches, horse-drawn carriages that provided transportation services around the south and south-west just for 1 penny a mile.

bianconi hut

This hike took place ten years ago in September 2007.

Knockmealdowns

The highest peak of the range is Knockmealdown (794m). They say that on a  clear day the highest Kerry mountains can be seen from the summit.

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Through the green tunnel, down the hill we are heading to Lismore. I will write about Lismore some other day.

Knockmealdowns

We have crossed the Knockmealdowns through the Vee Gap that is well seen in my opening picture with the Sugar Loaf on the right and Knocknalougha on the left side. Next time we are going to take the other road, and you will see what the mountains look like in winter.

Thank you for your company!

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Walls 2017 – some more

DANLEO

Dan Leo is one of my favorites. I just love these thick black lines! Unfortunately, I have lost his pictures in an accident, but you can visit his Facebook page. Dan Leo was born in London and moved to Ireland in his youth.

To see more details, you may want to enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.

DANLEO

More birds 🙂 Another favorite from Toronto, Canada. BirdO! You can follow him on Instagram. It is BirdO‘s second time in Waterford, and I am proud that Waterford Walls festival is bringing artists of this caliber to our city.

BIRDO

Just around the corner – Magdalena Karol, Poland. Her girl with the bird house backpack reminds me of Dr. Jack Vallentyne, AKA Johnny Biosphere, whom I met in the 1980s.

magdalena_karol

ARCY, mural artist from the USA, accepted the invitation to participate in Waterford Walls, and I hope he returns to our city again. He includes a hidden Mickey Mouse head in his works for his two young sons to find, and you are welcome to spot one in this work 🙂

ARCY

Kelsey Montague, also from the USA. I love her works, especially the Wings anyone can step into. Hope she will paint a pair of wings for Waterford some day.

kelsey_montague

Talented Spanish artist Lula Goce changed the look of O’Connell street with her gorgeous mural. Working in the rain was challenging, but she did it! 🙂

lula goce

LULA_GOCE

More in O’Connell street. Australian artist Fintan Magee known for his stunning large-scale murals is working on the highest wall available in Waterford 🙂 It is so cool to have his work in our city.

FINTAN_MAGEE

fintan_magee

Fintan Magee

Amazing constellation of street artists at Waterford Walls this summer. DMC  – Dermot McConaghy from Belfast- is back with another beautiful female image.

DMC

Dermot and local photographer Patrick Lyons.

DMC

Taking a look.

DMC

DMC (Dermot McConaghy

Jess Tobin AKA NOVICE, from Dublin, is working in George’s street. Her previous marriage-equality themed work was vandalised in 2015.

NOVICE

NOVICE

Charming Kathrina Rupit – KINMX – from Mexico lives in Dublin. It is her second Waterford Walls festival.

KINMX

Her smile is as beautiful as is her mural.

KINMX_kathrina_rupit

Sadly, the map in my copy of the festival brochure doesn’t exactly help me locate some artists. Hope I will come across their work by accident some day 🙂 Like it happened with this work of Joe Caslin.

joe_caslin

Ta-da! The old painting is still there 🙂

Joe Caslin

Thank you for your interest in Waterford Walls festival. The Harvest Festival is on the way.

You might love to visit Graffiti Lux and Murals blog by Resa McConaghy from Toronto Canada and enjoy the ephemeral art of murals.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Walls 2017

caoilfhionn_hanton

2017 is the third year of Waterford Walls festival. They say there are 40 artists working in the streets, some names are already familiar from the previous years. This year’s festival hosts artists from five continents – Australia, both Americas, Africa and Europe.

In the picture below: Sarah Jane Hanton, Visual media and event manager, and Gabe McGuinness, Assistant project manager.

WATERFORD WALLS

I start with the New Street Gardens, a temporary community park built on the derelict site in 2014. Edel Tobin, founder of the Gardens, is also the founder of the Waterford Walls festival. There is plenty of wall space for artists and their projects. My opening image is the work of Caoilfhionn Hanton, 19 years old artist from Tramore, Waterford. Caoilfhionn is a veteran of Waterford Walls.

(Click on the images to enlarge them if you want to see more details)

These Love Hearts are the work of Kevin Bohan , Ireland.

kevin_bohan

Louise McKenna, Waterford based artist.

louise_mckenna

SHUK , Ireland.

SHUK

ADOR, Fance, and SHUK.

ADOR, SHUK

I am leaving the Gardens and walk up the hill, in direction to the Barrack Street. There I find a few more works.

ADOR, France. The Cloud. I love this character 🙂

ADOR

OMIN, from Dundalk, Ireland.

OMIN

The side wall of Bobby’s Bar is particularly loved by artists. This time there is a stunning work of  SONNY , British born artist based in South Africa. Electric Fury!

SONNY

I turn to the Major’s Walk.

ANIMALITO LAND, brilliant artist Graciela Gonçalves Da Silva from Argentina.

animalito_land

Looking down to Stephen Street I see another work. CRUINNIU WALLS – Louisa Donnelly & Ciara McKenna, Ireland.

CRUINNIU

I walk down the hill again, but cannot get a closer picture because of the parked cars. Next to CRUINNIU’s work, I see the Irish graffiti godfather RASK, from Drogheda, giving a lesson (workshop?) to a lone student.

RASK

There is another work of SHUK in Michael Street.

SHUK

It had been raining almost every day during the festival. Some artists from ‘dry’ countries had a hard time in Waterford helplessly watching paint drip down their works. The artists from the Emerald Island were not bothered.

VERZ, artist based in Belfast, working away in the rain.

verz

verz

I am heading to the Patrick Street where, according to the Festival map, I will find SMUG and FIVE8 working on their projects. No such luck, but I see another artist who has just started working. It is Jonny McKerr, or JMK, from Belfast.

The artist works in a steady pace, regardless of the weather.

JMK

JMK

JMK

This is the final image. Beautiful.

JMK

James Earley’s work still stays unfinished.

james_earley

Thank you for taking the tour around Waterford Walls. You might love to visit Graffiti Lux and Murals blog by Resa McConaghy from Toronto, Canada and enjoy the ephemeral art of murals.

More works in my next blog post.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

SPRAOI – Source to Sea

SPRAOI 2017

As always, the three-days long festival culminates in a spectacular creative parade Sunday night. Every parade has a theme. Source To Sea is the theme for this year’s 25th anniversary Parade. It is all about River Suir.

SPRAOI 2017

I have written about River Suir on many occasions, and I know I will write again :).

River Suir is 185 km ( 115 mi) long with the average flow rate of 76.9 cubic metres per second –  and we love every drop of it! River Suir begins on the slopes of Devil’s Bit Mountain in County Tipperary and flows south to Waterford Harbour where she enters the Atlantic Ocean.

River Suir flows past many castles, and she has witnessed many bloody battles.

Snaking through the countryside, River Suir grows in size and beauty. She is a home to many creatures, real and mystical, and her secrets are well kept, some of them hidden in the thick of her islands.

Here is everything you need to know about River Suir – animals, fowl, fairies and humans living here since the world began.

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

It is literally raining on our parade, but the rain is not going to bring our spirit down.

SPRAOI 2017

Heron is one of my Suir favorites. These birds are perfect for slow shutter speed shots since they can stay motionless for hours. This one has caught a rainbow trout and now is trying to swallow it whole.

heron

Some walking exercises after a great lunch.

heron

They have a heron here too. No fish eating demonstrations though.

SPRAOI 2017

They even have an otter! I don’t have any picture of a live otter…

SPRAOI 2017

Many floats represent fishing.

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

And of course there is a fish. A gigantic Rainbow trout.

SPRAOI 2017

This mechanical swan looks very real.

SPRAOI 2017

swan

An army of dragonflies and their Queen.

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

And of course nothing of this would have happened without 200 artists and volunteers.

SPRAOI 2017

SPRAOI 2017

The Parade ended at a quarter to 11 pm concluded with firework finale which I never take pictures of. Fireworks are for watching.

river suir

Thank you for visiting SPRAOI and River Suir!

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

SPRAOI – 25 years in the streets

SPRAOI 2017

Two years ago I wrote about Musical Nun Ruth antics, last year I was impressed with The Morbid and Sons undertakers street theatre. This summer SPRAOI presented a whole constellation of street performers who demonstrated many talents and successfully had the audience in stitches.

Niamh McGrath and Keith Singleton, the Oh Dears, gave me a tea bag so that I could enjoy a cuppa after all that hard work taking pictures. They were asked for an autograph and no wonder – many people are familiar with the duo and their comedy Looking Deadly.

SPRAOI 2017

Mr. Culbuto, a human tumble toy, was rolling around O’Connel street waiting for someone to play with him. Two nuns (real nuns!) happened to walk by and one of them agreed to hold his hand.

SPRAOI

Naturally, Mr. Culbuto started falling face down.

SPRAOI

The nun was terrified. The audience were amused.

SPRAOI

Mr. Culbuto’s delivery man said it was OK 🙂

SPRAOI

“Ireland’s most lovable idiots”, brothers Seamus and Sean, are always amazing. I watched this show in Clonmel last year, but didn’t mind to watch it again.

Lords of Strut

Lords of Strut

The Lords of Strut Cormac Mohally and Cian Kinsella launched their first gig in 2008. Since then they have traveled around the worlds and even become Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists. They charmed the judges with all that lycra, neon and sparkles, no doubt on that, but also with their dazzling acrobatics and contortion.

As always, Sean gets stuck in contortion ring, but with the help of Seamus he will eventually squeeze his body through.

Lords of Strut

Stellar acrobatic performance on the ladder.

Lords of Strut

“Happy reunion” with the long lost “daddy” Sean found in the audience. It is my favorite part of the show 🙂 As you can see, some spectators laugh to tears.

Lords of Strut

Between the shows, SPRAOI visitors are having a great time this weekend with all the nice weather.

The performers are moving to a different location. Most of them have 2-3 shows every day.

SPRAOI

The Silent Brass Band from The Netherlands marching by.

SPRAOI 2017

True fans gathered around the Georges Court stage.

I see a familiar face. Morbid and Sons undertaker !

SPRAOI

Yet I am told that it is a new comedy show directed by Nicholas Kavanagh – The Foolhardy Three. Lots of music, dance and slapstick, as expected from a good old vaudeville.

SPRAOI

Gareth Jones & Matt Barnard are absolutely brilliant. The Variety Spectacular is a truly spectacular show, a comedy classic full of song, dance, and charm. I loved the use of volunteers – my favorite part of any act 🙂

SPRAOI 2017

And last but not least – Robotic Drum Show. Performer Ulrich Kahlert, Germany.

SPRAOI

SPRAOI

I will write about SPRAOI Grand Parade some other day.

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful week!

SPRAOI – quarter of a century party

Scotch

August Bank holiday weekend in Waterford is better known as The SPRAOI weekend. In 1993, twelve events took place over three days of the festival; this time, 25 years later, the number of events is over 200. I have counted 28 performers, and I will tell about some of them in my next blog, but today I want to write about one of the favorites – a party folk band from Holland, the Scotch. During the three days, they gave eight performances in different venues in Waterford as a part of their Ireland tour that also includes Cork and Ardara, Donegal.

I went to see them in the Palace Square Friday, after dark. I can tell you – these guys know how to put on a show 🙂 Young and old, no one could stay still listening to the lively and infectious rhythms.

Scotch

Scotch

I have questions, and the drummer looks like the right person to start a chat 🙂

Scotch

After an hour the show is over. I enjoyed every minute of it – watching the audience was a bonus 🙂

Scotch

The guys are putting their instruments away, but it is not the end.

Scotch

Their fans want pictures. I take advantage 🙂

Scotch

I guess they will go to their car, eventually, and yes – here comes the drummer 🙂

Scotch

His name is Wouter and he is willing to answer my questions.

Scotch

Scotch is a party folk band, formed in 2003. At that time their shows were more theatrical.

Wouter:  We started out as a punk band with a lot of glam rock inspirations. Went to a more symphonic style wearing all kind of costumes and doing some heavy makeup. The folk style evolved during touring in Germany and Czech as busking became an important part of our travels.

Wouter is doing drums, percussion and vocals.

Sam is the lead vocalist of Scotch, and also the violinist who is responsible for all the dance craze tonight 🙂

Scotch

Wouter and Sam founded Scotch, and Nathan, the guitarist and vocalist, is with the band from the very beginning…

Scotch

… as is the bass guitarist and singer Sjoerd. A lifelong friendship.

Scotch

Jochem joined Scotch in 2007, and he is doing guitar, banjo, melodica and vocals.

Scotch

And Juno is taking videos 🙂

Scotch

The band is known and loved in their native city, Dordrecht which is as old as Waterford. Well, they are loved in Waterford too, and also in Scotland, and many other countries they have toured over the years. They performed at various national art festivals, the Calais refugee camp, and successfully auditioned for Holland’s got Talent.

I hope you can listen to their music here. Just scroll down:

Jean Luc is their third album.

What holds you together for so many years?

Wouter: Friendship is the most important thing in the band. We’ve been playing together for such a long time now. It would be super strange to split up. We enjoy traveling together and meeting people with the music as a kind of super glue.

Scotch

Do you make a living as a band?

Wouter: Nope…

Which is a shame, because they are wonderful and they make a difference. They bring a party to people.

Scotch

I watch all of their performances as it is close to where I live.

Scotch

Sometimes I spot them watching other performers, or taking selfies 🙂

Scotch

Their fans are waiting at the George’s Court stage.

It is a huge crowd here around the main stage of the festival decorated with Waterford colors.

Scotch

From where I stand I can only see a glimpse of Wouter 🙂

Scotch

The following day it is raining heavily, but it doesn’t scare their loyal fans.

Scotch

The ‘orange minions’, the members of the huge group of SPRAOI volunteers, are doing a great job creating a protective shield for the musicians.

Scotch

Scotch

Bring in the party!

Scotch

This is Scotch’s Facebook page   and you can book a party at booking@scotchtheband.com, or let your friends know about them.

Thank you for celebrating SPRAOI milestone! More in my next post.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Mount Congreve gardens – an unexpected run in…

Walled garden is greeting me with all shades of purple.

Mount Congreve Gardens

Mount Congreve Gardens

Numerous fruit trees will bear a bountiful harvest in a month or two.

I admire various espaliers clinging to the walls.

Mount Congreve Gardens

As I cross the walled garden I discover a fragrant rose walk in the middle of it.

Mount Congreve Gardens

Winged thorns are not the only unusual feature of Rosa sericea pteracantha : its flowers have only four petals instead of usual five.

Leaving the walled garden.

Walking around the pond.

Unhurried walk with occasional stops takes me back to the glass house.

Mount Congreve Gardens

More flowers, more colors.

Magnolia Daybreak was planted in memory of Ambrose Congreve by the staff of Mount Congreve. It has beautiful and extremely fragrant pink flowers. There are many magnolias in the garden that bear names of Congreve family members.

Mount Congreve Gardens

On my way to the field where I have parked my car I came across a lawn. I changed my lens to a wider one to take a picture of the tree. From this moment the events started developing rapidly.

I took the picture and next moment a huge, long-legged hare appeared out of the shrubs at the other side of the lawn and started lazily towards me. I stopped breathing for a moment and then began to reattach my 70-200 mm lens. When the lens was finally on I lifted my eyes and almost screamed as the hare was sitting right in front of me, and he was the size of a dog.

Mount Congreve Gardens

I guess he had lost all his senses because of his old age, it is why he almost bumped into me. Startled, he looked at me with crossed eyes.  I didn’t have time to focus and only got these two blurred pictures of him as he darted across the lawn.

I slowly walked to where he entered the shrubs, and there he was, recovering after the scare.

hare

I am glad that I can share this story with you.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend

Mt Congreve gardens in July

Mount Congreve is usually a tranquil place, but not today as hundreds of young treasure hunters and their families have gathered here for an action-packed event. I cannot resist a 99 cone with a flake, and after a short inner debate find myself at the end of a long line.

Mount Congreve

Even the Garda special forces are looking for something delicious.

The cone is gone in a flash, and I don’t feel like looking for any other treasures. I make my way up to The Temple to visit the resting place of Ambrose Congreve, the man who has created this amazing garden on the banks of River Suir.

I get caught in prickly shoots of unknown plant stretched across the path. The leaves look so neat. I wish I knew the name.

I also come across a blooming rhododendron. A late bloomer indeed.

A set of steps takes me to another level.

Blue Hydrangeas are gloving under the dark canopy.

Finally I see the sun again. Love the play of light on the Rhododendron trunks.

This is a cousin of our ordinary Linden ( Lime) tree.  Tilia henryana was named so after the Irish sinologist Augustine Henry who discovered the tree in 1888. Henry was born in Dundee into a family from Co Tyrone.

I am leaving the shady woodland garden to enjoy the bright colors of the walled garden.

I have a love-hate relationship with Dahlias 🙂 My mother used to grow a variety of Dahlias and we had a good few shelves filled with tubers in our cool room. I am absolutely fascinated with the flowers, but the smell of the stems makes me sick. Also, one of my chores was to take care of displays of cut flowers in our house, and I remember being so frustrated that dahlias made the vase water stink just in a couple of hours while the flower itself could last like forever. Still, Dahlia is one of my garden favorites.

Thank you for walking in the garden with me. This visit had a funny ending I will write about next time.

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Islands – All Things Beautiful

As I said in my previous post, to get to the Gannet place we have to first cross the Black-backed gull land. Great Black-backed gull is the largest of the gulls, and is described as a “merciless tyrant”. They can be fierce and aggressive at their nests, but I have no intention to bother them, and I know there are no chicks that early in the year. The gulls are perched on the rocks and become agitated as I get closer. Apparently they don’t understand the message I am sending them with my body language. One of them is trying to attack me. I keep walking and pretend I don’t hear, so he finally leaves me alone and returns to his rock. I turn around and take a picture 🙂 Then I hurry away.

Saltee Island Great

Just before the Cat Cliff comes into sight, I see another Black-backed gull with a tiny crab in its bill.

Black-backed gull

Finally I reach the Cat Cliff. This place always makes me emotional and fills me with reverence for the mystery of life. Beautiful big birds are so vulnerable here keeping the eggs warm, protecting the young.

Saltee Island Great

While climbing down the cliff, I have to pass by a clan of European Shags whose matriarch is an ill-tempered bird that starts hissing way before I come close. This year her young and very shy son finally has his own family. Now there are three nests altogether. I didn’t want to bother the hissing mama and the shy lad, and took a few pictures of the third Shag with two chicks and a Razorbill in background. Shag looks similar to Cormorant, but they are two different birds, easily distinguished from each other: Shag is smaller and has emerald green eyes and green sheen on the feathers. Also the European Shag’s tail has 12 feathers and the Great Cormorant’s 14 feathers. European Shag chicks hatch over a two day interval – it is why one chick looks much bigger than the other.

Saltee Island Great

These two Gannets are familiar to me. Their nests are perched at the very edge of the cliff so I always have to pass by them.

Saltee Island Great

I make myself comfortable on a big flat rock, and when the Gannets take off and land I feel like on Maho beach 😉

gannet

Saltee Island Great

This is not a fight, but an act of affection 🙂

Saltee Island Great

A perfect bird.

Saltee Island Great

Synchronized flight.

Saltee Island Great

Watching gannet landings, I forget about time.

gannet

gannet

gannet

I would sit on that rock and admire the gannets until dark, but it is time to start moving as the boat is back in an hour.

I safely pass the Black-backs territory and stop at the highest point to enjoy the beautiful view. You can see the Little Saltee in background.

Saltee Island Great

I walk through the carpets of blue and white.

And of course, Sea Pink.

Oystercatcher’s loud, panicked voice calls me back from my daydreams.

I take one last glance around. This is the Makestone, the largest islet at the southern side of the Great Saltee.

Makestone Islet

Little Saltee looks close when zoomed out. In fact, the channel between the islands is about a mile wide and 30 f deep.

At this time of the year, puffins spend most of their time at sea. I have only seen four puffins during this trip. They will return later, after we leave the island. I am glad they are safe here.

Saltee Island Great

Saltee Island Great

An Crosan – The Razorbill – will take us back to Kilmore Quay. Two seals bathing in shallow waters are not afraid of Cap’n Declan and his dinghy.

Saltee Island Great

Thank you for visiting, exploring and discovering all things beautiful. Hope you put Saltee Islands in your itinerary for next June.

Saltee Island Great

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Saltee Islands – the colours of May

Kilmore Quay

This time I visited Great Saltee island in May, a month earlier than I usually do.  Kilmore Quay marina is busy as always, and Razorbill, the boat we will travel on, is moored at her usual place near the slipway.

I have a couple of minutes to take a few pictures. Love the name of this fishing boat 🙂 Once again I remember my good intention to purchase myself an inflatable float vest… Next time for sure!

Kilmore quay

The sea is smooth, and our 5 km trip lasts only 15 minutes.

“All people young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the unborn generations to come see and enjoy.”    Michael the First

Great Saltee

Michael the First, then farmer’s son Michael Neale, bought the islands in 1943.

“It was never my intention to make a profit from these islands.  Day visitors are welcome to come and enjoy at no cost.  Bird watchers will always remain welcome.”  Michael the First

From the bird’s view Obelisk is in the shape of the Maltese Cross. Each side of the Obelisk has inscriptions, and on the front, under the image of the Prince, it reads:

“Nothing is impossible to the man who can, will, then do. / This is the only law of success. This monument was erected by Prince Michael the First as a symbol to all children that be hard work, perseverance, their dreams and ambitions  may also be realised”.

Saltee Islands

The Chair, or the Throne, is dedicated to his mother.

” This chair is erected in memory of my mother to whom I made a vow when I was ten years old that one day I would own the Saltee Islands and become the First Prince of the Saltees. Henceforth, my heirs and successors can only proclaim themselves Prince of these Islands by sitting in this chair fully garbed in the robes and crown of the Islands and take the Oath of Succession”. Michael the First

Saltee Islands

The Islands have a long history and they used to be inhabited and farmed. There is a rumor that the Islands were accidentally made by the Devil himself while he was being chased by St Patrick. The evil creature took two handfuls of rocks from the Comeragh Mountains between Lemybrian and Kilmacthomas,  and then dropped them on the run in the Celtic Sea.  St Patrick built a causeway, just a mile from Kilmore Quay, to connect the islands to the mainland. It is dangerous to swim around the St Patrick’s causeway because of the very strong riptides. When the tide is in, the causeway is almost completely submerged. Don’t try to walk in the shallow water – the current is very strong and will sweep you off your feet.

But let’s get to the point. I am here to see the puffins 🙂

Saltee Islands

puffin

puffin

This trip was different, and I only saw four puffins. Every year they return to the same place.

I took off across the island to see the Gannets. The island looks beautiful in May. Bluebells and Sea Campions painted it in blue and white.

Saltee Islands

Saltee Islands

I saw two Eurasian Rock Pipit couples in exactly the same place as the year before.

Saltee Islands

Rock Pipit

I also saw unusually many Cinnabar butterflies, all over the place. On a closer inspection, they were all dead! This one was being consumed by a spider…

The path turned to the edge of the cliff. This is a young Lesser Black-backed gull.

Gracious Guillemots don’t mind posing for a picture.

Guillemot

Saltee Islands

I am approaching the highest point of the island. An almost vertical climb will take me to the land of Great Black-backed gulls. More pictures next week.

Thank you for your company! You are the best.

Saltee Islands

Here you can find some of my previous post about Saltee Islands.

2014, 2015, 2016

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Anne Valley Walk

Anne Valley Trail is one of the overlooked treasures of Waterford county. I have written about the trail before. This is what I found on my last visit.

Rushes were swaying to and fro rustling in the wind, and I noticed a tiny ladybug feasting on something that looked like a caterpillar.

Yellow dung fly sat chilling on the young fern frond. Don’t be misled by the name – adult dung flies spend most of their time hunting small insects in vegetation.

Furled fronds of young ferns look like cute little animals.

This one looks like a furry snake 🙂

Larches sport the most beautiful shade of  green.

I check on every blackbird I see in case it is a Red billed chough. There is a couple of them living in the Anne Valley. I saw one last year, but it quickly disappeared in bushes before I grabbed my camera.

The blackbird is quietly following me as I walk.

Finally he shows himself for long enough to take a picture. Funny, curious bird.

Song Thrush young keep together.

This scared baby is a juvenile Robin. A clumsy dove landed on his tree and he moved closer to where I sit. I feel good 🙂

Warbler ignores me as if I don’t exist.

I took pictures of some simple but beautiful flowers.

This insect is trying to look like a wasp, but it has only one pair of wings and quite a wide waist which gives away its true identity : it is a Syrphid fly.

A group of swans, some of them last year’s cygnets, are floating near the island in the middle of the pond where they will spend the night.

Four ducks, survivors of the family of ten, didn’t want to be photographed.

The swans are finally getting ready for the night, and I am heading home.

One more picture of Foxglove before I drive away.

Thank you for joining me for this walk.

www.inesemjphotography.com  Have a wonderful week ahead!

Mount Congreve Gardens II

Rhododendron

The Gardens are the life work of Mr. Ambrose Congreve. His life was colourful in any sense of the word.

Young Ambrose was sent to school at Eton where he met his roommate and life-long friend Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond spy novels. They both collaborated in the school magazine The Wyvern.

During the World War II, both friends served as intelligence officers. Ambrose Congreve served in Air Intelligence for Plans and in Bomber Command, and later in the Ministry of Supply.

A brilliant businessman, Ambrose Congreve was working for Unilever in England and China, and ran Humphreys & Glasgow firm when he took over from his father-in-law Arthur G. Glasgow (from 1939 to 1983). During this time the workforce increased from less than 100 to more than 3000. Foreseeing the global economic crisis, he sold the company and his holding of stocks and shares in the 1980’s. Much of the proceeds went to charities and literary prizes, the rest was invested in the estate. Wholesale nursery added to the funds necessary to maintain the gardens and house.

Mount Congreve

Liveried servants, fine chefs de cuisine, gorgeous Rolls Royce Phantom V1, collection of the finest items of art… and one of the best gardens of the world that took almost a hundred years to plant.

He employed Albert Roux, the chef who later co-founded Le Gavroche restaurant in London; his Rolls Royce was driven by the Queen Mother’s former chauffeur; his London house in the courtyard of St James’s Palace was next door to Prince Charles; he was a friend of Lionel de Rothschild ( his mentor in gardening), Winston Churchill, and Aristotle Onassis.

His 70 employees gave him a special and thoughtful gift for his 100th birthday – a Wollemi Pine.  

wollemi_pine

In the beginning of April, there are only a few Camellias in bloom .

Camellia

Most of the flowers are laying on the ground at different stages of decay.

The variety and number of Azaleas are overwhelming.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

There are 16 miles of paths in the gardens.

Mount Congreve

Snowy flowers and the bright flame of the new shoots  – Pieris fills up the gaps between the twisted Rhododendron trunks.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

River Suir.

Mount Congreve

Bluebell path.

Mount Congreve

Magnolia walk. There are about 200 tree Magnolias planted by Ambrose Congreve and his long-time head gardener Herman Dool who came from Holland. It was their secret – to plant numerous trees instead of 1-2 to make the garden look so spectacular.

Michael White is the current curator of the Mount Congreve Gardens.

Mount Congreve

Another long-leaved Rhododendron.

Rhododendron

One more Azalea. I have shared just a tiny slice of the collection.

Azalea

Some birds.

Thank you for visiting Mount Congreve Gardens with me. It is sad that we won’t see the tall figure of Mr. Congreve. He and his wife are buried at the temple overlooking River Suir.

wwww.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Mount Congreve Gardens I

Mount Congreve

There are the days when you feel no light at all; when you feel no joy in anything you do; when your hopes are challenged. On such days, you have to unplug from anything that drains you, and focus on anything that feels good. What a better place than a beautiful garden to forget your worries and bring you into balance. Especially if it is a garden where something is always flowering, most of the year.

Situated just minutes drive from Waterford city border, Mount Congreve gardens are one of my favorite places to visit in early spring when Azaleas and Rhododendrons are in bloom. They say that there are more than two thousand Rhododendrons in this collection, and also six hundred Camellias, six hundred conifers, three hundred Japanese cherry and Acer cultivars, and more than a thousand herbaceous plants, including rare fuchsias, begonias, orchids, and almost extinct varieties of cyclamen. Some of these plants are so rare that they have been an object of theft as the thieves take cuttings to grow and sell. The staff presented Ambrose Congreve on his hundredth birthday with a Wollemia, a rare tree that was only known through fossil records, and was discovered in 1994.

Ambrose Congreve died in 2011 at the age of 104. He was inspired to plant a garden when visiting the Rothschild Garden at Exbury in Hampshire, England in 1918. Mount Congreve Gardens won numerous awards, including 13 gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show. Ambrose Congreve died of a heart attack while attending this annual show.

The Congreves had their gardens open to public every Thursday, free of charge. Children under age 12 were not admitted. Currently the Gardens are open from Thursday to Sunday.

Acer

This video that I found in Youtube was filmed  in 2010.

 

 

Skilled and devoted horticultural staff maintain the gardens in perfect form, and also run a wholesale nursery – you can buy a potted plant here. They say that in Mr. Congreve time, music was played in the grounds to entertain the gardeners.

Mount Congreve

Victorian greenhouse produced tropical fruit for the table.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

The 18th century Georgian Mansion was designed by the architect John Roberts who also designed both Cathedrals in Waterford and Moore Hall in Co. Mayo. The house is empty and closed to the public as its content, including the Mount Congreve Library collection assembled in the 18th century, were sold by public auctions  –  Christie’s in London and Mealy’s in Waterford in 2012. Ambrose Congreve left the estate in trust to the Irish State, and the ownership of the house will transfer to the State in 2059.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

The gardens will come under State ownership in 2032.

I attached my car key to show the scale. This is Rhododendron falconeri.

Rhododendron sinogrande

Just cannot stop pressing the shutter 🙂

You can see these Magnolias from the Greenway tracks. I already used these two photographs in my previous posts.

magnolias

magnolias

Chinese Tea House.

Mount Congreve

Wisteria. There are at least fifty of them.

Mount Congreve

In my next blog post I will share more photographs of this early spring walk.

Thank you for bearing with me ❤

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a great week!

The Tower

Curraghmore Tower

This 65 ft round tower was “erected in the year 1785 by George, Earl of Tyrone, to his beloved son, his niece and friend”.

Marcus, the eldest son of 1st Marquess of Waterford was killed while jumping his horse over courtyard paling. He was only twelve. It is difficult to tell who was the niece, since George De La Poer Beresford was the eldest of fifteen children. The friend was Marcus’ French tutor Charles Polier de Bottens who died shortly after the tragic accident.

Over the years, there were people who came to this tower at their darkest moments. It is a mile long walk from the main road. Wish they had turned back.

I pass the entrance to the Curraghmore estate and drive up the hill. Gorgeous pheasant steps out of the grass and walks right in front of my car. I am trying to match the speed of the bird to take pictures.

Curraghmore Tower   Curraghmore Tower

I park and start walking through the conifer forest. The path is quite muddy – timber felling is in progress and the trucks have damaged the road. I turn around the corner. Here used to be Clonegam school, but it was burned down during the Civil War.

The Tower is inspired by the medieval Irish round tower. They say that the walls are about seven feet thick which I cannot confirm. I would rather say that the distance between the walls is about 10 feet. It was intended to build it 120 feet high, but it was left unfinished at the height of 70 feet.

Curraghmore Tower

Hanging around the tower I have a chat with a young man who used to climb to the roof and read books in solitude. Armed with some tips I start climbing the 92 step spiral stairway.

Curraghmore Tower

The door offers some light but further up there is a dark stretch until I reach the first window.

Curraghmore Tower

Curraghmore Tower  Curraghmore Tower

It is how I climb – from window to window.

Curraghmore Tower

Finally I see the sky. On the top there is a flat roof with a hole in the middle and a low parapet with some stones missing. I don’t dare to climb to the roof. The day is very windy so I just stay on the steps and look around.

Curraghmore Tower Curraghmore Tower

I have found a fantastic drone shot by Jamie Malone. It is what the roof looks like.

The view from the Tower is stunning. I see the Curraghmore House and River Suir.

Curraghmore Tower    Curraghmore Tower

This is Croughaun Hill and Comeragh Mountains.

Curraghmore Tower

It is the time to climb down when I realise that it is possible that someone is making their way up right now, oblivious to me being there. I don’t like the thought, but I cannot stay here forever. I start my descent and finally reach the door and quickly get out.

Curraghmore Tower   Curraghmore Tower

There is a loop walk, but I take the same road because I have spotted some photogenic timber. Next time I will visit Curraghmore House and a special historical object that I want to share with you.

Curraghmore Tower Curraghmore Tower Curraghmore Tower

Here are three links to my previous blogs about Clonegam and the De la Poer family that I wrote last year.

https://inesemjphotography.com/2016/10/09/abbeys-and-churches/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2016/10/22/lady-florence-and-clonegam-church/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2016/10/27/circumstance-observes-no-preference/

 

wwww.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!