Author: inesephoto

Durrow viaduct after the sunset

robin

I put up this blog post on March 27, almost two months later than the other Greenway posts. I knew that one beautiful stretch was left unexplored, and it was bugging me. That day I was feeling unwell and decided to do something silly – like leaving home shortly before the sunset and heading west. When I turned towards Stradbally, to my surprise the road was busy as never before. At the Greenway car park two uniformed men were trying to regulate the traffic. What could have happened on the quiet country road? Trucks, buses – why they were there? I checked the news and learned that a small airplane crashed 200m off the Cork road, and the traffic was diverted.

I parked and walked into the sunset. Cheerful little Robin, painted pink by the setting sun, greeted me with his song.

Waterford Greenway

Soon I reached the old Durrow/Stradbally station, now a home to a noisy family of Jackdaws, and probably, some ghosts.

Waterford greenway

There I also found a model of a tunnel we will visit next week.

Waterford Greenway

As I kept walking, the beautiful golden light painted the evening.

Waterford Greenway

It started getting darker. Telephone pole from my childhood emerged from the bushes.

Waterford Greenway

Finally I stood on the top of a little brother of the Kilmacthomas Viaduct – the seven arch Durrow Viaduct built in 1878.

Durrow Viaduct

It doesn’t look impressive – just another bridge.

Durrow Viaduct

As the sun went down I had to hurry back. I wanted to take a picture of the viaduct from the road beneath.

The sun set the sky on fire one more time.

I stop to take a picture of an old shed that looks quite spectacular. In the 1940’s- 1950’s the shed used to be a dance hall run by Willie Cronin, and later it was a carpenter’s workshop.

The hawthorn trees don’t look friendly in twilight.

Finally I drove to the viaduct, parked next to someone’s driveway, and walked towards the sound of gurgling stream. A special thing about this viaduct is that it spans a road, a river, and a bridge across the river.

durrow viaduct

River Tay, squeezed between the rivers Mahon and Dalligan, is rushing to the Celtic Sea and joins the big waters in Stradbally Cove. I got a word that raw sewage flows into the river in Stradbally. I still love the Cove and think that it is a great place to visit, but I never take my shoes off when walking in the sand.

Blue twilight and slow shutter speed add a bit of mystery.

river tay

I finished photographing the river and turned back. My initial plan was to walk to the other side and check out an abandoned house I spotted from the top of the viaduct, but after seeing the evil-looking tree peeking from behind the stone pillar, I thought I was fine and ready to run back to my car, asap.

Durrow Viaduct

My last blog post about the Waterford Greenway is out next weekend.

inesemjphotography Be well!

Waterford Greenway: Kilmacthomas Viaduct

Kilmacthomas

We skip 13 km of railway  between Kilmeadan station and Kilmacthomas  –  I hope to return there later when I am in a better form.

My car is parked in the Old Workhouse car park. The Workhouse buildings are very interesting and full of history. I probably have to write about this place again some day. Actually, you have already been there, visiting Marlfield Birds of Prey 🙂 You can also hire a bike there, and I think there is a restaurant too.

Leaving the car park, we approach the Kilmacthomas crossing. There was never a bridge before. The footbridge was put in place overnight in July 201 – a mighty and beautiful structure weighing 50 tonnes.

Waterford Greenway

Kilmacthomas Railway Station.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Village of Kilmacthomas under our feet.

Waterford Greenway

One of the most spectacular structures of the Greenway is a curved eight-arch railway viaduct that was built in 1873 and spans the River Mahon at the height of almost 100 f.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Lovely smiling couple gave me permission to take their picture.

Some views from the viaduct. I just love to stand there and look around.

Waterford Greenway

River Mahon has powered two mills since the late 1700’s. The Flahavan family are running a mill and an oat flaking facility. Flahavans Porridge and other products are the local favorites.

Kilmacthomas Viaduct

The path goes through the woodland.

Here and there you can see the remains of old railway infrastructure.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Croughaun Hill on our right. The pictures were taken in early February, on a dull gray day. No decent view of the Comeraghs this time. The path goes to Durrow, our next destination.

Waterford Greenway

On the way back, I take a picture of a pigeon on the roof beneath the path.

After crossing the N25 again, we explore the Kilmeadan stretch of the former railway – before it gets too dark.

Old Semaphore Signal overtaken by Nature.

Waterford Greenway

Evening fog starts to settle down.

kilmacthomas

Very suspiciously looking Hawthorn trees must be full of lurking fairies. Time to walk back.

The Hawthorn trees are already stretching their branches towards me, but fortunately a lone cyclist scares them away.

I wonder what the Greenway looks like in complete darkness.

Waterford Greenway

Durrow Viaduct is our next destination. Thank you for walking along with me.


To the blogging community: Thank you for all your support. I will post another two scheduled Greenway blogs, and after that I will rewind a few of my old posts until I am back on track in June xx

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: Kilmeadan

Waterford Greenway

There might be some truth in that Carriganore myth about the hidden treasures because the end of the rainbow is right there by the river bank. We leave the rainbow behind and resume our walk to Kilmeadan station.

River Suir makes a sharp bend. The pink froth you see among the trees on the other side of the bend are Magnolias from the Mount Congreve gardens, in some 15 minutes walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

But first we walk through the Magic Wood where Fairies and Leprechauns live happily together 🙂

There is a whole city in the trees with lovely little houses, ladders and bridges. It is well hidden in the summer but now the fairies are in the open, and have to pretend that they are not real, otherwise the passers-by will annoy them with questions. I would advise you to make a wish as you pass by without disturbing the fairies. I made a mistake of entering the Woods for these pictures. When I climbed down to the road, I heard a sound of breaking plastic in my pocket. I was terrified, I thought it was my car key, but it was only a plastic barcode tag from the Applegreen petrol station. I have a spare one, but the fact is that I had it for years, and it broke exactly when I was exiting the Fairy Wood. Did I get a warning from the Fairies? Just don’t tell me it was a coincidence 😉

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Finally we reach the Mount Congreve garden wall. The gardens are massive – 70 acres of planted woodland and 4 acres of walled garden with impressive 16 km long net of paths.  They say it will be possible to enter the Gardens from the Greenway: for this purpose there is a long platform under construction. I don’t know why people would go to the Gardens from the Greenway if there is a main entrance, but may be someone will.

There are many different magnolia trees that you can see from the railway.

Some of them are very high.

Beautiful huge petals cover the path. I took a double exposure picture of one adorned with the dew.

Kilmeadan Castle stands by the River Suir junction with a tributary, on the site that was granted to the Power family (le Poers) in 1307 but was apparently destroyed during Cromwell invasion. I wrote about the Power family in my blog about Dunhill castle which they also owned.

This structure was built on the foundation of the old castle later in the 17th-18th century. The site looked different then, beautifully landscaped, surrounded with plantations of timber trees, canals and gardens.

Waterford Greenway

Bridge across the tributary, still in the process of reconstruction.

Waterford Greenway

A closer view. You can see the ruins of the Courtyard. The structure that looks like a tower is not actually a tower anymore – just two walls with a gap between them.

Waterford Greenway

The railway tracks take us further to our destination – Kilmeadan station.

Waterford Greenway

Two roads cross the railway over the old stone bridges.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Finally we reached Kilmeadan. Here is some useful information if you want to take a ride.  The photographs in their website were taken before the construction of The Greenway, and there is a sad but necessary change of scenery since the jungle has been cleared to accomodate the cyclists. I don’t know if it makes me happy though. Too many species of birds lost their habitats and were scared away.

Kilmeadan station was closed to passengers in 1967 and beautifully restored by Suir Valley Railway  Heritage group 35 years later. A Simplex locomotive pulls two open carriages travelling at a grand speed of 15 km/ hour. Enough to enjoy the ride.

Railway carriage serves as a ticket office and shop. There are indoor tables and a picnic area. The railway tracks don’t go any further.

Waterford Greenway

This is where we finish our walk. Next time I will drive you to Kilmacthomas to visit a very exciting stretch of the Greenway. Thank you for walking with me. Stay fit! 😉


To the blogging community – thank you for your patience, I will catch up next week.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: River Suir

Walking downhill to the tunnel I heard familiar gentle, somewhat melancholic whistles. My heart skipped a beat  – Bullfinches! First time this year! I looked around and saw three birds, two males and a female, quite afar, and in the blinding sunlight. I took pictures, and stood there with a huge smile on my face. I so love these birds, their stocky bodies and unhurried manners. They don’t have the cheerful voice and funny curiosity of Robins, but their quiet presence is so soothing and comfortable 🙂

We meet again and resume our walk along the River Suir. This tunnel was built under the bypass to facilitate the railway. Notice the combination of a steep downhill gradient and a sharp curve.

Donovan tunnel

Dan Donovan supervised the laying of this railway track.

A look back at the River Suir Bridge.

Waterford Greenway

Beautiful views on the both sides of the track – lush green countryside and tranquil River Suir, charming at any season of the year.

Gorse bushes are in bloom and smell like honey.

This is one of the sharpest curves on the line.

Waterford Greenway

Here the cycling path deviates from the railway track. I walked both.

It was fun walking on the tracks between the river and the thick wild growth of brambles, thorny bushes and reed grass. I felt like I was cut off from the rest of the world.

Waterford Greenway

Dry yesteryear reed grass was making calming rustling sounds – actually there were no other sounds, and I didn’t see any birds.

The reed grass jungle looks more beautiful in winter than in summer, especially when it is bending in the wind and has that silvery silky look.

I took some double exposure photographs – one of dandelions…

… and one of a wild plum blossoms.

Looking at the new growth I thought about the wildlife in the area. These gentle weeds that are poking through the track bed will grow and obstruct the path. Will the maintenance team use herbicides? My thoughts went to the little Robin.

Another  look back. The buildings in the background belong to the new campus of Waterford IT. The campus is situated on the banks of the River Suir in Woodstown and Carriganore, or Stone of Gold in Irish. Woodstown is the site where numerous Viking era artifacts were found when the area was inspected before building the motorway. There were no indications that the Woodstown site could have any historical importance, but there has always been a myth  that Carriganore was the place where the merchants of Waterford buried their treasures hiding them from Cromwell. Finally, 39 test trenches were excavated in Carriganore in 2007 but nothing significant was found, only a few pieces of broken pottery ( 19th-20th century).

On the right side of the tracks there are old lime kilns. When putting up this blog I realised that I have never taken a single picture of them, because they just look boring, and they are also obstructed with some construction materials. You see many lime kilns when you travel around Ireland. The practice of burning lime was very common in the last century. The lime was used as fertiliser. The wood for fuel was brought from across the river by boat.

I have got a word that there is a Barn owl living in the kilns. I am not sure whether it is still living there with all these construction works, cyclists and dogs.

Waterford Greenway

This is where I parked my car. Next week we will resume our walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for joining me for this walk.

Due to special circumstances, I am closing comments on this post and also on some of my future posts. I am very sorry and hope you will bear with me ❤

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: do it the green way

I absolutely believe that every child should have the experience of riding a train. I don’t remember my first train ride. I was only two weeks old then. The trains have changed a lot since, and most of the railways have been closed.

The first public railway in Ireland was opened in 1834 between Dublin and Kingstown ( now Dún Laoghaire ) despite local opposition. The railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan was built in the 1870’s to link up with the Lismore and Mallow railway. The stations along the route were Kilmeadan, Kilmacthomas and Durrow. It was a very expensive line to be built at the time, with a 418 feet long tunnel, three stone viaducts, two causeways, a number of bridges and three road crossings. The railway line was officially opened in August 1878 with the first train departing Waterford at 10.10.

The first pedal-driven bicycle arrived to Ireland in the 1860’s. It was heavy and uncomfortable, and didn’t impress most of the population. The things changed in the 1880’s with the introduction of the chain-driven bicycle and Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres. Cycling became a part of the everyday modern life, however the ladies wearing trousers caused quite a stir and often faced verbal abuse.

St Patrick's Parade

The Waterford-Dungarvan railway line was closed in the 1960’s as part of a major program of line closures. The last passenger train left Dungarvan for Roscrea in 1967. The tracks were removed in the 1990’s, but later Kilmeadan-Waterford section of the route was leased to the Suir Valley Railway group, and the tracks were restored. The Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage route was opened to the public in 2004. The route operates from April to September, and also during Christmas holidays, midterm etc. At the same time, a Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan section of the railway was developed as a walkway/cycle path.

Some facts and anecdotes from the Waterford railway history can be found in this link.

Railways are declining. Cyclists are thriving 🙂

St Patrick's Parade

In 2013, the Deise Greenway group handed over 7000 signatures of support to the Mayor of Waterford County and the Major of Waterford City for the Greenway bicycle route  to be developed in the place of the disused railway line from Waterford to Dungarvan. In 2014 the project was approved.

 

Complete route has been launched today, yet construction works are still in progress. I have walked the Greenway on many occasions, and decided to put up four blog posts with photographs from different sections, so that you know how many photo opportunities the route can offer 🙂 These are all early spring pictures.

We start the route from Gracedieu, Waterford.

waterford

Waterford Greenway

The most beautiful feature on this stretch of the road is the Red Iron Bridge.

Red Iron Bridge

The bridge was constructed in 1906 to link the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry as a route for ‘boat trains’ and faster transatlantic mail delivery. Local children used to walk across the bridge to get a can of coke from a shop on the other side. It was a beautiful nine span bridge with the central span opening  for shipping. It still has its control cabin from where powerful hydraulic mechanisms were operated to lift and lover the central span.

Red iron bridge

red iron bridge

Now the central span is removed and the bridge looks gap-toothed…

The bridge has always attracted the local youth. To get to the bridge you have to walk a muddy path. If you walk off the path you step on a wobbly surface that used to be a local kids favorite fun.  It is quite scary, but probably exciting for the kids to walk on the wobbling ground ( I did it). Teenagers used to come here and drink some beer. I don’t know if someone is still coming here, I have to go and check out. This photograph was taken in 2005.

On the opposite side of the river there is a group of derelict buildings and abandoned boats. It was a busy area in years gone by.

Newrath

waterford

Newrath

We keep walking along the Greenway path ( watch for the dog poop) and leave the Red Iron Bridge behind. I always hope to see birds, and lucky me – there is a Robin.

robin

The Robin is inspecting the cracks in the wooden sleepers.

robin

His body language is so cute 🙂

robin

robin

After a quiet conversation with a neighbor they both take off.

robin

Another landmark is The River Suir Bridge – a cable stayed bridge with a length of 475 m (1558 f)  that was opened in 2009. I drove over this bridge twice with no reason, just for fun. This bridge has the same purpose as the abandoned railway – to connect the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry.

Waterford Bridge

Waterford Bridge

On the opposite side there is a green field, tangled brambles, ferns and ivies. I imagine how beautiful this all looks in summer.

I love the silhouettes of dry plants still standing as if there was no winter.

This walk took one hour. There is a tunnel around the bend, and next week we will start from there.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Three years and counting

St Patrick's Parade

I will begin this blog post with one of the most anticipated public events that took place today. Here are some pictures from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Waterford. The day was quite gray, but all these beautiful people made it shine.

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

St Patrick's Parade

Another important event is my third blogoversary :). Thank you my dear blogger friends for inspiration, motivation and encouragement during these three years, and for everything I have learned from you.

I use this occasion to share my portraits created by my blogger friends. I know it sounds like I have a diva complex or something, but I do love the portraits, and I also want you to visit and follow these bloggers.

This one is from my beautiful friend Rose. I love to see myself on this paper airplane that also looks like a rocket. Future, here I come! 🙂 Thank you Rose!

This one is from Michael. Thank you for for loving the foxes! 🙂

I had dreamed about blogging, but didn’t have courage to go live. I used to have a silent photography page in 2004, but soon joined Panoramio and it took all my spare time. Three years ago this February I finally went live with ten blog posts related to baby and children photography that I deleted soon afterwards, because of the spam attack issue. Advice for the new bloggers #1: Akismet only stops spam, but cannot stop the spammers from linking to your blog. Check your Spam messages to identify what post or image the spammer has linked to – it is in the column “In response to”. If it is an image, delete it, upload the same image and post it again (URL will be different and the spammer will lose the link). If it is a post that is really heavy spammed ( especially from the certain websites), you can either delete it, or redo it in the same way as the photograph. If your blog is constantly targeted, close comments on your posts that are more than 3-6 month old. If you do all of this, your spam folder will be much lighter, and you will get rid of the most malignant spammers.

Another thing I had to figure out, was my Gravatar page. Advice #2 –  if you want your followers to pay their due visits to your blog, give them a chance, make sure that your Profile image is linked to your current blog page, and your Gravatar page is also linked to your current blog. I have a handful of followers who visit my page but I have never visited them in return because I am not able to. So sorry, but there is nothing I can do.

Now you probably started to wonder, why I am giving advice that nobody asked me for. It is because I have got an award with two questions attached to it:

1 Share an experience that got you started blogging

2 Share a word of advice for fellow bloggers

This is The Blogger Recognition Award from Dwight Roth of Roth Poetry blog.

blogger-recognition-award

I am really grateful for this recognition, and happy that there are people who like my blog. To tell the truth, it is all recognition I need.

You can check out Dwight’s  books on Amazon.


I have got another award from Nilla of Image Earth Travel . Thank you so much Nilla for Sunshine Blogger Award you find me worthy of 🙂 Nilla has been traveling the world for many years, and she doesn’t treat awards lightly 🙂 Here is a page of her photography awards. You can click on each link and see her award winning images.

sunshine blogger award

Here are the questions I am supposed to answer:

  1. Why did you start a blog ? – I wanted to share my memories of beautiful things and places. I did it on Panoramio but got really annoyed by those who used my photographs without permission.  My latest find  –  a website named POINTERST  is using my Panoramio photographs under Marsel Van Oosten’s name. What can I say? I am honored 😉
  2. What amazing countries have you seen? – Not many countries, but each was amazing.
  3. Why do you travel? – I travel to meet people I love and to see places I have read about.
  4. Who has been your biggest inspiration in your life and why? – My biggest inspiration has always been my Dad, and of course many famous people made a huge impact on my life, like Ray Bradbury, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Henri Cartier-Bresson.
  5. What’s the wildest thing you have ever experienced? –  I think the worst was in the 1970s when my best friend and I agreed to take a ride in a small airplane with a guy who had been showing off to impress us. He flew the airplane in a very dangerous manner, to say the least. We were so mad at him, that we left the airplane in silence and never spoke to him again.
  6. What would be your dream job? – I have quite a few such jobs in mind, but none of them would pay my bills 😉
  7. Your favorite read? – any well written book.
  8. The scariest moment in your life? –  The scariest moment is when your loved one’s life is in danger.  This story  might be the one.
  9. Your deepest regret? – I have a few, but it has no point to focus on the past when there is a better future ahead 🙂
  10. The most memorable experience in your life? – I presume, it is about a good experience. Here is one of the latest. We were traveling by train, and there was an accident. My daughter was the only medical professional at the scene, and she made me proud beyond measure by her actions and ability to control the situation. She was a star. I hope she won’t read this 🙂

There are three more awards – I didn’t do the awards for about a year or so.

Gillian from Talking Thailand blog nominated me for The Creative Blogger Award. Thank you so much, Gillian! My award is your friendship 🙂 Please check out Gillian’s book. She lives in Thailand and has every bit of information you might need for your travels.

creative blogger award


Mythology expert Aquileana nominated me for Treasure Trove Award. Aquileana is blogging many years, possibly ten 🙂 She is a very supportive person. Thank you dear Aquileana, there are many treasures found on your blog.

treasure-trove-award


The most recent nomination is from one of my favorite authors, Millie Thom. Millie had a number of awards to choose from, and I like her idea to give a choice to the nominees. I chose The Black Cat Blue Sea Award, because I love cats 🙂 Thank you so much, Millie!

the-black-cat-blue-sea-award-badge

Check out Millie’s books on Amazon.


These are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Nominate 10-15 bloggers (or as many as you can) for the award.

I will use Millie’s strategy. There is a list of my nominees. You can choose the award you like, because I don’t know which awards you already have 🙂 You can also choose more than one. Please answer questions about yourself as I did ( these are Nilla’s questions), and if you are Award Free blog, fair enough 🙂 Thank you and happy blogging!

http://www.almostunsalvageable.com/

https://mithaimumblezz.wordpress.com/

https://secretartexpedition.wordpress.com/

https://teagansbooks.com/

https://mythsofthemirror.com/

https://kevinhotter.com/

https://haddonmusings.com/

https://poetrummager.wordpress.com/

https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/

http://talkingthailand.co.uk/

https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/

https://knittingwithheart.wordpress.com/

http://zoale.com/blog/

Jean Lee

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

https://aquileana.wordpress.com/

https://graffitiluxandmurals.com/

https://caroleecroft.wordpress.com/blog/

https://moodphototeija.wordpress.com/

https://nananoyz5forme.com/

https://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/

https://milliethom.wordpress.com/

https://arcillayfuego.wordpress.com/

There are many more great bloggers I would love to add to the list, but I know for sure that their blogs are award-free.


Now I officially announce Making Memories an award free blog.  I will figure out some other way to promote my favorite bloggers, but I really, really have no time for doing awards anymore. I hope you will understand. Thank you again for all the nominations, and for our friendship!

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Creatures great and small

Reptile Zoo

In this blog I only want to add some more pictures from The National Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

2016-12-28-2-003

Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

 

Here are three monochrome images just to show the beautiful texture of reptile skin.

 

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

Unfortunately I won’t be online most of this week. Happy St Patrick’s Day next Friday! 😉

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Philip and the National Reptile Zoo

With St Patrick’s Day nearing, I though I would share a reptile-related post, just to be fair to the expelled snakes and to let you know that some of them have repatriated back to Ireland.

This is my beautiful green buddy Philip. He hatched out in the end of 2007, and this picture was taken in 2010. He is a Water Dragon.

Shortly after he was adopted, his parents went for holidays and left him with me. He was as big as a pencil. Every morning he would stand on his hind legs in his terrarium and look at me. He knew the ritual. I would pick him up, hold him to my face, and go to bed again for another ten minutes, talking to him and kissing his little head. Then he would go back to his terrarium until evening.

He was a different shade of green at that time.

I didn’t see him for another few years. Things happen, and in 2013 Philip’s parents separated. He was 6 year old, about 3 feet long, and lived in a 5 x 9 feet terrarium by then. There was no one ready to commit to having him. They had to make a heartbreaking decision to give Philip away. The only reasonable place for him to stay would be a zoo, but first he had to endure a 6 month long quarantine in the Reptile Village in Gowran, Co Kilkenny. Herpetologist and Director of the Reptile Village James Hennessy picked him up. He said that they already had a male Water Dragon, but the Dublin Zoo would be happy to take Philip.

When I came to visit him after a week, he looked scared. On the top of his terrarium there was another glass cage with a dying female of the same species. This was the place where people dumped their reptiles when they could not cope with them anymore.  A lesson for those who decide to buy a reptile just ‘ because. it is cute’. I left in tears.

To make a long story short, Philip is alive in the Dublin Zoo. At least he was when I talked with Mr. Hennessy over the phone in 2015.

I revisited the Reptile Village in December. Now it is called The National Reptile Zoo, it has expanded since 2013, and it is amazing.

These Green Iguanas, and some other reptiles live in a separate Tropical Walk-Through Dome outside the main building. The dome is 6 m in diameter and over 3 m high.

National Reptile Zoo

Isn’t it sweet that you can touch a lizard. I don’t know if they exactly enjoy this, but the visitors definitely love the experience 🙂

National Reptiie Zoo

Waking up after a nap 🙂

National Reptile Zoo

First things first 🙂

National Reptile Zoo

Sun basking is another favorite activity of Iguanas. It is hot and humid inside the dome, and the live plants make it look like jungle. The lizards and tortoises roam free and feel home.

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

Rhinoceros Iguana in the main building loves his veggies. Philip preferred crickets.

National Reptile Zoo

This is what lizards do most of the time.

Reptile Zoo

The most impressive part of the tour  are Animal Encounter Sessions that are carried out by trained reptile wranglers.

National Reptile Zoo

Christina begins this session by introducing a Burmese Python, and asks if we know where exactly his tail is.

Reptile Village

I wanted to take a picture of the tail, but it  came out blurred. In this picture, half of the tail is hidden behind Christina’s hand. The tail is only  5-6 inches long. The throat takes up one third of the body, and the rest is stomach.

Reptile Village

Everyone loves the Python.

Reptile Village

Reptile Village

Blue Steel, a huge albino Burmese Python I wanted to meet, was nowhere to be seen. Pearl, another albino, the biggest snake in Ireland, was not out of quarantine yet at that time – now she is on exhibit, so I have to go to the Zoo again. Female pythons are just a little bit longer than males, but much sturdier. I hope to take pictures of Pearl some time in summer.

This is Rosie, a gorgeous Chilean Rose tarantula. I don’t know if it would be a good business idea to open a Spider Zoo, but here Rosie is a star 🙂  I think I have also seen a scorpion somewhere in the Zoo, but it might be just a food item that simply escaped.

National Reptile Zoo

National Reptile Zoo

The National Reptile Zoo celebrates its 11th Anniversary in March. I think Rosie is the same age as the Zoo.

National Reptile Zoo

There are more than 150 animals of 50 species in the Reptile Zoo, and I will share more pictures next week. Stay tuned, and please don’t wear any St. Patrick’s day accessories when you are reading this blog 😉

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

Till we meet again

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It is my last post of the series, but I will return to the mountains as I always do, and share more pictures in the future.

I will probably visit the mountains in May to walk through the Rhododendron Fairy Tunnel…

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…and revisit Glenary village.

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I am also curious if the tiny spruces and larches that are hidden in the tall grass haven’t grown up already since the picture was taken in 2013.

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To add the last touches to my photo story about Comeragh Mountains I drive along the Eastern ridge which I hope to revisit when the weather gets more summery. Late afternoon sun paints the mountains in rich, warm colors.

I park at the side of the road and enjoy the beauty of Stookangarriff Ridge and Coumshingaun. At the bottom of the almost vertical cliff there hides Ireland’s most beautiful lake.

I continue driving along the mountain road, and it feels like flying a small airplane.

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More coums, big and small …

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… and sheep, always sheep, with red, blue or yellow painted bottoms.

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The mountains are their life. Rough life.

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To complete a full circle around the Comeraghs, I drive along the Southern part of the mountains.

Once I stuck in this place for a couple of hours, because my car refused to start. It did, eventually, and I still have no idea what happened. Must be fairies. Anyway, as I managed to start the car and hurried home, I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed something unusual in the sky. I got out of the car and could not believe my eyes: a perfect heart-shaped cloud was hanging at the edge of the hill, and another cloud that looked like a pair of angel wings, was hovering over the heart. I had already packed my camera, but managed to take it out quickly and get a couple of shots before the clouds disappeared.

This Cloud Heart is here for all of you who took your time to read about my favorite mountains, and to be an active participant of our grand hike 🙂 Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments and friendship! When I take more photographs to put up another Comeragh mountain blog, we will meet again. Stay fit 😉

My next blog is about creatures 🙂

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Cannon Hill

cannon hill

We are rounding up our calorie-burning Comeragh hike. Before we are done, I want to share this post about a small but very important part of Comeragh Mountains –  Cannon Hill,  one of beloved places  of Clonmel people  ( I have already written about Carey Castle, St. Patrick’s Well and some other local favorites).

We take the left turn up a narrow road just before the Carey Castle sign, and start our walk along the side of Cannon Hill. There are two roads, the upper one is wider, and there is a nice space for parking. A couple of years ago I came here to assess the old farmhouse ruins for a photo session. I had only one hour, but there was the man with his dogs, and he started a conversation that lasted 40 minutes 🙂 He introduced himself as Richard, and it came out he is a father-in-law of my former colleague, but the most important, he is Clonmel history enthusiast, it is why I forgot about time and listened to the stories about his ancestors and historical events I have never heard about before.  The funnies part is that recently I came across an article where another man mentioned his long conversation with Richard that took place in exactly the same spot 🙂 So, if you want to learn more about history of  Clonmel, hang around Cannon Hill.

The best part of Cannon Hill is the views we enjoy as we walk.

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Cannon Hill

This is Kilmacomma Hill. It looks like a huge green sleeping bear. In background you see Galtee mountains some 20 miles away.

The fertile land between Comeragh, Galtee and Knockmealdown Mountains is traditionally called Golden Vale.

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Knockmealdown mountains to the west of the Comeraghs.

Cannon Hill is a great place to walk a dog. Or two. This is us returning from that photo session.

Cannon Hill

The ruins of an old farmhouse are easy accessible in the winter time, but overgrown with the weeds in summer.

I already shared this photograph as a part of my project two years ago.

It takes about half an hour to get here from the car park, and even our dogs are tired.

This is another walk around the Cannon Hill, and another model 🙂

Local fauna can include Deer, but my only picture of a fawn sleeping in the grass is lost in a hard drive crash. I photographed this herd of cows, and discovered the fawn in background. All that is left from that shoot is this big lad with gorgeous albino eyelashes.

And of course, there are sheep. It is Ireland 🙂

It takes a couple of hours to explore all the paths.

Cannon Hill

These are two versions of the same song – different accent ;). Tom Healy and Brian Coll sing about all the places I have mentioned in my blog, so you can learn how to pronounce the Irish names 🙂

 

 

 

Thank you for taking this simple local walk. Treasures are often closer than we know.

www.inesemjphotography.com  Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Magic road to the Mahon Falls

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It was a sunny day elsewhere, but Mahon Falls greeted me with a perfect rainbow towering over the mountains. This picture was not retouched – all the colors are natural. I parked at the bottom of the Magic Road and held my breath. I used a wide lens for this picture, but in fact the rainbow was so close that I could see the colors on the grass just a few meters away.

I drove under the rainbow and turned around the corner wondering what the Falls look like today, and sure there was a good reason for the rainbow to appear because the Coum Mahon was hosting a huge cloud. I found a spot, parked my car and fearlessly walked into the cloud.

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I did it three times and had to return half way because the rain and the wind made it impossible to take any picture of the waterfall.

This was the worst moment. The lens got all wet and foggy, and I had to give up.

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On the other side of the car park the weather was beautiful and even my windscreen was dry. I parked so that I could see the ocean and the rainbow.

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I didn’t get to see the Falls that day, but other photo opportunities were literally running around 🙂

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The cloud was still there but the rest of the world was dry and sunny.

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The sheep decided to migrate, and it was fun to watch them

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There was nothing else to see and I went home to return in two weeks.


This time the sky was blue with no clouds and rainbows. I approached the Magic Road, took this picture, drove a little bit further down the hill, and because there were no cars around, I did what everyone else does in this place: put my car in neutral, and rolled UPHILL with lively speed and style. This is a magic road after all 🙂

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Some people say it is an optical illusion and there is no elevation. Look by yourself. This car was rolling backwards on neutral from where I stand. The family inside it were so excited that the driver forgot to use his steering wheel and almost drove the car in the ditch. There definitely is an elevation, and I actually started even further down the hill. You can watch a good few videos on Youtube about this road. Fairy magic, if you ask me.

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These Hawthorn trees should give you a clue of where the magic comes from.

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Coum Mahon in all its glory. The path to the waterfall is about one mile long, and there is no climbing necessary. The path is wheelchair accessible almost all the way down to the Falls. Coum Mahon is V-shaped, unlike the other coums (hollows) in the Comeraghs that are U-shaped. By the way, the word Comeragh, or Cumarach  in Irish, means ‘full of hollows’. Many of the hollows nestle lakes.

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Semi-wild sheep are perched on the edge of the cliff.  If you are lucky, you might see a herd of feral goats around the Coumshingaun ridge nearby.

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Black slug is a common sighting. The slugs are quite big and alien-looking.

With very little rain this winter, the Falls don’t look too impressive, but nevertheless it is the most visited and loved place. It is advertised as a picnic area, with which I totally disagree. The wind is usually very strong here, and if everyone decided to bring a takeaway with them, the place would be littered in no time. If you come to visit Mahon Falls, please eat in your car with the doors closed.

Mahon Falls are a 80 m high series of cascading waterfalls. River Mahon begins her jorney from the high plateau of the Comeraghs, falls down the steep back wall and continues to the village of Bunmahon where she drains into the Celtic Sea.

It is possible to ascend the slope quite close to the waterfall. The most popular is the right hand side route, but I have also seen people climbing the left hand side of the Falls. In both cases you have to be very careful. In 2014, two people got trapped on a steep cliff at 45 m with no way down. Luckily, they were able to call rescue services, and were lifted off the cliff by a helicopter crew.

This is a closer view of the lower cascade. I was planning to climb to the upper cascade, but I saw a photographer set up his tripod in the middle of the falls,  and didn’t want to bother him. I climbed to the flat rock over which the water flows down, continued half way to the upper cascade, and returned to the valley.

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Lower cascade.

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Upper cascade. I would love to climb along the gorge and take pictures of entire waterfall, but the surface was quite wet and slippy, and I didn’t even have hiking footwear, just a pair of Skechers boots.

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A view from the top of the lower cascade.

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River Mahon heading south 🙂 The blue stripe at the edge of the picture is the Celtic Sea.

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A long walk back to the car park. The sky looks washed out because there is not a single cloud in the sky, and the valley is in the deep shadow.

My plan was to continue driving to take more pictures of the other parts of the Comeraghs, but when I reached the tiny upper car park, I was absolutely blinded by the sun and had to reverse and drive back to where I came from. The contrast between the bright sun and deep shadow was striking. In the picture below you see Majestic Knockaunapeebra lit by the bright sun.

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So, that was my latest trip to the Mahon Falls. Here are some photographs of the Hawthorn trees. This one was taken on that stormy day when the rainbow was hanging over the mountains for all the duration of my visit.

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This one was taken on my way home after the second trip.

And this is the most famous rag tree that is guarding the Magic Road.

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If you are interested in climbing the Comeraghs,  read the De La Salle Scout group website.

Thank you for enjoying the magic of Mahon Falls with me. What do you think about the Magic Road and Fairy Power? 🙂

Here are links to my previous Comeragh blogs -1- , -2-  and  -3-

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Nire Valley

In my second Comeragh post, I shared photographs of the road that crosses the mountains from Clonmel to Ballymacarbry. It is how we are going to drive ( or walk) to the Nire Valley.

I have never hiked in this area, but I know that there are several trails and loops, and beautiful lakes. An annual Nire Valley Walking Festival page might help you make your choice, and there is an information board at the car park from where I took most of pictures for this blog. Some of the trails start from the car park, but if you want to start with a hike to Coumfea and Coumalocha, and see a beautiful stream falling from the Coumfea Plateau,  you have to walk back to this gate and start from here.

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nire vlley

nire valley

In the picture below, car park is on your left, and several trails start here.  If you hike up the hill to the left, you will reach the south slope of beautiful Knockanaffrin ( the pyramid-shaped mountain in my previous post), and if you turn to the right, at least four spectacular glacial lakes – coums are waiting for you. These coums were formed during the Ice Age. I don’t know if I ever hike to see Nire lakes – the shortest trail will take 4-5 hours roundtrip, and I don’t know if I am ready for that, but you can visit Get Lost Mountaineering blog to have an idea. It features both ridges – Knockanaffrin and Coumfea.

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Curraghduff with Fauscoum in background. You don’t necessarily have to start your hike from the Nire Valley side to get here. There is a track that starts on the other side, over the Gap of the Knockanaffrin Ridge ( featured in my second Comeragh blog). All the trails vary from 5 to 25km. Some loops may require an overnight camping in the mountains. There are also cliffs and gullies for the experienced mountain climbers.

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Nire Valley photographs taken over the years.

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Nire Valley

Ruins of the old farm and spectacular stone wall attract photographers.

I am glad that you visited this beautiful part of Comeragh mountains. I know that I failed to take you to the Nire Lakes, but I have visited some other mountain lakes, and hope to share them with you in my future posts. This time we didn’t hike, but please be fit for the next weekend’s  two mile long round trip, some climbing, and magic 🙂

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Pat and his foxes

Pat Gibbons

On my way back from an assignment I turned off the main road and drove under the canopy of old trees to the house of my favorite people. I wrote about Pat Gibbons and his family in these blog posts : in 2015  and 2014 It has been a while since I last visited, and I didn’t call in advance. I saw that the door was half open, and parked at the side of the road. Another car slowly approached, and parked across from me. I didn’t plan to take any pictures and knocked on the door just to say hello, but Pat was about to take the foxes outside for a minute anyway, so I went to pick up my camera. Meanwhile, a family got out of the other car and asked me if it was the Fox Man’s house. The word spreads 🙂

Pat is always happy when someone shows up to see his foxes. ‘It is why they are here’ he says. He told the visitors about where the foxes come from and about Gráinne’s career as a movie star. She is as beautiful as always, just with more silver in her fur.

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Minnie is soft and shy – nothing has changed here 🙂

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It is the time for hugging.

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Gráinne is tired.

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She does a bit of posing for pictures.

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Pat is asking Gráinne to perform her famous trick.

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We walk to the den to visit with Henry. He is not in the mood to go outside this time.

In a couple of hours they all will go to Pat’s house and enjoy their evening together cuddling and watching the TV.

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I know you all love this post and the foxes 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

inesemjphotography Have a beautiful weekend!

 

Back to Comeragh Mountains

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After a short break we resume our hill walking exercises.

When you look at the picture, you see a sharp-peaked feature on the silhouette of the slope of the mountains in background. Remember it, I will tell you what it is in the end of this post. The mountains you see in the picture belong to the Knockanaffrin Ridge, and we are walking across the Comeragh Plateau.

I feel sorry for the little lamb – the gusts of wind are throwing the hail at the car window, but he is standing there and staring at me.

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Another season, another storm. Heavy rain passed over Clonmel and the hills we visited in my previous post from the Comeraghs.

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In my first Comeragh blog post you saw the other side of these distant Laghtnafrankee mountains – Glenary Valley. To get a closer look at the mountains, we will turn to the other road. There are two roads, both of them finally coming together and taking you across the Comeragh Plateau from Clonmel to Ballymacarbry. Right now we are walking along the Harney’s Cross Road, the upper one.

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This is a closer view of Laghtnafrankee  from the lower road.   The real summit is right behind it. There is also  Laghtnafrankee SW Top on the left side. On the other side of Laghtnafrankee there is a natural amphitheater – so called Punchbowl. If you enlarge the image by clicking on it, you will see a tiny lone hiker on the slope, right where the shadow of the cloud begins. He gives you sense of the scale.  The Comeragh Plateau is nestled between the Lachtnafrankee and Knockanaffrin Ridge.

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This is the view from the lower road with the Knockmealdown Mountains in background.

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I took many photographs of these stunning crepuscular rays that winter afternoon.

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Another season, and the mountains look different again. Shauneenabrega Mountain is wrapped in thick fog.

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The horse ignores me. She hates snow. I think that this horse ‘works’ at the nearby turf cutting. I remember the bad experience I had  visiting the Woodstock Oyster farm and abandon the idea of walking across the bog to the turf cutting site. May be another day.

The same road in Spring with the Three Graces refusing to pose for me.

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More of the Knockanaffrin Ridge in this picture. The summits of these mountains offer beautiful vistas with Lough Mohra Coum nestled beneath the steep slopes. You can walk from one mountain to another along the crest. Most of the summits have cairns.

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I like the minimalist look of this picture 🙂

The top of the Long Hill ahead. We are returning to the main road between Clonmel and Rathgormack .

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Early June is my favorite season in the Comeraghs when Rhododendrons bloom.

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Do you remember the first picture and mysterious sharp-peaked thing on the slope? It was the summit of the beautiful Knockanaffrin.

Knockanaffrin Ridge

You can walk from Knockanaffrin to Knocksheegowna along the crest.  There is a trig pillar near the highest point on the top of Knocksheegowna. If you hike over The Gap ( the trail starts just a few meters from here), there is a beautiful Nire Valley on the other side – it is where we are going to walk in my next blog.

Down the hill to new adventures! 🙂

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inesemjphotographyHave a wonderful weekend!