Ireland

Kilmore Quay

Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, is a fishing village from where you would take a boat to travel over to Great Saltee.

Seabirds here are foraging around the fishing vessels and chippers. See who is lucky today? This Great black backed gull got a crab, and the Herring gull – a chunk of battered fish.

Before we begin our walk, please watch this 2 minute ‘bird eye’ video, and visit this web page to look through the colorful pictures 🙂

We will take a short walk just to see a glimpse of what Killmore Quay has to offer, and I plan on writing more blogs in the future.

At low tide we walk east from the marina along the shingle beach to St. Patrick’s Bridge, a natural bouldery gravel causeway, glacial deposit where the real St. Patrick has probably never set foot – though legends say different. He was chasing the Devil who took a bite of a mountain in Tipperery, The Devil’s Bite mountain. I am planning to go there this year as a part of a project. Anyway, the Devil quickly realised that he had bit more than he could chew and spat the Rock of Cashel, but St. Patrick kept chasing him and throwing rocks at him until he was gone under the water. It is how the Bridge and Saltee islands were formed.

A product of the last Ice Age, St. Patrick’s Bridge is believed to be a moraine. The boulders you see in the picture below are so-called erratics, very large boulders of a rock type that is not found locally, which means they were carried by the ice. The biggest erratic is seen on the left, and has a name – St. Patrick’s Rock. Naturally 🙂

In the 18th century, local fishermen started building a safe haven to moor their boats. They collected the rocks from St. Patrick’s Bridge and transported them to the village where the rocks were piled to create an L-shape barrier – a predecessor of the harbour we know today. The first pier was constructed in the mid 19th century, and the major redevelopment took place in the 1990s.

Centuries pass by but St. Patrick’s Bridge still curves out to Little Saltee, and they say that “no stones are washed from it”.

I spotted a Ruddy turnstone on my way back to the marina.

There are two different formations in Kilmore Quay which are often confused one for another in photographs. St. Patrick’s Bridge is the one on the right (East) from marina, and the Forlorn Point causeway is on the left (West).

Storm Ophelia that hit Ireland in 2017, unearthed an ancient body at Forlorn Point. The body was once buried there, not washed up by the sea.

A herring gull landed on the old boat.

Unnamed C.92 is navigating the sea of grass these days.

Past Forlorn Point, overlooking Ballyteigue Bay there stands a sculpture depicting a grieving couple. The stretch of sea from the Hook Head to Tuskar Rock, is called Graveyard of a thousand ships. And not only ships. Aer Lingus flight 712 went down into the sea off Tuskar Rock when en route from Cork to London on 24 March 1968, killing all 61 people on board. A cause of the crash was never determined, and only 14 bodies were recovered.

Remembrance Garden is dedicated to the memory of those lost at sea. Some families have no graveside to visit. They can come and grieve for their loved ones here, in this beautiful peaceful place.

The garden incorporates a propeller blade from the SS Lennox sunk off the Saltee Islands in 1916. Her crew was saved by the Kilmore lifeboat.

When the promenade ends, we step on a path that takes us to Ballyteige Burrow – a natural treasure of County Wexford.

I didn’t have much time that day. At the first opportunity I crossed the dunes towards the sea and after 50 min was back at the Remembrance Garden. This map is to show you all the 9 km of the narrow coastal townland consisting of a series of sand dunes and hollows, and circled is the part I have walked across.

Ballyteige Burrow dunes are 2000 years old.

Why ‘burrow’? The townland was managed as a rabbit warren for over 600 years. Rabbits are not native to Ireland. The Normans brought them as a source of protein for their armies.

The sand dunes include embryo dunes, shifting dunes and fixed dunes, each with their own type of vegetation. Coastal flora is diverse, even though it doesn’t look so from the first sight because many plant species are tiny and hidden in the grasses. March orchid is the most spectacular flower that will catch your eye.

Sea bindweed is different from the familiar Field bindweed – the leaves are small and fleshy, and the trumpet is vivid pink. They call it The Prince’s flower.

In this picture you also see the green stems of Prickly saltwort.

On my way I take many photographs and make a few compositions that will be put to use in the future.

Sea carrot is hosting a wild Red soldier beetle party.

I wouldn’t notice the tiny Burnet rose, not higher than 4 inches, if not for the bright shiny hips.

The path is not paved, but it is distinct and probably used by both humans and wildlife. It doesn’t go straight to the sea. Instead, it is winding between the dunes, up and down. Breathless I get to the top only to see another dune. Well, even if we get lost, the longest we have to walk is 9 km ( 6 miles). Phew 😉

We can see far away from the top of a high dune. Ballyteige Castle in the picture below was built by Sir Walter de Whitty, a Norman settler. It is a typical tower-house built to protect the household. Members of the Whitty family managed the rabbit warren at Ballyteige Burrow.

The roofs of Kilmore hidden behind a fixed dune.

Marram grass.

Vegetation is changing, and we can feel the fresh breeze – the sea is near, at last.

This view is so Wexford!

The beach looks deserted apart from a small tent pitched in the sand. Some other time we will walk all the 6 miles, but today we turn east and walk back to the marina car park.

A huge piece of kelp with rhizoids washed up in the sand. Here is a good website Galloway Wild Foods for those who is interested in foraging. I am too tired to pick up the heavy kelp.

The Forlorn Point looks close but it takes another 15 minutes to get there – walking on soft sand is, well, hard.

This picture was taken from the Great Saltee. The seagull’s bill points straight to the Forlorn Point, and the beach and dunes are on the left hand side.

This is the Great Saltee as you see it from the Forlorn Point. Our trip is complete, at least for today.

One more bird shot before we leave Kilmore Quay.

Here is the last video to summarize your day 🙂 Thank you for joining the walk. See you in a week at Spraoi 2019 street festival!

 

www.inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!

Baby bird boom in Great Saltee, Part II

I have never seen a baby Puffin, or puffling  – my heart melts at the sound of this word! 🙂 It is unlikely that I will see one. Puffin fledglings leave their nests at night to escape the sharp eyes of predators. A tiny chick makes it down the cliff to the water and paddles out to sea, alone, to return in 2-3 years.

The cliffs are high and steep here in Great Saltee.

Most Puffins leave the island in mid July.

You only realise how small they are when you see one tucked for a nap.

These adult birds will winter in the ocean alone, hundreds of miles from the shore, and come back next spring to get reunited with their mates.

Kittiwake, a small cliff-nesting gull, has a fluffy chick. This is a great news – Kittiwakes are globally threatened.

Kittiwakes have three toes, whereas other gulls have four. Their legs are short which makes walking difficult. The same like puffins, kittiwakes spend most of their life in the Atlantic Ocean. They do not scavenge like other gulls, and feed on small fish and crustaceans. This doesn’t mean that a bird would dive from the cliff and catch a fish straight away. Unfortunately, food is scarce, and the birds have to fly many miles to find adequate amounts of food to sustain themselves and their chicks. This means they leave their nests unattended for long periods of time, and their eggs and chicks are preyed on by big gulls.

In the picture below – another kittiwake with a chick, and a couple of Fulmars.

Fulmars are not gulls. They are related to Albatrosses, fly on stiff wings and have tube-like nostrils. Being a curious bird, fulmars hover nearby and observe you with their obsidian eyes before drifting down the cliff.

This fulmar has a chick! I saw it for a moment but couldn’t get a picture. Fulmars reach sexual maturity after 8-10 years, and lay a single egg once a year. Their chicks defend themselves from predators projectile vomiting a foul smelling gastric oil.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the Shag colony ( three couples including the always angry matriarch) relocated to some other nesting place. Before I learned about it, I saw four Shags on the cliff, out of my reach. This beauty hiding behind the rock has the family resemblance.

It is unclear if the Rock doves have chicks at this time. This one looks too relaxed to be a provider for a family.

This is the last chick for today.

I don’t know if this bunny has a family, but it sure has a burrow in which it disappeared in a blink.

Grey seals will give birth in September-December. In the picture below there are three females and a male.

A very cute seal was looking at me with those puppy eyes of his for at least a minute. I wonder if people feed them or something.

I was sitting on the edge of the high cliff, eating my packed lunch when the seals came along. This seal was clearly aware of what I was doing. I hope people don’t throw any leftover food in the water.

“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

“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

This is the Saltees flag, with the stars representing Michael’s children. His second youngest son Paul died last year. He inherited his father’s adventurous spirit and continued to live life to the fullest after his cancer diagnosis.

This is what the Great Saltee island looks like from the shore (distance 5 km).

Thank you for joining me on my annual trip. In my next blog post, I will share some more pictures from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford.

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Baby bird boom in Great Saltee, Part I

As I do every summer, I went to the Great Saltee once again, this time in July. You can find some of my previous posts here, and learn more about the history, geography and wildlife of the island.

Thanks to the kind Captain Bates we got an extra hour on the island – a treat! Here is his An ForachaA Guillemot – waiting for us to board.

Overcast at the start of my trip, the sky cleared by the time I climbed to the highest point of the island.

To get there, I had to walk through the shoulder-high ferns, full of wildlife. Thankfully, I travel light, and I actually enjoy the steep climb. People often ask me how long it takes to walk to the Gannet colony, and I can honestly say – it depends on how fast you walk. The distance is less than a mile.

I quickly walked through the Black-backed gull territory leaving them for later. First, I would go to visit the gannets.

It was so exciting to see the Gannet colony get larger and nest on the former path. I also noticed that the Shag dynasty who used to nest under the rocks for years and didn’t mind the visitors walk over their heads, abandoned their nesting territory. Later I spotted a Shag family on the side of the cliff, far from the path. Fledgling time?

I climbed down and camped behind the rock in the right side of the picture. The birds didn’t mind.

Nothing like clumsy, fluffy, sweet and defenseless chicks! How many of them have been snatched and eaten by gulls… They have nowhere to hide on this bare rock.

This is what I love most – the facial expression of a chick looking up at his mother.

Looks like this chick is asking for food. It is what they do – only look, never flap their wings or move about the nest.  Now and again some of the gannets take off, and some land. The colony is always in motion. Gannets never fly with fish in their bill. They swallow the fish under water and feed their young regurgitated fish opening their mouths wide for the chicks to fetch the food –  I have a picture in one of my blog posts.

Gannets look beautiful in flight, but landing is not their forte.

This poor devil crash-landed on a wrong nest.

This one landed smoothly and displayed a dance.

This gannet landed right in front of me. I think it is a female. After displaying some moves I could not interpret, the bird walked away and finally found her nest.

These gannets are grown up but they are not breeding this year for some reason.

I spent an hour alone with the gannets. Sadly, it was time to leave. I quickly took some in-flight pictures and a video to send to my grandchildren. Till we meet again, beautiful birds.

Great black-backed gull chicks are cute, but their growing numbers are worrying. These gulls are opportunistic feeders and predators who attack and kill other seabirds and juveniles.

There are chicks on the top of every rock. Look at these skinny legs!

I took these pictures from the path. Mama gull wouldn’t let me come any closer.

This one is a Herring gull’s son.

Guillemots, elegant birds who remind me of a whippet, have a baby too. This baby is almost a fledgling.

A younger and fluffier chick.

This Razorbill daddy made my day.

There was a chick somewhere under the rock, and the daddy was feeding him with the sand eels, one at a time.

The last sand eel.

Done with the feeding. What a good daddy!

Thank you for reading! I will share more pictures in two weeks.

www.inesemjphotography   Have a wonderful weekend!

Two hours in Medieval Waterford

If you are visiting Waterford and after taking a Crystal House tour still have two hours left, I recommend you to cross the street, walk up the steps and set off on a Medieval treasure hunt. Hope this blog post will help you with ideas.

The best place to start is  Medieval museum. The Cap of Maintenance of Henry VIII in my opening picture is one of the items you will find. It was a gift to the Mayor of Waterford in 1536. The Cap was worn under the crown that makes it a very important item.

Speaking about Mayors. There is a free Mayor exhibition on the ground floor which you can visit before your guided tour in the museum. The names of 650 Mayors of Waterford are listed up to the present day since the first known Mayor Roger le Lom (1284-85). Among many other amazing pieces there is a Mayor’s Chair ( you can sit in it and take pictures). It was made of American oak from the very first bridge across the River Suir – the Timbertoes bridge.

American bridge builder Lemuel Cox designed the bridge and construction began in 1793. The bridge was opened a year later. Until then, ferries were the only way to cross the river – for 800 years!

This is a painting by Thomas Sautelle Roberts depicting the Timbertoes bridge. The bridge served until 1910.

You can also find the painting screened over the scene in the Theatre Royal – just ask at the reception desk and they will assist you.

On your way to the main exhibition, don’t miss this set of golden dentures with the real human teeth. It is not medieval though. It was found during the construction of the building in 2012.

This is my favorite tour guide.

There are two exquisite exhibits in the museum. One is The Royal Charters of Waterford, of which I hope to write more in the future,

The other is the set of 15th century Benediction copes and High Mass vestments. They are made from Italian silk woven in Florence. Depicted on the embroidered panels are scenes from the Bible. The set consists of three copes, two dalmatics and a chasuble.

(The photographs were taken through the glass case)

The High Mass vestments consist of a chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle.

A dalmatic is T-shaped garment with open sides. It is worn by bishops and deacons.

Semicircular Magi Cope.

The hood is the most spectacular part of the cope. It depicts three scenes: the visit of the Magi in the centre, and two scenes from The Old Testament.

The vestments were buried in 1649-50 to save them from the Cromwellians, with the secret of their hiding place so well kept, that they were accidentally discovered only 125 years later, after the Norman Gothic cathedral was demolished in 1773. Famous Waterford architect John Roberts designed the present cathedral which was completed in 1779. The Christ Church cathedral belongs to the Church of Ireland.

The current building is actually the third church on this site. The first was built by the Vikings in 1096. In that church Aoife and Strongbow got married in 1170 – I wrote about that important wedding before.

So, where the precious vestments were hidden? I would say – in plain sight.

In this spot exactly, on the right from the altar. To make sure that I get it right, the tour guide moved away the seats for me to take pictures.

The church welcomes visitors of all beliefs to visit and appreciate the beauty.

There are many memorials in the church, but this tomb of James Rice, eleven time mayor of Waterford, is special. It depicts a badly decayed corpse, crawling with worms and frogs. The inscription says : I am what you are going to be, and I was what you are”.

The architect of the Cathedral John Roberts built both Catholic and Protestant cathedrals in Waterford city. I mentioned him in my blogs before, since he designed many historical buildings in our county. I want to point out an important detail of the interior. A symbolic image of the sun contains the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew letters YHWH that stand for Jehovah, reminding of Christianity’s roots.

Old and young visitors of the cathedral.

An Epic Tour guide with a group outside the Cathedral.

The building regularly gets updated, the clock was changed last year. No more hidden treasures found though.

On the right from the Cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace, another museum. You can get a combination ticket for both, and the Cathedral is free to visit. The architect was – you can guess – John Roberts 🙂 What a man! In this museum you will find many treasures dating to the 17th century. Don’t miss the Mourning Cross of Napoleon Bonaparte with a lock of his hair.

When the new Bishop’s Palace was completed, the bishop gave a lease of the old Bishop’s Palace to Roberts. Here in this building, John Roberts, his wife and children lived for over fifty years. They had 22 children, but only eight of them lived into adulthood.

Reference: Waterford Treasures by Eamonn McEneaney with Rosemary Ryan

Thank you for reading! Sorry the comments are closed for this post. I won’t be able to reply. Talk to you in two weeks!

www.inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful week!

Tall Ships in Waterford

lord nelson 2019

Tall Ships’ Races 2019 began in Aalborg, Denmark this morning, Sunday 16 June!

Last Friday, while walking along the river, I was very pleased to see Lord Nelson berthed near the bridge. At home, I went through the old pictures and decided to put up a blog about the tall ships – for a change.

Waterford hosted the Races twice – in 2005 and 2011, and has the honour of being the first Irish city to host the start of the Tall Ships’ Races with almost 90 ships in 2005 and 45 ships in 2011. This is Lord Nelson in 2011.

lord nelson 2011

A mile long Waterford Quay was packed in 2005. It was the most colourful festival Waterford had ever seen. A whole fleet of ships were berthed on both sides of the river, and it was quite a hike to get around all the people queuing to board and receive a stamp in their souvenir passport. Some ships were docked by two, and the crew members from the outside vessel had to walk through the other vessel to get to town. This also made photographing difficult. Besides, the weather was not great for photography with just a few sunny spells in five days.

Ireland was represented by three ships. This is a famine ship replica Jeanie Johnston.

jeanie johnston

jeanie johnston

The other replica famine ship is Dunbrody. You can visit her in New Ross, just 15 minutes drive from Waterford city. Patrick Kennedy, JFK’s great-grandfather, set off to America from the New Ross quays in 1848.

dunbrody

In the picture below, you can catch a glimpse of the Pride of Baltimore II. The first Pride of Baltimore was lost at sea returning from the Caribbean on May 14 1986. She was possibly struck by a white squall, and her captain and three of the crew died. In September 2005, only two month after docking in Waterford, the Pride of Baltimore II sailed in a squall in the Bay of Biscay and suffered a complete dismasting. No one died, thankfully.

pride of baltimore II and artemis

Pride of Baltimore II, docked behind Tenacious.

tenacious and pride of baltimore II

As the focus of the races is on training, at least 50% of any crew has to be between 15 and 25 years old, but of course there are some much older trainees, and also trainees with disabilities. The SV Tenacious is a British wooden sail training ship, specially designed to accommodate people of all physical abilities to sail side by side as equals.

This is the figurehead of SV Tenacious.

tenacious

Below, Russian three-masted training ship Mir in 2005.

mir 2005

I finally got on board of Mir in 2011, with a friend of mine. I was in awe.

mir 2011

Not being able to swim a full lap in the local swimming pool, I love all things water and can successfully navigate a paddle boat. I have been on Stena Line ferries, but there is nothing like standing on a sail ship and looking out at the water ahead.

mir

This young cadet is barely sixteen. Hope he has a successful career.

mir 2011

I checked the trackerMir is currently taking part in the races. Wishing them best of luck!

Another legend  – the barque Eagle, formerly Horst Wessel, one of four sailing ships that were distributed by drawing of lots with the allies after the end of the World War II. A smaller vessel with the colourful sails is a three-masted schooner of the Uruguayan Navy – Capitan Miranda.

eagle and capitan miranda

Magnificent Sagres, a school ship of the Portuguese Navy has a long history. Indonesian three-masted barquentine Dewaruci moored behind her was ‘adopted’ by Waterford city following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004.

sagres and devaruci

A young sailor from Sagres.

sagres I

Dewaruci‘s figurehead.

dewaruci

It was so sad to see Dewaruci leave the quays. The dancing crew gave their last performance which was truly spectacular.

dewaruci

Another friendly and fun crew that left fond memories were the young sailors from the Omani Royal Navy barquentine Shabab Oman, which can be translated as Youth of Oman.

Originally named the Captain Scott, the ship was built as a schooner, and refitted as a barquentine after she was sold to Sultan of Oman. She is constructed of wood and looks charming. In 2014 she was replaced with a new ship of the same name and remains moored at the Royal Navy base in Oman. I wish I took more pictures…

shabab

shabab oman

The weather was perfect when we came to Waterford for a day in 2011. I was delighted to take pictures of Norwegian Sørlandet, the world’s oldest full rigged ship still in operation.

sorlandet 2011

sorlandet

Magnificent Europa, a three-mast barque registered in the Netherlands, was originally built in 1911, but there was little left of her when a Dutchman bought her from Germany in 1985. She was fully restored, and what a beauty she is!

europa

europa

Another beautiful ship from the Netherlands, Eendracht. She is Holland’s largest three-masted shooner designed for training young and inexperienced sailors.

eendracht

Gorgeous figurehead of Christian Radich, a Norwegian full-rigged ship, has a blush on her cheeks, probably because of the fresh breeze. Christian Radich is a remarkable ship – she took part in the very first races in 1956, and came the second. Merchant and captain, Radich died in 1889 and left 90,000 Norwegian kroner to build a training ship. The current Christian Radich is the fourth ship to carry the name.

christian radich

My young friend and I visited Colombian three-masted barque Gloria, and took a ton of pictures with the crew.

gloria

We also took some pictures of the interior.

gloria

gloria

This is the figurehead of Gloria.

gloria

Russian four-masted barque Kruzenshtern, (length 114.4 m, or 375 ft) was built in 1926 in Germany as Padua, and given to the Soviet Union as war reparation. I was very surprised to see her in Waterford in 2005, because I wouldn’t imagine this kind of ship fit in our river. It was amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get aboard, only had a small chat with two young cadets.

kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

I did want to know the purpose of those ‘cats’, and learned that these are the guards preventing the rats from walking up the mooring lines and getting on board.

kruzenshtern

Amazing job done by our tugboats!

kruzenshtern kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

The tall ships set off to Cherbourg.

kruzenshtern

I want to share a 2005 video. It is very imperfect and long, but it gives you a unique chance to see the tall ships sail out of the Waterford harbour. It wasn’t a good day for sailing since there was no wind at all and the race had to be delayed. The video begins with an interview with a person from the Kruzenshtern – the guy you see in my picture. There was another nice video, but I decided against it because of the Titanic theme they used 🙂 Not the best choice I would say.

Thank you for reading!

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!