Photography

An Coinigéar, part II

One more blog from my long walk. You can watch a video about the Cunnigar in my previous blog post

Centuries ago, An Coinigéar was owned by the Duke of Devonshire, and was the site of the first golf course in West Waterford where the Duke and his prominent buddies used to come and play. In the 1861, the strip of land was bought by John R Power. The tenants of the only dwelling house on An Coinigéar were the Walsh family. As it was so far off the road, the local postman was paid some extra cash for every time he delivered a letter.

It looks like there were trees growing on An Coinigéar in the past.

Michael Sheehan, Irish priest, educator and scholar of the Irish language, was a young boy when he first came to An Coinigéar to play croquet with his schoolmates. They somehow moved fencing out of its place, and the son of original Mr. Walsh came out of his house and gave them a piece of his mind. Young Michael in astonishment asked his friends what language was the man speaking. Irish, was the answer. Michael was so impressed that he dedicated the rest of his life to studying and promoting the language of his ancestors, and was the author of many books in Irish.

I am glad that there is no golf course on An Coinigéar these days. My favorite coastal plant Sea holly can grow undisturbed, and feed armies of different insects.

Male Common blue butterfly is added to my list of species discovered on An Coinigéar 🙂

This Sea holly is hosting a party – male and female Common blue, and an unidentified wasp.

Female Common blue.

I love the fragile beauty of these little pieces of sky.

Another form of unhurried life.

I noticed the recent presence of cows on the Cunnigar, but didn’t see them. They probably crossed from west to east  behind the dunes that are several metres high. Finally I saw a herd moving towards The Ring in the low water some two hundred meters from the shore. Two cows – a huge pregnant and a young one – were way behind the herd, but the incoming tide didn’t seem to bother them. This is a heavy zoomed picture. The cows looked like two dots to me.

The western part of the estuary began filling up too, forcing the birds to relocate.

The tide was well in when I reached the dunes.

I crossed to the eastern part and was pleasantly surprised to see this male Wheatear. You can see the hallmark tail pattern. Wheatear has one of the longest migration routes of any songbird. I have read that the birds breeding in north-eastern Canada fly almost non-stop across the northern Atlantic to North Africa. My main resource of information about birds is this page.

The dunes on An Coinigéar are beautiful. I wish people were mindful about these fragile ecosystems and didn’t walk off trail. I took some pictures of birds from a distance – Pipits and Linnets.

There were seven Herons standing on the other side of a marshy area, but when I tried to sneak up closer, five of them took off. I got a couple of good pictures of herons in flight, and already used one in my New Years post.

Finally I reached the Point! Dungarvan quay doesn’t look too close. At low tide, the distance is much closer, and it is possible to walk across.

Here is a link to the Dungarvan Hillwalking club website where you can learn more about the annual event of the Cunnigar Crossing, and possibly join it some day. Last year, 359 people took part and €1961 was raised for charity. If you think you might do the crossing, check out the Hillwalking Club homepage and join their Mailing list. The Crossing event will take place in July or August.

The photograph from the website is linked back to the page.

In bygone days, An Coinigéar served as a shortcut from the Ring peninsula to Dungarvan, and women went to market with their baskets on their heads, and some students crossed to attend school.

In the 1880s, it was proposed to build a bridge, but thankfully it never happened, and the automobile era put an end to the use of An Coinigéar as a shortcut.

In later years, a local family run a ferry service to take the picnic-goers over in two rowing boats. If you needed the ferry, you stood at the point and waved a white handkerchief.

On my return journey I watch the birds and enjoy being surrounded with water.

Summer is almost over, but I find some samples of coastal flora.

Near the car park I see the herd and immediately spot the brave mama.

Good bye, An Coinigéar. It was good to spend time with you 🙂

Thank you for joining me on this walk.

 Have a wonderful weekend!

An Coinigéar, Part I

An Coinigéar, or The Cunnigar, is a 2.5 km long spit of land that stretches out south to north across the Dungarvan Bay from An Rinn (The Ring) Peninsula, and ends not far from Dungarvan Quay. As it was specified in a 1537 document, its widest part measures “in bredthe one boweshot“, and the narrowest part is about 10m. Coinigéar means “rabbit warren”. I saw many rabbits when I turned to the car park. It was an early morning, and their ears looked transparent in the morning sun. During my walk, I only saw a few rabbit holes and droppings, but I had a feeling I was being watched 🙂

There are many stories told about An Coinigéar, and there is a ghost whom no one has seen so far. The ghost is guarding a hidden treasure, so if you find it some day, you will be possibly able to claim to have seen the ghost, I guess …

I am sharing a beautiful video by @fardinger   It will give you a better look.

Dungarvan Bay is dry as far out as I can see.

I start on the eastern side of The Cunnigar, but later move across. There is only one car parked, and I see a person with a dog in a distance. I have at least 6 hours to get to the end and back.

Thousands of local and migratory birds are feeding on tideline on both sides of The Cunnigar, but this time I just acknowledge their presence and keep walking. It is my first time here, and I only want to get a general idea of the place.

I see a couple of Ragwort plants and a Cinnabar moth caterpillar. To my surprise, there is not a single moth around at this time.

However I found another brightly colored day moth – a Six-spot burnet. There were thousands of them.

I also found many papery cocoons – full and abandoned.

Males and females of this moths look similar. Sometimes a male is sitting next to the cocoon patiently waiting for the virgin female to emerge.

The moth’s life cycle takes 12 months to be complete, and involves a single generation.

This one got stuck in the cobweb. I am not sure if it is safe for the spider to feast on it. The moth is bright-colored for a good reason: if attacked, it emits a liquid containing cyanide.

Two shots of the hovering Six-spot burnets.

I keep walking, crossing from one side to the other. It is Comeragh mountains in background. We have been there 🙂

In the distance I see a man. Looks like he is foraging in the salt marsh.

Being a curious person, I come up and ask what is that he is collecting. It is Glasswort, he says. It comes out I met Andrew Malcolm – forager, composer and wildlife photographer.

I am chewing a piece of Glasswort, as Andrew suggested I should, trying not to look at a cowcake resting nearby.

Andrew says there are at least nine butterfly species I might come across. I saw only five. This is Small tortoiseshell…

…and this is Meadow brown.

A Bright-line Brown-eye moth caterpillar was hurrying across the rocks with a remarkable speed. More creatures in my next blog post.

The water started to slowly fill up the bay. You can see the oyster farm, the rows of the oyster bags in the distance. The farm is about 1 km away, but I don’t have the slightest interest to inspect it. Lessons learned 🙂

I will share the rest of my walk in my next blog post. Hope you enjoyed An Coinigéar and our walk.

 Have a wonderful week ahead!

The Year of The Pig

It would be just another new year if we didn’t have Chinese Zodiac calendar 🙂

The year of The Dog is fading away as the year of The Pig starts in February and marks the end of the Twelve years Cycle.

Was 2018 “a good dog” for you? What were some of the highlights?

Here I share some pictures taken in 2018. It was (and still is) a very challenging year, but I cannot tell it has been unlucky for me.

The year started with a lazy snowfall that continued into the end of February. Then a mighty storm hit the island – you can see all the pictures in my previous blog post.

The snow melted in the first few days in March.

I didn’t see much of St. Patrick’s Day parade this year, but I liked this actor and took some pictures.

Spraoi monsters looked completely out of place at the St. Patrick’s Parade. I don’t think it was a great idea to include them. Yet, I posted this picture for a reason since I want to tell you a few words about monsters.

I discovered  Jean Lee’s World  blog in 2015. After reading one article, I went back through the archives and read almost everything. I was stunned. A quick check on Amazon showed no books. No books?! Later I learned that Jean Lee did work on a novel, but there were many obstacles she had to overcome – you can read her story as she tells it herself in her blog. 

In June this year, Jean Lee published the first book of the short fiction series Tales Of the River Vine. The other five books followed, introducing the characters of her first YA fantasy novel Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, Book 1, parts 1 – 2, available on Amazon. An intelligent, captivating, very well written book will take you and the courageous, strong-willed teenage heroine to the fae world of darkness, and, hopefully, back. I look forward to reading Book 2 in March 2019. I am so very happy for you, Friend! You did it! Your books are as wonderful and unique as everything else you do. 

Please visit Jean Lee’s amazing blog, and read her books. 

 


The days went by. In the end of May I got my life back, but in a complicated form. The world is still beautiful, though.

A Chaffinch still sings his little heart out…

… and his cute lady looks pleased.

Puffin here is just being gorgeous.

In the end of July I returned to blogging, and visited a few more places.

I went to the Cunnigar. I didn’t do the crossing, just walked to the end and back, watched the birds and insects. Usually I see one heron at a time, but there were seven. They took off when I came closer.

This scared fledgling was sitting in the middle of the boggy area on the Anne River trail. Hope his parents came to his rescue before a predator got there first.

I also went to the Comeraghs. Taking pictures of sheep never seems boring.

Then I came across a lone black pig. I later learned that this is her daily walking route.

Finally, there was a long flight, and many different birds and animals.

I guess my life was spared once again. We landed in Dublin in the eye of the storm Ali to learn that some 80 flights have already been cancelled or diverted, and a RyanAir plane had been forced to abort landing. Only two hero crews – Philadelphia and our JFK – landed their planes that morning. The landing was a nightmare, but it was performed splendidly regardless of violent swaying. The plane was still rocking and shaking in the gusts when we finally approached the terminal, and the passengers were instructed to watch their foot when stepping onto the jet bridge, as it might get detached. Two days later, a delivery man handed me my luggage and said ‘You guys are lucky to be alive’.

And then came the Autumn. It went through the different stages, until it was safe to call it Winter.


The young year of The Pig begins with hopes and dreams.

Who can tell what it will grow into?

Just be a good human in the year of The Pig, and everything will work out for your good.

Everything will definitely work out in the end.

 May the New Year be wondrous!

A Day Trip to Kerry: driving the Ring

Today we are rounding up our trip. In the next 5 hours we will drive the Ring of Kerry and return to your hotel in Killarney. Half way through the journey, we will stop for a dinner and meet two celebrities. Oh, speaking about celebrities…

Recently our talented blogger friend Resa McConaghy from  Art Gowns blog created a gorgeous art gown Contessa Fiori

Photo © Art Gowns

Contessa demanded a castle, and picked the one from my blog. I cannot tell you how honored I feel. My first thought was to invite the beautiful Contessa and the other Art Gowns to join us on this trip, but then I realised that we are traveling on a budget… So I arranged a yacht for Contessa Fiori and the other exquisite Art Gowns. They took off from Valentia island, and are on their way to the Puffin island right now – which is a counterclockwise journey. We will be traveling clockwise – don’t be confused by the online disputes about the right direction. Most of these disputes started before the roads were improved, and if you do get stuck behind a slow vehicle, it is only because of your bad luck on that particular day. This can happen on both directions.

Meanwhile, please visit Resa’s blog to admire her art.


There are two ways to drive the Ring of Kerry from Kenmare.  Some of you might prefer driving west by N70, which is perfectly fine. You will pass some cute villages and drive very close to the sea edge for a minute, but I’d rather go back to the Molls Gap and enjoy the 10 km scenic drive one more time. Then I will take the northern route R568 from the Molls Gap towards Sneem. We will meet in Sneem in a half an hour.

I like the northern route because of its rugged scenery and a chance to see sheep, horses and goats ( they are a great addition to any picture).

The Ring of Kerry

This round object looks like a lost tennis ball, but it is not. It is a cute colony of fine moss.

We meet at the Murphy’s Bar in Sneem. If you have more time, you might want to stay in Sneem for a couple of days. There is so much to do. 

We continue driving for another hour, stopping at the pull-offs.

Now we have reached the Coomakista Pass. After this large bend and before we start our descent to Waterville, there is a large parking lot where we will stop for a minute.

The rain starts picking up, but the view is beautiful nevertheless.

Statue of the Virgin Mary called the Lady of Wayside, was erected in 1954. Some articles say that the statue is overlooking the Ballinskellig bay, which is not true. The Lady is facing the road, and looks down.

There is a man selling hand-woven St. Brigid’s crosses for €3, a bargain. The crosses are made from rushes, and will dry very soon, but they look so lovely. Probably every Irish family has a Brigid. The crosses are supposed to be made and hung over a door on the February 1, St. Brigid’s Day, but it won’t do any harm if I get one now.

Before I open my mouth to ask for a photograph, the man retires to his van and unwraps a sandwich. I don’t wait for him to return, and take a picture of his dog and his accordion.

We are about to start the most beautiful descent. Thankfully, there are a few spots to stop and enjoy the view.  Our clockwise drive allows us to be closer to the edge (we are driving on the left side you now), which is also a bonus.

And now, the drum roll..! (Well, some bird photographers will roll their eyes and say ‘she did her best’) Anyway, this is indeed the best (and the only) picture I took of a Red-billed chough.

Choughs are often heard before they are seen. This was exactly the case. I was deep in photographing a fuchsia at the roadside, when I herd the distinctive call and almost dropped my camera. The chough was flying quite high, and it was clear that the bird has no intention to land. I lifted up my camera and this is what I got.

You can tell that it is a chough by the deep primary feathers that look like ‘fingers’, and also the red legs and bill. When choughs fly in a group, they sometimes perform stunts – like flying upside down. This amazing bird is endemic to Ireland, Isle of Man, and the far West of Wales and Scotland. The last Cornish chough died in 1973, but a pair have appeared and settled in Cornwall in 2001. Now their numbers grow. There are another seven subspecies of Red billed chough around the world. In some countries, the bird is depicted on postage stamps, including the Gambia, where the bird does not actually occur.

We finally arrive to the village of Waterville.

A lovely promenade that runs along the shore is a nice place to stretch your legs after the long drive. And there are birds!

Rock pipit keeps an eye on me.

It is a time for a meal. This little village is tourist-centered, and we won’t have problems finding a place to enjoy some deliciously prepared seafood. Read the most relevant reviews, but don’t get discouraged by those whose reviews sound like a script for stand-up. The Lobster is my favorite.

A few words about two bronze cast statues with Ballinskellig Bay in background. They stand close to each other, and both are dear to the hearts of the villagers.

The famous Little Tramp statue was unveiled in July 1998, and since 2011, Waterville has been holding an annual Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film festival in the end of August.

How did the Little Tramp end up in Waterville? On their first visit back in the 1950s, Charlie Chaplin and his large family came to Waterville and were turned away by a porter at the Butler Arms Hotel as there were no vacancies. The Chaplins humbly boarded their car and drove off to Kenmare. The owner of the Butler Arms, alarmed by someone with a greater knowledge about celebrities, rushed behind them catching up just a few miles beyond the town. He took them back and accommodated them in his family quarters. For the following decade, Waterville became their holiday village, and today the Chaplin’s children and grandchildren still enjoy Waterville and the old friendships.

Football legend Mick O’Dwayer first saw Charlie Chaplin in the 1950s and hardly believed that the elderly white-haired gentleman was that famous funny character dressed in a tight jacket and baggy pants.

Mick O’Dwayer is 82, and it was a surprise for him to be immortalized in bronze. “Normally they wait until someone is dead before they do something like this” he joked at the opening ceremony in 2012. They call him ‘the uncrowned King of Kerry’ for a good reason.

We leave Waterville and resume our journey. When you visit next time, I encourage you to make a deviation from the Ring route and stay a day somewhere on the Iveragh Peninsula so that you can travel to Valentia island, and the beautiful Skellig islands. You might want to google the latest information on boat tours before you make your plans.

We pass the eleven span Gleensk Viaduct that was a part of the Great Southern and Western Railway Line. Closed in 1960, the railroad could be a stellar tourist attraction these days with all the spectacular views. Unfortunately it won’t happen. The railway was dismantled, some bridges closed, and even hiking on some section of the former railway is not advised. Construction of a 5.7 km long greenway near Cahersiveen has been discussed since 2013. If you are interested in hiking, here is a great list of trails.

The viaduct is worth a short stop ( there is a place to park right under the pylons, but remember that you are driving on the left side and be careful making the right turn). You can also park a short distance away and walk back to take a picture like the one above.

 

A video for those who are forever in love with trains and railroad tracks.

The railway line from Farranfore to Valentia harbour has two tunnels at Drung Hill. You can see them if you stop in the place where these two pictures were taken. There is an ample parking lot and the view is breathtaking.

Dingle peninsula on the other side.

The rest of the Ring is not that spectacular, but lovely. We stop at this neat shop, and then drive straight to Killorglin.

After crossing the bridge, drive  through the roundabout and park for a minute so that you can walk back to the river and take a picture of the King Puck from across the road ( read about the King in this blog post) That’s young me there in the picture 🙂 Didn’t have a chance to stay in Killorgleen any longer.

king puck

Back in Killarney we have just enough time to visit the Ross Castle.

It is not clear who built the tower house and when, but more likely it was built by some of the O’Donoghue chieftains in the late 15th century.

The trails around the Ross island and copper mines are a place of magic.

Once I got lost after leaving the main path. I could see the trail, but was not able to cross the mossy area – first, I didn’t want to damage the centuries-old biotope, second, I sure didn’t look forward to stepping in a mucky water hole on the way. So, I just had to walk all the way back.

Our epic 16 hours long trip is over! This is my hotel – they repaint it now and again, so I made the picture in b&w to avoid confusion. I like it for the perfect location and price.

I am glad to be back home before Christmas.

 Have a wonderful week!

A day trip to Kerry: we have a guest!

Happy Thanksgiving wishes for everyone! 

Today we have a guest, but before he arrives we are going to drive to Muckross, visit Killarney National Park and finally take that jaunting car ride you are dreaming about 😉

From the Molls Gap we take a road to Killarney. We are going to return by the same road later, but it won’t be boring since the road is beautiful and there are places to see. The road sign says ‘100 km/h’ but it is not for us 🙂 Please never drive over 80. There are cyclists, hikers, drivers who are trying to park, and you don’t want to create a tragedy.

As we drive we pass a number of spots suitable for parking of one or two cars, and with any luck we will park for a minute and walk to the lake.

Killarney NP

Killarney NP

Finally we see a huge blue sign Killarney National Park , turn in the gateway and drive to the Muckross House. You can spend your ‘time allowance’ (3 hours altogether) in the House and the Gardens and hire a jarvey to take you to the Muckross Abbey and back.

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey

Killarney jarveys have been around for over 200 years.

jaunting car

 

 

The jaunting cars had been banned from the National Park, and were allowed back again.

jaunting car

I won’t share any pictures of the house. The Muckross House website has enough information, and there is also Google.

You will have to book a tour to see the interior, but if something goes wrong and there is no tour, just take a walk along the lake and visit the National Park. Here you can find two walks to choose from, and here another few.

My personal favorite is the 8 miles long Muckross Lake Loop, that also starts from the Muckross House. You will love these miles 🙂 Pictures below were taken from this trail.

Killarney NP

Killarney NP

Killarney NP

Killarney NP

Bridge between Lough Leane and Muckross Lake.

Killarney NP

Meeting of the Waters – Lough Leane, with Muckross Lake behind me.

Killarney NP

On the way to the Dinis cottage ( you will love their scones). Poor hiker gave up, apparently.

Killarney NP

After we are done with hiking, my plan is to go back to the Molls Gap to pick up our guest. On the way, we will visit one of the most photographed vistas in Ireland – Ladies View.

This is the classic view.

ladies' view

You can drive just a little bit further to enjoy the same view and a bonus walk.

ladies view

Killarney NP

Killarney NP

Killarney NP

Before I introduce our guest, I want to share a funny video. Foil Arms and Hog here give you an idea about riding/driving in Kerry 😉

 

 

Listening to these confusing directions, I started to worry about our guest getting around Kerry, so I sent him a few photographs in advance 🙂

And – here he is! Meet Kevin Hotter from KevinHotter.com!

Kevin, please tell us about yourself and the reason you are here with us on this trip.

Hi Everyone! Kevin Hotter, here. It’s a pleasure to meet you all. 

I’m an American lawyer, comedian, writer and photographer who lives in sunny Los Angeles. As if that stuff doesn’t keep me busy enough, I’m also a husband and a dad. And those two roles are my favorite! (Gotta make sure my wife reads that part.) 

Thank you so much to Inese for sending me photos of the beautiful areas of Ireland from which my maternal grandparents hail. 

My mother’s parents arrived in America separately. Having never met back in the old country, their paths first crossed while living in Chicago (which, at the time, was a very popular destination for Irish immigrants.) After getting married, they moved to New York City. And that’s where my mom was born and raised. 

How Irish do you feel?

I definitely inherited the famous Irish wit. And in my stand-up comedy routine, I definitely tell a few jokes about my Irish-Catholic upbringing and my very fair (and easily sunburned) Irish skin. Living in California, I finally have a tan! Well, kinda. Haha 

My humor is meant to bring people together and to poke fun at this thing called life. As for my Irish jokes, it’s all in good fun – because I’m extremely proud of my Irish roots. 

Well, enough of my blabbing! Thanks for reading about little ol’ me.  And please swing by my blog to say hi! 

Thank you for joining us, Kevin! 

Please visit Kevin’s blog to enjoy his outstanding photography.


We resume our trip and take off to Kenmare and The Ring of Beara before starting the homestretch of our day-long journey – The Ring of Kerry. It is a lunch time, and we will get something to eat on the way. Good news, folks! You can park for free in Kenmare! You can also stop for lunch at Molly Gallivan’s. The 90 km journey will take some 2.5 hours. Watch for the parking opportunities so that you can take a photograph, but don’t be a nuisance and danger to the other road users. Our loop route:  Kenmare – Glengarriff – Adrigole – Healy Pass – Glanmore Lake – Kenmare. Not the whole ring, but enough to remember that the Ring of Beara is the most scenic route in Ireland.

Leaving Molls Gap and heading to Kenmare.

Pretty Kenmare town, full of colors.

A nice place to have a lunch (opens @12pm)

Molly Gallivan’s Cottage, and a 12 ft Druid pointing his camera at the Barra-Bui Peak.

Druid’s view 🙂

Scenic road to Glengarriff is also a road from Co Kerry to Co Cork. Beara peninsula is the only peninsula in Ireland that is located in two counties.

Climbing the Healy Pass from Adrigole, south to north. In the middle of the tourist season, I would drive north to south: if you never have a chance to stop, the beautiful view is still in front of you all the way down. It is only my suggestion though. You can also take great pictures from the summit.

As we crossed over the Healy Pass, Glanmore Lake view is our reward.

We return to Kenmare sneaking through the beautiful vistas. See you again in two weeks to resume the Ring of Kerry trip. It will take another 5-6 hours to complete (including a stop for dinner in Waterville).

 Have a wonderful weekend!