Ireland

Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons II

Knockmealdowns

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

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

More sheep.

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

Mount Melleray

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

cats bar

cat's bar cat's bar

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

Lismore

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

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!

Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons I

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

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

Young goslings look very cute.

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

The Vee

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

The Vee

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

Patches of farmland change color with the seasons.

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

Even better view after the switchback.

The Vee

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

The sheep are everywhere, adding excitement to the drive.

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

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

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

Knockmealdowns

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

bianconi hut

This hike took place ten years ago in September 2007.

Knockmealdowns

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

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

Knockmealdowns

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

Knockmealdowns

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

Thank you for your company!

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: Ballyvoyle Tunnel

A quarter of a mile long Durrow ( Ballyvoyle) Tunnel is one of the most iconic features of the Greenway. It looks as perfect as the day it was built in 1878. I can only imagine how exciting it was to travel through the tunnel by train, at a slow speed, with the eerie sound echoing off the tunnel walls.

Once a habitat of bats, the tunnel is a busy place these days.

Bike hire

I love this tricycle. It looks very comfortable, especially if you want to stop and take a picture.

Someone has a sense of humor. Notice how far is the other end of the tunnel.

Waterford Greenway

It seems like the walls have openings, but in fact these are only wall niches with lights.

Waterford Greenway

The tunnel is lined with bricks.

Waterford Greenway

Not too successful photograph of some stalagmites growing in the niche.

Durrow tunnel

Just a few years ago this area was overgrown and flooded in some places.

An assortment of ferns and moss decorates the stone wall. Further down the path the wild plants are getting ready for spring ( photographs were taken in February)

double_exposure

double_exposure

We are approaching Ballyvoyle viaduct – the last one. There are three viaducts and eleven bridges on the railway. Ballyvoyle viaduct was constructed in 1878, blown up in 1922, and after a second thought rebuilt in 1924. In this blog you can find some bits of history of the viaduct.

The viaduct spans River Dalligan, and the barriers are almost non-existent, if you ask me 😉

Waterford Greenway

Plenty to see from here.

I stepped off the path to take a picture of a white bench that stands at a distance from the farm house. In the photograph below you see a lovely view from the bench.

Clonea Beach. I can see my favorite chipper out there, over a mile away.

In December 2015 a group of Syrian refugees were settled in the luxury Clonea Strand Hotel ( closed for the season). It was a very strange decision of the Government since there are no food stores around – the closest store is four miles away in Dungarvan. Actually, there is nothing else in winter but the sea and the beach. I don’t know what the story is, and where they are now. I haven’t been to Clonea for years.

clonea

It is getting dark. I turn around and walk back to the car park. I take my time walking through the tunnel again – want to spot a bat, but there are no bats.

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for your company – it is more fun to walk through a dark tunnel with a friend at your side.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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!

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.

2015-02-555

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!

 

 

Slievenamon

slievenamon

Before Christmas, I want to squeeze in a blog about the most beautiful mountain in Co. Tipperary – Sliabh na mBan, or Slievenamon. In the ancient times, when the slopes of the mountain were covered with forest of hazel, beech, oak and alder, young giant warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill went out hunting deer. It is when he met Sadhbh, the daughter of the magician Dearg,  in a form of a white doe. Sadhbh was turned into a deer by a druid Fear Doirich – Dark Man – whom she refused to marry.

The forest is long gone, but the magic remains. Slievenamon has a troubled history, and who knows, may be the Dark Man is to blame.

When driving from Clonmel to Waterford and back, Slievenamon is always in your sight. Seasons change, but Slievenamon doesn’t.

slievenamon

slievenamon

The only change is an occasional layer of snow on the top.

There are a few cute little villages at the foot of Slievenamon. Kilcash is the one from where Slievenamon can be climbed. Another place to visit in Kilcash is Medieval church and graveyard, and the ruins of the Butler Castle behind it.

kilcash church

kilcash graveyard

Standing in the graveyard, I look at the path I am going to take to reach the summit.

slievenamon

For a fit local resident climbing Slievenamon is a piece of cake, and it takes less than 50 minutes ( elevation 2,365 ft, climb 1500 ft ). People walk there with their dogs.  I have been to the summit only once, when I was much younger. Since then I was only able to make it to the stone wall half way to the summit. The good news – you won’t get lost because there is a distinct track.

y2013-006-19-064

slievenamon

slievenamon

slievenamon

Waterford bridge is 40 km away, but I can clearly see it.

Closer to the summit, it is cold and misty.

slievenamon

The ‘false summit’ – rather flat, with a pile of rocks (cairn) in the middle ( I am standing on it). Some people pick up a rock at the foot of the mountain and take it to the cairn to add to the pile. I was barely able to take myself up there… The cairn marks an entrance to the underworld, they say. Who knows. A less distinct path takes me a few meters higher to the real summit. Unfortunately I have lost the photograph. There is a waist-high standing stone up there.

slievenamon

On the other side of the valley there are beautiful Comeragh Mountains. I will write about them in January.

slievenamon

Always nice to see  a friendly face. Walking down the mountain does not take that long.

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And here is a famous Irish song Slievenamon for you to enjoy.

I share a link to the blog Walking in Sonoma County…mostly , and also to La Audacia de Aquiles mythology blog. Please visit and follow 🙂 I will be back with more historical facts and myths about this beautiful mountain.

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Island: off to see the Puffins

Kilmore Quay

It is the time of the year when I go to see the Puffins. I have written four blogs about Saltee Islands, and I don’t want to repeat myself writing about the birds and their biology again. If you love sea birds, you might be interested in reading the following links to my previous posts:

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/28/saltee-islands-a-place-where-birds-rule/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/30/golden-faces-silver-eyes-and-blue-eyelids/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/23/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-1/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/27/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-2/

In the opening picture, you see the Kilmore Quay port. The red boat is our trusted An Crosán, or Razorbill in Gaelic.

I have a half an hour before the boarding to walk around and take some pictures of the fishing gear.

fishing gear fishing gear

The weather is mild and the sea is smooth. With the back wind, we make the trip in 15 minutes.

Saltee trip

A group of photographers are waiting for the boat to pick them up – they came to the island before the sunrise. It is what I am going to do next year.

Great Saltee

We walk up the steps, pass the owners house, walk to the throne and turn left. It is where I always start my walk to the Gannet cliff and back. This time I decided to explore some other parts of the island too. Later I will share with you what came out of that idea.

Great Saltee

My first Puffins this year! These birds are too young to start a family, so they are hanging out with their neighbours.

puffin

When I see Puffins, there is no force in the whole Universe that could stop me from taking pictures! I don’t own a telephoto lens, so I have to get as close as I can to the birds. For that, I sit down and slowly slide to the cliff edge, inch by inch.

puffin

saltee 1 070 saltee 1 099_1

This face is one of the funniest and sweetest faces on Earth. A grey eye looks at me knowingly and intelligently. ‘A human with a camera, another one? Want me to stay still do you?

puffin

The water changes color as the sun pops out of the clouds, all the shades of cobalt blue, turquoise  and aquamarine twinkling like precious stones.

Great Saltee

We are slowly moving along the cliff edge in the direction of the Gannet nesting site, taking photographs on the way. I like this cove and always take a picture. The cliff drops down to the ocean almost vertically.

saltee islands

Another puffin, another picture. We keep to the path away from the cliff edge and begin our climb to the highest point of the island.

puffin

On the left from the path, all is green and looks like lush grass. It is not. Most of the island is covered with ferns that can grow up to the height of 4.5 f. Between the ferns, there grow briars and brambles of all sorts. I will tell you more about that part of the island later.

Great Saltee

From here, the path climbs through the ferns up the hill almost vertically. A tiny rabbit, not bigger than my fist, springs from under my feet.

The real view from the summit is much more beautiful than any photograph I have ever seen.

Great Saltee

We turn around and resume our hike to the Gannet Cliff. The sight of thousands of nesting birds and the sound of their voices is one of the Nature’s  most magnificent  spectacles. My heart is beating in anticipation as I walk closer to the cliff edge where we start our descent down to the Gannet colony.

More to follow. Thank you for loving the Puffins! 😉

inese_mj_photography Have a wonderful weekend!

Hawthorn Fairy

fairy

After writing about the Fairy doors and Fairy Raths, it is the time to speak about the Fairies themselves. In Ireland, fairies are associated with Hawthorn trees, especially the solitary ones or those growing together with the oaks and aspens. In May and early June all the countryside is swathed in the white garlands of blooming hawthorn: fairy season comes to Ireland. The Fairy tree holds strong magic forming a portal to the fairy realms in the Otherworld, and there is nothing I love as much as a good old portal 🙂

Hawthorn tree is respected, and has always been sacred to mankind. Farmers work around them, and no one in their right mind would fell a lonely hawthorn tree or anyhow damage faerie property. In the 1990-s, the upgrading of the National Route from Limerick to Galway was delayed for a nearly ten years, and the Ennis bypass was eventually rerouted to accommodate a lonely hawthorn tree and avoid disturbing the little folk. Fairies can be vindictive. You wouldn’t like a bad luck accompany you for the rest of your life, would you. They say that even in the 1950, rural people would shout warnings before throwing water out the door lest a fairy should be passing.

thorn

If you have the Hawthorn in your hedge, you can use the flowers to make a good tea (mix them with some other herbs because of their strong effect), the leaves to add to your salad, and the berries (haws) to make jelly or jam. That would help you reduce your blood pressure, stimulate your heart and act as a mild sedative.

There are some pictures I took of a Hawthorn fairy to illustrate this blog post.

fairy

I saw the fairy at the shore of Ballyscanlon lake, Co Waterford.

fairy

It is a beautiful lake with clear water an peaceful surroundings.

ballyscanlon

The Hawthorn tree in question grows very close to the lake. Fairies wouldn’t like to cross a stream, but there are many fairies that live near the water.

fairy

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see a flock of tiny mosquitoes sitting on the rock near the flower.

stream

Fairies know everything that is happening in their realms. Nothing goes unnoticed.

fairy

This little Robin knows her well: fairies use birds to fly from place to place 🙂

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The Sun goes up, and it is the time for the Fairy to use her magic and return to her Otherworld realm.

fairy

Hope to see you again some day.

fairy

Gateway to the Otherworld opens, and in a blink of an eye the fairy is gone.

fairy

Thank you for visiting Ballyscanlon lake with me today. May the fairies bring you all the best luck you need!

inese_mj_photographyHave a fantastic weekend!

This blog is two years old

In February 2014, I installed WordPress offline using Wamp server, and started this blog. Only a couple of my first posts survived until this day. My initial idea was to create a portfolio-type blog, and I wrote ten posts and stuffed them with children pictures. When I went online on St Patrick’s Day, I got a few ‘likes’ and was very pleased that someone took interest in my creation.  My very first followers were https://lisalabelleblog.wordpress.com/https://poemsandpeople.wordpress.com/ and http://www.tonyeveling.com/blog/. They are not blogging anymore, I am afraid.

Then came a nightmare. Certain webpages linked to my posts tagged ‘children photography’, and certain sort of spam flooded my Spam folder. Akismet catches spam, but doesn’t protect from those who deliver it. I deleted my posts. Only after a year I dared to use this tag again. Nothing happened so far, but the same spammers linked to one of my Saltee Island posts, and I was getting hundreds of spam comments daily until I closed the comments altogether. WordPress  is not all white and fluffy.

These ten bloggers are among my first followers, still active and sparkling with talent. They have been my friends and supporters since early spring 2014.

Sheri de Grom,  Marcus Dilano Photography,  MoodphotoJasonFrancisCharlyMihranLeyla Harrie Nijland, Jet Eliot

There are more than a hundred bloggers in my community since 2014 – great friends and brilliant writers and photographers. I cannot name all of you here, but you know who you are. Thank you for blogging and reading my blog! Way to go to us all!

There is a potpourri of photographs from some of my older blog posts. They are not linked to the post or larger versions. Please scroll down – I hope you remember some of them. Thank you so much for your visits over these two years!

Green St Patrick’s Day illumination in Carrick on Suir, 2014

patrick_day

Spring in Ireland.

ireland_daffodils1

swans_in_the_haze2

winding_road

bluebells_jenkinstown

Clancy Brothers festival

clancy festival

257clan

Edinburgh

edinburgh

Knockmealdown Mountains, Co Tipperary

the vee

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Saltee Islands

Saltees

Saltees

gannet

gannet

Street photography

pose

sell

pride 2013

pride 2013

Birds of River Suir

stonechat

heron

Herbs

suir

suir

oregano

linden

Scarecrow Festival in Co Laois

scarecrow festival

scarecrow festival

Patsy Gibbons and his foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Pat Gibbons foxes

Carrick O Rede Rope Bridge

rope bridge

Giants Causeway

giant's causeway

Dark Hedges

dark hedges

dark hedges

dark hedges

Irish summer

Irish summer

Irish summer sunset

Sunsets

sunset

sunset

Water

reflections

Johnstown castle

Barcelona

fountain

gaudi

Barcelona

Faceless

faceless      faceless   faceless

Trees

book cover

sand tree

sand tree

Fairy tale

20

Another spring

Ireland

ireland

ireland

Ancient

dolmen

Mystery

creepy tree

Children

child

child

child

Foxes

fox1 291gauss

pat_gibbons

Hoodoos

 

Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon

More birds

Bryce Canyon

cian_finn

Streets

dublin

dublin

spraoi

beggar

Thank you again!

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Take it seriously

joy res

I walked through the Viking Triangle in Waterford City on the New Year’s morning  and came across a Christmas Tree graveyard where I took this photograph. Some thirty decorated Christmas trees were dumped there like no longer worshiped idols. The Holidays are over.

Holiday season in Ireland was darkened  by severe and extensive floods that hit the country in the end of December- beginning of January. Property and farmlands are damaged, people are devastated after losing their possessions and security of their homes.

I haven’t been to the flooded areas this year, but I have some pictures taken during the flood in 2009 and 2013.

At this stage, River Suir looks fierce and beautiful – Clonmel 2013.

flood

Carrick on Suir in February, at high tide the same year.

flood

This flood is already getting out of hand…

flood

flood

In summertime,  River Suir can be so shallow that in some places a heron can cross it without getting his bottom wet.  Now the river looks like a lake – you can watch  Cyril Helnwein‘s video and take a 6 km kayaking trip from Clonmel to Kilsheelan – not only down the river…

Unfortunately, there is no fun at all in getting flooded.

For many flood victims, this is not the first time they have been flooded in recent years and they face the current crisis without insurance coverage. Murky brown floodwater, sometimes more than a meter deep, causes permanent damage to almost everything.

Some  farmers have to evacuate their cattle to the neighboring farms. Feed and pastures are destroyed, and it will take months the land to drain and recover its capacity to grow crops. People blame the EU Conservation Program.

Floods have always been around, they are natural. Much of the flooding is  caused by bad planning, allowing  roads and houses to be built on natural flood plains. It seems that unpopular decisions are required, like relocation of  businesses  and people.

Now that the worst seems to be over, it is time to start thinking about the next flood, and take it seriously.

On a lighter note – we can also dream 🙂 This  sweet girl lives in the place where it is snowing in winter. What is she dreaming of?

snow

This lovely girl lives in Ireland. May be she is dreaming of a dry, white winter?

2016

Have a wonderful weekend!

Goats and monkeys!

goats

Flu hit me Monday. I almost have no memory of the first two days, just some strange dreams and random, chaotic thoughts. Thursday my head cleared up a bit so that I could think about my next blog post making notes on a piece of paper ( I was too weak to open my laptop). The misery of my condition couldn’t produce anything cheerful, and somehow I started thinking about all the innocent creatures of this world who’ve got to suffer for nothing.  Goats came to mind.

My first image was  taken on a bright summer morning during Waterford Hot Air Ballooning Championship . I got a few good shots at the take off in the grounds of Waterford Castle, and was on my road to Passage East where I expected to take a ferry and cross to Co Wexford.  I was almost there when the events took a rather surreal turn and the scene changed to somewhat apocalyptic in a matter of seconds. The goats. They started falling out of the thick bushes,  off the almost vertical cliff – all sizes, shapes, genders and breeds. The sun was blinding me, but true to myself I was pressing the shutter. Two cars in front of me navigated out of the scene when more goats jumped from above, not less than a hundred of them, and I was stuck. I missed the ferry, but took a great set of pictures.

Goat is one of the first domesticated animals. When and where he ruined his reputation, is not clear, but he is associated with the satyr Pan, notoriously mischievous god who had a long beard, goat legs and horns.  Read this article, it is very informative and amusing.

Pan was so ugly that even his mother run away from him horrified and disgusted.  It is where the word ‘panic’ came from. I don’t know what to say,  but look at these pictures and prove to me that this goat is not a saint among his people.

goat

goat

Some goats have a better fate. The picture below was taken ten years ago, in Killorglin, Co Kerry.  Every August people gather to celebrate Puck Fair in Killorglin, and a goat is crowned to become a king of the land for three days ( you can watch a video  on this link). The earliest known reference to Puck Fair is a charter by King  James I, dated 1613, granting a legal status to the existing fair.  The farm hands had a clause in their contract to be free of work for those three days.

The festival is a great event, and I hope to attend it some day. If you travel Ireland around 10 – 12 August, make a note.

king puck

These skinny goats were spotted in Bunratty Castle, Co Limerick.

Bunratty Folk Park

Co Kerry has a weakness for goats – in town of Dingle, Goat Street is an extension of the Main Street.

dingle

In the Shakespearean tragedy, Iago works Othello into such a state of jealousy, that the poor man imagines things that have never happened. He exits the scene with the exclamation ‘Goats and monkeys!’ using the name of innocent creatures to express his disgust.

Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight
I do entreat that we may sup together.
You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus. Goats and monkeys!
 Using Desdemona’s words, I can tell that, concerning goats, “… I have spoken for you all my best “,  and now I should speak for monkeys too, which would be only fair. Look at the picture – this face speaks volumes. Don’t judge monkeys!

monkey

The Hot Air Balloon  Festival ended with amazing take off from Waterford Airport, but I will remember it because of the Passage East goats.

hot air

I do hope I have been a good advocate for the creatures not favored by some. What if we change the tradition and make “Goats and monkeys” a funny exclamation, not a symbol of immorality? It is the 21st century, after all.

Happy Christmas to you all, peace, love, inspiration and joy!

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

From South to North and back – The end

EElena Shumilova workshop

This is the last blog post of the series about my Inishowen adventures (starting from October 23). I miss my favorite models, and hope to work with them some time next year.

map of ireland

After leaving Abbeyleix, I drove to Port Laois where I stuck for almost an hour, changed my route, and headed to Tullamore Co Offaly, the motherland of Tullamore Dew, the triple distilled Irish whiskey.There I took this picture of the Visitor Center with the neighborhood of happy consumers in background.

tullamore

After that I crossed the  bridge over the Grand Canal and proceeded to Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

tullamore

The sun started to show up but the fog didn’t clear away. My plan was to stop at the Belvedere House and Gardens on the shores of Lough Ennell to take a break from driving and eat something.

belvedere

The house was built by Robert Rochfort in the 18 century. This man had big issues with his family. He had incarcerated his wife in their previous home at Gaulstown for an alleged affair with his brother Arthur, whom he later put in debtors’ prison in Dublin. He also built the Jealous Wall after falling out with his other brother George, to block off the view of his house on the adjacent estate.

belvedere

The wall is built at a distance from the Belvedere House, and it is very high to ensure that the offensive sight is blocked off.

I walked through the gardens  down to the lake and back. I shared my sandwich with a friendly goat, took some photographs, and resumed my journey.

belvedere

I didn’t stop in Mullingar, but took a photograph of the Cathedral of Christ The King.

mullingar

I took R394 through Castlepollard because it is familiar to me and very beautiful. After the village of Finnea I entered Co Cavan. My luck was obviously pushed too far.

Driving around Cavan, I missed my turn to Cloverhill and wasted at least 30 minutes until I figured out where on earth I was. They say that the Celtic word for Cavan means both ‘hollow‘ and ‘small hill’… Do you remember hoodoos? There is another lovely word for you – drumlin, a clay hill of glacial origin. In between drumlins the valleys are poorly drained, with bogs and lakes.

bogs

(William) Percy French (1854 – 1920) once wrote:

The Garden of Eden has vanished, they say,
But I know the lie of it still.
Just turn to the left at the Bridge of Finnea,
And stop when halfway to Cootehill.

I read this poem with a map in my hands trying to figure out where was he coming from when he arrived to Finnea… I think I have to go to Cavan again to find out…

In Clones Co Monaghan I got lost again. I didn’t miss my turn or anything, I just didn’t know how to get to Omagh. Well, I knew the long way ( I used it on my way home), but there was a tiny road on the map  that I wanted to explore. I ate a 99 and walked around the square. Trust the 99, it is a cure for everything. I came across the guy who stood idling in the doorway, and he explained me how to find the road. He warned me of the dangers I might encounter, wild sheep etc. I was only happy to hear that 🙂 With his directions, off I went. My luck was back – not like in this video 🙂

A narrow country road took me to Fivemiletown Co Tyrone, and then up North to Fintona.

murley mountain

Halfway between Fintona and Fivemiletown lies Murley Mountain.

workshop 1 185ares

workshop 1 189ares

On the summit is the Lendrums Bridge wind farm, one of the largest in Ireland, with 20 turbines.  Another 8 turbines are located on Hunter’s Hill.

workshop 1 197aresiz

From Omagh I traveled through Strabane and Derry, which took me another 2-3 hours – 9 hours altogether with all the stops.

As you already know, I had a wonderful time in Inishowen.  The images below were taken from my hotel window early in the morning. There is no color processing, I only made a subtle change in the Levels  moving the black point slider to 4. It was exactly what  I saw with my own eyes.

inishowen

This image is zoomed and taken from a slightly different angle some 20 minutes later.

inishowen

Isn’t it a fairy tale?

My journey back home was quiet and filled with sadness. As it became a tradition, I got lost around Clones again ( I wasn’t supposed to be there at all; I took a different road…) , but a good old 99 cheered me up, and I got directions at the petrol station. I crossed Co Cavan without incidents, my little car wriggling between the drumlins; stopped for petrol in Mountmellick at the sunset; sneaked through Durrow and Ballyragget in the dark and took a motorway from Kilkenny to Waterford “when the stars went blue”.  Couldn’t fall asleep that night.

I am missing Inishowen, but it is the time to move on. Thank you again Elena Shumilova  and Brendan Diver, Sean Derry, children and their parents! Thank you fellow photographers Dirk Lecluse, Katrina Parry, Suzanne O’Connell, Steve Thomas-Jones, Renata Dapšytė, Gemma Burton, Karolina Zadwórna-Turczyńska and many others. Hope we meet again soon!

elena shumilova workshop

___________________________________________________________________________

I am very honored to be nominated for the Lovely  Blog award by Patrick Jones from The Linden Chronicles. Please visit his blog and read his books. I love them!

Thank you Patrick, I hope to maintain the loveliness 🙂

one-lovely-blog-award

Now I have to reveal 7 things about myself

  1. I have seen all Bond movies
  2. I am a lousy swimmer
  3. I think that spiritual and physical self-reliance is a sign of maturity
  4. I want to learn how to swim before I die
  5. I want to climb Kilimanjaro before I die
  6. I adore cats
  7. I love all other creatures

And here are the blogs I am nominating – a tiny fraction of the bloggers I like.

https://knittingwithheart.wordpress.com/

https://waldfoto.wordpress.com/

http://graffitiluxandmurals.com/

https://halfeatenmind.wordpress.com/

https://zenocrat.wordpress.com/

http://sebdani.com/

https://poetrummager.wordpress.com/

Here is the list of rules to participate:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to her/his blog.
  2. List 7 interesting facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate up to 15 other bloggers 
  4. List the rules and display the award.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a great weekend!

Ten Years Later

A note before the post:

My heart goes out to those affected by last night’s tragedy in Paris. Sending prayers of comfort and courage. I know the shock of learning that the people you know are held hostage. God help them all.

It is the time for the Governments to rethink and rewrite their policies, and for us people to remain human.

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Inishowen

This post is not a review of Alexandre Dumas  book. Last time I was in Inishowen in 2005, ten years ago. Just caught in the life, I guess.

In 2005, we drove up to the Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland, turning from Derry clock-wise around the coast. Somehow I have lost almost all my photographs from that trip, but there is one I want to talk about. I remember driving a very narrow road winding up the hill, and then, suddenly, this magnificent view opened like a window onto another world.

five fingers strand

It was quite windy, and the long, lush grass was moving in the wind, making the slope under our feet look like green fur of some giant animal. I was mesmerized by this mysterious beauty.

For years, I was dreaming of coming back, but I had no idea how to find the place. In Google Earth, I found the church and the graveyard, but couldn’t figure out where the road goes. With a tip from  Brendan Diver, I finally learned the name of the place – Knockamany  Bens. Early in the morning, before hitting the road back home, I drove north, my heart ricing with excitement.  I felt like I was heading to a reunion.

And finally, ten years later, I was standing there again, with the only difference that my camera was upgraded to a full frame model. The majestic view was the same.

cnockamany bends

From the viewpoint you can see a nameless hill (presumably Cranny Hill; check out http://www.diaryofadonegalgent.com/), Lagg village and chapel, Five Fingers Beach, and an inlet from the ocean, called Trawbreaga Bay. Across the water, there are the Doagh Famine Village, islands of Glashedy, Binnion, Dunaff and Fanad, and the highest point, Raghtin More Mountain.

Below, two more photographs taken from the viewpoint car park. Across the water you can see the beach where we had the Elena Shumilova Workshop photoshoot I wrote about.

knockmany

More of Trawbreaga Bay.

knockmany

Good bye Knockamany…  Hope to come back some day. My project for 2016 is ‘Mizen to Malin‘ cross-country photography trip.

One last photograph, October 2015.

inishowen

If I followed the road, I would eventually get to the Malin Head. As it commonly happens in our life, the journey is much more spectacular than the destination. This is Malin Head, July 2005.

malin head

We didn’t explore much at that time. The trip was a detour after traveling around Northern Ireland.  Another picture from Malin Head, and a bit of history.

malin head

The ‘EIRE’ sign, painted on stones below Banba’s Crown tower  at Malin Head, was a symbol of Irish neutrality during World War Two. The sign was a message to World War Two pilots that they had entered neutral territory. The Battle of the Atlantic began on September the 3rd 1939, 250 miles North West of Malin Head. German U-boats and submarines torpedoed both cargo and armed ships, and distress signals were received at Malin Head. Hundreds of lives were saved. The wreck of the RMS Transylvania sits almost intact 135m below the water’s surface. She was being towed  but sank before reaching the land.

Another remarkable place you can see East from Banba’s Crown hill, is Ballyhillin Beach.

malin head

This beach has its secrets. If you plan to go to Inishowen, don’t miss it.

To add to my memories from July 2005, I want to share these pictures from December, the same year. That  time we didn’t travel around Inishowen, but checked it out from the heights of The Stone Fort of Grianán of Aileach.

Grianán Ailigh

stone fort

stone fort

These are all the memories I have from 2005.

Driving down the hill, I took a few more photographs, including the one with the sheep I posted in my first blog.

inishowen

inishowen

horses

inishowen

The church in the images is a Roman Catholic chapel built in 1784. It has many amazing features that I hope to write about some other time. At the church I turned to the Five Fingers Beach to look at the sand dunes. They are not the largest dunes I have seen, but very beautiful. I didn’t dare to go to the beach because there was no one around, and I understand the word ‘quicksand’.

inishowen

I took this photo just to show how amazing is the grass that stabilizes the dune. I hope people understand that climbing can destroy protective coastal ecosystem that has been formed through the centuries.

inishowen

The Five Fingers Beach takes its name from the five sea stacks that are visible at low tide. The wreck of The Twilight, which sank in 1889 en route from Newfoundland to Derry, can also be seen when the water is low. The beach is sheltered by the cliffs and hills. This is The Soldiers Hill.

inishowen

My good-bye visit, as I already wrote, was to The Pollan Bay in Balliliffin, one minute drive from the Strand Hotel. I packed my car, checked out and hit the road. About my trip from Waterford to Inishowen and back I will write in a week or two.

Now it is the time to confess that I hoped to seriously impress my readers, but the odds were not in my favor. Alas. Brendan Diver  – Photos from Ireland – I will share his photograph instead .

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Just a few words about Brendan.  He takes stunning photographs of the Northern Lights ( Aurora Borealis) – his images have been seen across the world on numerous TV News networks, such as RTE, BBC, ITV, Sky News, Good Morning America etc. He was an official photographer during the visit of President Michael D Higgins to Inishowen in 2014; he was invited to photograph Colonel Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut who himself took amazing photographs of Aurora from space. He organized Elena Shumilova Workshop, and an extra night photography class, at which we were expected to take photos of said Aurora Berealis! No luck with that, there was no display of the Northern Lights  in the area that weekend.

For those who might plan their visit to Ireland next year, there are two more workshops scheduled in July. I wouldn’t hope for Aurora though.

Thank you for reading! More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a peaceful weekend!

Elena Shumilova’s Dream

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Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

In spring 2012,  Russian architect and mother Elena Shumilova got her first DSLR camera, and by Christmas the same year she became a renowned photographer. In early 2014 her name was all over the internet, and by the end of the year she had been featured in media worldwide. Her story is nothing short of magic.

I saw Elena’s photographs on Flickr in April 2013 and fell in love with them. Back then I had almost zero chance of ever meeting her. I could only dream.

Like in a fairy tale, my dreams came true. Elena Shumilova and Brendan Diver ( Photos From Ireland) hosted her first ever European photography workshop in a beautiful village of Ballyliffin, Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal. I had enrolled for the workshop to have the time of my life. Here is my first post if you missed it.

elena shumilova workshop

The luckiest part of it was that I had been helping Elena with interpreting – very little, in fact, since she has good conversational English, but because of this interpreting I had the opportunity to talk with her and to know her as a person.

Elena’s beautiful face radiates that kind of inner peace, you immediately know that she would never pass judgment, never envy, fight, or hate. She is down to earth, caring, intelligent, focused and mature.

Elena says that the famous dog was never photogenic and she almost gave up on him. Then, one day, the photograph ‘just happened’.

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Inspiration is crucial, and it should be limitless. Don’t start if you are not inspired. No technical skill will make your viewer empathize with your work. Only the soul and emotional pulse of your photograph matters.

My advice – it is not necessary to look for inspiration in faraway places. Rather, look deep within yourself, your home, your backyard, familiar view from your window. People often get bored with their familiar surroundings and want to leave them for something more exciting, even if it is only in their dreams. I think that it is very important to retain the thrill and fondness for your surroundings, and at the same time focus your eyes and your mind on creating an aesthetically perfect story during both shooting and editing’ – Elena Shumilova

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

When should we look for inspiration?  Elena suggests that we should look for inspiration even when we feel down, when we are going through the difficult times in our life. It is when we can be most creative.

‘Shoot when the season isn’t ‘beautiful’ in traditional sense, when the trees aren’t golden anymore, their branches stripped of leaves; overcast skies, dirty melting snow, puddles of slush and mud; withered, colorless grass. Wind, snow, rain – everything can look attractive and make a great photograph. Beauty isn’t only about sunshine, lush green grass and blooming flowers.’ – Elena Shumilova

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Elena rarely takes full face shots.  She believes that your body  expresses emotion  better than your face. Poses and gestures are the best story tellers.

shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Elena Shumilova’s Photography Workshop was run under the motto Turn Your Dream into Pictures. These words reveal the core of Elena’s exceptional standing as an artist. It was a great experience to see her work; to see how her vision had planted seeds of creativity in her students.

elena shumilova

elena shumilova

Below, two of Elena’s images from the photo shoot in Inishowen.

elena shumilova

elena shumilova

Images courtesy of Elena Shumilova

What is Elena’s personal dream? She wants to make a film. Best of luck with that, Elena! Thank you for these three days of magic and inspiration!

You can see and purchase Elena Shumilova’s artwork here.

More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

SPRAOI – twenty three years in the streets!

spraoi 2015

Twenty three years!  Well, not every day, but once a year, in August. In this blog I will cover just 1/100 of all the theatrical and musical events, just a small fragment of the festive fun so that you plan your next visit to Waterford on August Bank holiday weekend.

Spraoi [spree] is a Festival of international street Theater and Music which takes place  in the city of Waterford, Ireland, since 1992.  Spraoi means play in Gaelic.

In the opening image you see an evil monster hold a human. It happened on the last night of Spraoi this summer, but the beginning of the festival was quite innocent. Sort of.

nun ruth

This is Musical Nun Ruth, a no-nunsense Sister, and a favorite of all, children and grownups.  I followed her for an hour and took many photographs.

nun ruth

Sister Ruth wins hearts with her hilarious antics and charming personality.

nun ruth

nun ruth

nun ruth

These three ladies are not impressed..

spraoi

… but young children are excited  – she is very different from the nuns they know.

nun ruth

Tenth Avenue Band was another favorite.  They performed at Spraoi a couple of years ago, and it was delightful to see them again.

tenthavenue

I cannot tell you how I love the band!

tenth avenue

Open air tango with Tango Waterford… Another fascinating experience, tales of passion, jealousy and envy! Watching the spectators was fun.  They pretended that they didn’t really care, but the said envy was written all over their face.  I should have enrolled for a class ten years ago myself, when it wasn’t too late…

spraoi

Watching is not always fun. Look at these children waiting in the queue. The longest three minutes in their lives.

spraoi

Grandma and her Grandson, the owners of identical, gorgeous hair, also waiting for somebody. A brass band is playing on their right, but they look in different direction.

waterford

A man is reading old ads displayed in the butcher’s window while waiting for his wife.

waterfod

Unknown individual is reading today’s paper, waiting to clock out and go home, finally.

waterford

A dog is also waiting when it is time to go home. He has no idea that his owners are watching clowns. Or may be he knows?

dog

Young gypsy girl from  Romania, with a scarred face and tired eyes, wants to go home too, but her parents wouldn’t be happy if she left. It is a festival time after all.

beggar

I have many photographs from Spraoi Parade taken over the years, but this year it was my first parade when I took only three pictures. One of them you have already seen – A monster and a human. Theme for this year was Evolution, and the monster was supposed to be a product of evolution or something like that.  Two photographs below were taken before the parade turned to The Quay. Raining or not, the street was packed.

spraoi

spraoi

I hope you read the link about the history of Spraoi. It will help you to understand why all these people were standing in the heavy rain, and why the others, in amazing costumes that took a year to make were walking through the city center, some of them with very little clothes.  It is just love.

Thank you for catching a glimpse of Spraoi with me.  Tomorrow early in the morning I am off for a few days, and this trip will hopefully feed my blog until Christmas 🙂 I am not sure about the internet connection, and apologize if I won’t be able to return your visits to my blog. I promise to catch up when I am back with something interesting to share.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!