Visit ireland

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.

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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 – I

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First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all the thankful out there, wherever you may be! Have a wonderful and happy weekend!

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map of ireland

To those who haven’t read my blog before – it is the fifth post in the series about my trip to the North of Ireland to take part in Elena Shumilova Workshop.

I got this lovely map from  http://www.ireland-information.com/irelandmaps.htm, and drew my route with a green marker. My plan was to use smaller roads instead of motorways so that I could stop for a photograph. Most of the route was familiar to me, but I still got lost somewhere between Counties Cavan and Monaghan, twice – on my way to and from.

I left early in the morning from Waterford, drove through Kilkenny  and Durrow, and didn’t stop until I got to Abbeyleix. These photographs were taken in different years, but I think they are good enough for illustrating my journey.

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These photographs are taken in Kilkenny Castle park, in early  November 2010. The day was chilly and foggy, and very quiet.

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kilkenny

kilkenny

The National Monument to missing people was unveiled by President Mary Mc Aleese in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle in 2002. The sculpture is designed by Ann Mulrooney. Each hand was cast from the actual hand of a family member of a missing person. There is also a stone with inscription: “This sculpture and area of reflection is dedicated to all missing persons. May all relatives and friends who visit find continuing strength and hope”.

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Another old photograph – the River Nore in Kilkenny.

river Nore

After leaving Kilkenny I headed to Durrow, Co Laois. I think that it will help if I give you a link to a page where you can learn how to pronounce Irish names for places: http://www.logainm.ie/ga/

For today it is Laois [leash] and Abbeyleix [abbey- lees]

I already wrote about Durrow twice. Every year they are hosting a Scarecrow Festival, and it is a huge fun event. In my Scarecrow blog Part I I reflected on the life of Scarecrow of Oz and his predecessors; in the Part II I gave an account of the festival activities and attractions. I wont’s repeat myself and hope you visit these blog posts if you haven’t read them yet. There is also a video from which you will learn a thing or two about the nature of scarecrows 🙂

Today I am sharing two picture that I took after the festival in 2014. The day was fabulous, but then we noticed the darkest cloud menacingly approaching the town. We escaped, but all the merry gathering was drenched with rain in a matter of minutes. We drove up the rolling hills until this magnificent view opened to us. I had just a minute for a couple of snaps. The skies opened and the rain poured on us all the way home.

view

2014 durrow pano

Now back to my Grand cross-country trip.

As  I said, my first stop was in Abbeyleix.  Lonely Planet offers you six things to do in Abbeyleix, including a visit to the former Yvo de Vesci Carpet factory where a number of hand tufted carpets were made for Titanic’s staterooms. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stay in Abbeyleix longer than 10 minutes, it is why I will just share with you this old picture from Cobh (former Queenstown), the final port of call for Titanic. I will write about Cobh another time. 

titanic

I think you already understand why I am getting lost while travel…

So, I didn’t have time to do six things in Abbeyleix, neither was it my plan, but there is something in this little town that  I love and want to share with you. I love their street lights.

It was early in the morning, and I stood  in the middle of N77 without  getting in trouble. The fog was thick, the colors and sounds muted, like in a dream.

abbeyleix

I took some more photographs,  one of them I used in my previous post – the iron gate and the rising sun. After saying good bye to this lovely little town I resumed my journey.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a great Thanksgiving 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.

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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!

Back to the North: Inishowen

inishowen

It is ten years since my last visit to Inishowen Peninsula. Last summer I was close, and you can read about that trip in my  Dark Hedges, Giant Causeway and Rope bridge blogs. This time I had different plans, none of which worked out. Well, except for the main reason why I went to Inishowen, so let’s call it a business trip then – a magic business trip, to be precise 🙂  I will share the details next week after going through my photographs galore,  but in this blog  I just want to share a sad song that mentions Inishowen, because yes, I am very sad,  and I want to go back.

The lyrics:

You maidens of beauty, I’m a swain that’s forlorning,

I carelessly wandered away from my home,

I am off by the moonlight and day break of morning,

I am found in the mountains of dark Inishowen.

I strayed  a place that they called sweet Clonmany

In search of a fair maid who I might adore,

But a maiden for to love me I could not find any

From Meendoran bridge to the Gap at Mamore.

Adieu to the place where I once had a sweetheart,

But now she has left me no wonder I mourn,

When I think of that sweet spot the haunt of that fair one

I pine for her absence in dark Inishowen.

Oh it’s distance divides us in dreams I caress her

For I was as happy as if I was at home,

When I speak to that vision that it bids me compress her

To a bosom that’s pining in dark Inishowen.

I am now sad and lonely since I left her dear dwelling

To repine on that sweet spot I shall never see more,

For I’m off by the wild beach where the salt seas are swelling

From Tullagh’s black rocks to the gap at Mamore.

And now I am stationed in the county Fermanagh,

And I left my wee darling with her parents at home,

If I ever return it will be to marry,

And to wed my wee darling in dark Inishowen.

inishowen

Inishowen is not actually dark. The opening image is the view from my hotel window in Ballyliffin, Co Donegal, taken at the sunrise, and this one is another early morning view I captured when driving along the shores of Trawbreaga Bay, not far away from Malin.  I drove through ” sweet Clonmany” too, but took no photographs ( failed plans as I already said…).

The last image is of water. Not just ordinary water, but the water of Pollan Bay…

wave

This is all for now. More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

SPRAOI – thirteen years in the streets!

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Thirteen 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!

Irrelevant story

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Having a real summer ( I use the term loosely) in July here in Ireland is something of fiction. Some people live here all their life still waiting for their first summer. This year they finally have got it, but in October.

Last Friday afternoon, a couple of hours before the sunset, I went for a walk around beautiful Tramore Bay & Backstrand, enjoying unusual weather, soft light, and tiny wildlife. I don’t have a real macro lens and have to manual-focus my trusted 70-200, but it is how I like it.

At home, I picked up some images, resized them, added them to the draft of my new post, and started thinking about a story to match.

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I was almost ready to start writing, but got a “visit” to my blog and paid a “visit” back.  It is where I read a remarkable story that  brought back my own memories.  A story I want to share is not relevant to the pictures I have selected, but …  may be it is?

Sometimes we have dreams so vivid that they can be quite disturbing. When it happens, we either maniacally want to know the meaning of the dream, or to erase it from our memory. It is only a bad dream, it has no consequence, right?

In winter 1985, shortly after my father’s death, I had a terrifying dream that woke me up breathless. I saw a man with long arms that reached down below his knees. The man was dressed in some sort of rags, and stood at the edge of the forest. He did nothing, just stared at me – not blankly but as if considering something. This stare followed me for months.

The same year, in early autumn, I took my mother and my three years old daughter for a spin. The weather was sunny, chilly  and dry, and the air was filled with that bitter-sweet scent of fallen leaves and sadness.

We drove through an unfamiliar forest, but it looked friendly and we decided to stop and walk, and pick some berries. On our way through the forest we didn’t see any farmhouses, or any sign of human presence, so we felt quite safe and at ease. Our car was parked just behind the trees. I laid a blanked on the soft moss for my daughter to play on, and my mom and I walked around with our mugs in our hands picking lingonberries.

After half an hour our mugs were almost full, and I sent my mom and my daughter to the car to start packing so that we could leave soon, and I would stay another five minutes to fill up my mug. I didn’t see them, just heard their voices. The mug was finally full, I stood up and there he was. The man from my nightmare.

Our eyes met. He stood there exactly as I remembered him – dressed in some dirty, shapeless gown, and with his arms hung down way below his knees.  His hands were empty and it scared me the most: people are not walking that deep in the forest with their hands empty. He stared at me, and I could not read his stare.

I knew I was going to die, but there was my child, and I had to act quickly. All my instincts came to my rescue. I gave him a blank, uninterested look, slowly turned my back to him, and slowly started walking away. The only thought pulsing in my brain was ‘… don’t run… don’t scream…’ I called the first male name that came in my mind, and added ‘ I am coming!’ I kept walking; I expected being hit from behind at any moment. When I was at some distance, I finally looked back. He was no longer there. Gone. And then I ran.

My daughter was already in the car. I yelled to my mother to get in, fell in the car seat and locked all the doors. My heart was pounding with terror. With shaking hands I started the car and took off still expecting him to jump out of the bushes somewhere along the road. Yet, he was gone for good.

I have never been nowhere near that place again. What was that dream? Who was the man? How long had he been watching me? I will never know.

After the photo session with the spiders and caterpillars, I walked to the strand. The tide was out, but the sand was still wet and reflected the skyline.

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The sun was already low, but the cloudless sky wouldn’t make any dramatic sunset pictures.  I sat on the rocks staring at the distant water.

I love shooting into the sun. Dream and reality are somewhat mixed in this kind of pictures.

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Thank you for listening to my story! Please share your ideas – I still feel like I need some explanation.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a great weekend!

Big birds, little birds

birds of prey

I have already posted four bird-related stories from Saltee Islands, and a River Suir bird story, and here is another one. I love birds and never miss a chance to take a picture and listen to what they say. This conversation was overheard ( or may be just dreamed up? ) in Mayfield Birds of Prey falconry, Co Waterford, Ireland. I don’t know what it is about. Just some gossip, I guess. We are all guilty 😉 So, here they are: Sadie, Banin, Peanut, Muffin, Bailey, Izzy, Holly and Boo.

-Did you hear that?

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-Uh oh…

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-Aaaaaaah! Trouble!

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-I heard nothing!

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-Oh really?

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-I always knew…

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-“A little bird told me”, huh?

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-I heard nothing!!!

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-Oh come on, it is OK.

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-But …

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-And what?

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-You can’t be serious…

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-Who cares?

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-Yes, who?

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-I. Heard. Nothing.

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-Are you kidding me?

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-I don’t want to know anything!

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-Or do I already know something?…

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-Everyone knows! 

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-Well, at this point…

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-Aaaaaah!

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-I’d better be going…

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birds of prey

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you click on the images to see these sweet faces better.

When you travel Ireland, visit Mayfield Birds of Prey. This experience is not to be missed. Willie and Bridget  will let you handle and fly these noble  birds, and tell you amazing stories about them. Pure love – it is all I can tell about their work . Please “like” their Facebook page, and book a visit for yourself and your family, or make it an educational birthday trip.

Two more photographs of my favorite, Peanut, the Asian wood owl. He is molting – his eyelids will be all feathered soon.

birds of prey

birds of prey

May all creatures  be loved and respected, and live long and happy.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Walls

murals 199res

Waterford Walls is a visual Street Art project in Waterford City, Ireland. Irish and International street artists and talented school students transformed old spaces into extended art gallery. The first image is the work of Joe Caslin, a street artist and art teacher from Roscommon who is known for his project “Our Nation’s Sons” – large scale portraits of young men from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

In the image below, a man stopped to touch the surface of the portrait. I will tell you why.  Joe Caslin paintings are done on biodegradable paper,  and will come down within a few weeks.  We are lucky with the weather, and I hope the paintings will last another month.

murals

Another work of the same artist in Olaf Street. It is sad they won’t stay here too long.

murals

murals

I went around the city center to look for the other murals. First of all, I visited one of my favorite places in O’Connell Street and was pleased to find an interesting work.

murals

murals

After that I walked to Stephen Street. This is unused De La Salle Hall built in 1915. I love the new look of it’s facade. As it often happens in life, the facade is the only attractive part…

murals

murals

More murals in Stephen Street.

murals

murals

murals

murals

I like this mural  because the girl is holding a camera in her hands.

murals

It is where the rain started, and I rushed under the roof of a garage. From there I took a picture of a mural and a family with the matching umbrella.

murals

The rain didn’t last long and I walked to New Street to see the gardens and more murals.

murals

It was my last destination. There are about twenty murals, very colorful.

murals

This one is dedicated to Waterford Hospice.

murals

I stood there waiting for someone to come over and do something amazing, or at least something worth a picture, but there was no one in the gardens, so I just took a snap of the girl and her bees.

murals

Thank you for walking the streets with me. I know, it is not a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but think about the murals that won’t last longer that a couple of weeks. You have seen them!

This is sort of a similar exposition in 2008.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

All creatures

pat_gibbons

For those who are reading the fox story for the first time – here are two links to my previous posts – Kindness and Fox News.

This spring, I got a word that Minnie, the six-years old vixen,  was pregnant. The only “suspect” was a two-year old male fox Henry, badly mauled by dogs in his yearly days and restored to health in Patsy’s care. Being very busy at that time, I didn’t come over to greet the cub and take pictures. I feel sad about that – I don’t think I will have another chance.  Now the cub is gone. Pat has too much on his hands  to accommodate one more fox, and a lady from Kilkenny was happy to give the little foxy a family and a little pup for a sibling to  grow together. I only hope for an interview in near future.

I didn’t take pictures of Henry. He was in a bad mood, and we left him in his den. I only can tell that he looks very grown up, and his injured eye is not as teary as it was last year.

I have got a new “fox picture”, this time with Minnie.

fox

Grainne and Minnie are full of character, and are visually different.

pat_gibbons

pat_gibbons

fox1 170

fox1 189

Minnie is not angry in these photographs, or upset in any way.  She is just being herself, playing and watching if your attention is still on her 🙂  As you know from my previous post, Minnie doesn’t like walking and prefers being carried and cuddled, and talked to all the time. I think I performed all these tasks very well, and she expected me to carry on, but Patsy thought different and Minnie had to walk to the den on her own feet.

pat_gibbons

pat_gibbons

pat_gibbons

fox1 291gauss

After the photo session, we all went to the garden. The weather improved, a lovely change.  All the creatures of the house joined us, and I was amazed with their friendliness and good humor: even a huge rooster didn’t mind to be photographed. Cats, chickens, dog Blackie  –  all of them relaxed and at ease with the strangers.

chicken

rooster

chicken

grumpy_chicken

dog

pat_gibbons

And of course we talked about foxes, how important they are to the environment. Their diet consists mostly of rats and mice; if they steal a chicken it only means that the chickens were not locked properly. Wild fox killed his ducks yet Pat doesn’t blame the fox but the hole in the fencing. While opposing the fox hunting, Pat doesn’t encourage people to take a fox cub home if it has been found alone. The cub is not abandoned. Foxes belong to the wild and they will survive in the wild. Pat wishes people would just leave them alone.

We were invited for a cup of tea. Pat’s brother showed us a photograph of their parents. Calm, intelligent, beautiful faces. They have raised their eleven children well.

As I have learned, Pat is famous not only because of his foxes. While attending a hurling game, he was spotted and taken a picture of for Kilkenny People newspaper. What has drawn the photographer’s attention? A hat. Pat’s sister is knitting these hats for the match goers, in county colors. Amber and black – Kilkenny colors. I asked Pat if he had another hat for a photograph, and he brought me a Red and White, a Cork one… Didn’t feel comfortable in it… 😉  I should have replaced the colors in Photoshop… 😉

pat_gibbons

On our way back home we took a few pictures in Thomastown.

thomastown

thomastown

A French tourism-oriented website recently posted a story about Pat and his foxes, and asked if they could use my photographs. I am delighted that more people will learn about this wonderful man and his beloved pets. They are already known in England, Scotland, and New Zealand, thanks to Grainne who is kind of a movie star, since she has several film and tourism commercial credits.

I hope you enjoyed the day with Pat Gibbons, and will visit with him in person on your next trip to Ireland.

Have a great week!

People in the streets

sell

What is street photography? Almost everything! Photographing street scenes, public events and human characters; landmarks and architecture, urban environment, transportation… Plus colors, patterns, shadows… Simply everything.

People walk in the streets, but they also do many other things.  They sell and buy stuff, sometimes quite amazing, like this green cat…

sell

… or this hand-made jewelry. Well, the sellers can be remarkable too.

sell

This young man is not texting. He is reading. Not good for the sales, but good for him. I took this picture because of the color arrangement: red parasol and hoodie –  blond hair and wooden kitchenware.

sell

More amazing stuff, and the artist himself is a character.

sell

Street vendors in NYC are not different from their colleagues in  the rest of the world. It is an old photograph – I wonder if anything has changed.

sell

People also perform in the streets.   I already posted about the street performers in Dublin. This guy was spotted in Belfast.

perform

That’s NYC again.

perform

Tall Ships festival in Waterford.

perform

Dublin Pride – this girl came all the way from Brasil. A spectator in his underpants could be from anywhere – could be a time travelling gone wrong…

perform

This band was actually brilliant, but the streets were empty: beach party in progress.

watch performance

This guy is a reggae musician Cian Finn. I had no idea when I spotted him in Cork and asked for a photograph. Things happen 🙂

cian_finn

People use electronic devices in the streets.

dublin

carusel

dublin

People sometimes cook in the streets.

cook

cook

People are generally friendly and happy. They pose if asked nicely.

pose

pose

biker

People chat with strangers.

chat

Unhappy people protest, usually peacefully…

waterford

… or use electronic devices…

sad

Some people stay in the streets most of their time.

cork 197

Some people own terrific cars and look darn cool, like this Italian policeman. In 2004, Lamborghini donated two Lamborghini Gallardo police cars to the Polizia di Stato on their 152nd anniversary. On the 31st November 2009 one of these 165,000-euro cars was badly damaged in a collision near the northern Italian town of Cremona where it was on display at a student jobs fair. It was repaired in January 2010. I took this photograph of the famous Lamborghinis in Tivoli in March 2010, and consider myself very lucky for being in the right place at the right time 🙂

work

Some people own bikes, like this shiny one. I was circling around it long enough to get arrested 🙂

bike

Some people just wait for their bus.

waterford

Most of people walk…

dublin

… and cast shadows if the day is sunny.

shadows

Most of the days are not sunny here, it is why  I am posting a sad song for you:  Johnny Cash – Streets of Laredo.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

William Despard Hemphill, Clonmel, County Tipperary

Clonmel

Clonmel is one of my favorite towns in County Tipperary – a place rich of history, and surrounded by beautiful landscapes. If you travel Ireland and are interested in photography, it is a place to visit for many reasons.

In 1840 an instruction manual in the use of the daguerreotype was offered by the Dublin Mechanical Institute and the natural Philosophy Committee of the Royal Dublin Society purchased a camera for taking daguerreotypes in the same year. Photography started its journey in Ireland.

Photography was quickly taken up by Ireland’s professional and landowning classes and the residents of Ireland’s big country houses. One of Ireland’s pioneering photographers, William Despard Hemphill was a native of Clonmel

William Despard Hemphill (1816–1902) was born into a large professional middle class Church of Ireland Tipperary family in 1816. After graduating University of St Andrews, he returned to Clonmel and had a successful medical practice, being doctor to both the Lunatic Asylum and the Prison.

Clonmel

Dr Hemphill composed and played music, was an avid orchid grower, turned ivory ornaments and was interested in archaeology, geology, and Waterford glass. He experimented with the latest photographic techniques, won several prestigious awards, and left a vast historical photography record of the 19the century scenes and people. He won fourteen prizes in Dublin, London and Paris. His photographs were praised for excellence of composition and artistic taste.

William Despard Hemphill is best known for his book ‘Stereoscopic illustrations of Clonmel and surrounding country, including Abbeys, Castles and Scenery. With descriptive Letterpress’, which was printed in Dublin, in 1860.

Stereoscopic photography recreates the illusion of depth by utilizing the binocularity of human vision. Stereoscopic photographs, or stereographs, consist of two nearly identical photographs  – one for the left eye, one for the right. Viewing the side-by-side images through a special lens arrangement called a stereoscope helps our brain combine the two flat images and see the illusion of depth. Stereoscopic photographs became very popular after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert received the gift of a stereoscopic viewer at the Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851.

Dr Hemphill’s  “Stereoscopic Illustrations” book comprises two volumes – one is the stereoscopic photographs themselves, the other – the descriptive text. The work is extremely rare; it was never available to the general public, and possibly only distributed  by Hemphill to his aristocratic friends in South Tipperary. Each known copy is unique and differs from the others. The National Library lacks all the photographs. Clonmel County Museum has two full copies containing the photographs, however, they are not on display for the general public .

Clonmel Library has a copy of the volume containing the descriptions to the photographs (no illustrations). If you ask, they will give you the book and you can read it all – 102 pages. It is printed in red & black, with the decorative red border vignettes. A sonnet written by a well-known, or anonymous author, or by William Despard Hemphill himself, opens each chapter. The volume opens with two quotes written in Greek and Latin – by Lucian and John Dryden respectively.

Hemphill

I went around the town to recreate some of Dr Hemphill’s photographs. The bits of information about the scenes I took from that famous book.

In 1857 Dr Hemphill photographed St Mary’s, Clonmel, his parish church shortly before the reconstruction and alteration works. The Western Wing was not altered and looks the same today.

Hemphill

Clonmel

This image depicts a part of the Eastern Wing that was altered during the reconstruction works and no longer exists.

Hemphill

This image of the Quay is taken from a boat. Commercial barges like this one were used before the railway was built in 1854.  Some buildings along the Quay are still there, but the Manor Mills in the background have been demolished.

Quay, Thro’ The Arch Of The Bridge, Clonmel ( 1857-58)

Hemphill

Clonmel

Scot’s Church, Anglesea St, Clonmel (1857-58) with its pretty little Ionic portico

“Clonmel, the assize town and capital of the County of Tipperary, is situated on the River Suir, which here separates the Counties of Tipperary and Waterford, and is built principally on the north side, and partly on some islands in the river, which are connected with each other and the town by bridges of considerable antiquity.” (Descriptive text by William Hemphill)

Hemphill

In the street, you can see a car. It is a Bianconi long car. Bianconi was an Italian man who settled in Clonmel and became a Father of Public Transportation in Ireland. The headquarters of Bianconi’s Transport was in Parnell St nearby.

Otherwise the street hasn’t changed.

Clonmel

Clonmel

Another beautiful place that still exists is The Patrick’s Well and Church.

Hemphill

An old lady selling some religious souvenirs used to sit at the tree every day.

This is what the Patrick Well site looks these days. No one is selling souvenirs any more, but an old man, David, is there almost every day ready to answer your every question about the site and its history.

Clonmel

Clonmel

Clonmel

There are some changes inside the Church. The altar had to be removed because of the repeated acts of vandalism, and only the base of it remained intact. David showed me some carvings I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise: a figure of Jesus with the fields and buildings of Jerusalem in  background.

Hemphill

Clonmel

And here are a few more pictures of Clonmel taken over the years. Different seasons, different vantage points, different moods. Lovely town that has a tiny Tourist office in the Mary’s church premises, because there are very little tourists.  A gem that is not hidden, just overlooked.

Clonmel

Clonmel

Clonmel

Clonmel

Clonmel

Clonmel

So, back to Dr Hemphill again. His home was demolished and a shopping center was built where a beautiful garden used to be.

Clonmel

I went to the parking lot and asked random  people if they knew who William Despard Hemphill is. Two elderly gentlemen knew to tell me about the Hemphills’ estate. Not that he is completely forgotten – in 2013, Clonmel County Museum presented a stunning exhibition of the photographs of William Despard Hemphill – Silent Exposure. It was my first experience viewing stereoscopic photographs.

I went to his parish church graveyard and found his grave. There is a beautiful Celtic cross with the inscription that says: The memory of the just is blessed.

Clonmel

Thank you for walking the streets of Clonmel with me!

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Islands – treasure bigger than money -part 2

Saltee_Islands

(Click on the photographs to enlarge them)

First three hours were gone in a blink. It is the magic of Puffins.  I was on my way to the Cat Cliff on the Southern end of the island – the land of the Northern Gannets.

Great Saltee island ascends from 3-5m high shore on the mainland side to 20-30m high cliffs on its south-eastern side. The Southern Summit rises to an altitude of 58m.

Saltee_Islands

I was walking along a stone wall, and after it ended the path took steep up through the waist-high ferns.

saltees

On the summit I made a stop to take a picture. It was still foggy.

Saltee_Islands

A Great black backed gull was standing on a rock. I came closer. It is a large bird, a predator attacking and killing even the far larger animals and birds, and I didn’t want to take a risk. Yet, I didn’t notice the chicks until they ran and hid themselves, and only then I knew I was in trouble.  The last thing I needed was to be struck by a gull! I turned back and walked away as fast as  I could without running in panic, while the gull’s partner repeatedly flew over my head diving low enough to touch my hair.  With its wingspan of 150-170cm the attacking gull was as good as a small aircraft.

Saltee_Islands

I caught up with the other photographers and we headed to the Cat Cliff barely visible in the mist.

Saltee_Islands

There was another gull – a male with no chicks around ( we will see them later).

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

To get to the Cat Cliff takes an effort, but it was a fun climb because of the many species of the sea birds and their young we met on our way.  Look at these Razorbills with their soft fluffy bellies.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

A young Common shag looks from under the rock…

Saltee_Islands

…and makes a careful step with his clumsy webbed foot.

Saltee_Islands

An adult bird is different, all shiny and beautiful.

Saltee_Islands

This is the place. A small colony of Gannets are settled on the left from the Cat Cliff. We don’t go there  – it is a steep cliff and very little room for a tripod.

Saltee_Islands

This is the Cat Cliff itself.

Saltee_Islands

I sat there enjoying the sight, and took this panorama. Unfortunately there is no sky because of the thick fog.

Saltee_Islands

We came very close to the nesting birds, but they didn’t mind. They have lived a long life, and have seen it all…

In my previous posts,  there are more facts  and more different photographs. If you are interested, you can go back and read these post –   I have reblogged them.

Here you can listen to the gannet call. Multiply it by couple of thousand  🙂

Saltee_Islands

The sky is crawling with Gannets.

Saltee_Islands

After landing the birds perform a “dance”.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Sometimes they bring some weeds.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Under every rock there is a chick. I have no idea what bird they belong to.

Saltee_Islands

This one looks different.

Saltee_Islands

And finally I see them – the chicks of the Great black backed gull I photographed in the flight. Their mother is standing next to them and looking at me with the menacing red eye. They are so tiny and innocent, but the fact is that three more killers will join the party soon. Sorry for the Puffins…

Saltee_Islands

Look at this tiny wing 🙂

Saltee_Islands

Who can find the chicks in this photograph in 10 seconds?  🙂

Saltee_Islands

On the way back the sky cleared for a few minutes and I took another picture of the island.

saltees

We also got to see the seals.

Saltee_Islands

The boat was coming in an hour.  I started getting nervous.  This photograph of a tiny rock that stuck between the big rocks forever shows exactly how I felt.

Saltee_Islands

We went down to the Boulder Beach and sat there looking in the mist. Our motorboats finally came, the inflatable boats took us six at a time on board, and off we went again. Lucky me. The wind was not that strong, and I had never left the deck this time, all soaked in seawater but perfectly well and happy.

Thank you for reading about my adventures!

IneseMjPhotographyHave a great weekend!

Saltee Islands – treasure bigger than money -part 1

Saltee_Islands

“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

Even after I shared two posts on my Saltee experiences I still have a lot to say. I love this place.

When we arrived to Kilmore Quay to catch our motor boat, the sea looked rough. In the days of sail, the area around the Islands was known as “the graveyard of a thousand ships”.  I cannot tell that I have a brilliant memory, but this sort of information somehow always gets stuck in my head.

We boarded our boats – twelve in each – and off we went.  Not wanting to get soaked in salty wate, I went inside the boat, and it was a grave mistake. The waves were rolling over the boat; a few times the wave hit the bottom of the boat so hard that I though it would break up in pieces. Half way to the island, fighting sea sickness I had to get out, and there I stood another 15 minutes all soaked but unable even to move to make myself comfortable.  I barely remember the short trip on the inflatable boat; I was focused on staying conscious. It took me some six hours to completely recover – right before our trip back.

We walked up the steps, passed by the owners’ house and headed to the Puffin place. The island was wrapped in fog.

Saltee_Islands

The cliffs surrounding the first bay  near the cave known as the Wherry Hole are the nesting place for Atlantic Puffins.

I am very glad to tell you that there were remarkably more puffins this year than the year before.  Knowing that the birds return to their old burrows, I went to check out my buddy who made such a great model for me last year, and there he was – with some more neighbours, possibly his own grown up chicks from the previous years.

Saltee_Islands

Puffins start breeding when they are five years old.  They use their pre-breeding years to learn about feeding places, choosing a mate and nest sites.

I went around for some more shots. The fun will start in the afternoon when the puffins go fishing and return with the bunches of the Sand eels in their beaks.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

During winter, the beaks and feet of puffins fade in color, and every spring they turn  bright orange again in preparation for the breeding season.  The beak increases in size as the bird matures.

Here you can listen to a puffin  –  you will love it 🙂  Puffins usually make noises when sitting in their burrows, and the acoustics are very impressive.  I will post the link separately to give a credit to ProjectPuffin : http://projectpuffin.audubon.org/sites/default/files/audio/atpu.wav

In this photograph you can see two cameras set up by the Ornithologists to watch the puffins.

Saltee_Islands

We came a couple of weeks too early: most of the puffins young haven’t hatched yet,  but still we got lucky to see some feeding birds that afternoon.

The puffin’s beak can hold up to 60 fish.  The raspy tongue holds fish against spines on the palate allowing the puffin to open his  beak to catch more fish.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

We were lucky with the weather also. It was a dry day,  a little bit overcast. It is difficult to take photographs of puffins in the sun because of their black and white plumage.

A few more puffins. The couples stay together all their life. Males are usually slightly larger than females, otherwise there is no difference.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

This family is still working on their nest.  Puffins lay one egg per year.

Saltee_Islands

Puffins are very clumsy on the ground and in the flight. They are rather falling than landing, with a thud. In this photograph you can see some spots around the puffin. You might think it is some dirt on my lens, but it is the sand in the air. When a puffin is taking off he beats his wings and lifts up all the dust and sand.

A puffin can fly 48 to 55 mph (77 to 88 km/hr) though.  The wings can move so fast that they become a blur.

Saltee_Islands

Great Saltee Island is some 2-3 km long.  I am leaving the Puffins’ place and start hiking to the Southern part of the island along the well-trodden path.

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

Saltee_Islands

The islands  were used as a base for pirates and smugglers for centuries. The gain of these folks could very well be hidden in the many caves, like the one in the image above, but there are treasures bigger than money, and they are not hidden anywhere.

More from the Saltees in the end of the week. Hope you loved the puffins.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a peaceful week!

Meet the Past: Dolmens and Fairy Raths

fairy_rath

The past and the present in rural Ireland are balanced and closely tied up together. I want to share some photographs of ancient things taken in different years and seasons, and thank the thoughtful farmers who are the guardians and protectors of the balance.

There are about 190 dolmens in Ireland.  Dolmens have an entrance – the portal. Another name for dolmens is Portal tomb, because most of them are associated with graves.

The most visited dolmen is Poulnabrone portal dolmen  – a fine megalithic monument in the Burren, Co Clare .

dolmen

The site was excavated in 1980, and the bones of 21 people – 16 adults and 5 children –  were found. The bones were dated from 3800-3200 BC. There were also many other finds like stone tools, arrow heads, beads and even the head of a bone pin.

dolmen

The natural limestone formations in the Burren are called grykes and clints ( you see them in the image below) 

dolmen

The magnificent Proleek dolmen is also known as the Giant’s Load. It is situated in Co Louth near Dundalk, in the grounds of   Ballymascanlon Hotel.

dolmen

The dolmen  is about 3 m high and has a round capstone weighing approximately 35 tons. Legend says that a wish will be granted to anyone who can throw a pebble on its capstone so that it stays there.

dolmen

Another impressive megalithic structure is Knockeen  dolmen located near Tramore, Co Waterford.

dolmen

The dolmen is about 3 m high, and has two enormous capstones.

dolmen

Next to the dolmen is an old graveyard, quite overgrown. This is what it looks like in the end of December…

old_graveyard

A few minutes drive from Knockeen dolmen, there is another amazing megalith – Gaulstown dolmen. If you are interested, here is a Tramore area Dolmen map,  but you have to know that some of the dolmens cannot  be seen from the road.

dolmen

This is one of the dolmens that is accessible the whole year. Kilmogue dolmen, or Harristown dolmen, or Leac an Scail, is Ireland’s tallest dolmen at almost 5 meters or 15 feet from the ground to the tip of the capstone. It is situated near Templeorum, Co Kilkenny.

dolmen

dolmen

Another fascinating structure is a Fairy rath.

There are about 50.000 Fairy  raths, or Fairy forts in Ireland –  the remains of the Bronze Age – Iron Age circular dwellings. It is what the archeologists say. The ancient books say that the raths are the portals to the magical world of the Tuatha Dé Danann little people,  the fairies.

As you see, the trees grow only on the edges of the circular wall  and the central section. Why? No one knows.

fairy_rath

The ditch, or moat, is very deep, and there is no growth. Who can explain it?

fairy_rath

No one in their sound mind would cut a tree or even break a branch from a rath. Most of people believe that  if they do so, they would be followed by bad luck. Here you can read what happens if you don’t respect the fairies.   

fairy_rath

The Fairy raths were used as burial grounds for the  babies who died before they could be baptized, and had thus been denied  a burial in the Church grounds.  If the Catholic God would not accept the little ones, the ancient Gods would accept them. Babies buried in raths were thought to be protected by the fairies.

Thank you for taking a trip to the ancient places with me! Hope you enjoyed the reading.
IneseMjPhotographyHave a great week!