Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 15 Galway to Sligo on the road in Ireland

Processed with Alien Skin Snap Art3
This day was pretty much a wash out! It was raining when I left Galway for Sligo, and it dampened my enthusiasm for making images, but I enjoyed just rambling my way toward Sligo. I was feeling pretty comfortable behind the wheel and was willing to just drive where I wanted to explore different places. I turned down a very small lane toward the coast and it dead ended at the scene in the opening three images. I am sorry, but this is one location I failed to note. When I arrived there was a car out in the sand driving! I was pretty amazed by that and wondered who would do that but maybe there is a trick to getting across this flat when the tide is out and some locals know it! Otherwise I would assume it would be a long drive around. It was raining still and the atmosphere was thick. I enjoyed this spot and loved the barren environment and would have stayed longer if it had not been raining, it had a very distinct feel.
Processed with Alien Skin Snap Art3

Processed with Alien Skin Snap Art3  

As I was driving around I also came upon this scene and could not pass up stopping in the rain to try and get a shot.

I made my way back to Kylemore Abbey to tour the inside and gardens but honestly found the inside to be a bit disappointing, a little touristy, and the gardens were beautiful but it was raining! I walked around in my rain gear and made a few shots. I did enjoy the small church and made a shot of the window over the alter.
As I was winding my way to Sligo  I came upon a beautiful location and had it not been raining, might have been great for a sundown shot, but I made it anyway.
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Arriving at Markree Castle around dinner hour in the pouring rain or (Pissing rain as I have heard the Irish say), I checked in, unloaded my luggage and enjoyed a fine dinner in the dining room in the castle. It was a night for lounging. I headed back to my very nice large room with 15 foot ceilings, a full bath and very spacious quarters overlooking the garden, quite a contrast to the little room I had at the Amber Hill B&B. I made plans for the next days travels. More form the road in Ireland tomorrow....

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 14 Continued Ireland Connemara National Park~ Kylemore Abbey

The Connemara National Park was my ultimate destination this day. By the time I made it there the clouds were coming in again. The landscape here is beautiful, with lowland bogs and round mountain tops. From the parks site ~ "The rocks underlying the National Park are typical of the Twelve Bens area and are termed metamorphic rocks. These rocks derive from sediments deposited in a warm shelf sea between 700 and 550 million years ago. Upheavals in the earth's crust formed the sediments into crystalline schists within the roots of an elongated mountain belt. Regional uplift and erosion have since brought the rocks to the surface. The mountain tops are mostly of more resistant quartzite, while the flanks consist of less resistant schists and grey marbles. The last Ice - Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, imposed a final shaping to the landscape and left behind localised deposits of sand and gravel, widespread boulder clay and erratic boulders. These features largely determine the pattern of plant communities in the Park."

The weather quickly turned south and rain was all around the mountains..... Then more sun and yes my third rainbow in two weeks appeared!

I headed home past Kylemore Abbey and was late in passing but it worked out great as there were no tourists in the rainy evening to be seen and I just made it before the gates closed.
On the road back to Galway, just before nightfall at 10:00pm, I made one last stop in a roadside cemetery to grab another Celtic cross shot. It was a long day but fun! I was thankful to get back to  my little room at the Amber Hill B&B and crash!

I have not been good about posting a blessing or prayer with each blog but this night after a long day on the road with a rainbow it felt right to find one and share.....
An Irish Prayer  
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 14~ Continued Along the West Irish Coast

My next stop was a beautiful, area between Doorath and Spiddal East on the R336. This area was dotted with traditional coastal homes in a rocky barren type grassy shore edge landscape. It was also dotted with what I assumed to be from the architecture, potato famine abandoned ruins. I can not even begin to imagine what life was like in Ireland at that time, but it must have been just as horrible as it gets, splitting up families, dying populations and people emigrating in record numbers from this beautiful land. This ruin stopped me in my tracks! Could those roses really have been planted by the long ago woman of the house or did the seeds drift along in the air, root and take hold growing wild in the front of this once lovely home. That was my question? As I stood there framing up this shot the wind was howling through the structure with and eery sound. The rain had blown out and the sun was shining for the first time in days.

This area also had a great traditional thatched cottage home fitted with a proper half door. The half door of the thatched cottage, usually painted red or green, had several functions. It kept children in and at the same time kept unwanted and unwelcome animals out. It allowed fresh air and daylight to enter as well as providing a suitable armrest whilst contemplating or chatting to passersby. It is said that a man standing at the door would be wasting time but a man leaning on the half-doors would be passing time. I could not get a great angle on the house due to the fencing but I made a few shots anyway; it was such a charming property.

By zooming in on the windows I was able to see that the owner had a beautiful pewter lantern in one window and a dried flower arrangement in the other, so I made a couple shots of the windows. I could have worked this area for hours but I had a long way to go so I packed up and headed on.

My next stop was along R336 Furnace Road at Furnace Lake. There is a little coffee shop, Lakeview (Radharc na Locha) Coffee Shop where I decided I needed to stop, refuel and make a shot of the beautiful lake across the way from this cute shop. More from the road in Ireland tomorrow.....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 14 ~ Exploring more of the West Irish Coast

Sea Point a small town in Barna, County Galway was my first stop shortly after leaving Galway City for my day on the road. It was drizzling rain, of course! I made my way to the small harbor and once again the tide was out.
I made a few shots near the harbor of interesting doors and structures. Then turned my eye to the colorful boats on the harbors edge.

The clouds were amazing as they rolled through.
My next stop along the R336, the Barr Na GCurrach Barna Road, Co. Galway, the coastal road was near Ballynahown, at a pull off overlooking Galway Bay. I wandered around the shore here with my camera under wraps to keep it dry, only bringing it out for a few shots....more from the coast road ramble tomorrow.
I loved the windblown grasses  dotted with yellow vegetation along the bay's edge as the dark skies moved overhead.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 13 on the road In Ireland ~ Arrived Galway

After leaving the Aughnamore Castle, I set the Garmin for my final destination point that day, the Amberhill B&B in Galway. My photo library for this day is lean so I really must have enjoyed rambling or it rained...or I was anxious to find my hotel and put it down for the day. I also had to get prepared for driving in a little more crowded urban environment. I arrived around 5:00pm and checked into my third floor, no elevator up, room. Ha, this room was so small I hardly had room for my luggage and the bed, no tub, a small shower and a 1/2 sink. The room was clean and tastefully decorated a bit modern, so I settled in and made plans to find Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway, a dinner spot I had read about and wanted to enjoy then I headed  out to find Ard Bia.
The streets were crowded as the start of the Volvo Ocean Cup race was only a few days away. After finding a parking spot in a garage, I headed out on foot to Ard Bia. Dinner was delicious and I was not disappointed! After dinner I rambled Galway streets a little and made a few  town shots. The  harbor walk was already cordoned off and under guard so I could not walk the harbor proper but made a shot or two from behind the barricades.
Then it began to rain! So I headed back to the Amberhill. More from the road in Ireland....tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 13 On the road to Galway Aughnanure Castle

After leaving Ballyvaughan I was once again on the "Castle Trail" today's stop was at the Irish National Monument Aughnanure Castle. It was a "soft" day with rain spitting and I knew tripods were not allowed so I hand carried my camera fitted with a 28-300mm lens. Before leaving for Ireland I had the pleasure of visiting with the owner of Lenox Laser. They make microscopic holes in materials with a laser device. They also make pinhole caps for DSLR cameras. I was gifted a cap for my camera and brought it to Ireland with the idea that these old castles would make great subjects for pinhole images.
Only one problem...no tripods allowed and lots of wind and rain which might seep into the camera through the pinhole....so instead I decided to use Nik's Color Efex Pro pinhole filter to begin the processing of these images. Then I tweaked the effect to get the results I wanted and toned the  images. There was no color in the sky, the grass was green of course and the castle was stone colored so I thought they would make for great conversions with this effect.
As I entered I continued to be amazed at how one lived in these structures and how they were built. This one had four floors. three of which supplies were hauled up narrow steps with a good rise. I could not imagine hauling firewood to heat such large spaces. The fireplace was grand consuming fully half a wall in  length with the mantle taller than 5 and a half feet.
All the shots here were made at 6400 ISO f8 1/80 sec. between 40mm and 60mm focal length.

This will give you an idea of the manner in which each floor is reached. It was a fascinating place to walk through.
Medieval Carvings on window remain in tact.
"Near the south-eastern corner of the outer bawn, stand the remains of the east wall of the once thatched Banqueting Hall. The remainder of the hall fell with the collapse of the natural arch over the river on which the Banqueting Hall had been built. The one remaining wall contains two windows beautifully decorated inside and out with stone carvings. The sofffit of one of them bears soe stiff carvings of grapes, suggesting that wine was quaffed there by the O'Flahertys, and particularly by Morogh, who may have imported it from France and Spain through the city of Galway. "
* From the Irish Heritage site.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 13 On the Road in Ireland~ Ballyvaughan to Galway

This day was a transit day moving from one hotel to another so I spent time packing up and map checking in the morning over a traditional Irish breakfast in The Hylands Burren Hotel. I realized I had not taken any shots in the town other than with my iPhone the first night I made a walk around the harbor. I had seen a sign marker in town at the crossroads and I really wanted that shot. After loading my gear in the car and checking out I grabbed my camera and went for a walk in Ballyvaughan. I just loved the road signs in Ireland!!! While you had to stop, to really read them, they never left anything out! The shot below was a scene I came upon walking down a side alley. It made me smile! The Irish have a sense of road humor....and as I was getting on the road today it was a good reminder to be careful and pay attention. I found it difficult to be a photo scout looking for shots as well as being a driver, so I had to work on those skills too! Thankfully my mirrors never looked like this, and quite by accident I found that the side mirrors on the car had an auto-collapse button for parking or close passing!
I loved the textures on this house with its window jam in need of paint, the stucco and ridged roof. By 10:00am I was back on main street and found this man coming out of the liquor store with his Connemara Whiskey. I chatted with him for a few minutes and he invited me to join him for a drink! I told him it didn't go well with driving but thanked him anyway! I did ask him if I could take his picture and he obliged! Then turned and entered his place across the street from the liquor store.

As I was heading back to the "car park" to get started on the day, this lady came walking down the street...so I had to grab that shot! I really wanted to hang around a while and make more people images but I had to hit the road......more from the road tomorrow...
Processed with Alien Skin Snap Art3

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 12~ On the road in Ireland ~ Along the coast ~ Continued

Late in the afternoon I headed for the coast road near Lahinch. I made my way through some back roads that dead ended in private land, but found this beautiful coastal farmland that seemed to roll right into the sea. I loved the rows of stone fencing that separated the fields. In the distance it was raining. I was in and out of showers all afternoon.
Doonagore Castle

Doonagore Castle sits high atop a hill over looking the bay. Across from the castle is this quaint view of farmlands by the sea.
I loved the exposed shoreline of the rocky coast at low tide and grabbed a few shots between the raindrops. The shoreline shots below were processed with Nik Color Efex Pro.

At the end of my day as I was heading back for my last night's stay in Ballyvaughan the sun broke through the clouds momentarily and a rainbow appeared, so I hit the brakes found a quick pull over and made the last shot of the day. It was a great day!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 12 Continued ~ The Burren ~ Carran Church ~ Leamanagh Castle ~ Corcomroe Abbey

A few more sites I wanted to visit in the Burren were...Corcomroe Abbey..a public site, the Carran Church and Leamanagh Castle, the later two on private lands yet visible from the road.
It was raining hard when I made it to Corcomroe Abbey  but I grabbed my gear anyway and headed over the steps to the Abbey grounds.

By this time my driving skills had improved! One lane roads with no markings and lots of blind corners had become my friends! As the day worn on the rain ended and the blue sky became filled with large white summer clouds.
Leamanagh Castle is a distinctive structure in the south of The Burren region in Co. Clare. It is composed of the original tower house built in 1490 and an extensive dwelling house that was added sometime in the 17th century. It used to be the home of a very fiery lady by the name of Maire Rua. It is situated at the intersection of the R476 Corofin-Kilnaboy road and the R480 road to Ballyvaughan, at the southern boundary of the Burren.

From the blog Women of History~

Marie Rua Ni Mhathuna (Red Mary)

Noblewoman of County Clare, Ireland

Marie was the daughter of a chieftain of the O'Malley sept. Marie was thrice married and an stute protector of her lands in Leamaneh, which she had inherited from her second husband, Conchubhar O'Briain. Marie married (1) Donall O'Niallain, who had lands in Dysert O'Dea - he died five years later, leaving her with four children; she married (2) Conchubhar O'Briain, eight months later and had five more children. He was killed fighting the Cromwellians (1651) and she married (3) a Cromwellian officer John Cooper (1653).

Of her three husbands, husband number two was the most famous. It was said that the pair of them would waylay and rob travelers who passed too near to their castle, and hung from the walls those who fell foul of them. Marie was placed on trial (1661-1663) for the murder 20 years earlier of a servant of an English settler - she was not convicted. Marie lived and ruled over her lands at Leamenah till her death, after which a series of legends grew up around her and she became famed for having many many husbands.
This castle was amazing, I wish I could have gone in and just walked around the shell. The stone mullions in the windows must have been beautiful when filled with glass. I can only imagine! 
The Carran Church is also of Medieval times and sits on a high knoll behind a rock wall.
This was the first Connemara pony I saw on the trip and I just loved the beauty of the animal in this pasture with its stone grey color.