Monday, 18 September 2017

Pickled Christianity

A friend arrived a few days ago at our home and pulled out a bottle from under his coat and on seeing his action my mind leaped back into the past and I thought he had brought me a bottle of poitín [the home distilled white whiskey]. The magical drink of old Ireland and the famed base of rubs when mixed with olive oil as a treatment for greyhounds and arthritic joints.

I was of course totally wrong and found out that the liquid was white vinegar; hence the first word in the title 'pickled' the hand carved [inners] were made by his brother-in-law and depict the implements used in the crucifixion.The long legged cross, the nails, mallet (hammer), spear, an axe for cutting the tree, a saw for cutting  and a ladder - which I think represents ascension ?

To me personally not having any religious beliefs in any shape or fashion. I find this bottle and it's contents rather bizarre to say the least, although I do admire the craftsmanship...
I have never ever seen anything like this before and would be very interested in reading your thoughts.

Monday, 11 September 2017

An Almost Floating House.

We sat in the car after our rambles on the shore at Tracht, - see my previous post : discussing all that our eyes had feasted on and the conversations we had been part of with people who were previously unknown to us - and still are because we never exchanged names.
An interlude of silence followed, broken by Mrs H who said she would like a cup of tea. I suggested that perhaps a delicious ice cream from Messrs. Linalla at Finavarra would soothe her, as it was only a few minutes drive away. 

Map of Finavarra

The area around Fhíonaigh Bheara, Finavarra is rather special to me for several reasons.
There is a Martello tower on the point jutting out into Galway Bay, a place that I frequently visited in the past when wanting time alone with the elements and the curlew. 

A view of the countryside from outside of Messrs. Linalla's.

Quite close to the village is the ancient site of The O’Dálaighs School of Lyricists and Poets in Finavarra. It is commonly known as a Bardic School however, as the Bards were seen as low class poets who were largely uneducated and whose functions were story telling and satire, I think ‘lyricists’ is a better description of the Schools’ function. 
The higher classes of Poets were the Fillidh who were trained in rhythm of both words, music and mastery of the lyre, later the harp. The Fillidh functioned as Poets, Historians and Panegyrists. The head of the school would have been an Ollamh, the highest grade of the Fillidh (master poet)  attached to the court of each of the provincial kings and sub-kings. There were periods when an Ard Ollamh (High Ollave) was appointed to exercise authority over the provincial Fillidh.

another view from the same place

Another similar establishment was Cahermacnaughten, near Ballyvaughan along the coast, where the once great Brehon Law School was held under the auspices of the O’Davorens. 
Originally these laws were handed down by word of mouth, passed from master to student, but from the seventh century onwards they were written down. One of the most important recorded sources of Brehon Law is the manuscript Egerton 88, now in the British library. This was copied in the 16th century from older documents at the law school of Cahermacnaghten.

 inland bay

The other end of the same bay

'The Almost Floating House'
and I always wonder if the occupiers ever fish out of there windows 
from the comfort of an armchair.

This whole maritime landscape is steeped in all that is precious to me, Irish culture, seats of ancient learning, wild nature and deep peace.

Monday, 4 September 2017


TRACHT is the name of the strand or beach that I have taken you to before, perhaps this the third time and this might be our last visit, unless of course something spectacular occurs that needs telling.

The weather forecast wasn’t promising very much other than fine rain with a warm temperature - but then they do tend to exaggerate one way or another and are rarely accurate; for generalities is their game these meteorologists.

On our journey blue sky was appearing on our lefthand side enough to keep us living in hopes. Whilst directly ahead there were grey clouds  some looked ominous and yet they seemed to me not low enough to
weep on us.

All along the route we saw lots of county Galway flags flying high in the wind, on almost every house, though not all. I said to Mrs H 
“You know there must be a match on with all of those flags showing and those without are probably blow ins or those who don’t support the GAA”
[I should tell you that ‘blow ins’ is the phrase that is used to describe
people who come from another county or even a different country and that GAA stands for the Gaelic Athletic Association]

Kinavara, another favourite place was busy and the harbour car park was full, so we carried on to Tracht without stopping. I did though notice that the pubs seemed to be busy rather early, it not yet being much more than midday.

Tracht though was virtually empty with only half a dozen cars parked facing the sea and nobody was in swimming because the red flag was flying - a warning to swimmers and yet it was virtually calm - I heard later that there was a particularly virulent type of jelly fish about, although I can say that I saw no sign of any at all.

Mrs H inspecting some gem or other

One of the many piles of seaweed that came in with the tide,
one excellent thing that was fortunately missing from the
beach was plastic debris !

This gentle bouquet  caught my eye.

A miniature harbour amongst the rocks.

A line of flowers nicely litters fore shore.

Two other flowers stand chatting amongst their many sisters!

Are they Daisies ?

Yachts also catch my eye too and it has been many a year since I head the slap of water against the hull and the very buoyant sensation of being onboard in a wind driven yacht.

I was correct it was a Championship Hurling match
against Cork

Saturday, 26 August 2017


Whenever I see the wild deer I am always reminded of the Goddess Sadbh [Sive] for these to me are her special creatures, that is if any animals can be deemed  ‘special’. Sadbh is I think a most likeable personage, so very nimble and lithe in her cloak of green as she fits through the woodlands nurturing the wildlife that share her home.

Many of Ireland’s wild Fallow  Deer escaped in the early 20th century from private park lands and supplemented the old wild herds introduced by the Norman's soon after their arrival in 1169. 
They are now our most widespread species of deer and are found in most woodlands countrywide, both hill and lowland.

One of their favourite foods are the wild Bilberries that grow on the mountainsides, intermingled with the heather blossom. I was told as a young lad that where you see bilberries there are deer - perhaps they help to spread the seeds after digesting the berries.

The bilberries are a lot smaller than blueberries
but just as tasty especially as they are free!

These lads have a very keen sense of smell and are acutely aware of any foreign sound. One has to tread very warily making as little noise as possible to photograph them, otherwise they are off as quick as lightening, deep into the forest and you will not see them again.

I was very fortunate in being able to photograph the deer that you see here, that the wind was on my face and that even though they were perhaps aware of my presence I kept very still and managed to blend in with the trees.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


'Old Timers' are the many vernacular cottages and often deserted homes scattered across our rural landscape. The photo's that follow are a selection of some of the buildings in three counties.

Beneath the shroud of greenery lies a once handsome cottage with a tiled roof.
It caught my eye twenty odd years ago and I often wondered if anyone would appreciate its very private location and buy it, nobody did so nature has now taken over.

This one too has always attracted me. There were once figures on the porch roof but since the recent clean up they have sadly disappeared. I wonder if a 'For Sale' sign will shortly be seen, for it has a useful level field behind and would make a good wee home for someone with the energy to care for the place.

No hope for this old home I guess as it is only a couple feet from a busy road.

This old timer has seen it's folks move way and the present owner can see no value
in even maintaining it as a useful store. It is very sad to see unwarranted neglect.

A long house where music and yarns would have almost lifted the rafters off whilst the owners jigged the night away.

Once referred to as an Irish cabin, most likely thatched and now sheeted over with corrugated iron, then converted to a shed: the doorway increased in width to accommodate cattle.

All is not lost for this old gatehouse is now occupied and provides a sturdy home
for it's owners.

Yet another gatehouse that we often pass by. 
This was the original gate lodge for Castle Bernard, renamed Kinnitty Castle.
 The present entrance and driveway is now at Beech Lodge.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


My eye was drawn to this article in the Irish Examiner today and I could not help but share it with you.
"A Cork farmer has made the unusual decision to give his dairy herd a retirement in an animal sanctuary instead of sending them to the slaughterhouse, writes Amy Ryan.
70 cows are set to head to Hillside Animal Sanctuary in the UK where they will live out their days rather than going to a slaughterhouse.
Hillside Animal Sanctuary was founded by Wendy Valentine to help and campaign for animal's care and “bring public awareness to the millions of animals suffering every day in the intensive factory farming industry.” 
Wendy has been arranging the trip with the farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous to the public.
“How could I send them to slaughter when there is this option for them? After all these years, they deserve more from me and they are very bonded as a herd,” said the Cork man. 
The herd has cows of all ages and they are said to be very supportive of each other. The herd waits for the older cows while they are moving fields, showing how emotionally bonded they are. The herd shows its support to a young calf, who occasionally suffers with epileptic fits, by circling the calf until the fits stop. 
“I can retire with peace of mind now, knowing they will live out their days together.”
This is the first ever dairy herd to leave a farmyard in Ireland to retire to a sanctuary. 
It is notably unusual for a farmer to choose this option for the herd, who would have fetched a high price if he had sent them to the slaughterhouse.
Some of the cows are in calf, so the offspring will be born in the sanctuary. 
“Why shouldn’t they retire with me?’ he asked. ‘They deserve it after all their hard work over the years,” said the Munster farmer. 
The farmer is said to be very emotionally attached to the herd, who he has individually named, and made the decision to send them to the sanctuary because “he couldn’t watch them going to the slaughter house.”
Joseph Ahearne Murphy from Charlie's Equine Rescue with the herd

He has other animals on his farm which will also be sent to the sanctuary including sheep, geese and ponies. 
Charlie’s Equine Rescue, which is anti-slaughter, is coordinating the entire transport to Hillside Animal Sanctuary. 
Sharon Shannon with Dove
Sharon Shannon, Irish musician, recently visited the farmer after she learned of the farmer’s “noble and admirable decision”. 
She said: “These beautiful animals will now go to a sanctuary instead of being sold for slaughter or becoming victims of live export. This is an awakening example of how compassion and kindness has won over in a world full of greed.”

She spent some time with the herd and played them a few tunes on the accordion. 
Sharon and Dove

There is a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds to ensure the farmers wish comes true for him and his herd "
This article © Irish Examiner

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Church of the Sloes

We took a train to Killarney a few days ago. It was a most enjoyable journey that passed through delightful scenery, lush green fields, distant mountains and of course the Paps of Anu which always catch our attention. 

The Paps held a significance.
Part of the reason for our journey was to visit an historian who has kept these mountains in his focus and in the public eye for over seventy years. Being an author of dozens of articles that have been read in almost every Irish publication, he is a well known figure in Kerry. 

Today Dan Cronin, a native of Rathmore, near Killarney, who, at the age of ninety-seven has not yet retired his pen, told us that there are still a couple more articles that he intends to write.

Do you know this elegant person ?


Two Stags Rutting
This particular pair have a stainless steel skeleton 
with bronze sheathing and cost €70,000.

The Gaelic Muse

New use for a phone box stood next
too a representation of a White Tailed Eagle
The Eagle who resides in Killarney Town Centre was commissioned by a sub group of Killarney Town Council, the Killarney Arts Committee, in 2008/2009. The sculpture, a local artist Joe Neeson, initiated the concept from design to creation which represents the Killarney connection with the White Tailed Eagle. During that time the White Tailed Eagle project was well underway which saw the Eagle reintroduced to Killarney National Park.

Murphy's Ice Cream Parlour

The second reason for the visit was to ramble around the town with our cameras and to enjoy ourselves by window shopping. That was the plan until we saw that there was a large branch of TK MAXX in the High Street and our resolve not to shop crumbled in milli-seconds !

We finally treated ourselves to one garment each and departed with a spring in our step to a small cafe for lunch. 

This was followed by a delicious ice-cream from Murphy’s of Dingle whose slogan is “ice cream that know’s where it’s coming from”

A lovely mural in one of the dining rooms of a unknown café where we had a wonderful lunch of a large toasted flatbread with a Cheese, Tuna and Sweetcornfilling and because of our hunger we failed to note the name of the café!

The Paps of Anu

There was a lot more to see and explore in Killarney whose name translates as Cill Áirne, meaning Church of the Sloes. 
We shall return again later in the year, when hopefully the streets will be less busy, for we country mice are not comfortable in crowds. 
I am making promise to myself to treat Mrs H to a ride in one of those famous jaunting cars on our next visit and perhaps another ice-cream will be in order.

Where shall we visit next do you have any suggestions ?

Sunday, 23 July 2017


There are places which call to me and attract me by an indefinable quality. Sometimes it is a certain type of light that flows over the landscape or a peaceful secludedness, a stillness in the air. It might occur in a forest, on a river bank, on a mound in a field or in my chair at home.

 Copper Beech, this one is roughly 150 years of age in Coole Park, Gort, Co Galway
it is known as The Autograph Tree.

Perhaps a junior Stag

I was lucky that he turned to face me

A King Stag, isn't he wonderful ?

A particular ambience arrives when I sit sometimes, it is as though a large unseen pair of wings carries me away into a different state of being and I wander amongst the clouds, seeing a myriad other creatures and beings who inhabit a place where harmony reigns. Thus I return refreshed and knowing…

This me

Coole Park is one of those places, The Beara Peninsula and The Burren are two others although they do not complete my list of special areas.

Perhaps you also have special places that call out to you ?