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 ?

Friday, 21 July 2017

GALWAY continued.

After we had had our lunch in Galway my desire was to visit Spanish Arch which I had heard much about over the years and never visited. Or so I thought.

Before making our way to Spanish Arch I spied the hull of a large vessel in the distance. Well, as  most of you probably know I am attracted by almost anything that floats and so I just had to take a detour and see what was what.

The Galway City Dock

A small tanker but large enough.

An Irish Customs patrol boat.

The photographer receives a salute - it must have been my
bushy beard !

Spanish Arch

 On arriving there it dawned on me that I was standing besides the Galway Museum, which we had visited a couple of years ago and I had never noticed the arch !

The Spanish Arch was built in 1584, originally as an extension of the city walls and designed to protect the quays. The name is in fact a misnomer, as there is no proven association between the Spanish in Galway and the building of the Arch. In the past it was known as The Blind Arch and is located on the site more appropriately known as Ceann na Bhalla (The Head of the Wall).

I took a liking to this cheery fellow.

Across the fast flowing River Corrib is the ancient settlement of Cladach

Across the river from the Spanish Arch sits the ancient settlement of Cladach, meaning ‘stony shore’, or as it is now known Claddagh. The area above the shore where the Corrib River meets Galway Bay, was once home to Galway fishermen and their families. 

Located just outside of the Town of the Tribes (as Galway is known), the settlement dates back to AD 500, one of the oldest fishing towns in Ireland. 

Old Cladach

Due to severe out break of TB among the inhabitants in 1927 the old unhealthy thatched cottages of the Claddagh were demolished in the 1930s.  Council houses and other more modern homes replaced them yet the memory of the small Irish-speaking town's traditions and customs still live on. 

Despite its close proximity to Galway city, Claddagh remained a completely separate entity for centuries because of the wall surrounding Galway which kept a divide between this village and the Anglo-Norman city across the river. The community also had it’s own King who was elected annually, today it is an honorary title.

With the sole rights to fish in Galway Bay, the Claddagh fishermen thrived and their fresh catches were sold by the Claddagh women at Spanish Arch and at other places thought the city. It is believed that by the early 19th century, there were as many as 820 fishermen in the village who ran around 80 boats. 

The wives of the Claddagh fisher men

A Claddagh (Galway) Hooker
In boats such as these the Claddagh men would have earned their living.

The sound wobbles a bit during one part of the recording 
and then comes good, so don’t switch off.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

GALWAY, a City of Curiosities.

We took ourselves to Galway city the other day, leaving the car at home and travelling by Iarnród Éireann - Irish Rail. I have long appreciated the comfort of Irish rail and this dates back to 1986 when I journeyed from Belfast to Dublin’s Connolly Street station on a bog standard British Rail coach with dusty compartments. Boarding the Cork bound train at Dublin’s Huston Station I was delighted to find myself in a sparkling carriage that looked like the inside of an airliner.
Today Irish trains are still as comfortable with wifi, charging sockets and a refreshment trolley service, so we made ourselves at home and settled down to watch the green countryside roll by.


Galway, situated as it is at the head of Galway Bay, is an attractive city with the atmosphere of a coastal holiday town. It has an international flavour and you never know who you are going to see or meet on its crowded streets. There is lot to see in this town within walking distance, which needs to be done slowly for there is much to see above your head, as well as at eye level for the many and varied curiosities can easily be missed.

One of the busy streets.

During the Middle Ages, Galway (Irish: "Gaillimh") was ruled by an oligarchy of fourteen merchant families. Their names were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, Ffont, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerritt. These were the "tribes" of Galway. The city thrived on international trade, and in the Middle Ages, it was the principal Irish port for trade with Spain and France.

Charlie Byrne’s has been a cultural centre in Galway for over two decades, and celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2014. As an integral part of Galway’s artistic landscape, we regularly host book launches, readings, and other cultural events. Over the years, Charlie Byrne’s has hosted some of Ireland’s best-known writers and musicians as well as international literary legends. A great place to browse in on a moist day and chat to Charlie on whatever subject you like.
For more information

Tigh Neachtain's
A good corner house to sit outside, drink and watch the world go past. 

Tigh Neachtain became a meeting place in 1894 and is the former town house of Colonel Richard Martin 15th Jan 1754 - 4th Jan 1834, who was an Irish politician and campaigner against cruelty to animals. He was known as "Humanity Dick", a nickname bestowed on him by King George IV. Martin succeeded in getting the pioneering Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822, nicknamed 'Martin's Act', passed into British law, which was the basis for the RSPCA. Proficient with both pistol and sword, he was also a serial duelist, reputed to having fought thirty duels. He died in France in his eightieth year .

Plenty of room with comfortable chairs and good company to while away the hours.

It is not just the paintings that are colourful !

Even the Hare has his telescope to view the scene and see the sea.


Many firms make different versions of the Claddagh Ring. Dillon of Galway is the only firm still in existence since 1750 making the Original Ring at 1, William Street, Galway.
The tradition of how to wear this ring is very distinctive. If the owner of the ring wears it with the crown pointing towards the finger nail, he or she is said to be in love or married. To wear the ring with heart pointing to the finger nail, he or she is said to be unattached to anyone.
The notice immediately above the entrance reads:

"This establishment is dedicated to
Fair play and a square deal.
No man should expect less
Nor be given more"

This young woman caught my eye as her outfit echoed 
the paintwork around her. 

Druid was founded in Galway in 1975 by graduates of the National University of Ireland, Galway, Garry Hynes, Mick Lally (1945 – 2010) and Marie Mullen – the first professional theatre company in Ireland to be based outside Dublin.
Druid has been based in a building on a lane off Quay Street in Galway's Latin Quarter since 1979. The lane itself was renamed Druid Lane in 1996 in honour of the company's 21st birthday.
Now known as The Mick Lally Theatre (named in memory of the iconic Irish actor and founder member)

We are not yet done with Galway City there much is more in store to share with you. 

Friday, 7 July 2017


We have been feeding the birds every winter, from October through to the end of April, for some years now. This year we made the decision to feed them throughout the summer months too with one exception, no peanuts. We feed them on a small amount of softened cous-cous, prepared by pouring hot water over the grain and leaving it to absorb, swell and cool, until cold.

Our local woodland

Our four footed neighbours

A fledgling, speckled like a thrush.

We’ve enjoyed watching the parent birds feeding their young and the odd looking fledglings, who are very different in looks to the adults. 
One bird, who feeds on the windowsill, looks like a dark thrush and yet the parent looks like a  blackbird complete with a yellow beak.
Is this a young blackbird, I wonder, or is it something different, a cuckoo perhaps ? 
Is there an ornithologist or a twitcher reading this blog who could help ?

Same fellow beak wide open expecting food.

This summer we have seen more birds than previous years and noticed a lot of different varieties too. Some that we have been able to identify and others that we were unable to put a name to.
I think that the rising temperatures and change of climate may very well have attracted a wider range of species to Ireland.


© MRL 2017
Same handsome fledgling

One photograph that I have never taken is an image of Mrs H feeding and conversing with her feathered friends as I would never disturb those private moments when she communes with nature.

How do you commune with nature ?

Monday, 3 July 2017


The other day Mrs H, whilst walking up from her studio, looked at the western eave of our cottage and noticed something strange.  

“Come outside and look at this odd looking nest ” she called.

I did and took my camera with me. 
It was large, it was fawn in colour and it buzzed.

Searching on the internet we soon identified it as a wasps’ nest, 
the first that either of us had ever seen.

Steve Butler prepares
to attack.

A quick study of the Golden Pages directory revealed a list of wasp nest removing specialists.
We rang three as I now I refuse to leave messages on answering machines, experience has taught me that very few firms ever reply, so the business went to the first real person who answered.
Mrs H spoke to Steve Butler, who lives in a nearby town, he was very friendly and quoted a reasonable price for ridding us of the threatening stinging menaces.

Steve in attack mode

He was as good as his word and arrived on time, complete with his kit to efficiently destroy the menace of these dreadful stinging insects. 
Although, I have to say this, that when I lived in Somerset, England and used to help a friend to make cider in his barn. There were times when the wasps after feeding on pressed apple juice were so drunk that they would crawl up our arms without stinging us. Never the less, the experience was not pleasant and we avoided flinching just in case their reflex to our movement evoked a sting.

The wasps where the arrows point have a 
coating of Steve's powder & will shortly be dead.

Steve told me not to destroy the nest for a couple of days and to allow the powder that he pumped time to work [kill] any wasp embryos that were in incubation process.
So tomorrow I shall, with help of a long pole and a step ladder, remove all traces of the offending empty nest which will be ceremonially burnt on a garden fire.

Have you any experiences of wasps that you would like to share ?