June 30, 2005

Ships passing in the ...

The Minerva II cruise ship in Galway Bay today. You can see a view of the shore from the ship's webcam here.


Posted by Monasette at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2005


OK, what happened to the summer ? I don't foresee any hosepipe ban in Galway after today's rain...

I finally got around to sorting out some pics from the airshow on Sunday


Posted by Monasette at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

Calamity Squares

The Eyre Square saga continues. Yesterday, the contractor quit without reason, though things didn't look good a couple of months ago when they couldn't meet their payroll on time. For the second year running, the centre of Galway is surrounded by barricades. On the plus side, we now have a new nature reserve...


Posted by Monasette at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

Behind Bars

Five men from Rossport in Mayo were sent to prison today for preventing Shell from accessing their land in preparation for building a high-pressure pipeline that will link the Corrib Oil and Gas field off the north Mayo coast to a pumping station near Bangor Erris. The five will stay in jail until they 'purge their contempt' - Shell had previously obtained a High Court injunction against the five. Some background info. here , here and here.


Posted by Monasette at 11:15 PM | Comments (2)


This is the effect you get when you crank up the levels in Photoshop. Red Arrows over Salthill on Sunday.


Posted by Monasette at 12:08 AM | Comments (5)

June 27, 2005

Utterly Nutterly

For anyone along the Salthill prom yesterday watching the airshow, it was a long time to sit in the sun peering skywards. And after an hour or so, minds and bodies began to wander along the shore. The Utterly Butterly flight display consisted of two biplanes, each with a (clearly certifiable) acrobat wired into a small harness above the wing (they are officially known as wingwalkers, which clearly sounds far more sane).

For 20 minutes or so, the two ladies strapped to the wings performed their routine at 150 mph up and down the shoreline. And in all that time, the couple in the bottom right of the picture were focused only on the creepy-crawlies, shells and other little beasties that get stuck in rock pools when the tide sneaks out without telling anyone. For all the attractions in the air, it's hard to beat mooching along the waterline on a hazy Summer day in Galway...


Posted by Monasette at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

Flying Machines, Part II

Don't try this at home...the Red Arrows scorch across Galway Bay this afternoon during the Galway Airshow over Salthill. The weather was scorching too - thanks to inexpertly applied sunblock, I now look like a crimson racoon. I'll post a gallery of Airshow snaps later in the week...


Posted by Monasette at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Flying Machines, Part I

I felt a bit guilty this morning - the Walking Club * were going out at 10 but I was staying behind to gawp at warplanes swooping over Salthill for the afternoon. The walkers were going to climb the Devil's Mother in Connemara, and no, that's not a euphimism for something naughty, though it probably should be. In atonement, I went for a quick early morning stroll to the Alder Trees, a wonderful, well-maintained path down to the old railway line outside Galway just beyond Bushey Park (on the way to Moycullen).

I don't know about the rest of you, but my first impression, when I looked at the insect pictured above, was...I wouldn't fancy one of them crawling up my trouser leg. (It might have something to do with the summer spent picking tobacco in Canada a decade ago. Every evening, after another day of backbreaking work, I'd have to retrieve bugs the size of small deckchairs from parts of me I didn't know I had - traumatized for life.) This is a Black Lined Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum, in case you're asked in a pub quiz) and it's around 5 centimetres long (obviously, he'd feel a lot bigger if he flew up your leg...)

Now I'm off to watch some man-made flying machines...

* Might want to mute the sound on your PC before clicking on the link...

Posted by Monasette at 01:59 PM | Comments (4)

June 25, 2005


The breakfast of champions...remnants of alfresco drinking in the Claddagh this afternoon.

A few of us got together for a natter this afternoon. In a scene that would have warmed Michael McDowell's cafe bar heart, it was lattes and mineral water all round. To begin with. Then someone ordered porter...


Posted by Monasette at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2005

Reflections of Sorrento

Street scene of Sorrento, Italy, reflected in a Vespa scooter (yes, it's just an excuse to dust off some old holiday pics - this one was taken just about a year ago).


Posted by Monasette at 07:05 PM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2005

Michael Davitt

Sunset over Sléibhte Mhám Toirc (Maumturk Mountains)

...Nuair a d'fhilleamar abhaile

chuireamar ár bpiseoga faoi uisce

is chuireamar ar salann ár gcuimhne

tráthnóna lusach

...When we got home

we put our superstitions in water

and preserved in salt our memories

of a herbal afternoon

Michael Davitt, 1950 - 2005

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Posted by Monasette at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit at Tiraun Point, Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. Photograph taken on a scorching Saturday afternoon, June 11th, 2005. Picture taken with Canon 350D digital SLR, 75-300 Image Stabilized lens (effective zoom (100-480) - 1/200sec @F9 | ISO 100 | effective zoom 440mm.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:01 AM | Comments (2)

June 20, 2005

Cnoc Mordáin

Almost unimaginable forces buckled the earth to form the ridge that we call Cnoc Mordáin, the mountain behind Cill Chiarán (Kilkieran) in west Galway. And yet other forces managed to finely balance one car-sized boulder upon another , where it still sits. Standing on the ridgetop in the haze of summer sunshine, it's hard to picture the final retreat of the giant glaciers that shed these boulders, like fleeing soldiers dumping their guns, or the earth rebounding in relief as the massive weight of the ice sheets finally disappeared.


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Posted by Monasette at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

One for the road

One thing is certain if you manage to haul yourself out of bed early on a Saturday morning in Galway - you pretty much have the city to yourself. Lady Godiva could do a few laps up and down Shop St. and not raise as much as a blush (let alone anything else). OK, the city wasn't completely deserted - there were a few revellers still tottering about, with the obligatory gang outside a certain pub at the Docks. (if you find yourself outside O'Conaire's at 6.30 am clamouring for porter, you know it's time to go home) It seemed like there was a student 'do' on the night before, and two chaps in particular caught my eye as they staggered into town from Salthill- each with a thousand yard stare and a crazy grin. They won't last long, I thought. [By the way, there was a farmer in Barna turning hay at 6.45am yesterday morning in a pitifully small field - if that isn't an incentive for students to get their exams so that they can spend their lives gawping at computers in soulless office, I don't know what is, but I digress]. On the way back into Galway later in the afternoon, guess what? The two lads were still tottering about - the stares were a bit more glassy, the grins more of a rictus. But they were still standing, well into a new day.

Gentlemen, I salute you! (now go home).


Posted by Monasette at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

Air Support

The Sunday Times reports on a new planning problem - getting permission for helicopter pads.

Stephen Dowds, an independent planning consultant in Galway, said several of his clients own the aircraft. “One is a builder who will use it for nipping to and from jobs,” said Dowds.
“So if he has a job in Naas, he hops in the helicopter and flies there from Galway. You only have to look at the number of helicopters lined up at the Galway races to see that there has been an increase in the numbers using them.”

Indeed. The field across from GMIT during Race Week looks like a scene from Apocalypse Now. However, it seems that not everyone welcomes the sound of a helicopter clattering overhead on a regular basis. One aspiring air-commuter in Kiltimagh is attracting the ire of neighbours in his attempt to get permission to draw a big "H" on his lawn.

One row involves Paul Walsh, a brother of Louis, the pop manager, in his Mayo hometown. Local residents and a school objected to a helicopter landing pad and hangar being constructed on lands owned by Walsh in Kiltimagh. They said a helicopter would pose serious health and safety problems as well as cause noise pollution. Mayo county council refused permission as a result earlier this month and Walsh has appealed the decision.

As if there weren't enough reasons already to hate Louis Walsh…


Posted by Monasette at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2005

Herring Gull & Crab

For most of the animal kingdom, you're either part of the hunting party or on the menu...This Herring Gull plucked a Shore Crab (carcinus maenas) from a rock pool, swam back to shore and gobbled up every single piece of it. Photo taken at the Coral Beach (An Dóilín) near An Ceathru Rua (Carraroe), west Galway this morning.


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Posted by Monasette at 06:27 PM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2005

Don't Bug Me

This hoverfly (left) seemed to take a particular delight in 'buzzing' the Common Blue butterfly, and kept swooping over it for several minutes despite the butterfly's efforts to shoo it away by flapping its wings.

I must confess that I've never really noticed this type of butterfly before. They are really beautiful - satin blue on the upper wings, and delicate gem-like designs on the lower wings. The larvae of this butterfly feed on trefoil - another bright sign of summer. I've posted a few more pictures below...

You can see the delicate detail of the lower wing

Details of the upper wing - only the male butterfly has this brilliant colour - the female is brown.


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Posted by Monasette at 11:33 PM | Comments (5)

June 15, 2005

Stone Circle at Broadhaven

Stone Circle at Pollatomish, overlooking Broadhaven Bay, Co. Mayo.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:20 PM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2005

Walking on Water

Man wading with his dog in the blaze of a wonderful sunset last Thursday evening, at Ballyloughaun, (near Renmore) in Galway city.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:17 PM | Comments (2)

Galway Arts Festival

Question: The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens were killed in a plane crash in 1959. Name the...plane. Ok, the questions in the Annual Galway Arts Festival Music Quiz earlier this year wasn't quite that difficult, but it might as well have been, for all we scored. The Festival itself begins in the middle of next month (11th July) but the tickets went on sale yesterday to Friends of the Festival (the size of your friendship depends on the size of the cheque you write). The tickets will be available to buy for everyone next week.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:53 PM | Comments (2)

Icarus Redux

Speaking of flights that didn't exactly go to plan, there's a recreation of the Alcock & Brown flight due to conclude this evening. On June 14th, 1919, two RAF pilots crash-landed in a bog outside Clifden, having flown nonstop for nearly 2000 miles across the Atlantic. This evening, adventurer Steve Fossett is due to land in Ballyconneely after flying the same journey in a plane that is pretty much a replica of the original (hopefully the landing will work out a bit better, though Fossett is not unfamiliar with rough landings).

Alcock and Brown had both survived being shot down during World War I, and had spent time as prisoners of war in Turkey and Germany respectively. During the flight, Brown had to crawl out on the wing of the plane to chip off ice that would otherwise down the plane. Alas, Alocck only lived another six months - he was killed when his plane crashed on the way to an airshow in Paris. Brown spent the rest of his life working for Vickers - the company that had made the plane that had crossed the Atlantic - he died in 1948.

UPDATE June 20th 2005. In case you're wondering, bad weather both in Newfoundland and over the Atlantic has prevented the plane from taking off.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005


The lark, that tirra-tirra chants,
With heigh! with heigh!the thrush and the jay,
Are summer songs for me...

...A Winter's Tale (you know, exit pursued by a bear and all that...)

Skylark on fencing post near Termoncarragh Lough, Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. Nothing sums up summer like the sight and sound of skylarks, straining into the wind and filling the sky with their song (though obviously, they're a lot easier to photograph when they take the odd break on a fencepost).


Posted by Monasette at 10:34 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2005

In the pink

Gneiss rock surrounded by thrift on Annagh Head, Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo.

If you picked Saturday to do some exploring along Ireland's west coast, then go out and buy a lottery ticket - you're on a roll. It was a simply glorious day. I was on the Mullet peninsula which was aglow with colour. I passed by Elly Beach - it's Blue Flag (re-affirmed last week) was flying but not a single person was there. At Annagh Head, the ground is carpeted with forty shades of pink - the thrift (armeria maritima) is in full bloom, and the pastel shades complement the pink and ochre shades of the gneiss rocks scattered about the headland.

Posted by Monasette at 11:11 PM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005


Rock patterns, Mullet Peninsula, CO. Mayo.

There's an interesting set of infra-red photographs of Ireland on Flickr (here) by an American photographer. You can find out how he achieves the effect here

Posted by Monasette at 11:36 PM | Comments (2)

Erriff River

Just south of the Aasleagh Falls, on the Mayo side of the mouth of Killary Harbour, the Erriff River tumbles into the fjord.

Posted by Monasette at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Blue Flags

The beach at Keel, Achill Island, Co. Mayo, one of the Blue flag winners.

An Taisce have announced their 2005 Blue Flag awards. In their own words,

The Blue Flag Campaign is one of the most widely known, most recognised and valued ecolabels throughout Europe and beyond. It is awarded to beaches and marinas with excellent environmental management.

You can read the judgement criteria here (hint:dog poo, raw sewage or a plague of locusts don't win many points) and a pdf map of all the blue flag locations can be found here. The good news for the west is the high number of blue flags awarded - 13 in Mayo (up 3), 6 in Galway (up 1, including Silver Strand in the city) and 8 in Clare (down one, due to a lack of compliance with the lifesaving equipment regulation). Galway has a chance of two more next year - the water quality must be at a certain level for two years running - and the beaches at Furbo and Salthill passed last year but not the year before (poo in the water, etc.).

Another blue flag winner - the Long Point beach at Loughrea (Loch Riach - the grey lake), Co. Galway. And yes, I'm breaking my own rule by showing a pic. that I've shown before. Won't do it again.

The highlight has to be Achill Island - five beaches won flags. Surely it would be the jewel in any crown (if only they could warm up the water a bit).

Unfortunately, there is a downside to having all of these wonderful water amenities. - the number of drownings every year. Three people every fortnight drown by accident in Ireland, and at least one person takes their own life in a river, a lake or in the sea, every week. Last week, a young man jumped into the Corrib just below the Salmon Weir after being chased by a security guard (who suspected he had been shoplifting) - his body has not been found. And two young people in a group of holidaymakers who went for an early morning swim in Clifden on Sunday morning drowned - you can read a tribute to one of them here.

The statistics from the Irish Water Safety Council only reflect the situation up to 2003. One in three deaths involve alcohol, and a drowning victim (accidental or otherwise) is most likely to be a male in his mid-thirties (though according to this Samaritans' sheet, the trend of suicides is heading downwards, though not for young men). I can never help noticing how many fisherman and boaters go out on the water without wearing lifejackets - it's a habit that needs to change.

Posted by Monasette at 09:23 PM | Comments (2)

June 06, 2005

House Sparrow

This noisy little sod woke me up this morning repairing its nest in the eaves outside my window. Photo of House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) taken with Canon 350D & 70-300 mm zoom (effectively 460mm - lenses built for non-digital SLRs magnify an image by 1.6 on a digital SLR - just like a teleconverter).

Posted by Monasette at 11:49 PM | Comments (3)

For the people

It's been a long week...

Posted by Monasette at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2005

Snipe Fly

Snipe Fly sunning itself on Carrickmakeegan Bridge over the Ballinamore - Ballyconnell Canal (Co. Leitrim).

It's all right - it doesn't bite. Unless you're a tree.

Posted by Monasette at 07:22 PM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2005

TomRegan Church

In the pretty Church of Ireland chapel, called TomRegan, there is a male version of a Sheela-Na-Gig, called the TomRegan stone. I couldn't get into the church last weekend (it was locked after the 11.30 Sunday service) but you can see a picture of it here.

Posted by Monasette at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

Das Boot

Good news, girls...the fleet's in (actually, they left on Monday)

Ask 7 German sailors to smile, and this is the best they can do....Two minesweepers (Minenjagdboot), the Fulda and the Weiden, paid a courtesy visit to Galway last weekend. They are made of antimagnetic steel and it's only just occurred to me that I should have brought a fridge magnet with me to test the hull for myself. Ah well, maybe next time. As you can see from the photo above, the members of the crew assigned to stand guard over the weekend wore sidearms. Which got me wondering - what is the protocol for non-Irish military personnel using weapons in Ireland, particularly in a completely open, public area such as Galway port ?

Mind you, the only thing he had to contend with was a bunch of Eastern European lads on the balcony of an apartment across the road who were...ahem...serenading him. Funny how a bunch of Eastern Europeans wouldn't be so enthusiastic about the German navy pulling up outside of the window...


Posted by Monasette at 09:23 PM | Comments (2)