February 28, 2006

Fanore Wall

Stone wall in the Burren is silhouetted against the sea near Fanore on a bitterly cold Sunday. This is a colour photograph - it's just that there is no colour there.

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 70-300mm@300mm, ISO=200, Aperture=f11, Speed=1/640.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

Every shriek is a cry to stop

There's a particularly annoying set of adverts playing on Irish radio at the moment. The point (and I use the word loosely) of the ads is how embarrassing it would be if you were prosecuted for not having a TV licence. Fat chance - this is a country where people show precious little embarrassment after being convicted for drunk driving, let alone paying the RTE tax.

The adverts are annoying for another reason. Every time I hear one, it makes me ponder about what exactly I get in return for sending 155 euro to our national broadcasting station. OK, there's the two TV stations and four radio stations, but I doubt if even many in RTE could actually describe the point of either 2FM or Network 2. There's the fact that RTE, a state company, pays its top presenters more than the state pays a judge, heart surgeon or even the Taoiseach. But even that doesn't annoy me half as much as the RTE's relentless devotion to the bloody Eurovision.

I mentioned before the horror that is the Eurovision song contest - not just the night itself (which is easy enough to avoid) but the six months beforehand that RTE devote to picking a contestant. I think I'd rather have the citizenry roaming the street in wild gangs rather than see them at home dutifully watching RTE's entire Eurovision output (and given that it's rag week for NUIG in Galway this week, that's not a choice I make lightly).

This year, it was decided that Brian Kennedy would sing all the songs entered in the competition and the lumpenproletariat could phone in their votes for the favourite. And surprise, surprise, the winning composition was written by an up and coming songwriter called…Brian Kennedy. One of the beaten entrants grumbled a bit about the result. That entrant's name ? John Waters, journalist and columnist who surprised everyone by a) writing a song for Eurovision and b) admitting it. It's only a matter of time before he blames "feminazis" for the result, though it was probably his favourite type of woman (i.e. the ones that stay at home to mind the kids) that made up the majority of the voters and who had somehow failed to recognize his talent. Next year, I want RTE to get David Hasselhoff to sing all the songs, and let him pick his own dancers.

Meanwhile, there are more musical horrors in store closer to home this summer. I knew it was bad karma to slag off the last artist to play Pearse Stadium in Galway. Presumably in an effort to clear the city, a promoter has decided to bring Bryan Adams to Galway and to play in the GAA pitch in Salthill. I would rather watch the Black and Tan Reunion band playing a four-hour loop of God Save the Queen while warming themselves with burning tricolours on the pitch than watch five minutes of the Canadian 'rocker'. And I'm not the only one

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Posted by Monasette at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006

Ripple effects

Pattern recognition ? Source here.

An alternative Arts Festival will run this year during the same time as the established festival, in response to a feeling among some in Galway that the emphasis of the main event is more Festival than Galway. Tonight, the alternative festival, Project06 (and planned for 2006 only), will have a public meeting in the Great Southern to take suggestions, proposals and to give some feedback.

Technical data: Canon350D, lens=70-300mm IS @ 265, ISO=100, Aperture=f9, Speed=1/250.

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Posted by Monasette at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2006

Big Green Love

It's late February and the result of all that January frog friskiness is evident in every pool and drain - big globs of frog spawn, like this technicolor one near the Friar's Cut, River Corrib in Galway. Taken yesterday morning.

Technical data: Canon350D, lens=70-300mm IS @ 300, ISO=400, Aperture=f8, Speed=1/250.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

Welease Wodger

Two years ago, one of the walkers from the Galway Walking Club trekking up Leenaun Hill found a shoe and tied it to the sheepwire fence nearby. It was still there on Sunday when she passed it on the way to the cairn at the top of the hill. It was a perfect day for walking - sunny and clear until sunset.

When we got to the top, we found that we had been gazumped. Another walking group had already occupied the cairn (big flat pile of stones) for lunch. Did we join them ? Nah. After exchanging greetings, we trudged another 200 yards to a sun-warmed peat bank and broke open our picnic lunches (if you think an army marches on its stomach, you should see our lot). Occasionally, we'd glance back at the cairn. Our cairn. Judean People's Front, anyone?

Technical data: CanonG3,lens=8mm, ISO=50, Aperture=f4.5, Speed=1/500.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:48 PM | Comments (5)

February 21, 2006

Barna Wood Sprite

Beech Wood creature, Barna Wood, Galway City.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Canon 70-300mm IS USM @ 70, ISO=100, Aperture=f9, Speed=1/3, tripod.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

Barna Woods

I visited Barna Woods on Saturday. It's hard to believe that such a fine stretch of beech and oak woodland can exist so close to the city (it's across the road from the turn for Silver Strand). Once you walk about one hundred yards into the woods, you can't even hear the traffic from the very busy road. Since it's still February, there isn't much sign of growth - the woods are carpeted with a thick layer of mainly brown beech leaves. There's a fairly thick layer of litter too - not for the first time have I returned from a wander with armfuls of plastic bottles, empty cans and crisp packets. [I could go on a rant against litter bugs, but I'd be preaching to the converted - if you're interested in the pics on this site, you're probably not the sort to chuck rubbish all over the countryside]. And to commemorate Hug-a-Tree-like-You-Mean-It week, I'll be posting a few more shots this week from the woods.

I see that this site has made the short list in the Photo category of the Irish Blogs Awards, so thanks to all that voted (voted for me, that is). The short list is still sending a few extra visitors here - hope you enjoy the pictures.

And while I'm at it, I've finally got around to adding a few more links. There's a very active bunch of photographers in Galway and the west using Flickr to display their photos. And the great thing about the Award thingie is that I've discovered a few more kindred spirits. Welcome aboard.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Sigma 10-20mm IS USM @ 20, ISO=100, Aperture=f8, Speed=1/8, tripod.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006


The Orahope of Svendborg unloading oil in Galway yesterday.

Small enough to be really cosy - big enough to be a proper town, and with the heart of the city opening up towards the harbour front cafes and restaurants – integrated in the living fabric of harbour scenery.

No, I'm not talking about Galway, though I could be. The quote above is from the Svendborg tourist office, a coastal town in central Denmark. Actually, Galway might not have that much in common with Svendborg. The entire Danish municipality has a population of 45,000 (compared to 65,000+ in Galway city) and judging by the photo on their tourist website, they have resisted the urge to build on every square inch of land in their town, sorry, city, centre.

There was a time when the sight of a Danish ship making its way into an Irish port would be the signal to flee for the hills. Not any more (Thanks, Brian Boru!). The Orahope of Svendborg carried the 1 millionth tonne of cargo into Galway harbour last year and the captain got a little presentation to commemorate it from the Galway Harbour company. The Orahope is a regular visitor to Galway and here are a couple of time lapse 'movies' showing it slip out of harbour. The first one was taken last night (and you can view either the small version (3.8Mb) or the large version (9.4 Mb) - you'll need broadband for sure to view them) - the second one (8.6Mb) was 'filmed' last week and is shot in glorious Jigglevision™ (I.e. I didn't use a tripod).And yes, I know, I'm no Spielberg.

Technical Data: Camera=EOS350D, lens=Sigma 10-20mm, ISO=100 (day movie), 800 & 1600 (night movie), Aperture=f8 (day), f5.0 (night),Speed=1/200 (day),1/5 (night), Stitched together as an animated .gif file in Adobe ImageReady2.

P.S. I mentioned a while back that one could have a site just devoted to the boats that come in and out of Galway Bay. Turns out that there is one.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:54 AM | Comments (2)

February 18, 2006


Dead duck flapping ? Mallard in Galway city this morning.

The examination of a dead duck near Lyon confirms that the H51N1 bird flu virus has reached France and it won't be long before it reaches Ireland. Attempts to control the spread of the disease in Europe and Asia so far have meant strict controls on farmed birds (poultry) and mass culls of wild birds in certain areas. Not good news.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Canon 70-300mm IS USM @ 300, ISO=400, Aperture=f7.1,Speed=1/1600, underexposed by 1 stop.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006


Rosserk Friary, Co. Mayo.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Sigma 10-20mm @ 11,ISO=100,Aperture=f11,Speed=1/50.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:08 PM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2006

Spring Buds

I was going to write about how dry it has been since December - but it's rained solid for the last 36 hours. Picture of willow (well, sallow) taken on Sunday, which was another wet and windy day. The branch was swaying quite a bit, hence the high shutter speed and ISO.

To the new visitors who have arrived here either via the Irish Blog Awards (ahem, there's still time to vote) or Photoblogs (for some reason, this site went into the Top 20 Hot sites, attracting more visitors and then promptly dropped out again), a warm welcome. To my regular viewers, thanks again for dropping by.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Canon 70-300mm USM IS @ 300,ISO=800,Aperture=f5.6,Speed=1/500,1/3 under exposed. Post-processed (more of a gentle caress, really) with Photoshop CS2.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Wish You Were There

I remember this when 'twere all fields...The Great Southern hotel overlooking Eyre Square, January 2006.

Technical data: Camera=Canon350D,lens=10-20mm @10 mm ,ISO=400,Aperture=f7.1,Speed=1/60.

It can’t be much fun working for the Great Southern hotel in Eyre Square. For the last two years, they’ve endured the building site conditions outside their front door. Now, just as the Square is finally beginning to take shape, they find out that their hotel is about to be sold. There are 9 hotels in the Great Southern group (the Corrib Great Southern beside GMIT is also affected by the decision), and it is effectively state-owned (the Dublin Airport authority actually owns it). The decision to sell is due to falling revenues and declining occupancy rates.

Eyre Square, February 2004.

Technical data: Camera=CanonG3,lens=36mm (35 mm equivalent),ISO=100,Aperture=f5.0,Speed=1/200.

The Advertiser reports the predictable wails of protest from local politicians – wails that ring just a little hollow. These are the same politicians that approved a plan to needlessly rail off Eyre Square as a building site for 2 years, which must have affected business in the hotel (for most of that time, the square itself was used only as a storage area for the equipment needed to improve the four roads bordering the square itself).

Frank Fahey, the government minister from the city is against the decision too. Laudable sentiments, though if he liked the hotel so much, why did his party move their prestigious Fianna Fáil fundraiser during the Galway Races last year from its regular spot in the Great Southern to the Radisson nearby (I suspect that the Radisson has taken a lot of business from the Eyre Square hotel).

The hope is that the hotels are sold as a going concern – but the Eyre Square hotel is in a great location (but with no room to expand). If it goes the way of every building that goes up for sale, it will either become a set of apartments or a huge shopping plaza – and for 50% of the city’s population (the high-heeled half) that latter option would be good news indeed.

Mind you, judging by an article in the Irish Times article during the week, for Irish shoppers, the world is not enough. The next time the Wall Street Journal runs an article complaining about how US companies are dodging their tax liabilities at home by using the Irish tax system, they might like to point out that, every Christmas, Irish shoppers try to give the money back. My mind is still boggling from the news that half a million Irish people visit the US every year, with 100,000 visiting during the Christmas period. [Imagine- you go all the way to New York to buy that special Christmas Day outfit, just to find that your next door neighbour has already bought it]. Based on 2004 figures, which estimated the average stay at 2 weeks and the average daily spend at around 100 euro. Hmm, 1400 euro multiplied by 500,000 is …about the price of a motorway. The same article mentions that nearly a million Irish people went to Spain last year too. It’s no wonder we have to outsource all our jobs to immigrants – the locals already have a full-time job going on holidays.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006

Froggie went a courtin

The Galway Walking Club's walk on Sunday was cold, wet and miserable. And those were the highlights. Along a country road, we came across a grisly scene - dozens of mutilated frogs. They didn't look as if they had been run over, but they were fairly mangled. [They may have been attacked by birds as they crossed the road]. Later, we stopped at Poulnabrone dolmen on the way home for a look. I nipped down to the ravine behind the dolmen to ahem, leave a small contribution of my own. When I stepped down from the side of the ravine, the entire puddled floor appeared to shimmer and wriggle. I had blundered into the Playboy mansion of the Irish common frog [Rana temporaria]- on every grass tuft, a male frog strutted his stuff, and gave the odd croak (particularly when I stepped on them*). Most of them were already in a clinch with a chosen female. And there were hundreds of them in an area of maybe twenty square metres.

As the saying goes, you've got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. If you are a frog, that's all you've got to look forward to. Happy Valentine's Day.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Canon 70-300mm USM IS @ 300,ISO=800,Aperture=f5.6,Speed=1/160.

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* Didn't really. Well, not intentionally anyway.

Posted by Monasette at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

February 12, 2006

Dog Day Afternoons

The weather has been a little strange this winter. We’ve had almost no rain since December – you only have to look at the rivers to see that they are almost at summer levels. It hasn’t been very cold in the west either but that’s not so unusual. The cold snap during the week brought with it a beautiful sunrise on Friday (which alas, I couldn’t photograph) and also the sight of a couple of foxes snuffling about in fields, their glossy winter coats contrasting vividly against the frosted grass.

Foxes are opportunists and an ailing lamb would do nicely if it came across one. But before the horse’n’hounds set get too excited, foxes are not the biggest problem for farmers right now. The Western People reported last month that 100 sheep had been savaged by ‘wild’ dogs in the Ballina area. Where did those dogs come from? Turns out that last year, Mayo county council rounded up 381 dogs last year. For fifteen of them – a new home, and a future longer than 5 working days. For the rest, a trip behind the wood shed on their way to the big kennel in the sky. In Galway, six hundred dogs were rounded up. That’s a lot of unwanted pets scavenging for food. And it doesn’t all come from dustbins. Every winter and spring, stray dogs chase and sometimes kill sheep and lambs. Even if they don’t draw blood, the trauma can cause an expectant ewe to abort.

It’s not just strays that farmers have to worry about. I was walking in the Burren yesterday and came across two sets of walkers with dogs… In fields where there was obviously livestock, in the middle of the calving and lambing season. Is it any wonder farmers don’t want people on their land? And to add insult to injury, when I got back to my car, one of those walkers had let their dog crap right at the driver’s door of my car. Which I duly stepped in. Gah!

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Canon 70-300mm USM IS @ 300,ISO=400,Aperture=f5.6,Speed=1/320.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:23 PM | Comments (1)

Shaped by the Sea

Burren Stone, washed by the sea.

If you're looking for a photo opportunity today, why not go down to New Quay in Clare (near where this picture was taken) ? There's a Point-to-Point meeting (basically horse-racing, except with hunters rather than racehorses) along by the shoreline - you can even climb Abbey Hill and get an aerial (and free ) view of the races.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Sigma 10-20mm USM IS @ 20,ISO=100,Aperture=f8,Speed=1/15.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

Day of the Lepus

I spotted hares speeding across bogland and fields on four separate occasions on my train journey this morning . No surprise - it's getting close to Valentine's Day and their courting has begun in earnest. For rabbits, on the other hand, every day is St. Valentine's Day . Alas for them, every day is Judgement Day too - the only reason that we are not overrun by a swarm of long-eared Warren Beattys is that they are right at the bottom of the food chain. It doesn't help that their main defence mechanism is to sit and hide, only making a run for it at the last minute (which makes it fairly easy for most of their predators).

I took this shot in early September last year - the baby rabbit watched me approach (very slowly) and only scampered off at the last minute - to live at least another day.

Technical data: CanonEOS350D,lens=Canon 70-300mm USM IS @ 300,ISO=400,Aperature=f6.3,Speed=1/640.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2006


Another snap from a set I took last November in New Quay, Co. Clare.

Technical data: Camera=EOS350D,Lens=18-55mm@18mm,ISO=100,Aperature=f16,Speed=8sec,Polariser Filter,Tripod.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:01 PM | Comments (5)

Without you I'm nothing

This site has been nominated in the Photoblogs category for the Irish Blogs Awards, so if you like what you see [or just want to keep me off the streets], vote here.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2006

The clear light of day

Rosserk Friary casts a long shadow in January sunshine. What's left of it. It was founded in 1441 for the 3rd Order of Franciscans, which was (and still is) a ministry for lay people. Didn't make any difference to Sir Richard Bingham - it was one of the many monasteries he put to the torch.

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Technical data: Camera=Canon350D, Lens=10-20mm Sigma zoom @10mm, ISO=100, Aperature=f11, Speed=1/250sec, shot into the sun (this shot was the only one of several attempts without flare)

Posted by Monasette at 10:41 PM | Comments (3)

February 04, 2006

The Black Stuff

The LE Eithne prepares to leave Galway Harbour after the fishermens' protest yesterday.

Someone texted me yesterday to say my apartment was on telly. And it was, in the background. The Galway fishing fleet were in port as part of a nationwide to protest about government proposals for a new Fishing Law*. I hadn’t known about the blockade when I got up yesterday morning but I knew from looking out the window that something was up. The L.E. Eithne was parked by the entrance to the harbour (not its usual berth) and the Celtic Explorer [Ireland’s primary research vessel, and a fine looking ship] was moving out of the harbour to avoid the traffic jam. And there were already a lot of trawlers tied up in the Docks. By the time I got home yesterday evening, the fleet was starting to move out - the protest over.

For most people in Galway, the protest was little more than a curiosity, and something of a spectacle. But I wonder if it occurred to many citizens of how they would be affected if the fishermen, or indeed any other circumstance, caused the harbour to be blocked for an extended length of time. A shortage of Fish Fingers, maybe? Perhaps the inconvenience of mooring the yacht in Oranmore instead of in town? Well, it would be a little more serious than that. More than a million tons of cargo came into Galway by sea in 2005, and most of it was intended to feed Galway’s appetite for the country’s twin addictions – energy and driving.

One of the 426 ships handled by Galway Port during 2005.

Almost every day, tankers arrive bearing either oil for fuel or bitumen. Galway runs on oil – heating houses, powering businesses and of course, fuelling cars. And that’s where the bitumen comes in – primarily for tarring all those new roads needed to carry all those new cars [if you’ve ever wondered what was in those tankers labelled Cold Chon driving around Ireland, it’s bitumen]. What is bitumen, anyway? It’s also called tar or pitch and it’s basically the sludgy gunk left over when the lighter oils are refined.

A tanker docks in Galway every day to keep the city topped up – I don’t know how much oil is kept in reserve, but I doubt if it’s more than a week or so. Any sustained delay in replenishment would have a dramatic effect on the city, particularly at this time of the year. A severe shortage of heating oil might force businesses to switch off machines and lights at night, people living in centrally-heated houses might be forced to pool their scarce heating oil by spending time with neighbours, and petrol rationing would mean that motorists would have to abandon their cars in favour of public transport, forced to give up the pleasures of traffic jams in Claregalway, Derrydonnell and Lough Atalia for the misery of whizzing in on empty roads on the bus.

An appalling vista, indeed.

* The fishermen want violations of new fishing laws treated as administrative offences rather than criminal offences, as is the case in some other European countries. They’re not happy about some of the penalties either, such as confiscation of nets. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a Fisheries minister more sympathetic to seafarers, and less obsessed with bureaucracy than Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher**, unless Bertie replaces him with Bluebeard the Pirate. From a Donegal fishing community, he has already watered down the powers available to the Naval Service (including limiting their power to board boats – good news for drug smugglers, then). You can hear the Minister defending the Bill here.

** And why is Pat called the Cope? It’s because his father, of the same name, founded a Co-operative organisation in Templechrone, Donegal. The locals pronounced it the Cope and the name stuck on Pat and his son. An Post issued a commemorative stamp last month

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Technical data: Camera=Canon350D, Lens=Canon 18-55mm@22mm,ISO=800,Aperature=f5.6,Speed=1/15sec, Manfrotto Tripod.

Posted by Monasette at 12:48 PM | Comments (3)

February 01, 2006


RTE Radio's Mooney Goes Wild did a special programme on waders last Saturday morning - as it happened, I was freezing my ass off on Silver Strand trying to photograph lapwings while listening to the programme. Lapwings are one of Ireland's populous waders. I'm tempted to add that they are also one of Ireland's more approachable wader too but alas, I wasn't able to get any really usable shots of them. The picture above was taken last July on Inish Mor [Aran Islands] where the birds are far more friendly (the feathered ones, anyway).

The programme had already produced a poster of all Ireland's waders (and a CD of their birdsong) which you got if you bought last weeks RTE Guide (a bit late to be telling you now, I suppose). You can hear the show here.

P.S.One more thing - Mike Brown (listed in my Reference section) is giving a talk at the Galway Camera Club tonight - the quality of his wildlife photography is something I can only aspire to.

P.P.S. Mike Brown's presentation and lecture was excellent, entertaining and a very useful tutorial on both nature photography and Photoshop. His own website is here.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:39 PM | Comments (1)