March 29, 2006


The Long Walk at the Claddagh yesterday evening.

OK, we have enough water now. It's still raining, but earlier today, a Galway stargazer managed to get pictures in Salthill of the solar eclipse earlier today.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm @13mm, ISO=200,Aperture=f6.3,speed=1/60.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2006


A circus has set up down in the Claddagh for the week - the Big Top managed to survive the monsoon rains that fell yesterday. This evening was bright and clear, and it's the first time that I could venture out in the evening after work and have enough light to take a few shots.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= 100-400mm L IS @365mm, ISO=1600,Aperture=5.6,speed=1/100. Poor quality due to high ISO, very poor light and the fact that the picture is quite a big enlargement of a small part of the original image

The circus folk weren't the only visitors down by Nimmo's Pier - it was high tide this evening and a common seal was skulking in the water - it's the first time I've seen one so close to Wolfe Tone bridge (though a passerby told me that he'd often seen seals there).

My main reason for being there was to test out my latest acquisition - a Canon 100-400 Image Stabilized zoom lens [ that only took 6 days from order to delivery - thank you,!]. On my 350D, the effective focal length is 160-640mm, which makes it a bit of a monster. The Image Stabilizing [IS] mechanism is impressive, thought the weight of the lens itself [1.5 kg/3lbs] tends to induce a bit of camera shake. The focusing is lightning fast and silent - I think I'm going to like this lens. The picture below was taken at 8.11pm this evening - the sun had set and it was getting quite dark. The picture itself is not great - it's too grainy [ISO1600] despite some post-processing in Photoshop. What is hard to believe is that the picture was shot at 1/60th at f5.6 with the lens at full zoom (400mm, which is really 640 on the 350D) and is still relatively sharp. Admittedly, I took a bunch of shots of the bird and only 2 of them were sharp, but the bird was moving in most of the others, and IS can't do much about that.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= 100-400mm L IS @400mm, ISO=1600,Aperture=5.6,speed=1/60.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2006

Rain Man

View of the Owenglin river valley last summer, from the top of Ben Baun - it didn't look like this on Sunday.

My legs are still aching from stomping through the soggy bogland of the Owenglin river valley yesterday. It poured rain from the time we sat down to eat our picnic lunch to the time we decided to call it a day. The Galway Walking Club don't often cut a walk short because of the weather, but today was one of those times. I think we were all glad to head back to the cars, until we realised that , to get back, we had to wade* across the river first...

Still, we can't complain too much. We covered 14.5 kilometres yesterday, which was a lot less than the runners of the Connemarathon, who ran the 26 miles in a downpour. Unbelievably, some of the runners [who clearly don't have enough pain in their lives] ran an Ultramarathon instead - 39.3 miles! Dear God, I'd have to lie down after driving that far.

* OK, it was only shin-deep.

Camera=Canon G3, lens= 7.2mm, ISO=50, Aperture=f5.6, Speed=1/160.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:26 PM | Comments (2)

March 24, 2006

A Wet Weekend

Wild, wet weather predicted for the weekend, so an opportune time to spend some time in a library, museum, church or...ah, who am I kidding, ye'll be in the pub, won't ye? Alternatively, you could wrap your self in Goretex along with other consenting adults and come walking with any of the Walking Clubs in the West (you'll find a list of of them under the Contacts link on the MCI homepage, including the Galway one).

Posted by Monasette at 07:01 PM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2006

Looking Up to Royalty

"Queen Maeve" gets some last-minute adjustments before leading the Galway St. Patrick's Day last Friday. I'm without broadband at the moment, so updates will be infrequent. And feel free to add your own captions in the comment section.

Camera=Canon 350D, lens= Canon 70-300@70mm, ISO=400, Aperture=f5, Speed=1/2500.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

Birds of a feather

Rahasane turlough, near Craughwell, Co. Galway.

Posted by Monasette at 06:43 PM | Comments (1)

Two slices of humble pie for Table 3, please!

When Winston Churchill was reminded of his switch of political allegiance, he replied:-

"I said a lot of stupid things when I was with the Conservative Party, and I left them, because I did not want to go on saying stupid things."

Presumably it was for an entirely different reason that Michael McDowell left Fine Gael for the Progressive Democrats. The Minister for Justice accused a member of the Green Party of being the same ilk as the rioters in Dublin, and yesterday, he likened a Fine Gael politician, Richard Bruton, to Josef Goebbels. At least he apologized. Today, he said sorry. Twice.

And maybe Winston's story holds some hope for him. When the Liberal party fell apart, Churchill went back to the Conservatives to lead them. Who knows, if the country ever gets tired of the Progressive Democrats (who term themselves a Liberal party), maybe Michael will find himself back with his former party and a colleague of Herr, I mean, Deputy Bruton.

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Posted by Monasette at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2006

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Galway

Self-portrait on a rain-splattered tuba during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Galway this afternoon.

Ok, it didn't snow after all, but it was bitterly cold. Like last year, the Galway parade is really an occasion for kids - most of the schools marched, though it seemed to be more girls than boys (it's probably harder to persuade the young fellows to be cheerleaders). Thus, this year's gallery consists mainly of little moppets, none of whom needed much encouragement to pose for me. A big thanks to all the kids who repeatedly posed, bashed drums, shook pom-poms, did handstands or whatever else the guy with the camera asked them to do. And an even bigger thanks to the teachers who kept the little mites amused in freezing weather for an hour or two while they waited for their few minutes of parade glory. In this year's gallery of photos, I've tried to represent most of the schools and groups that took part in the parade but obviously, only an edited selection appears here. Eventually, I'll post a full set, when I get time. You can view the gallery here - I'd idvise you to step through the pictures one by one to read the captions (the slideshow option doesn't show them).

Camera=Canon 350D, lens= Canon 18-55@21mm, ISO=400, Aperture=f5.6, Speed=1/1250.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:31 AM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2006

La Fheile Padraig

Small statue of St. Patrick at the holy well on Abbey Hill, Co. Clare.

So…it's St. Patrick's morning and what should you do ? You could brave the Arctic conditions and stand in the street for a few hours to watch the parade. You could go to the pub and watch sport - Salthill-Knocknacarra and Portumna have the chance to win a double for Galway in the GAA club championship today in Croke Park [and may the Lord have mercy on us all if they win both - men will speak of the drinking that took place in a thousand years from now] - or indeed, you could do both.

You could do something else, of course. One thing we're not short of in the west, or indeed the country as a whole, is a list of places that St. Patrick was supposed to have visited, but probably didn't. So why not visit one of them today. Members of the Galway Walking Club are paying another visit to the Maumturks (they're probably half-way a hill up as I write this). I should really have gone with them - it would have been the 3rd time since Xmas and also the 3rd time I was there when it was snowing. Nestled in the middle of the mountain range is Leaba Phadraig - the bed of Patrick, and a cold stony one at that. You could climb Croagh Patrick, which would keep you out of mischief for the day, or even 'do the tour' , taking the traditional 22 mile pilgrimage from Aghagower to The Reek (which might keep you off the streets for a couple of days). If you visit any of these places today, you'll need to wrap up well - it's freezing. And you might notice that, in all of these places associated with St. Patrick, the celebration, or pattern, takes place in summer, usually in July. And you might ask yourself why the hell do we still have the great man's own day in March when it's always either cold or wet.

I'll post a few pictures from the Galway parade later today (if they're any good). Enjoy the day.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:51 AM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2006


There's an experimental power generation machine sitting in the Galway Docks today. It generates electricity by harnessing energy from sea waves and will be tethered in the sea near Spiddal for the next few months. It's one of two prototypes under evaluation this year. Given the potential energy in the North Atlantic, here's hoping that the experiment is a success. I can't be the only one disappointed that they called their yellow sea 'creature' WaveBob instead of SpongeBob SquarePants.

It's not the first machine in the west to harness the power of the sea. On Doorus peninsula, there are still the remnants of a mill (at Tawnagh West) that was powered by both wind and the tide. The tidal current is quite strong there, and the wheel could be powered by both the incoming and outgoing tide.[I have some photos of it but they are rather poor. I'll have to go back there].I don't have exact dates for when it was in operation but it's at least 200 years old. It's also a protected site.

Posted by Monasette at 11:02 PM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2006

For the day that's in it

Around this time every year, a few new visitors find their way to the site via the phrase "St. Patrick" typed into a search engine. Welcome ! The Galway parade is on Friday, and expect to see plenty of photographs on Flickr from all the Galway crew.

Camera=Canon G3, lens= Canon 7.2-28mm@8mm, ISO=100, Aperture=f4.5, Speed=1/200.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:44 PM | Comments (1)

March 13, 2006

A long way down

I hate heights so I wasn't tempted to join my fellow walkers to peer over the cliffs on Inish Mor on the Sunday of the All-Ireland last September. On the other hand, these guys are just nuts.

Posted by Monasette at 11:22 PM | Comments (3)

March 11, 2006

Hanging it there

The last of the beech leaves are clinging on in Barna Wood in Galway city, even as the spiky new buds of new leaves have begun to appear.

Posted by Monasette at 10:09 AM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2006

Dawn Light

Rain and gales forecast for the weekend - not great weather for photographs. To think it was freezing just five days ago...

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 75-300mm@75mm, ISO=400, Aperture=f7.1, Speed=1/1000.

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Posted by Monasette at 12:23 AM | Comments (4)

Caught in a bind

When this clamper discovered a car with an expired parking ticket in the docks, he didn't hesitate. And he ignored an available parking space and instead illegally parked in the 'yellow box' for the 15 minutes or so that it took to attach the clamp. Who watches the watchers?

Nothing sums up the phrase 'necessary evil' as succinctly as the outfit that clamps vehicles in Galway. No-one likes them, they are ruthlessly efficient and yet, deep down, everyone in the city knows that we would revert to something like the screaming apes at the beginning of 2001:A Space Odyssey without them. Y'see, most people would park on your head, if it was the only free space, with the excuse that, 'sure, I'll only be five minutes'. Occasionally, a driver will employ that well-known disrupter of the space-time continuum, the hazard warning lights, since it's a tenet of faith that two flashing orange lights enables one to block pretty much any gateway, disabled-parking spot or one way street.

Here's a small word of advice for anyone driving to Galway - don't take a chance with parking. The clampers will get you every time. Particularly down around the docks. Sure, there's loads of empty space there, for a simple reason - it's all either metered or permit parking. Every weekend, visitors park there, thinking that they'll be back before the clamper comes round to check. Wrong - the clampers are out at dawn, and if you're down in Galway for the weekend, do you really think you're going to get up early on a Sunday morning?

Posted by Monasette at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

March 08, 2006


Last year, it seemed like we were the only group wandering the hills of Connemara - this year, we're tripping over other walking groups on every hike. At the same moment we chose to ascend to the summit of Cnoc Na hUilleann (straight after lunch, naturally), so did a group from the Athlone Walking Club. And a third group were just ahead of us as we descended down by Lugbaun. Twenty-six of us made the climb - we sweltered on the way up in the sheltered valley oon the east side of Cnon Na hUilleann - though the west wind on the other side would scald you. Across the valley was the Twelve Bens, with snow crowning the summit of Ben Baun. Last July, we climbed that same hill when it was 29 degrees Celcius at the base. Our climb yesterday took us to 607 metres, and it was probably around zero degrees at the top (though the wind chill made it seem colder) - the hill in the background is 100 metres taller. Fans of glacial features will notice the corrie half way up.

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm@18mm, ISO=100, Aperture=f11, Speed=1/160.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006

Ponies of the Western Way

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 70-300mm@125mm, ISO=100, Aperture=f7.1, Speed=1/320.

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Posted by Monasette at 12:31 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2006

Doh! A deer

Last year, on my daily train journey to work, I noticed a herd of deer that would occasionally venture from a nearby evergreen woodland to graze in the field beside the rail track. Sometimes, only the stag, with a magnificent set of antlers, could be seen, but as the year progressed, hinds, and later, fawns could also be seen.

I drove out to the area a couple of times last year to see if I could get a photograph but never even saw a single member of the herd (admittedly, I didn't get up too early on any of those occasions), though I did get some other photos (here and here). I didn't think too much about them until two weeks ago. The ever-brighter mornings meant that I could see the fields and the woodland again from the train. Last week, during the cold spell, the countryside was frosted over, and on Tuesday morning, one of the deer herd was magnificently illuminated by the morning sun as it stood by a watering hole in the middle of the field. As luck would have it, I had decided against bringing my camera that morning [bad luck, that is], but decided to bring it the following morning - the plan was to take a shot from the window of the train.

The train has to pass a couple of level-crossings before the spot, so it's not travelling too fast. I found a door window that could be slid down a little, poked the camera out, and waited for the field to come into view. As the train approached the field, I could see the same deer. I aimed the camera and pressed the shutter. Nothing. I pressed again. Still nothing, and the chance was gone. A quick check of the camera showed that, yes, the auto focus was switched on, there was a memory card in the camera and, yes, it was switched on. Now, the EOS350D has very few faults, but I had discovered one of the. For some reason, the self-timer function (hardly an oft-used one) has a dedicated button on the back of the camera, and it's just at the spot where one's thumb rests while holding the camera. I'd accidentally pressed it just before I took a shot at the deer, which meant the camera waited 10 seconds before taking the picture [I'm blaming the camera rather than me, you'll notice]. Undeterred, on Friday, I brought the camera again. The deer didn't show, and it was just as well - every window on the train was frozen shut.

Anyway, on Saturday, I got up before dawn, drove to the field, and, using a stone wall as cover, sneaked up on the deer as it grazed in the field among a herd of cattle. I was feeling quite smug about my tracking skills until it spotted me. Rather than high-tail it back to the tree line, it just retreated a bit but stayed to have another look at me. Not so wild after all. It's not wearing ear-tags so it's not from a farm. I'm not quite sure which type of deer it is - all suggestions welcome (though preferably correct ones).

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 70-300mm@300mm, ISO=400, Aperture=f7.1, Speed=1/800.

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Posted by Monasette at 12:09 AM | Comments (4)

March 05, 2006

Don't Fence Me In

The last time I walked in the Maumturks, it was the week betwixt Christmas and New Year, and it was snowing. I'm not sure if we're going to get snow or rain on Cnoc Na hUilleann today, but Met Eireann are predicting both. Or either (they're hedging their bets).

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 70-300mm@155mm, ISO=200, Aperture=f7.1, Speed=1/800.

Posted by Monasette at 09:15 AM | Comments (5)

March 04, 2006

Nearly there

Eyre Square, Galway in icy sunshine, at lunchtime today.

Grass doesn't grow once the temperature falls below 6 degrees celcius. It doesn't matter much for the grass in Eyre Square, since it's unloaded off the back of trucks and rolled out like carpet. The contractors that took over the renovation work last Autumn have nearly finished the landscaping work, and finally, Eyre Square is beginning like it was intended (i.e. much the same as it was before the work began, two years ago). Plus ca change, etc.

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm@11mm, ISO=100, Aperture=f7.1, Speed=1/320.

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Posted by Monasette at 04:15 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2006


The cold spell dawn this morning, ice had formed in the harbour in Galway (on the inside of the lock-gate). Wasn't tempted to skate on it, mind.

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 70-300mm@125mm, ISO=800, Aperture=f6.3, Speed=1/125.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:05 PM | Comments (3)

March 02, 2006

Winter Shade

It's the beginning of March and yet it feels more wintery than it did at the beginning of the year. At the end of January, the Galway Walking Club led nearly 50 people around a loop of a corner of Lough Mask in the shadow of Drin/Bencorragh. For the first leg, we were bathed in sunshine and sweltered in our winter outfits. Once we stepped into the shade on the homeward leg, it was as if a switch had been flipped. The land was frozen and we trudged the last ten kilometres back in grey gloom, and glad of our heavy coats and boots.

The way that we went... we started at Ferry Bridge (where the lake narrows to a point), walked up to the church at Finny (white building with steeple on the left of the picture), crossed the river and followed the bank of the lake (on the right, out of picture) and returned on the righthand side of the lake's edge, in the shadow of Lugnabrick, BenLevy and finsihing under the watchful eye of Ceapach nagCapall, the hill at the right of the picture. The border of Mayo and Galway runs right up the middle of the lake, and follows the Finny river. This pciture was taken in December, when it was warmer!

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Posted by Monasette at 08:02 PM | Comments (3)

March 01, 2006

Wild Trials

I mentioned Mike Brown's visit to the Galway Camera Club last month. Part of his day job is to act as photography consultant for Wild Trials, an Irish TV show which, each week, challenges an Irish celebrity to take photographs of a nominated animal or bird within a week. If you're into wildlife photography, it's an interesting show, and this week, an actress that I'd never heard of got the challenge of going to Portumna Forest park to take shots of red squirrels. In the end, she didn't get any, though she did get a nice shot of a fox. None of the footage featured deer, though the forest is full of them and they could be heard calling in the background. The geek in me would like to learn a bit more about the camera gear that's used, but that's just me. I've wandered around Portunma Forest ark myself a few times, so I recognized most of the spots that she visited. One weakness - the programme attempts to show how much time is spent just hanging around while doing wildlife photography. Unfortunately, watching people just hanging about isn't very interesting television, so the celebrities are encouraged to witter on and on about their task, which is even less interesting.[I wasn't too impressed that she lit up a campfire in the park either - I'm pretty sure that's verboten]

The shot above was taken in Portumna last autumn. I was standing still, hoping for a deer to stroll by when this squirrel popped up. This was the only shot in focus - once I started clicking, it scarpered back up the tree.

Camera=Canon350D, lens= Canon 70-300mm@160mm, ISO=800, Aperture=f5, Speed=1/200.

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Posted by Monasette at 12:21 AM | Comments (3)