April 26, 2006


Oil tanker in Galway Bay, seen through the window of a burned-out car in Galway Harbour.

To mark the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, and to scare the hell out of people, RTE made a two part drama called Fallout which showed the effects of an explosion at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria on the other side of the Irish Sea. The first part showed the reaction as the radioactive cloud approached. It was a Ross-O'Carroll Kelly dream, every culchie fleeing the capital, never to return. The second part showed the state of the city a year later, practically abandoned because of the radiation. That was every Galway person's nightmare - every Dub down for the weekend and won't go back home.

Of course, it wouldn't take a nuclear explosion to banjax the country [though RTE's scenario did have the convenience of letting us blame Perfidious Albion for our woes once again]. If the tanks down at the docks blew up in Galway, I wonder how the city would cope. Mind you, it would stop people complaining about Eyre Square.

Should we have nuclear power in Ireland ? Well, why not, if it's cheap ? That doesn't mean that we need to build a nuclear power station in Ireland [when you think of all the things we can't run already…]. No - if all the globalization stuff means anything, Ireland should be able to build or buy a power station located in another country and send over the power. Utter hypocracy ? Maybe. An Irish solution to an Irish problem ? Definitely. I wonder if there's any free space in Essex…

Camera = Canon5D, lens= Canon 100-400mm@190mm, ISO=1000,Aperture=f5.6,speed=1/40.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:21 PM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2006


April tulip & aphid.

Camera = Canon5D, lens= Canon 24-105mm@105mm, ISO=250,Aperture=f7.1,speed=1/800.

Just to clarify my request last week for you, the viewers, to pick a number of pictures for a forthcoming Galway Camera Club competition, you can pick any picture at all from the site (use either the Archive or the Favourites on Flickr). And pick the pictures you like, not the ones that you think might win a competition.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2006


When it comes to the housing market, it's not just the humans that struggle to find a place to call home. Of course, if you're a cuckoo, you just take someone else's. And they do the cleaning. What could be better?

I saw my first cuckoo (cuculus canorus) of the year today. It's no fun when you're resolutely mocked by a bundle of feathers but that's what happened this afternoon. I'd sneak just close enough to take a picture when it would fly to a tree behind me, just out of range. I'd duly sneak up to it's new location, when it would fly back to the first spot again. This went on for quite a while until I'd have happily chucked rocks at it rather than take the shot.

This male cuckoo has probably just arrived and he was doing plenty of calling this afternoon. Once he mates, the female (which is more brown than grey) will lay her eggs in the nest of an unsuspecting (and usually smaller) bird. Once the first cuckoo egg hatches, instinct will lead it to push out all the other eggs in the nest (either host or cuckoo). Intelligent Design, eh ?

I came practically face to face with a cuckoo on Inish Mór last summer - unfortunately I had just packed my camera into my rucksack in order to cross some stone walls, so no picture, but I did get a great look at it [It was a female]. I didn't as close today - the closest was the shot above as it flew off.

Top image Camera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @400mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f9,speed=1/3200.

Bottom imageCamera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @400mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f9,speed=1/1600.

Note: I use the 100-400mm +350D as my 'birdwatching' kit - the quality of the image isn't as good as the 5D, but the sensor effect means that the zoo acts as a 640mm lens at the 'long' end.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:18 PM | Comments (4)


My Dad built this nest box last year to attract blue tits. They ignored it but did build a nest about two feet away in a hole in the roof of the shed to which the nest box is attached. This year, a pair have moved in , and are busy lining it with moss to make it more comfy. The box is a bit more lived-in - the rose plant that was trained up the wall last year has provided a bit of camouflage. When not ferrying in bedding for the nest, they spend a lot of time chasing away another pair of tits that have also taken a shine to the nest, and also scaring off the other birds that call to the nearby bird feeder. As Gore Vidal once commented, "It's not enough to succeed. Others must fail".

Next year, I'm hoping he'll build another one - one that will be adapted to take a small camera so that we can watch the eggs hatch on TV. In the meantime, you can see a bluetit web cam here, here, and here, the BBC have a number of webcams here and a link to a bluetit webcam here (you really need to be careful with the terms that you Google on this topic!). My mother insists that there can be up to twelve goldfinches at the birdfeeder at the same time. Funnily enough, I never see any of them when I call up. I think she's just trying to get me to visit more often.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @330mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f6.3,speed=1/320

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Posted by Monasette at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2006

Charity Cases

Statue of St. Francis at Quin Abbey, Co. Clare.

The Galway Advertiser reports that the Franciscans in Galway have hired Tommy Tiernan to host a night of spiritual debate and discussion for young people next week. They obviously didn't hear Tommy's jokes about the Pope last Friday night when he hosted a night of up-and-coming comedians as part of the Galway Comedy Festival. I suspect even St. Francis would have struggled to be charitable about some of the acts on the night, or even the bar staff in the ballroom of the Radisson, who, as ever, seem determined to drive their customers into the arms of the Pioneers. Mercifully, there was no sign of Barry Murphy or Aengus McNally.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm @16mm, ISO=100,Aperture=f5,speed=1/400.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

Push the button

The Galway Camera Club will have their end of year competition in two weeks time - new members are asked to bring a small number of pictures to be judged on the night. This is my first year with the club and I haven't got around to entering any of the competitions so far. So I will enter the competition.

However, rather than picking the entries myself, I'm going to let you do it. Pick between one and five shots and leave a comment or send an email to me at blog AT monasette DOT com (just send the permanent link to the entry where the picture appeared or send the date that it was posted). I'll enter the five most popular. If no-one leaves any comments, I'll just go away and sulk for a while. And no-one wants that. Operators are standing by for your calls....

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Posted by Monasette at 07:12 AM | Comments (5)

April 19, 2006

Grainne Wailers

Galway has a long tradition of pirate women...

Camera = Canon5D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @260mm, ISO=500,Aperture=f5.6,speed=1/1600.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2006

Basket Case

Every morning, the people from the Galway Aquarium retrieve a basketful of crabs from the bay, just across the road from their building. But for the little crabs that fetch up in the basket, the journey is short and terminal. They are destined to become part of the attraction but only as part of the menu too. Every day, in the cuttlefish tank, the little crabs are dropped in. It's not a big tank, and there's nowhere to hide. They scuttle sideways in that comical little crab shuffle that they do, until they back up against the glass. At that point, the cuttlefish hovers over, their tentacles swaying to size up their propective meal. A quick lunge, and the crab disappears into the tuft of tentacles, it's claws waving until the cuttlefish begins chewing.

Dr. Zoidberg was never this cruel.

Camera = Canon5D, lens= Canon 24-105mm @95mm, ISO=1000,Aperture=f5.6,speed=1/25.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:54 PM | Comments (2)

April 16, 2006


There's something deliciously subversive about staging Beckett's Waiting for Godot at Easter, when churches all around the country will be filled with people also waiting for the return of Something. Will He turn up ? Who knows?

This weekend is also the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, and there's no shortage of people turning up to claim the mantle of true political descendants of the Rebels. Nearly every political party can claim ancestry, not just both politically but literally, given the number of grandfather or fathers of current politicians who fought in the rebellion. This year in Galway, you'll be doing well to get around the city tomorrow afternoon without bumping into at least one of the commemorations - Pearse's cottage in Rosmuc is usually the place of pilgrimage for the various flavours of Sinn Fein (i.e. Official, Republican, etc) - it's also open to tourists this weekend.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @400mm, ISO=200,Aperture=f9,speed=1/320.

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Posted by Monasette at 01:40 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2006

Green Field Site

Eyre Square is only open a few hours and already, it is infested by skaters.

Camera = Canon5D, lens= Canon 24-105mm @24mm, ISO=100,Aperture=f5,speed=1/200.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:10 PM | Comments (1)

April 10, 2006

Come hell or high water

Taken on the way to a camera club meeting the week before last at Ballyloughaun strand in the Renmore area of the city.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm @10mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f11,speed=1/60.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:58 AM | Comments (1)

I'll Go On

ESTRAGON: No, nothing is certain.

VLADIMIR: We can still part, if you think it would be better.

ESTRAGON: It's not worthwhile now.

VLADIMIR: No, it's not worthwhile now.

ESTRAGON: Well, shall we go?

VLADIMIR: Yes, let's go.

They do not move.

Nothing sums up the relevance of Samuel Beckett and his work than standing in a cold railway station wondering when the train is going to arrive. And nobody quite understands the meaningful gaps between the silences like a ticket collector when asked when the train might possibly arrive.

Since this month marks the centenary of Samuel Beckett's birth, there's plenty of events taking place in commemoration. Most of them seem to be in Dublin, a city Beckett couldn't wait to leave. There is only one event in Galway - a lecture as part of the Cúirt festival [the Town Hall is still advertising a reading by John McGahern which seems a tad optimistic] . Anyway, there's plenty of stuff on in Dublin - performances, lectures, photo exhibitions and even the recital of a Quartet dedicated to Old Chuckles (Beckett the Musical!) - and since its six frickin' hours long, there's a better chance of Godot showing up than staying awake for the whole lot. I have to confess that I battled to stay awake when Conor Lovett brought his one man show of Beckett's trilogy to the Town Hall Theatre a few years ago (even the presence of Micheal D Higgins a few seats in front of me couldn't lift my spirits!). RTE are doing their bit too, though I wonder who is going to sit through their 19 hour unbroken reading of the afore-mentioned trilogy. On Long Wave. Starting at 5.30 am.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 10-20mm @18mm, ISO=200,Aperture=f8,speed=1/15.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:07 AM | Comments (1)

April 09, 2006


April showers...as I write this, rain is splattering against the window, though it was clear and bright just an hour ago. Yesterday was a warm sunny day, interleavened with heavy downpours. I drove down to the islands of Leitir Móir, Garmna and Leitir Mealláin (they're linked to the rest of Galway by bridges) and it seemed like every creature was busy preparing for the coming year. Birds flew back and forth fetching twigs for nest-building, I spotted a few vegetable patches already sown for early crops, and, on a sheltered rock warmed by the sun, a common lizard shook off the long sleep of hibernation.

This fellow (lacerta vivipara) was either fearless or still a bit sleepy - it let me get very close before scuttling into cover (I was actually using the macro setting on the lens). The image above is larger than lifesize - the lizard was about six inches long (15cm)

P.S.I spotted a swallow on Friday (my first this year) and despite the fact that I was holding a large telephoto lens at the time, and was facing in the general direction of said bird, I didn't manage to get a shot of it. Ah well...

Camera = Canon5D, lens= Canon 28-105mm @105mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f9,speed=1/200.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:50 AM | Comments (4)

April 05, 2006

A fair wind

The Martello Tower at Finvarra Point was ostensibly built to defend against an expected French invasion [the French had briefly landed in Co. Mayo in 1798]. This one, as well as the one a few miles away on Aughinish island, were built after the Battle of Trafalgar , by which time, there wasn't much prospect of the French invading anywhere. The only 'naval invasions' nowadays are by windsurfers, who seem to swarm down to every beach in Clare every weekend - God know how many would turn up if the water was a bit warmer.

This photograph is taken from the beach at Illaunglass; that's the name on the Ordnance Survey map, which is an Anglicized version of oileann glas, the green island, and before the road was built, the sandbar that forms the back of the beach probably was an island at high tide. However, I think the sign to the beach identifies it as Bishop's beach. The tower is about two kilometres from the beach (it forms part of Blackhead or Ballyvaghan Bay) - the terrain visible behind the tower is the village of Barna on the other side of Galway Bay - about 13 kilometres away.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @400mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f10,speed=1/800. Picture taken last Saturday on a cold but sunny morning.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:57 PM | Comments (3)

April 03, 2006

Trunk Call

Elephants in the Claddagh, Galway

Don't forget - the circus is in town all this week...

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm @10mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f10,speed=1/250.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:17 PM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2006

The tide is high

The Spring tides during this week has resulted in high-tide water levels as high as I've seen since I moved to Galway. The salt marsh around Lough Atalia (in Renmore, stretching from the Huntsman to the Department of Defence building) was completely inundated on Thursday. For the cattle left out to graze on those fields, it meant standing room only, as the tide flooded every part of their field, save the small piece of ground visible in the picture.

The rail line can be seen on the left of the picture, and the crane in the background is the one behind the Radisson Hotel.

Difference between spring and neap tide ? See here. Want to know when the next high tide is due ? Use Easy Tide.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Sigma 10-20mm @10mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f5.6,speed=1/125, Exposure=Fill-in flash.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:14 PM | Comments (2)