December 29, 2006

Fin Lough

A small gap in a raincloud hovers over Fin Lough earlier this month - a small lake formed in the cut between Ben Gorm (Binn Ghorm) and the foothills of the Mweel Rea Mountains (Sléibhte Chnoc Mhaol Réidh) in Co. Mayo. There's been torrential rain and high winds in Galway for the last two nights, and it is meant to get worse across the country. Which is not the news I wanted to hear the day before I'm going to climb Carrauntoohil (Corrán Tuathail) in Co. Kerry.

Camera= Canon 350D, lens= Sigma 10-20@10mm, ISO=100, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/320 sec, -1 stop.

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Posted by Monasette at 02:53 PM | Comments (3)

December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas, everyone

Happy Christmas, everyone. Thanks for dropping by during the year. Don't forget to look out for the wren on St. Stepen's Day!

Posted by Monasette at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)

December 22, 2006

Little Voices

Carol singing on Shop Street yesterday - it must be close to Christmas. A few more pics here.

Posted by Monasette at 12:01 PM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2006

The path to the Six Nations starts here...

Typical. Because I missed my train on probably the worst day this year for driving, I had a 120 mile round trip in near zero visibility. Half the country is covered in freezing fog, and it was so dense that I missed my turn in Monivea this evening. No matter - turning back, I noticed the floodlights of the rugby pitch in Monivea [once the best floodlights in Connacht!].

The local under-14 rugby team were out for a training session, and the freezing cold and the numerous laps of the pitch [extra for backchat and smart-aleck remarks] did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.

The weather has turned colder. Good - I want frost for Christmas Day. I've added a few pictures to the Gallery section, taken last Saturday, of the floods around Gort - just in case you'd forgotten.

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

December 17, 2006


Flooded field near Kilmacduagh monastic site, south-east Galway on Saturday afternoon.

The rain has eased, though not stopped. The consensus seems to be that, though the flooding is bad, it's not as bad as previous years. Not yet, anyway. The picture above is of the same spot (but different angle) as this picture of the turlough at sunrise.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=400, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/8000 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:46 PM | Comments (4)

December 14, 2006

Glimmers of light

Picture of Cross Strand, Co. Mayo, with Mweelrea lurking in the background.

Just over three years ago, I stood on this beach and took my first real digital pictures, with a Canon G3 that I had got just the day before. It was raining then, and it was raining Saturday, when I took the picture above. And it is still raining.

Camera= Canon 350D, lens= Sigma 10-20@10mm, ISO=100, aperture=f8, speed=1/1250 sec.

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

December 13, 2006

Walking on Water

New apartment block under construction on the bank of the Shannon in Athlone. Photo taken yesterday.

It's still raining. In Gort, despite the fact that the town is practically an island, some housing estates are short of water, due to leaking pipes. In Athlone, in Co. Westmeath, the town is on flood alert, as the Shannon rises. One day, people may question the wisdom of building on land that has flooded regularly since the last Ice Age. Or maybe not.

The water has breached the riverside walls in Athlone - on the river, the lock-gates and weir have completely disappeared under water.

Posted by Monasette at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

December 11, 2006


Okay, now we've had 30 days of rain and hail. The novelty is beginning to wear off. Picture of the moon above rainclouds near the drowned forest at the end of Doo Lough on Saturday, taken around midday on Saturday.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=320, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/3200 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:48 PM | Comments (1)

The Dead of Winter

This gull is doomed. I encountered it on the road on the Mayo side of Killary Fjord near Leenaun - it could only run ahead of me rather than fly off as I drove up to it. It looks like a juvenile Great Black Backed Gull [could be a Herring Gull too - I find it hard to tell them apart], and were it to live three summers, the mottled plumage would give way to a smart black and white livery. Not for this one. It's left wing is damaged, and it cannot fly. Normally, it would prey on crabs, other seabirds, or anything else it can scavenge along the shoreline. Instead, it will soon be food for other gulls, or even the little crabs that it would normally hunt.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=500, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/320 sec.

Further up the road, gulls, hooded crows [also known, appropriately, as carrion crows] and magpies feasted on a dead sheep while the rest of the flock grazed nearby, with not even a sidelong glance. The fierce storms of the last week have taken their toll, and the weak and the sick are always the first casualties. As always, their passing ensures others survive - providing another welcome source of food, as winter draws in.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=320, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/80 sec.

And no amount of native cunning or good health can protect an animal that counts Man as an enemy. No fox is fast enough or smart enough to outrun a bullet. These two were probably born earlier this year, shot by hunters at the Gap of Dunloe near Killarney at the end of October ; their tails removed as trophies. Probably not the best sight to greet tourists visiting the Ring of Kerry.

Camera= Canon 350D, lens= Sigma 10-20@20mm, ISO=200, aperture=f8, speed=1/40 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2006

Raindrops keep falling on my head

One of the questions at the Galway Camera Club table quiz was "If two rainbows appear together, are the colours of the second one in reverse order; True or False?" Our table got that question wrong, and I got drenched learning the answer the hard way yesterday morning. Taken on the road to Leenaun early yesterday morning.

NASA think they've just found flowing water on Mars. Well, there's no shortage of it here on Earth - at least in this neck of the woods.

All the local papers have the same story :- it has rained for 29 days solid, and there's no end in sight. Twenty inches of rain fell in the months of September, October and November. Most of east and south Galway (and a goodly part of Mayo) is submerged; rivers are engorged, and sunlight is in short supply. A trip to a turlough in East Galway today had to be abandoned because of a river flowing onto the country road I was on - the water looked to be 2 feet deep.

Yesterday was no different; hail was frozen to the car when I got up, heavy showers pelted down on and off during the day, and the temperature dropped sharply as the day progressed. Today, it just rained, and rained, and rained.

Camera= Canon 350D, lens= Sigma 10-20@10mm, ISO=100, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/100 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:41 PM | Comments (2)


Gulls are the gurriers on any coastline. No other bird or mammal can go about it's business without being pestered by noisy gulls. I spent a couple of hours in the bird hide in Ballyvaughan on April Fools Day - I had a great view of the birds though none of them came really close enough for good photography.

I had arrived around 10 am - it was cold but sunny and the tide was high. There was only a pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers visible, about 150 metres offshore, busily diving for food (they don't spend much time on the surface while feeding). As the male resurfaced after another dive, he was absolutely clobbered by a Lesser Black-Backed gull, that landed right on top of him and held him under until the poor Merganser managed to struggle free. The Merganiser attempted to regain some dignity with some wing-flapping, and puffing-up of feathers - the gull wasn't even looking by then.

As the tide receded, rock pools formed on the beach and a Grey Heron announced itself with a familiar squawk. The Heron didn't get much time to feed in peace. A Black-Headed Gull made a point of diverting from its flight-path to 'dive-bomb' the Heron. It was interesting to see the Heron's defensive posture - it ruffled up every feather, so that it's head and neck looked much bigger. It held its ground until the Gull got bored. The gull landed nearby but not before it had buzzed a couple of curlews [also minding their own business]. Gurrier indeed. But not the only one. A couple of minutes later, it too had to flee, attacked by a couple of Hooded Crows. Instant karma.

Camera = Canon350D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @220mm, ISO=400,Aperture=f10,speed=1/500.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2006

Storm Force

Last splash - sightseers get a drenching on Salthill Promenade this afternoon.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@275mm, ISO=320, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/400 sec.

The Galway Walking Club celebrated Christmas early, as usual. The Christmas bash was held in Hylands Hotel in Ballyvaughan, and the plan was to get some walking done in the Burren before the dinner on Saturday night. I had great intentions of walking on the Saturday, but managed to miss the rendezvous point, So I drove up to Fanore. Once I saw the waves breaking along the shore, the walk was soon forgotten. [I stayed out taking shots until the rain came, around 3.30. As it happened, on the way back to the hotel, I passed the walkers on their way home, getting soaked].

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=400, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/500 sec.

Now, I'd thought that the waves were impressive yesterday. But I decided to drive down to Fanore this morning before breakfast. Wow. It's a wonderful drive normally - the road winds along the coast, about 20 metres above a cliff - the view is breath-taking throughout. This morning, spray from the waves were regularly sweeping across the road, and the waves sweeping into the Bay were simply massive.

Spray from waves wash over the coast road from Ballyvaughan to Fanore. The Shannon Fisher is visible to the left of the picture.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@105mm, ISO=400, aperture=f5.0, speed=1/400 sec.

Lots of people stopped along the road to look out across Galway Bay [well, the first few hundred metres before visibility faded to grey] and watch the huge waves exploding against the cliffs. You'd think that people would know better than to get too close to the cliff edge. Think again. The four Chinese lads that walked over to a cliff edge near Fanore had a lucky escape. A huge wave crashed against the cliff wall as they approached the edge, enveloping them in spray. Had they been right at the edge, they might have got a more permanent soaking. The wind was ferocious - it was difficult to keep a firm footing with the gusts. The picture below shows Burren streams (that hadn't hardly existed yesterday) near Fanore blown upwards with the wind.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@380mm, ISO=1250, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/125 sec.

As the biggest storm in years passes across Ireland, there's been flooding in Galway and Mayo, trees down across the country and flights and sailing cancelled. In Galway Bay, the Shannon Fisher oil tanker sat out the storm, but, as the picture below shows, a fishing trawler was heading right out into the bay (it may have been going to take shelter in Kilronan on Inish Mor).

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=800, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/250 sec.

Back in the city, there was nearly as many people down on Salthill Promenade taking snaps of the sea, as there was just walking. It's not easy taking pictures of wild seas - you'll spend more time trying to clean salt spray off the lens than taking pictures. As usual, there were a few foolhardy individuals looking to get a closer look at the waves. And as usual, they got very wet.

It might have seemed like a great idea to stand on top of the shelter at Blackrock in Salthill to watch the waves - until a wave washed over the shelter...

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@170mm, ISO=320, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/640 sec.

I don't think a mudguard will save you from this one... cyclist on Salthill Promenade about to get drenched.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=500, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/500 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:01 PM | Comments (6)