February 25, 2007

Judge, and ye shall be judged

That's the thing about being judged in a competition - you never know what the judges will see as your best feature… another picture from the still unposted gallery of the Westport Horse Fair on September 30th, 2006. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the attendees on the big night next Saturday.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@24mm, ISO=400, aperture=f5, speed=1/250 sec.

, , ,, , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Monasette at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007


Do you want a red sweater or a green one ? Dyed in the wool football supporters in Roscommon this week.

The watchtower at the police station wasn't the only thing dismantled in Crossmaglen last week. The dreams of St. Brigid's, Roscommon of making the final of GAA's club football final were dashed on Sunday when Crossmaglen Rangers beat the Connacht champions by a goal. Hopes were high in the county, flags fluttered from every house and wall, and even the odd sheep togged out in the club colours for the cause.

Note:- this is not Photoshopped! I had passed this field in east Roscommon (near Athlone) a couple of times this week and was curious as to the colour of the 'red' sheep. It was only when I noticed the other one that I realised that the farmer had coloured the two sheep and put them on their own in a small paddock by the road, to represent the colours of St. Brigid's football team.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@350mm, ISO=640, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/100 sec.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Monasette at 07:25 PM | Comments (1)

Point of Contact

I'm plagued with spam at the moment, so I will probably disable comments on older posts. If you need to get in touch, have a comment or a question, I can be contacted at john AT monasette DOT com.

Posted by Monasette at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

Picture Perfect

There is another internet award competition in progress. The 2007 Photobloggies shortlists were announced recently, and the winners will be announced in May. One of my favourite European sites (and the one I voted for in his category) is that of Remo Savisaar - if you are interested in excellent wildlife photography, you'll like it as much as I do.

Closer to home, there's a great site, a Fotogalerie Martina a Olgy by a Czech couple working in Castlebar - great pictures of Galway and Mayo.

Posted by Monasette at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2007

Old Light through New Eyes

Silver Strand, Salthill at sunrise.

Thanks to all the people who voted for this site in the Irish Blog Awards - and best of luck to all the other short-listed sites in the Photo Category.

Posted by Monasette at 10:16 PM | Comments (4)

February 17, 2007

Rusheen Bay

A fisherman enjoys the solitude of Rusheen Bay in Salthill, Galway, as evening rain anoints the Burren Hills on the other side of Galway Bay.

Posted by Monasette at 07:19 PM | Comments (7)

February 15, 2007

Simply haven't the foggiest

It was so foggy a couple of weeks ago that, when stopped to take this photograph, I'd forgotten that I came this way before, in November 2005 to climb Bencorragh. That day was crystal clear, with views like this and this.

And just a final reminder - tomorrow is the final day to cast your vote for this site in the Photo section of the Irish Blog Awards. If you were planning to vote for one of the other nominees, you should probably give it another week. You know, just to think about it a bit more.

Posted by Monasette at 07:20 PM | Comments (1)

February 14, 2007

Ross Errily

Dawn light illuminates Ross Errily Friary, just outside Headford in north Galway, on a frosty February morning.

Buy pictures of Ross Errilly Friary, near Headford, Co. Galway.

Posted by Monasette at 09:49 PM | Comments (5)

February 12, 2007

Doolin Sea Power

People admiring the huge waves rolling into Doolin last weekend.

Posted by Monasette at 09:24 PM | Comments (5)

February 11, 2007

For your consideration

It's that time of year again - the long list for the Irish Blog Awards has just been opened for voting for the next week. So if you like what you see here, or even if you just want to upset the other nominees, cast a vote for this site in the Best Photoblog category.

Posted by Monasette at 09:34 PM | Comments (1)

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (or How I learned to stop worrying about Fintan O'Toole's deeply furrowed brow)

The Great Wall of Thomond - Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.

I like Fintan O'Toole, one of the Irish Times' most senior journalists. I like the fact that he thinks hard about a topic before committing his thoughts to paper. I like the fact that he doesn't always take the easy option of pandering to majority opinion. His book on the Beef Tribunal was practically a public service. I often agree with his critiques of what Ireland, and the Irish, have become. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish he might chill out a bit.

Fintan went down to the new Cliffs of Moher visitors centre during the week. He wasn't happy. In a column entitled "Taming the Cliffs of Moher", he complains that

You can be entertained, mildly educated, fed, relieved and gently parted from some money. You cannot be moved. You can be a visitor, a tourist, a customer. You cannot be a human being confronted with the savage power of the physical world.

I was curious, since I'd seen a TV programme on the new centre during the week , so I went down there yesterday to have a look [1] . And Fintan, I think you might be overreacting. Eight hundred thousand people visit the Cliffs every year. Most of them are not on an existential journey of discovery; most are tourists in rental cars or in coaches that will only have an hour or two to have a look, take their snaps, and move on. Yesterday, on a cold, wet day in February, the place was full of tourists - God knows where most of them came from (I mean, who books a West of Ireland tour for February ? I should have asked.). A cold drizzle raked the cliffs and the wind was strong enough to shear your ears off.

I won't claim that the place is perfect. The new centre is built into the hill in front of the cliff face - you park across the road and walk over. Fintan (and other media descriptions of the new centre) all fail to mention one important thing - the centre is not finished yet. The car park doesn't have tarmac yet (so that lack of marked parking spots means some higgledy-piggledy parking), and some of the buildings are still under construction. The restaurant, which has a panoramic view of both the Cliffs and the sloping bay at Lahinch a few miles away is open for business (and very nice it is, too) but, unforgivably for a tourist facility, dos not have the capability to process Laser or credit cards yet - it's coming next month. The place looks a bit rough still, too, since the landscaping has just been finished, and the grass that will cover most of the excavated soil has not grown yet. On the plus side, the hawkers of tat, sorry, merchandise, who now have purpose built shops built into the hill, haven't moved in yet, so the only hard sell that you will encounter on the site is indoors, in the new centre.

Bunker mentality - trading stalls built into the landscape.

However, the reason anyone turns up is to see the cliffs, and they haven't changed a bit. The view is the same, the howling wind is the same and, alas, the chances of getting a drenching is just the same. The only difference is that there is a properly paved path along the cliffs and a discrete stone barrier to stop people falling over the edge. And that is really the point of the Centre. Yesterday, as the weather deteriorated, you would get completely drenched unless you were wearing head-to-toe waterproof gear. And by the time I left, there was very little view at all. But inside, it's possible to see the cliffs as it would appear on the finest of summer days, as well as the view you'd get from both the air and the sea - views most of us will never experience otherwise.

Carving out a niche...the restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

In fact, the Centre suffers from the same affliction that almost everything in Celtic Tiger Ireland - the bloody cost. The building and landscaping costs a whopping 31 million euro to build what is a relatively small centre, clear the car-park and pave the outside area. It is a fiver per car but coach drivers now have to pay 60 euro per coach (up from a fiver previously) which seems a bit opportunistic. And charging for the audiovisual display is a rip-off. The excellent dining facilities and huge retail area means that families will already spend a decent amount of cash in the place.

Should the centre have been built at all ? Absolutely - it's a great design, and by summer, will have grown into the landscape. O'Toole writes

It is all slick, polished, professional, impressively engineered and utterly soulless

Fintan fails to distinguish between sanitised and sanitary. Adding basic facilities, keeping places tidy and providing proper parking is the very least that any civilised country can do. I'm tired of visiting places in the west to find vandalised toilets, dumped rubbish and nowhere to park. In Connemara National Park, Diamond Hill has been paved so that anyone from eight to 80 can walk to the top in zero visibility on most weather conditions [ I was down there during the summer and watched an elderly American couple - bless them - slowly but surely made the summit]. Has the hill been robbed of its spirit ? Of course not - the same wonderful view remains (if you get a clear day!). We need to get away from the idea that chaos, dirt and disorganization are somehow essential to the Irish Celtic spirit.

I'm all for enriching my soul by gazing upon the primal beauty of nature - but dammit, I want to be able to have a cappuccino afterwards. And what could be more 21st century Ireland than that?

I've added a Flickr Gallery here of the centre.

[1]according to the milometer on my car, it's almost exactly a 100 mile round trip from the centre of Galway to the Cliffs.

Main picture - Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@24mm, ISO=640, aperture=f4, speed=1/1600 sec (forgot to reset the ISO to 100 when I went outside the building).

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

February 08, 2007


Red Sky in the Morning…Shepherd taking warning. Sunrise in Galway Harbour yesterday morning.

A snowstorm was predicted for last night. Normally, such an event could be safely predicted to close the country down. In the end, there were localised falls of snow, but nothing long-lasting. I was stuck at home in the city, and despite the morning beginning with shards of gold scattered across the sky, the day ended with only bitter winds and hard driving rain (which is still falling). No novelty in that.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@32mm, ISO=200, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/125 sec.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Monasette at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2007

Crystal Clear

We've had clear and cold weather since the begiining of the weekend. Clear, starry nights give way to bright blue skies and sunny, if cold days. In th shade, frost remains all day and the puddles remain frozen. In the clear, the blaze of the sun turns the frost into millions of glittering jewels, dangling from every blade of grass, and free for all to enjoy.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@320mm, ISO=100, aperture=f7.1, speed=1/320 sec.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Monasette at 11:34 PM | Comments (2)

Axle Grinders

There was a bit of a traffic jam in Eyre Square on Friday night, with a long line of cars parked along the pedestrian area outside the Skeffington Hotel. No-one was going to get a parking ticket, though – the cars were part of the launch of the Galway International Rally . Not so lucky would be the legion of visiting car fanatics who thought they’d found a crafty and free spot to park – I saw loads of cars parking around the docks and quite a few shiny clamps attached to them this morning. Saturday night was like race night for the legions of boy racers hurtling through Eyre Square and around the city. I don’t know how nobody got knocked down – drunk revellers wandering across the streets don’t normally intersect with reckless driving in a good way. And where were the Gardai – there were plenty of them around ‘minding’ the racing cars on Friday – I saw one Traffic Corp car on Saturday – completely ignoring a boy racer whizzing by him on the Dock Rd.

The rally cars themselves are pricey pieces of kit, which is why they are all plastered with advertising. Someone who will let the car itself do the advertising [advertise how rich he/she is, that is] is the person who is waiting for his Bugatti Veyron to arrive. The Connacht Tribune carries the story with a picture of the beast – basically a spaceship with wing mirrors. It costs more than a million euro, and for that I hope they throw in a complimentary tow bar. The driver will need it – to tow the trailer of petrol if he wants to get very far. In urban driving, it does eight miles to the gallon, which means it will last about three quarters of an hour in a traffic jam before conking out. Better stay from Claregalway at 5.30 on a Friday evening, then. The paper also reports that someone from the county has a Ferrari 599 on order too. Hope he doesn’t suffer from status anxiety if he ends up parking it beside the Veyron – it only costs 400,000 euros, and can only do 200 mph (compared to the Veyron’s 250mph).

Am I the only one whose noticed the following ? There are all sorts of luxury car brands in Galway – Aston Martin, Maserati, BMW, Mercedes, Ferrari, etc – but I never see a Rolls Royce. Come to think of it – I don’t think I’ve seen a new one anywhere in Ireland. Their website doesn’t list a dealer in either Northern Ireland or the Republic. How can this be ? It can’t be down to a surfeit of modesty or lack of money. Maybe Rolls-Royce just aren’t cool anymore [not something I’ll have to worry about, anyway].

And for real speed freaks, the Salthill Airshow will have a new set of visitors this year – the US Air Force are sending their Thunderbirds display team. The display team fly F-16 jets which are a bit faster than the Bugatti (OK, about 1100 mph faster) but much harder to park.

Posted by Monasette at 07:06 PM | Comments (4)

February 05, 2007

View from here

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=800, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/60 sec.

There are a bunch of web cams on Galway.net - one of which is located in the Galway Harbour Company office at the lock gates. It points into the inner docks, so you can see what ships are coming in and out of the harbour. Someone was wondering if this picture shows the view 'behind' the cam - it doesn't, but the one above, of an oil tanker turning to face the lock gates, does.

The Summity is one of the regular visitors to Galway Harbour - one of the many oil tankers that keep the city and county supplied. It used to belong to a family-owned company until last year - F.T. Everards - and it is the second ship in their fleet to bear the name. The first ship carried dry goods, which probably saved it during WWII when a Stuka dive bomber attacked it in 1940 - the cement cargo absorbed some of the blast and it survived.

As the camera faces inwards, ships in the foreground are either unloading bitumen or coal if moored on the right, or loading scrap metal if pictured on the left. In the background can often be seen either boats from the Irish Naval Service or one of the Marine Institute research vessels, the Celtic Voyager or Celtic Explorer. This weekend, the Explorer (below) was in the docks, loading up for a survey, and was visible in the web cam.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@40mm, ISO=800, aperture=f4, speed=1/6 sec.

You'll see from the photo data that both pictures were handheld at very low shutterspeeds for their respective focal length [the rule is that the 1/ shutterspeed should be at least equal to the focal length. So for a lenses at 400mm, the shutterspeed should be 1/400 to avoid blur]. Both lenses have Image Stabilisation and in both cases, that was the difference between a usable picture and a big heap of blur. The 5D produces reasonably good images at high ISO too - both images here used ISO800.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Monasette at 06:27 AM | Comments (2)

February 04, 2007


The 2007 Photobloggies nominations are open for this week. If you want to vote for this site (or indeed any of the fine sites on my links page), now's the time.

Posted by Monasette at 06:39 AM | Comments (3)

February 01, 2007

The Lady and the Tramp

Brief encounter, outside O'Donaghue's pub in Fanore, Co. Clare. The pub is part of the Lisdoonvarna Match-Making Festival circuit, and I suspect this isn't the first time a blind date turned out to be a dog.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@96mm, ISO=250, aperture=f6.3, speed=1/160 sec.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Monasette at 08:13 PM | Comments (5)