March 31, 2007

Spanish Arch

The old Fish Market (in front of the white building) and the Spanish Arch - originally known as Ceann a Bhalla
(the head of the wall) to the right of the picture. Photographed around 9.00pm on Friday night. Do you know what the second arch is called (answer below) ?

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@28mm, ISO=200, aperture=f8, speed=10 sec, tripod.

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The second arch is called the Blind Arch (An Poirse Caoch).

Posted by Monasette at 12:24 AM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2007

Maumturk Challenge

If Monasette cannot come to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Monasette...And since that's not going to happen, I'll have to do the walking instead.

I'll have plenty of opportunity for walking, some trudging, and even a bit of crawling on my hands and knees on April 14 - it's the 32nd year of the Maumturk Challenge. If you simply don't have enough misery in your life, then this is the day out for you. Get to the base of Corcóg at between 5 and 6am, fork out twenty quid, and start hiking. There's 13 peaks in the Maumturks (Sléibhte Mhám Toirc), and it will take all day to hike across them. But if the weather is good, you'll walk across one of the most beautiful vistas in Ireland.

The picture above, of part of the Maumturks range, was taken in February. That was a good day. This is what it is like on a not so good day.

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Posted by Monasette at 05:35 PM | Comments (2)

March 22, 2007

Mountain Pool

It looks like the ban on drinking water in Galway will continue for weeks, while the Council figure out what to do. The parasite causing the problem normally resides in the intestines of animals, but enters the water supply through either animal waste or birthing (the lambing season is coming to a close). So taking a gulp of water from a clear, cold stream like the one above in Mayo, which flows through a sheep-covered mountain valley, is probably not the best option right now.

I'm away until the middle of next week, so no updates until then.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2007


Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Fury lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His souls swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

The Dead - James Joyce.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:35 PM | Comments (2)

St. Patrick's Day Parade in Galway 2007 (Part 2)

Singing in the rain - Galway camogie players are well used to getting wet.

God, what weather. I really don't know how parents and teachers kept all the little kiddies amused long enough to get them to march through the city, rather than trudge off home. Like the last couple of years, there's a couple of hours of just hanging around before the folks at the end of the parade started moving. Despite the rotten weather, once things got going, spirits rose, and all of the performers and marchers made up in energy and enthusiasm what the climate didn't supply.

There was one notable exception. A couple of weeks ago, the Galway Advertiser and Galway First had reported a statement from Councillor Paidraig Connelly (Fine Gael) calling on the City Council to withdraw an invitation to a Republican marching band from Dunloy. The Galway Independent reported that:

PDs Cllr Terry O'Flaherty said she would walk off the reviewing stand if the band arrived in paramilitary paraphernalia.

I'm don't know if she got up (the reviewing stand was probably the only dry spot in the city) but I'd say she wasn't happy. The band turned up in full paramilitary regalia (well, apart from balaclavas), complete with a drum emblazoned with an AK-47 and an Armalite (see below). I'm sure the irony was lost on them, but the contrast between the [decidedly non-political] various cultural groups, schools and nationalities, all smiling, dancing and singing their way through the streets, and the grim-faced, faux-military display from the Dunloy band could not have greater. On the one day when Irishness itself was celebrated, they seemed to be from a very foreign country indeed. Maybe next year, the parade can be kept politics free.

Didn't get a chance to load up the gallery of pictures from the Galway St. Patrick's Day parade until tonight - thanks to my NTL Broadband service disappearing for most of the weekend.

Out of step - drummer from the Dunloy marching band.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:01 PM | Comments (3)

The Untouchables

Weak-bladdered sheep - one of the many reasons we can't drink the water in Galway.

Despite all the rain, sleet and snow falling over the weekend, people in Galway have been warned not to drink the water from the tap. There is a higher than normal number of cases of infection from a parasite called cryptosporidium. This could be caused by a number of things, including sheep piddling into streams [serves Galway people right for joking about Mayo folk and their 'fondness' for sheep]. Those infected get to spend a couple of weeks crippled with diarrhea. Despite the fact that the parasite is always present in the water system in Connacht, none of the 10.2 million gallons of water pumped daily around the city is filtered for the bug. Sales of bottled water have exploded, and there isn't an ice-cube to be had in the city - luckily, we didn't have a heatwave this weekend, eh.

The football pitches at the Claddagh are still out of bounds too - there's a ban in place since a research student in NUIG discovered that there are high levels of mercury and other nasty elements in the soil. That this is a surprise to anyone is a tad strange - the pitches are built on Galway's former landfill, and were just covered with soil a couple of decades ago.

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

March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Parade in Galway 2007

Hot steppers - performers defy the rain in the parade this afternoon

There's been a heavy drizzle since daybreak in Galway. There was still a good crowd for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which wound from Dominic Street up to Eyre Square this year. Everyone got drenched, before retiring to the pubs to give the Shamrock another soaking.

Full gallery to follow later this evening.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@45mm, ISO=400, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/320 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

Hurlers on the ditch

One of the many signs along the road either side of Loughrea, urging their team to victory in today's match.

While the Irish media discover the delights of cricket on the back of Ireland's surprise draw against Zimbabwe during the week, it will be the clash of the ash, rather than the smack of leather on willow, that will occupy the minds of most Galwegians today. It's Galway versus Kilkenny in the All Ireland Club Hurling Final in Croke Park. And given the day that's in it, it's appropriate that the hurling club from Loughrea will meet Ballyhale Shamrocks. Live coverage here.

Posted by Monasette at 02:08 PM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

We've been expecting of the locals at Leaba Padraig casting a cold eye on visitors in December 2005.

Congratulations to Gavin on winning the Photo category of the Irish Blog Awards -his site is well worth a daily visit. And well done, yet again, to Damien for organising the whole thing and also to Ryan for photographing the whole thing.

Every year around this time, this site get loads of visitors who search Google Images for "St. Patrick" and end up here due to this gallery of the 2002 Croagh Patrick pilgrimage on the last weekend in July (it was also the last time that I've been there when the sun shone). That gallery is also linked via the Wikipedia entry on Croagh Patrick.

There are already hundreds of visitors wandering around the streets of Galway in advance of the weekend, with many more expected in the next few days. There'll be plenty of festivities to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Saturday - if you'd like something a bit more austere, you could try Leaba Padraig, a holy grotto in the Maamturk mountains in Connemara, reputed to have been visited by the man himself (but probably didn't).

Statue of St. Patrick at Leaba Padriag (St. Patrick's Bed) in Connemara.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:14 AM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2007

The Hills Have Eyes

The Srahnalong river, the Skeltia ridge and Maamtrasna mountain, photographed in late January 2007..

The first murder trial held in Galway since the State was founded began last week. In fact, it's the first trial since 1882, since the Maamtrasna Murders*.

Being a bailiff for a landlord was an unpopular job in Ireland, and more so after the Famine, since bailiffs were at the forefront of evictions. Lord Ardilaun was the great grandson of Arthur Guinness, owned a fair chunk of County Galway and called a Ashford Castle home. His philanthropy, which included creating St. Stephen's Green in Dublin , clearly didn't impress the locals in Maamtrasna, the soggy land squeezed between Lough Mask and the dark cliffs of the Maamtrasna hills. The bodies of his bailiffs for that area were found in the lake.

The killing didn't end there. On the night of the 17th of August, 1882, the family of John Joyce was all but wiped out. His wife, mother, son and daughter were all beaten to death - he had been beaten before being shot to death. Another, younger, son survived. Their crime ? It was rumoured that they knew who had killed the bailiffs. Joyce's older son had lived long enough to tell the police who had attacked them, and ten local men were arrested. Two of them confessed and informed on the others. They were tried in the Galway courthouse and found guilty. They were all sent to the Galway Jail across the river (the Cathedral of St. Nicholas is built on the site) and three of them were hanged out the back for the murder, on December 15, 1882. One of the three men executed [Myles Joyce] was a cousin of John Joyce, and went to the gallows claiming his innocence.

* See Jarlath Waldron's Maamtrasna, the Murders & the Mystery for the full story.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@24mm, ISO=100, aperture=f11, speed=5 sec, tripod, .3 Lee grey grad.

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Posted by Monasette at 07:36 PM | Comments (6)

March 09, 2007

An Dreoilin

Good goods come in small parcels - a wren stakes its territory at the edge of Lough Ennel on Wednesday morning.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=800, aperture=f9, speed=1/640 sec.

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

March 05, 2007

Salthill Flooded Again

A combination of a very high tide and storm force winds meant that Salthill got another lashing from the sea yesterday. More pics to follow later this evening [Update March 06: it will be tomorrow evening before I can post some more pics - my NTL Broadband went offline yesterday. Did anyone else in Galway have this problem ?].Update March 08: Bit more below.

Every time there's a storm in Galway Bay, the same bunch of vultures congregate in Salthill. There are rich pickings there. The high seas and the waves that break across the promenade always attract an audience. Some people are content to sit in their cars in the Promenade car parks and let the spray from the waves crash over them (and every wave probably takes a few months off the life of the car), but most folks like to brave the waves - standing right on the edge of the prom and dodging the waves as they break along the shore. And that's where people like me come in.

Every time I've gone down to the Promenade, there's always a few souls who, despite the weather, are dressed for a summer's day, and pay no attention to the waves crashing over the footpath as they stroll. And the chances are, those are the people that will get drenched, hopefully, in as photographically pleasing a manner as possible. So, just like the last time, I was there, camera in hand, watching strollers, joggers and cyclists and hoping that, if a wave would get them, it would happen right in front of me. OK, I was just hoping a wave would get them. [I should point out that there is very little chance of being washed into the sea. Apart from the lunatics that stand on top of the Blackrock diving area during a storm].

If there was any natural justice, the people that would the biggest drenching would be people like me. I came close enough to it on Sunday - the picture above shows a wave that was a good bit bigger than all the other ones. Other members of the Galway Camera Club were not so lucky - I bumped into a Sean on the Prom late on Sunday - he was going home to dry off . He did get his shot, though.

I've added a short gallery a here - the park just west of Seapoint on the Promenade was flooded (again) due to the waves, and roadworks begun outside the Aquarium were washed away (hence the gravel and bollards scattered all over the road). One poor gentleman on a bike tried to cycle along the prom with his dog by his side - the dog didn't seem to mind but the chap got a right drenching - you might just see him under the wave in the last picture as he was washed off the path.

Posted by Monasette at 06:41 AM | Comments (6)

March 02, 2007

Catch of the Day

This small fishing boat headed out from Ballyvaughan on a cold wet December Saturday last year, while I was huddled in a bird hide on the other side of the village. In the background is the Martello tower at Finavarra Point. No doubt, if the haul was good, lucky diners at Linnane's in New Quay or Monk's in Ballyvaughan would be tucking into fresh lobster, crab or other marine delights that breed in abundance in Galway Bay.

Camera= Canon 350D, lens= Canon 100-400@400mm, ISO=400 (hence the grain), aperture=f5.6, speed=1/320 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2007


The last of the Galway Walking Club group descends from The Ramp - a steep but quick way of getting down from the Mweelrea mountain range, on the Mayo side of Killary Harbour. It's unusual to get clear weather on the top of Mweelrea (Connacht's highest mountain) and that day was no different - the sun shone during the day but cloud moved in as we descended. (The Ramp is the path along the sloped ridge in the top third of the picture). This picture shows the view from the top of the Ramp and the stream visible in the distance in the other photograph is the same as the one above.

Buy pictures of Mweelrea. Co. Mayo here

Posted by Monasette at 12:10 AM | Comments (2)