May 31, 2007

Together, the next steps ?

What will we ever do when the demand for cranes runs out? Picture of Ireland's Eye island in Dublin Bay taken on Easter Sunday morning this year.

Posted by Monasette at 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2007


The most cunning, the most devious of them all ? This guy wouldn't make it past the first count in a five seater...

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. - The Third Man.

We have no shortage of chaos in this country but bugger all artistry or culture to show for it [though I‘m sure if the Tribunals keep investigating, they‘ll eventually find a few Swiss bank accounts - they‘ve found accounts from nearly everywhere else]. We’re between governments at the moment , so we don’t know which bunch of election promises will come true [hint: probably none of them].

Weather is crazy this week - frost on Monday and Tuesday and a hard cold rain today. A portent, surely ?

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Posted by Monasette at 11:13 PM | Comments (1)

May 29, 2007


Posted by Monasette at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

May 23, 2007

All of the people, all of the time

Voting in the General Election takes place tomorrow. I couldn't find a picture of any of the candidates or their canvassers, so this pair of frosted jackasses will have to do instead.

The picture was taken on the same morning as this one, this one, this one and this one.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:55 PM | Comments (4)

May 22, 2007

Herb Robert

Ubiquitous but no less pretty because of that. Herb Robert (geranium robertianum) can be found nearly everywhere in Ireland - this one brightened up the verdant gloom of Barna Wood last Sunday morning. The beech trees in Barna Wood have finally sprouted their green canopy and, if you can stand the midges, it's one of the finest spots in the city to go for a walk.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:00 PM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2007

Maumturk snow

Snow clouds crash against the Maumturk mountain range in Connemara during the St. Patrick's Day weekend earlier this year.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2007

Salthill Sunshine

The lifeguard hut on an early Sunday morning at Silver Strand, Salthill, Galway.

Well, dang it anyway. Met Eireann predicted storms all weekend, so I gave the official Galway Walking Club trip around Killary a miss [the walkers were washed off the path on this walk last year with the rain ]. Today was a gorgeous day - sunny from dawn to dusk, save the odd downpour at the horizon. The sun shone in Salthill too, as Galway handed a beating to Mayo in the Connacht Football Championship. The confluence of a sunny Sunday and a match in Pearse Stadium in Salthill usually means a massive traffic jam, and this afternoon was no different. There was no problem getting through Salthill when I took the picture above at Silver Strand this morning [Galway doesn't really do mornings, particularly at weekends]. And even at 8am, a gentleman hopped out his car and nipped in for a quick dip (he nipped out again pretty quickly too). The Atlantic in May is still the Atlantic, even if the sun is shining.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:29 PM | Comments (1)

Your place on the Menu

The aftermath of a dinner party did not go to waste. Throwing some scraps on the lawn in Knocknacarra soon attracted a noisy flock of starlings, which crowded out the family of sparrows that had made a head start on the scraps. The flock consisted of adults and this year's brood. Even though the offspring can fly, old habits die hard. Despite the fact that the food was scattered all around them, the youngsters didn't bother pick it up. Instead, they did their little 'feed me' dance - shuffle over to their parents, fluff their wings and open their beaks wide. And, more fool them, the parents duly fed them.

Five minutes after I took the shot above, I put my camera back in the bag. I had a 100-400mm zoom attached to my 5D - an almost perfect combination for bird photography. And no sooner had I zipped the bag shut than all feather hell broke loose outside. A sparrow hawk zoomed into the mass of birds, scattering them, before flying off [without a kill]. I've seen this bird on and off for a few months without getting a decent picture of it. And I still don't have one.

However, the biggest danger for birds in the suburbs is not a bird of prey. Across the road from the sparrow hawk attack, a fledgling was fighting for its life against seemingly insurmountable odds. Unable to fly more than a foot at a time, it was unable to escape the attentions of a local moggy. The cat 'played' with it, battering it with its paws and attempting to bite the bird in the neck. The bird fought back, lunging at the cat, flapping its wing and chirping as loud as it could. [There must be an agreed bird distress call across species - at one point during the attack, a magpie 'buzzed' the cat, trying to distract it ]. The fledgling was lucky - the cat was young and inexperienced (blow-ups of the pictures I took show that the cat didn't have its claws extended) and the bird managed to escape to some shrubs. At that point, I stepped in and chased off the cat.

This morning was International Dawn Chorus day and RTE's Derek Mooney ran a series of programmes from before dawn this morning to celebrate it - it should be available as a podcast from their homepage. Last year, one of the contributors described the dawn chorus as a bird's way of saying "Still alive - made it through another night". There's a few starlings that will sing in the chorus tomorrow morning - alive for at least another day.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:58 PM | Comments (2)

May 19, 2007

Seasonal Variations

The Mutton Island causeway in Galway disappears in a haze of sea spray around 7pm yesterday evening.

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

A high tide and near gale force winds meant the water was slopping over the top of the steps at the Spanish Arch. An evening walk along the causeway to Mutton Island wasn't an option either. Worse was predicted for thoday and tomorrow but Met Eireann seem to have scaled back the warning - it's been sunny but breezy all day so far.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 100-400mm @ 100, ISO=250, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/500 sec.

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Posted by Monasette at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2007


Nothing heralds the coming of summer more than the appearance of thrift along the west coast of Ireland.

Posted by Monasette at 11:20 PM | Comments (3)

May 15, 2007

Limerick Light

Storm cloud over Limerick city - picture taken on New Years Day this year.

Posted by Monasette at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

Coming and going

Strolling along Nimmo's Pier in Galway, as an oil tanker passes Mutton Island in salthill in the background.

Posted by Monasette at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

Keep on rolling

When I lived in Stockholm, in-line skaters (roller bladers) were a common sight during the summer. The Swedes are a fine looking people, and tend to look after themselves. They have also been skating and skiing since they could walk so it was generally a pleasure to watch them glide effortlessly around the many cycle paths in the city. Occasionally, a skater would catch the eye for another reason. Slightly flushed of face, a paunch peeking out from the bottom of his teeshirt and wearing a pair of O'Neill's GAA shorts, he would veer from left to right, clattering into pedestrians (since he would usually be on the footpath instead of the cycle paths) before collapsing into a heap on the ground.

Yes - another Irish man was having a go at roller-blading.

In the last year, I've noticed more and more people skating around Galway - it helps that the footpaths are better and there are more cycle paths. The skaters look to be a bit more skilful too, though I suspect the better ones are tourists or visitors. From my apartment balcony, I can see the lock gates of Galway docks. There is a narrow boardwalk on the top of the lock gates, so that when they are closed, one can walk across them to take a shortcut across the docks. I was out on the balcony a few weeks ago when I saw a skater roll up to the lock gates. I could hardly watch - the docks have no railings though the boardwalk does. The skater never slowed as he trundled over the lock gates and off the other side. Hope it was a tourist.

Posted by Monasette at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2007

A New Hope

Aughrim Church, Galway.

The Northern Irish Peace Process (and attendant political process) has witnessed some memorable scenes in the last few weeks. Last week had Ian Paisley and Bertie Ahern at the Battle of the Boyne site in Co. Meath. Loyalists and Unionists commemorate this battle primarily because two kings faced each other -albeit briefly - in battle. However, it was the Battle of Aughrim, in east Galway, that was both culturally and militarily more significant. The Williamite victory ensured the stability of William's reign in Britain and Ireland, and guaranteed Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.

It was also the most bloody battle ever fought on Irish soil, and for that alone, deserves more official recognition that it currently receives. I posted some details about the Battle of Aughrim three years ago. The picture above is of Aughrim church, on the evening of May 25th 2004.

Camera= Canon G3 (compact).

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Posted by Monasette at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2007

Kilfinnane Church

Church of Ireland, Kilfinnane, Co. Limerick.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:19 PM | Comments (6)

May 03, 2007

Looking over my shoulder

The month of May could hardly have started better - the weather is simply gorgeous at the moment [24 degrees Celcius in Mayo!]. I can hardly believe that it is 3 years since I tried [and failed] to celebrate Bealtaine (May Day) by climbing the Hill of Uisneach - as good a place as any to celebrate the ancient Irish festival. I drove past there this May Day too, and it looks as if the "No Access" signs are still in place.

In nearby Lilliput, the lake and woodlands are beginning to bloom. I think this is a cranefly - I find it hard to make out one bug from another. He has a passenger - a small red mite on his shoulder. The cranefly is sitting on a fungus called Many-Zoned Polypore (coriolus versicolor) that was growing on one of the trees in Lilliput woods.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Sigma 180mm macro, ISO=200, aperture=f11, speed=1/8 sec, tripod, mirror-lock-up.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)


Can you figure out what this is ? I could hardly figure it out myself at first glance. Answer below the fold.

The top picture is of a pool of water in a small cave at Aughnanure Castle near Ougtherard - the castle is built on a limestone base that has been eroded by glacial rivers millenia ago. In the pool above, a green slick has formed, and pond-skaters (Gerris lacustris) have carved intricate patterns with their feet as they 'skate ' across the top. The pond skaters are able to 'walk on water' - the surface tension keeps them afloat. Below is a picture of two skaters getting on just fine.

Camera= Canon 5D, lens= Canon 24-105@105mm, ISO=200, aperture=f11, speed=1.6 sec, tripod, mirror-lock-up.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)