June 25, 2007

Look out below

It wasn't easy being a spectator at the Salthill airshow yesterday - huge rainclouds swept across the city at regular intervalks, dousing the crowds below.

I was watching from Gentian Hill (beside Rusheen Bay), and while it was nice to watch the show from a wild meadow overlooking the city, the midges nearly killed me.

Alas, some of the crowd could have been actually killed. A helicoptor flying over the spectators lost a door which landed on three people injuring them [none seriously]. Michelle, from the Galway Camera Club, has a picture of the door falling from the helicoptor, and you can see plenty more airshow pictures on the Salthill Airshow Flickr group.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:29 PM | Comments (1)

June 22, 2007

Falling Down

The 2007 Salthill Airshow takes place on Sunday - hopefully, the rain will stay away. Today, most of the aircraft were rehearsing their flight paths around Galway Bay. This evening, the Irish Army Parachute Team [The Black Knights] were practising by throwing themselves out of a helicopter and drifting down into the courtyard of Renmore Barracks.

Camera = Canon5D, lens = Canon 100-400mm@380mm, aperture = f10, speed = 1/640, ISO=200.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:47 PM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2007

Rays of the Sun

I was browsing CDs in HMV this evening when I espied a compilation of Celtic/Irish tunes....with a picture of Stonehenge on the cover. Actually, depending on who you believe, (ok, depending on what crazee you listen to), Stonehenge may have originated in Ireland.

Today was the Summer Solstice; the longest day of the year. I had great plans for photographing some ancient monument illuminated by the light of the longest day. But it's been raining all week, so sod that.

The picture above is of standing stones on Sruhir Beach in Co. Mayo taken last May. As you can see, it aligns with Croagh Patrick and, on the other side, Inishbofin. When the sun shines.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2007

The Most Distant Shore

Six thousand years ago, a farming community in Connemara prospered for almost two hundred years before disappearing into the mists of history. How do we measure their prosperity? Well, they had enough time and culture to honour their dead with more permanence than the living. Today, around twenty megalithic tombs mark their passing.

Near a small beach outside Cleggan, Co. Galway lies the remains of one of those tombs. When it was built, it was probably much further away from the shore. The cliff face, made of clay, has been eaten away by the sea - now, the tomb is only 30 or 40 yards from the cliff. It is unlikely that the tomb will survive another 6,000 years. And who knows, maybe there were other tombs along the beach that succumbed to the sea in the past. Even so, it is not a bad interment - ten thousand years overlooking a beautiful bay before Mother Nature arranges a slow but certain burial at sea.

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Posted by Monasette at 06:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2007


The Volvo Round the World Yacht Race will call into Galway in 2009, which should liven up the docks a bit. It's fairly lively right now too - the Argentinian training ship, the Fragata Libertad, is tied up just outside my apartment building.

P.S.Meant to mention it earlier - I wrote about the connection between the Argentine Navy and the west of Ireland (i.e. Admiral Brown) nearly four years ago. And I could hardly have imagined that, when I first saw this ship ten years ago moored in Buenos Aires that it would be tied up outside my home a decade later.

P.P.S. June 19 On the dot of 7am this morning, in torrential rain, the ship slipped out of Galway Harbour - it will be moored in Dublin for the weekend.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:37 PM | Comments (6)

June 15, 2007

An grian ag taitneamh

Sunrise over the Sheefry Hills and Mweelrea in March of last year. It's spilling rain at the moment here in Galway, meaning the day is unseasonally dark, given that we will have the longest day of the year next week. Here's a view of the valley from the middle mountain in the background.

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

June 11, 2007

Welcome to the Hotel Ballymun

Hotel Ballymun re-considers the utopian architecture of 1960’s Ballymun and encourages the practice of salvaging and re-imagining objects, spaces and resources from the past, which can be re-used inventively to meet contemporary needs - Seamus Nolan.

I didn't get a chance to consider Utopia myself when I visited the Hotel Ballymun last Easter. As part of a multi-million redevelopment, the apartment complex in Ballymun is being razed to the ground and replaced by new, low-rise buildings. The Ballymun complex was dominated by seven, 15-storey towers, each named after an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. Now, just as the increasingly expensive northern suburbs of Dublin spreads out towards Ballymun, the area is getting all spruced up, ready to meet them. Beside the striped chimney of the heating unit, which sent heating unevenly to all the buildings, and blew steam from the manholes in the street, a new hotel complex (the Ballymun Plaza) has been built, and in every direction, cranes announce the continuing remaking of Dublin.

A sure sign that the country is rolling in money is the fact that a small slice of the budget for redeveloping the Ballymun area was put aside for artistic endeavour. The point of Hotel Ballymun was to use the top floor of Thomas Clarke Tower as an artistic space. So from the 31st of March to the 27th April 2007, the top storey of the tower block was converted into a 'hotel' - former apartments, sorry, flats were converted into bedrooms and a couple of the flats were used as a communal kitchen and a theatre space. On the night I was there, there was a DJ playing in the theatre room (at ear-splitting volume), and afterwards, everyone met in the kitchen for a chat and a few more drinks [everyone erred on the side of caution when it came to booze. I.e. they brought enough to ensure there was no chance of running out]. Later, someone recited some poetry. The mix of people seemed to consist of people working in the arts and people who had come to take pictures. At about 2am, I repaired to bed, to be back up again for six to catch the sunrise.

There was a security company employed to look after the residents. You had to be indoors by midnight, and no more than 40 people could stay in the hotel at any time. [The security guards were all local lads, and knocked great craic out of the concept of tourists visiting Ballymun]. They were also supposed to prevent people from smoking indoors. That meant, in order to light up, you had to take the lift down to the entrance - that worked for a while, but as the night wore on, there was some sneaking smoking going on , out on the balconies. There is an angry article in Indymedia complaining about 'poverty tourists' [particularly southsiders] turning up to gawp at the locals. Ironically, the author isn't from Ballymun, so he was complaining about others vicariously experiencing life in Ballymun by being vicariously angry on the locals behalf. Ah well.

Me ? I was there for the views. Once the towers are demolished, those views of the city are gone. We were in luck with the weather - Easter Saturday night was clear, and Easter Sunday morning began with a beautiful sunrise. In the gallery below, the interior pictures show the bedrooms, kitchen and 'garden' rooms, as well as one of the 'chilling out' room. The exterior shots show the other tower blocks not yet demolished, as well as the construction work in progress in Ballymun. From the tower, you can see the Spire in O'Connell Street, Croke Park, the Financial Services centre, as well as Glasnevin cemetery (with its faux round tower) as well as the Guinness brewery. To the east, the island of Ireland's Eye in Dublin Bay is illuminated by the rising sun, and, to the south, the faint outline of a faraway peak is the Sugarloaf Mountain in Co. Wicklow. The white streaks in the sky in the night shots are planes coming in to land at Dublin airport, which is right beside Ballymun.

Mind you, "Angry from Indymedia" might have had a point. The main task of the security personnel was to keep track of everyone in case there was a fire. An evacuation, particularly at night, would require a bunch of tipsy folk stumbling down 15 storeys of stairs, as quickly as possible. And when we arrived on Saturday evening, the security guards were at pains to point out the evacuation procedure because the smoke alarm had gone off at 2am the previous night, and they had to get everyone out.

It was only when I went into the communal kitchen the next morning and was looking to make some toast that the full story of the alarm came out. The toaster was confiscated, because, the previous night, someone had stuck a couple of croissants into the toaster. The resulting smoke cloud set off the alarms, and hence the evacuation. Toasted croissants ? In Thomas Clarke tower ? You can take the man out of the Southside, but you can't take the Southside out of the man.

P.S.BTW, if you click on the Wikipedia entry for Ballymun, you'll see a picture that was also taken on Easter Sunday morning. It was taken by Aimee Tyrell - a photographer also staying in the Hotel that night (and who also got up at 6am to catch the dawn). There's some great shots on her own site - well worth a look.

Gallery of the Hotel Ballymun, Easter Weekend, 2007

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Posted by Monasette at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2007

Clew Bay

A week of sunny weather - it's offically a heatwave. This is a picture of Clew Bay from the top of Croagh Patrick - in the foreground are small islands known as drumlins, and beyond, the Nephin Beg mountain range [Nephin, at 806m, is the biggest mountain on the right].

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Posted by Monasette at 11:49 PM | Comments (4)

June 09, 2007

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

The New York Times carried an article about the future during the week. Apparently, in 100 billion years time, an astronomer on Earth will hardly have any stars to look at - they will all have travelled so far from our own planet that there will be no light for telescopes to stare at. Mind you, given that the sun only have about 5 billion useful years left, its not something to stay awake at night worrying about.

Right now, the clear summer nights are full of stars, and tonight, the brightest one is the work of Man. The picture above shows the transit of the International Space Station [ISS] as it blazes across the sky above Galway Bay (that's the diving platform on Salthill Promenade at the bottom of the picture). You can see the current location of the ISS here.

Camera=5D, lens=Canon 24-105@24mm, aperture=f11, speed= 54sec, ISO640, tripod.

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Posted by Monasette at 01:59 AM | Comments (4)

June 07, 2007

Wood louse

These things alway reminds me of trilobites - the ancient crustaceans that flourished in all the worlds oceans until about 250 million years ago. There is an aquatic connection - the common woodlouse [oniscus asellus] breathes through gills and likes to poke about in damp spots, such as rotting wood. This one was photographed in Barna Wood last month nestling among beech seeds and moss - it's a little over a centimeter in length.

Camera=5D, lens=Sigma 180mm macro, aperture=f29, speed=2.5sec, ISO320, tripod.

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

June 05, 2007

Killer on the loose

Insouciance - a young sparrowhawk keeps an eye on me in a suburban garden in Galway.

Camera=5D, lens=24-105mm@105, aperture=f4, speed=1/30, ISO1000, +1stop over-exposed, spot metered.

Sunday was a damn near perfect day, with glorious sunshine all across the west of Ireland. That evening, I was in a back garden in Knocknacarra, sipping wine and enjoying the warmth of a summer twilight. Something fluttering caught my eye as I was about to go indoors. The sparrow hawk was back.

It landed on a small tree next door and then dropped out of sight behind their fence. I nipped in, grabbed my camera and waited to see if it would reappear. After about 10 minutes, the bird alighted on the same bough. I began to slowly walk towards it, clicking away with every step. As you can see from the camera data , it was very dark (9.45 pm) and I was using a standard lens [yet again, my large zoom - that I bought specifically for bird shots - was unavailable - I had left it in my apartment]. When I got to within 5 or 6 yards, it flew off. Except it didn't fly away. Instead, it landed on a leylandii tree in the garden where I was standing. It let me get rather close before flying off [and it return to the garden next door after I went inside].

Looking for lunch...

Camera=5D, lens=24-105mm@105, aperture=f4.5, speed=1/400, ISO640, +1stop over-exposed, spot metered.

According to my Shell Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland, it is a male juvenile. And it has probably worked out that raiding bird-tables is easier than hunting the birds that feed at the tables. It didn't seem the least bit bothered by human presence (which might not be a good thing in the long run) - as long as I didn't get too close. Of course, now I just need it to turn up during the day when I have the big lens ready…

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Posted by Monasette at 10:45 PM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2007


Oh, the indignity...

While Dublin and the east of the country basked in summer sunshine on Saturday morning, the bank holiday weekend in the west began with a monsoon. And extolling the attractions of a sheep shearing festival in a downpour in Connemara would tax even the best of us. Still, it was a bit of craic, even if we did all get drenched.

On the evidence of Saturday, shearing is a man's game, with one exception. The Derek Mooney Show had sent along a young lady with 3 weeks experience of ovine grooming behind her to take part in one of the heats. And she did rather well, and got a big cheer from the cold and wet crowd [the sheep seemed less enthusiastic].

I didn't go back on the Sunday when the sun shone right across the west [and, as a bonus, drenched Dublin]. So you'll have just have to make do with a soggy, sheepy gallery from Saturday in Clonbur. Press the play symbol on the bottom right hand corner after you click the link and off you go.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)