August 29, 2007

Crystal Clear

I was at at Heritage Week lecture last night, and it was mentioned that the old Water Treatment Plant at Terryland is now a heritage building. Which is nice. There is now a new treatment system at Terryland which means that the ban on drinking water in the city could be lifted last week. Only 2 months after the original deadline. Picture above taken in Mallow which was once noted for its water - as long as you don't drink it.

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Posted by Monasette at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2007

The Hay Maker

Abandoned hay turner in Co. Clare.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:14 PM | Comments (3)

Heritage Week

It's Heritage Week this week. At least go to something.

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

August 23, 2007

The Pilot

The Galway Pilotage District includes

"the waters of the Bay of Galway within an imaginary line drawn from Golam Head to the Western Point of the Aran Islands and thence to Hags Head in County Clare. The Pilotage area is divided into the outer Pilotage district where Pilotage is optional and the inner Pilotage district where Pilotage is compulsory, the latter district being from the waters of the bay of Galway which lie Eastwards of an imaginary line drawn from Kilcolgan Point to the point of intersection of latitude 530 14.70’N and longitude 0090 03.45’W, "and thence to the Western end of the dock gates at Galway, and including the waters of Galway Dock."

Posted by Monasette at 11:32 PM | Comments (2)

August 21, 2007

The Moons of Jupiter

This cluster of blobs in the night sky tonight are the planet Jupiter, the largest in our solar system, and four of the 63 moons that orbit it. Those moons are Io, Europa, Ganymeade and Calista, and were discovered (on Earth) by Galileo. Tonight , it was possible to see Jupiter, the star Antares and the Moon within the same slice of sky, as the somewhat grainy picture below show (taken from Barna Pier tonight)

In the picture above , Antares (which is 10,000 brighter than our own sun - if we were standing closer to it) is the bright star above and to the left of the Moon. Above Anters at the top of the picture is Jupiter. the stars are 'streaked' because the picture took about 5 seconds to expose (at around ISO 1250) and the stars moved slightly (relative to the camera) during the exposure. Both pictures were taken with a Canon 5D and a 100-400 Canon zoom at around 9.45pm tonight.

Posted by Monasette at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)

Dropping In

I was at my parents house last week. My mother, who passed on her photographer genes to me, has been going through the bagfuls of her old pictures and putting some of them into albums. I was flitting through one of them when I came across a school class photo of my brother, taken probably a quarter of a century ago. One of his classmates - all young fellas grinning at the camera - was one who would later be killed piloting an Air Corp helicopter on a rescue mission at the beginning of July, 1999. A boat had called for help when a child became seasick on board. As it turned out, the helicopter turned back when a lifeboat reached the boat in question first, and crashed in thick fog along Tramore beach in Waterford. All four of the flight crew died.

Air-sea rescue is a risky business - in Ireland, it is handled by the Coastguard now. On the way back from Inishbofin a couple of weeks ago, I just about made it onto the last ferry back to Cleggan a mix-up with the hotel [their bus left for the harbour without us]. A mile or two out to sea, the boat did a tight turn and began to head back to the island. For a few minutes, I thought I'd got on the wrong boat. And then the crew began to rail off the back of the boat (where there was the best view) with a rope. It seemed like an otherwise perfect day was going somewhat downhill. And then one of the crew, eying my cameras, commented," You might have something interesting to photograph in a few minutes".

After a few minutes, a Coastguard helicopter swooped low over the boat , flew over Inishbofin and then turned back towards the boat. The coastguard use Sikorski S61N helicoptors and, by god, they are big machines. The helicopter hovered just over the boat which was heading back to 'Bofin at this stage, while one of the crew was lowered down onto the deck with a stretcher. He unhooked himself, the helicopter flew off before returning a minute or two later to retrieve their man. As soon as he was aboard again, the helicopter did a low, fast pass over the boat before flying off towards the Twelve Bens on the mainland.

And the point of it all ? According to the crew, if the helicopter is in the area, they contact one of the ferries to do a practice landing. As a crewman said, " we're always glad to see them". Needles to say, every kid on the boat was enthralled by the spectacle, and not just the little 'uns.

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Posted by Monasette at 08:25 PM | Comments (3)

August 20, 2007

Jeannie Johnson

It was a clear harvest evening tonight as the Jeanie Johnson left Galway Docks at around 9pm tonight.

Posted by Monasette at 11:41 PM | Comments (1)

August 13, 2007

Anyone interested in some fresh mackerel for breakfast should hurry down to the inner harbour in Galway tonight. A huge shoal of mackerel is trapped inside and already, plenty of fishermen are reaping the harvest. Picture is of another French sailing ship moored outside Sheridan's Bar in the harbour tonight.

Camera=Canon 5D, lens=Canon24-105@105mm, aperture=f11, speed=20 sec, ISO=200.

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Posted by Monasette at 11:08 PM | Comments (5)

August 12, 2007

Power of Prayer

Don't doubt the power of prayer in Connemara. Reek Sunday was a scorcher despite the forecasts of rain, and similarly, last Sunday, the pilgrimage to Maméan was bathed in summer sunshine while a monsoon enveloped Galway city.

And how did I know it was taking place last weekend ? Well, every paper in the country carried the same article, reporting that Fr. Micheál MacGréil (who led the Mass at Maméan) had demanded that events like the Galway Races should seek planning permission, because of the impact it had on other local events such as the pilgrimage [I seem to remember that he made a similar call last year].

Now, I don't know how strongly Fr. MacGréil [also known as one of the Western Corridor campaigners] really feels about the Always Races, but every paper dutifully printed details of the pilgrimage in their articles - coverage that the event was unlikely to get otherwise.

Maybe if we had a pilgrimage every week in Connemara, we might even get a summer...

Camera=Canon 5D, lens=Canon24-105@32mm, aperture=f7.1, speed=1/800, ISO=200.

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Posted by Monasette at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

Things to do outside Dublin when you're drenched…

Dear God - is there no end to the rain. Yesterday, I trudged across Connemara as a participant in the 11th Galway Walking Club marathon. Mostly, it rained, turning paths along the Connemara Way into streams almost overnight. It also pushed existing streams to winter levels and beyond.

What a difference a week makes - the picture on top was taken at the pilgrimage last week - the shot above was taken yesterday. Below is the same location in February.

Now, it wasn't like the rain was a surprise - the forecast for the weekend was depressingly accurate, including the prediction that the rain would clear in the evening [just after the last of the bedraggled hikers had made it back to the community centre]. The prospect of a good soaking didn't deter any participants - much the same numbers turned up as last year (circa 160). Not as many finished this year, though.

Heavy rain began, for me, around the 18 mile mark - it had already been drizzling for an hour before then. Normally, the walk along the Western Way between the Maamturks and the Twelve Bens is a wonderful journey with breath-taking views on every side. This year, the mountains were obscured by cloud. By the time I got to Maméan in the Maamturks , I was totally drenched. A week earlier, the path had been dry - now, water ran ankle deep. To add to my woes, my knee seized up and I couldn't finished - I hobbled on to about mile 24, cold wet and miserable before getting a lift back to the community centre, where, thankfully, hot soup awaited. Next year, I think I'll help make the sandwiches.

The Cruinniú na mBád (meeting of the boats) comes to an end this evening in Kinvarra . After very heavy rain this morning, the afteroon has been bright and sunny, so hopefully they will get a good turn-out. In the harbour here in Galway , the French training ship Bemel is just leaving as I write - it arrived on Friday.

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Posted by Monasette at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2007


Even on the sunny days, you can be sure of some rain. And the smaller the head, the bigger the raindrop...

Camera=Canon 5D, lens=Canon100-400@400mm, aperture=f5.6, speed=1/500, ISO=400.

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Posted by Monasette at 04:05 PM | Comments (1)

The Ormond Repudiation

By the middle of the Seventeenth century, English rule in Ireland had resulted in ethnic cleansing across large swathes of the country, known euphemistically as 'planting', as the newly vacant lands were awarded to Protestant settlers. In 1641, Catholics in Ireland rose in rebellion - early massacres against Protestants was returned many-fold against the Catholics. Ironically, as the decade ended, Catholic opposition had coalesced into a Loyalist force (the Catholic noblemen, allied to the English King (who was also a Catholic) were hoping to hang onto their lands, while the Protestants were assisted by the forces of the English Parliament, led by a Republican, Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell arrived in Ireland in 1649 - opposing him was a coalition of Irish Catholic noblemen, English Catholics and Protestant royalists led by James Butler, Marquis of Ormond. Ironically, Butler had spent his time in 1641/2 suppressing Irish Catholic rebels.

When Butler's army suffered defeats against Cromwell in Dublin and Drogheda, the English and the Protestants deserted him. Since the remaining Irish Catholics didn't have very fond memories of their leader, they decided to get rid of him, at a meeting in Jamestown (just outside Carrick-on-Shannon) in County Leitrim. At a meeting held by the banks of the Shannon held between August 6th and 12th, Butler was replaced by the Earl of Clanricarde, whose name, Ulick Burke lives on in Galway as a leader even today.

Butler didn't do too bad in the end - he outlived Cromwell, and became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland again when the monarchy was restored - he served both Charles II and his successor, James II. The rest of the Catholic population didn't quite have such a happy ending.

The plaque reads in part :-

Created to commemorate the tercentenary of the National Synod held here. The convent of the Friars Minor at Jamestown from 6th to 12th August 1650. Two archbishops, seven bishops, the proxies of three others together with ten other dignitaries representing the secular and regular clergy of Ireland, attended and signed the Jamestown Declaration, repudiating the Marquis of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and excommunicating his adherents.

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Posted by Monasette at 03:27 PM | Comments (1)

August 01, 2007

Ladies Day

Traffic in Galway is always a bit of a nightmare during Race Week. No, not road traffic - it's chock a block in the skies too. To fly from Oranmore to the racecourse and back costs around 350 euro, and it's about 300 to get from Ballybrit to the Docks (pictured above), which is the closest point to the Galway Radisson hotel. The Radisson has become the mecca for the movers, shakers and posers and is simply the place to be seen.

Three hundred smackers might seem like a lot but it would hardly cover a night in a city hotel during this week. A quick glance at the Brown Thomas website's Most Desired page shows that 300 euro wouldn't buy very much of an outfit at all. And consider that tomorrow is Ladies Day - there's isn't a hairdresser, hatmaker, fake-tan importer or fashion shop that hasn't been busy in the run-up to tomorrow.

And that 300 euro won't even get you right to the door of the Radisson. The helicopter landing pads are about 300 metres from the hotel. Many of the passengers disembarking don't have a shuttle car waiting , so they have to make the last part of the journey on Shank's Mare. That's a long way in a pair of 500 euro high heels.

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Posted by Monasette at 09:56 PM | Comments (2)