Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

Fall and Corrie in the Slieve Mish Mountains

August 1, 2016

The Slieve Mish mountain range is in County Kerry in Eire. But first the confession. In those old days of photography, by the time you had taken your film and had it processed it was all too easy not to know where a photo was taken. My label says Slieve Mish Mountains but my memory makes me think it was near Carrauntoohil which is Eire’s highest point. That’s in Kerry, but not in the Slieve Mish range.

Anyway, here is my photo taken on the Canon Demi with Agfachrome 64 slide film.


Now time to honour my old Geography teacher, Mr Cole again. He taught me about glaciation and falls and corries. This looks classic glaciation scenery to me. We have a cirque formed by ice and when the ice melted the depression filled with water to form the corrie or tarn. The glacier may well have left a heap of rocks known as a moraine as it melted which formed a barrier to keep the corrie water in place. The little ridge running off shot to the right could be such a moraine.

The photo dates from August 1971 – 45 years ago but I still remember my delight at finding this scene which up until then had just been a description in one of Mr Cole’s lessons for GCE.


Connemara Marble Quarry

June 7, 2016

Or showing my wife a good time

We honeymooned in Ireland back in 1971. And how better to show love and affection for my newlywed wife than to seek out some industrial archaeology? We went to look at the Connemara marble quarry.

And there is my wife under the massive crane that could lift and move huge blocks of marble.


This monster really did reach for the sky.



We can see the lumps of marble really were huge.


I’ve enhanced this close up of a piece of marble to make it match my memory. My good old Canon Demi didn’t render it well!

A past scene

May 20, 2016

I was brought up in the prosperous south east corner of Britain and in my memory the horse did not feature in farm work. There were plenty of older tractors about but my childhood was an era in which the little grey Fergie ruled supreme. However, back in the west of Ireland in 1971 old styles and methods hung on and here – a road scene – we have a case in point.


A lovely horse – I have no idea what breed – is hauling a load of hay. Now in my South of England life, hay was baled. Here, clearly, it is loose so it was both horse and hay that attracted attention and made me get out the old little Canon Demi camera and take a photo. I suspect the two wheeled cart would be interesting as well, but that is all but lost under the hay. I rather assume the driver has made himself a seat in the hay from where he can issue instructions to the horse, presumably via a rope we see going back from the bridle.

I feel truly privileged to have witnessed these older ways of farming, albeit when I was adult. These days it gives me an insight into how my Sussex farm labouring ancestors must have lived.

New Ross letter box

March 24, 2016

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I am an absolute sucker for post boxes. I prefer rural locations and tend to favour boxes mounted in walls rather than the free standing pillar boxes but sometimes you come across a pillar box that just screams out to be noticed and this is one of them. It is in New Ross, Ireland. This town is on the banks of the River Barrow in County Wexford. It is about twenty miles from Waterford. We were there way back in 1990. And here is the pillar box.

Of course, you need to know a bit of Irish history here. Eire, covering the bulk of the island but not six counties in the north, was granted independence from the United Kingdom (after a bloody struggle) in 1922. It remained a dominion for some time and became a republic in the 1940s.

Infrastructure that predates 1922 was built under British rule and off course, the postal service was the British Royal Mail.


It is no surprise, really, to find a very British post box in what is now a separate country. This box dates from the era of Queen Victoria and has her monogram on it.


This box was to the design of J W Penfold and they were first introduced in 1866 – a standard design in three different sizes.

Early post boxes had been green in colour, but this box would, initially, have been in pillar box red with the monogram and other details picked out, possibly in gold.

Ireland, of course, became non royali so all traces of the old regime were painted over in uniform green.


It looks good.

At Castlemaine Dairy in 1971

November 26, 2015

A correspondent, new to this blog, recently asked whether I had married my fiancée I mentioned in a postcard from 1970. Well, the answer was yes and it still is. We married in 1971 and this is a photo taken on our honeymoon tour of Eire. It is at Castlemaine and shows the morning milk arriving at the dairy. Castlemaine is north west of Killarney and near the Dingle Peninsula.


I was captivated by this scene for it represented the past as far as a South of England young man was concerned.

Well some of the milk has been tractor hauled, but the horse and donkey were still vital forms of motive power down in the south west of the republic. We clearly were in small farm territory. Loads of one, two or three churns were the norm, maybe representing milking herds of a dozen beasts.

But of course, this daily routine for the local farmers brought them all within chatting distance of one another. It was a daily opportunity to exchange gossip and news. The bulk tank collection from huge farms just doesn’t allow for this.

Mind you, patience was needed whilst the farmer’s chatted.




September 15, 2015

Omey is a causewayed island just off the coast of Connemara. The nearest place on the mainland is Claddaghduff. We have stayed in that area twice. Once was in 1971 and then, again, 40 years later in 2011. We have walked across the sandy causeway to the island of Omey and enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the place. This is me in 1971.


In 2011, working only from memory, I thought I’d try to get a re-creation of that photo. Well of course there’s nothing I can do to regenerate my lost youth, but I found a similar spot and got a similar view.


The sandy beaches we see ‘across the ocean’ are in an area we now call Actons. On each holiday we stayed there, although in 1971 we hadn’t realised the area was owned by the Acton family. Way beyond, in the distance, we can make out some of Connemara’s 12 Bens (or Twelve Pins). The weather was better in 1971 so we can see them better in that photo – a half frame slide taken on my little Canon Demi.

Happy memories there of a comparatively unchanging part of the world.

Near Oughterard

April 10, 2015

In the last three days, without any real thought, I have looked at an English relative and then somewhere in Wales and somewhere in Scotland. So with forethought, this time, let’s look at somewhere in Ireland and the place I have chosen is near a place sometimes called the gateway to Connemara. That’s Oughterard but we were a few miles further west at Derroura. According to the signs this is a mountain biking place but what impressed us were the wild flowers. The west of Ireland is rich in flora!



What wonderful colours.


That was a magical little stop back in August 2011.


January 27, 2015

Claddaghduff is a small village in Connemara – the west of Ireland.

We have been there twice with a forty year separation between visits. The first visit was in 1971 when I was using my good old Canon Demi camera and I took this photo of what seemed a fairly typical, if rather old style cottage.


There’s nothing like a glorious blue sky for making a lovely colour shot and this shows the cottage at its best. It’s a simple, single storey dwelling under a thatched roof. One chimney suggests some kind of a stove on which turf (what peat is always called in Ireland) is burnt. The black heap on the right is that turf.

Back in 1971 the modern age was creeping in. Note the barbed wire fence and in the left background an altogether more substantial house, solidly constructed, can be seen.

On our 2011 visit I looked for the same cottage but couldn’t find it.

In fact a rather run down cottage was clearly much more modern. And we had no blue sky!


Note the montbretia and fuchsias flowering and forming a kind of hedgerow. Connemara has delightful flora.

By the way, Claddaghduff is still delightful. The people are as laid back and relaxed as ever. There’s little in the way of rush. It’s wonderful over there.

The Sky Road

June 25, 2014

This name is given to a road which loops around a headland to the west of Clifden in Connemara. It’s a magnificent stretch of road which affords magnificent views. We first visited in 1971. We stopped at a designated car park from which this view over the plethora of off-shore small islands could be seen.


Forty years later, in 2011, we were in the same place and I seem to have captured the almost identical view.


Not all that much has changed in forty years, most notably a little settlement seems to have appeared on the mainland.

The nearest island, possibly connected by a low tide causeway is called Ardmore. Beyond it and with buildings visible is Turbot Island. The island on the right is Inishturk.

It is a lovely place – quiet and beautiful.

Irish Donkeys

June 19, 2014

My wife and I got married back in 1971. For our honeymoon we did much as we have done ever since. We went camping and on that occasion it was in the west of Ireland. It was living in a previous time back then. The west of Ireland was undeveloped and utterly charming and lovely. I’d like to say the people were all friendly and delightful. They probably were but we were young newlyweds and had little time for other people.

But here’s an example of that past age. Well, it was 43 years ago, but it seemed more like an age my grandad would have talked about from the early years of the twentieth century.


Yes, we have a donkey, complete with panniers, empty at the time, but which were used for peat (or as they say over there, turf). Almost everything in that photo represents something I just wouldn’t have seen in the south of England.

Over here, working donkeys were confined to beaches or donkey derbies. The panniers had clearly been made by a local hurdle maker. I’d never have seen anything like that. In the field behind the donkey we see a loose hay cock. No such thing would have been found in the south of England.

But things were on the change. There’s a new and very swish looking big house behind the donkey and the cottage on the right is either quite new or substantially modernised.

As L P Hartley opened his book, ‘The Go-between’, ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’

But now to a donkey which didn’t seem to lead a working life.


This donkey was a resident on the camp site we stayed at near Claddaghduff in Connemara. This chap had learned the noble art of begging. It called at any tents there were (not many) each evening, poking its head through any opening. We thought him lovely and gave him a biscuit each time he called. That kept him satisfied and he’d wander off to another tent to try his luck.

As the sun went down, he’d start singing a raucous duet with another animal on the island of Omey, a few hundred yards away.

We returned to the same campsite in 2011, to celebrate our ruby wedding. The same family still owned it and this time, being much older and not newlyweds I can assure you that the people are an absolute delight. We had taken copies of photos from 40 years earlier and the chap in his early forties who now ran things saw a donkey photo and said, ‘Ah! That’s Wellington!’ It seemed odd that, forty years after we knew the donkey, we learned its name. We had to go and see ‘dad’ who had been in charge forty years earlier. He was an old, frail and bedridden chap but he was pleased to see our photos.

For the record, the West of Ireland is much less in the past now but it is still a fantastic place. We enjoyed our return visit very much.