This now unused railway bridge runs over the river Ilen in the small town of Skibbereen, West Cork, in Ireland. This market town used to have a rail connection between it and the large city to the East, Cork. The railway extended also to Ballydehob and Schull, and to Baltimore. I have heard it said that in days gone by sugar beet was cultivated around Baltimore, a seaside place close to Skibbereen, and that daily the sugar beet would be transported by train all the way to the factory in Mallow, a town which lies much further inland.
Sadly the railway is no more, neither is the sugar beet production. The old bridge stands to this day and is part of the West Cork Hotel. I happened to pass there today and immediately saw that the reflection of the bridge was perfect on the water, so took some photos with my phone and played around a bit with editing. I wanted the bridge in black and white, but I found that in colour – especially boosted a bit, the result was fine too.
Skibbereen is a small town in the South-West of Ireland, I plan to explore it more in future and also to learn more about its history. It has many interesting corners, and lately I am discovering new walks. Time to start a little exploration!
Yesterday found us in one of the most beautiful places in West Cork, a small fishing village along the coast. It was a quiet and a sunny day, a day like you might get in September or October, when the sun is golden, bringing out the colours everywhere and in everything. The air was crisp, and all along the hedgerows lashes of bright red fuchsia were still proudly in bloom, lifting the landscape and infusing in us a feeling of vibrancy and beauty.
We walked to the pier to watch the fishermen mend their nets, bright colours were everywhere, whether the nets were new or old, or whatever other materials are used by the fishermen, there is a wealth of texture and colour to be seen.
Everywhere I looked I saw art and beauty, was it me or was it the reality of things?
Fishermen working on their nets, nice to watch, dedicated work.
Ian having a great walk down memory lane, and nets everywhere!
This is, or was the Post Office in this little village, the village of Unionhall.
We were celebrating my 69th birthday and it was a wonderful way to do so.
Thank you Ian for helping to make this day so very special.
You have got to love these balmy summer days, when the wild roses are flowering along the hedgerows, and the dark yellow of the ragwort is blending in with the straw-coloured grasses now dried out from sun and water need. And the bright red of the fuchsia bells against the dark green foliage of the hedges all along the country roads. And the evenings when the scents fill the air, scents of night flowers, of grasses and trees, of the soil, delicious are the fragrances of the land as the earth cools down as the sun slowly disappears. How lovely these long and light summer evenings, stretches of brightness seen along the horizon as late as midnight – to reappear as early as four in the morning when the sky lights up again. I used to set my alarm to witness this magical moment to see the new morning appear, glad for another chance at life and anticipating a wonderful day. These are the restoring days of the year, the sun brimming with health giving vitamin D3 (well at least our bodies can avail of the sun to make it). It has been since 1976 that Ireland had a summer like this, with higher temperatures than we get here normally. And as the heat continues there is said to be a water shortage and resulting ban on using the water hose in the garden, so I’m keeping all my grey water and what is left in the rain water barrel for my vegetables. The dry earth soaks up the water eagerly.
At this moment I am very much out of routine, seems to be like this for a while now, my regular blog reading and writing has diminished. I miss it, but too much is happening and I’m getting little done. It is just that type of a summer I think – a summer of laziness, but also a summer of beauty and of enjoyment, of scents and sights.
I do hope that it is full of goodness for everyone of you too.
During the winter months here in West Cork the colours of the landscape change dramatically, at least I think they do. I took my photos on the Beara peninsula, near the Caha mountain range. In summer these mountains, they are not very high, look fabulously green, but come winter they turn all shades of brown, ranging from sienna, to rusts, to sepia, and even burnt umber. It’s the grasses and the bracken that deck the landscape in such an array of colours. It never seizes to impress me, around every corner on the road there is another palette, it’s fascinating.
On the road between Skibbereen and Baltimore, West Cork, there is a most beautiful garden, it is the Inish Beg Estate and recently Ian and I visited it together with my daughter and my five grandchildren, it was a lovely afternoon and being the month of May so many flowers were in bloom, the gardens were looking so very beautiful, the many trees with fresh green foliage, the Rhododendrons, all varieties, were flowering. From a herb and kitchen walled garden, to a fairy house among the trees, everything is thought of. The children enjoyed it very much too, running along the paths and discovering all sorts of things including sticks which they then ended up comparing with Ian’s walking stick. And of course they loved the fairy houses. These gardens comprise 97 acres of woodland, organic pasture and farmland, formal gardens including a the before mentioned walled garden. There is an orchard, a bamboo grove and a sunken garden. And something I did not know about but is mentioned in the brochure of the ‘West Cork Garden Trail’ is that there are 4km of carriage drives. There is a lot more to this garden and it would be worthwhile to look it up on-line if you are coming to visit West Cork I think. We just enjoy it as it is so close to where we live. The birds were singing their hearts out, everything was so very peaceful and beautiful. We were lucky with the weather, I think that this is Ireland at its best.
A fanlight is a feature of Georgian architecture, it is found of course in England, but it is also found in Ireland, and I think it is a beautiful feature. It is a semicircle window above a main door, it is called a fanlight because several panes radiate like a fan outwards. While it is a useful addition to any hall, it is also very decorative and in Ireland efforts are made to preserve these features in the many Georgian style houses.
While I was in Cork city the other day, I took some photos with my mobile phone. I think these features are so nice and interesting. I had to go and look up information on them and did not even know that they were called fanlights, I only knew that you see these features a lot in Irish cities. Fanlights originated in England during George I (1714), and fettered by the year 1901. But in Ireland, the use of these fanlights lasted longer. Especially in the eighteen hundreds though they were a frequent architectural feature to be seen in Dublin, also in Cork and other cities.
During the nineteen seventies a poster was produced featuring some of the beautiful fanlights in Dublin, it is very popular to this day. There are still many Georgian houses found in Dublin, also quite a few in Cork, fanlights only being one of it’s Georgian features of course. Many of these houses are now neglected and some are almost derelict, efforts are being made to restore them, many, however have been demolished in the past. But equally many have been restored and there still remain quite a variety of fanlights and they are very appealing to the eye. It is also good to know some of the history behind it. The fact that they started out as a useful feature, then became a decorative feature and remain like that today. What I see today in modern doors is that the idea of a fanlight is actually build into the door and in this way throws light into the hall, that is, of course, not half as beautiful (just my thought).
I took my photos along the Dyke Parade in Cork city. At some future date I would love to explore the city much more and make many more photos.
Harry Clarke is well known for his use of the most beautiful colours, deep blues especially delight the eye. This is one of the stained glass windows in St.Barrahane’s Church in Castletownshend, Ireland, there are three windows designed by Harry Clarke in this little church. We spent some time here last Sunday as my latest grandchild was being christened. Because of the week that was in it there was not much work done in the garden, apart from the hedge cutting. I went on an outing with my daughter and grandchildren one of the days, we did some shopping but also walked along the estuary and bird sanctuary at Timoleague and saw the ruins of an old abbey there (http://www.timoleague.ie/abbey/default.html). And on Friday we had a crafts day with the two oldest girls, we made a treasure box from scrap items which they thought was great fun! Then on Sunday there was yet another outing to the christening, and a stroll along the country road where the starlings were making a racket but otherwise all was very peaceful.
Meanwhile it is the second of November and still the weather is mild and a golden sun burnt away the grey skies this morning. So far we have been really blessed with the weather here which we gratefully accept after a rather cool and sunless summer.
Sts Louis IX and Martin of Tours – stained glass window by Harry Clarke.
Sunday stroll around the old pub where we had lunch, an old farm door took my interest.
Magically recreated soap powder boxes. And deep pink hydrangeas along the Irish country roads.
Starlings gathering in the trees, and autumn leaves all along the hedgerows.
We recently had an archaeological dig here at Skibbereen in West Cork. The work was undertaken by students of the university of Maryland in US, under the supervision of their professor Stephen Brighton and Drew Webster.
Seems that during the 19th century there was a lot of activity going on at the site of the Rock, which towers above the town of Skibbereen behind the town hall and the houses of North street and High street. It was called Windmill hill. Prior to the structures hewn out from the rocks being used as houses, six of them, the place was probably used for industry, perhaps related to the windmill. The houses would probably have had grass roofs at first Dr S.Brighton told me, you can see where timbers had been inserted into the rock. It’s a very interesting site. By the time I reached it and made photos, the students were filling in the sights again after six weeks of excavations. Artefacts were found at the site, like potsherds and other bits and pieces. Please visit the Facebook site for more photos and information. And also the WordPress.com site at: Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora and Modern Ireland
Where the dig is situated above the town of Skibbereen
Seen here are what is thought to be indentations where timber would have been fitted, probably for industrial purposes when these sites were used previous to when people were living here in the 19th century.
More indentations seen in the rocks and pieces hewed out. This site has been filled in again by the students.
The type of rock found here, slate or shale. And students at work.
More sites of the houses, there were six in total. The floors of the houses consisted of flat rock, and a drain would have been hacked out in the ground to allow water running from the rock behind to drain away from the house. It must have been uncomfortable living quarters. Who lived there? It’s quite an exposed area of Skibbereen, but high up and far away from the flooding which sometimes afflicted the town. Then again as there was a windmill a few meters away from this site, there must have been work available for people. A lane (Windmill lane) is there still today and one wonders if this lane linked up to other boreens (Irish for lane) in the area. The houses were inhabited at the time of the Irish potato famine 1847-49, one can only wonder at what tragedy played out here among these rocks as the famine claimed so many lives here.
It’s all very interesting and I will hope to find out more.
This overgrown site is where the windmill would have stood. It is only a few meters away from the ruins of the houses.
Views of one of the most beautiful peninsulas in Ireland, the Beara peninsula. We went there once again the other day, and this time we travelled from the mountain village of Eyeries, along the coast road with the most incredible sea views looking towards the Kerry mountains and the open Atlantic, and inland towards the Slieve Miskish Mountains. After a beautiful journey we arrived in Allihies. I would like to share some of the photos I took along the way, even though the day was hazy and this does not make for clear photography.
Looking towards the Kerry mountains, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, with Carrantuohill as the highest peak in Ireland.
The open Ocean and a misty view of the Cow and the Calf islands.
Typical Irish traditional cottage along the road.
The road winds along the coast with very rocky views looking inland. I think that the main rocks are slate and shale, but there could also be some old red sandstone.
Sheep are the main farm income around here, and they grace the landscape with their presence.
I found these cliffs fascinating and the way the waves were crashing into them!
Looking back at Allihies village far in the distance, with the ancient copper mines behind it.