IT MADE ME COME ALIVE

On the way home, a very scenic view in the village of Leap.

A beautiful evening at almost mid-winter time of year. Today saw me driving the 91 km to the nearest city from where we live. Cork city is beautiful and as I had to drive through some of the oldest part of it in the area of the Shandon tower and the butter market, I was absolutely delighted to have had a reason to travel up. It does not happen so often these days, partly due to all the lock-downs and partly because I do not like to leave Ian alone for too long. It takes about one and a half hours one way from our little town to the city, and along the way you travel through two other small towns. What I noticed today is that these little towns are growing rapidly, but they also have lovely older areas with interesting architecture.

But to talk some more about Cork city, it is a place that I love, I learnt my English there originally. There are so many interesting places to see and take in. Today I could not stop to linger where I wanted to take photos and just admire the old quarters as I had an appointment for a Covid test, routine before any procedure in hospital which is to follow on Thursday. The test centre was right up the hill through a residential area, many of these are small one story Irish houses, some of them have interesting features of Irish vernacular architecture. (taking a note to come back some time with my camera). The streets were fairly quiet which I was happy about as I do not drive often in the city. I felt relaxed and glad.

It made me realise that in these troubled times where for most of the year we have all been very restricted in our movements, it is so uplifting to be among people, to feel the buzz of the city, to admire the beauty of it all. It made me come alive and it energized me.

CONNEMARA MEMORIES

I would like to share some scenes of Connemara, I hope that it captures for you the rugged beauty that Connemara is. Situated in the West of Ireland it is a most fascinating place for lovers of archaeology or geology, or just for lovers of peace, quiet, and a special type of beauty. This view is of a stone beach near Galway city, it was a paradise for me.
Inland the landscape is quite barren with bogland, rushes, and low growing gorse which gave a yellow hue to the most fantastic shades of brown and ochre all around.
In all its barren land, there is lushness to be found too, the tender young green here of rhododendrons.
Dull days, showers of rain, mist. And as a little diversion some cattle being moved to another field. I love cows in a landscape, in paintings of pastoral life they often make the painting work I think.
The variety and beauty of the rocks at this beach was amazing.
Peaceful lake, lovely scent of autumn, and the air as fresh as is possible to imagine, you could taste it on the tip of your tongue, delicious!

These are lovely memories of our time spent in Connemara. I hope you enjoyed a bit of our journey too.

We took this journey during early autumn 2019 to celebrate our marriage a few days earlier, it was a fantastic journey and I am thinking back to it during this time of lockdowns, no doubt we will be travelling in Ireland and no further afield this coming summer, we hope so anyway – a staycation they have called it – well we cannot complain, we are not short of interest or beauty in this island.

A MELLOW EARLY AUTUMN WALK

I strolled around the block this evening. Around the block in this urban area does not mean that I walk totally among houses, no, for a start I walk through the Boreen which is a narrow path where a lot of wild plants and shrubs grow. This 15 minute walk also takes me along a fairly new road which is mostly surrounded by fields. Here I also see a lot of wild flowers, plants and wildlife in general. So it can be quite an interesting walk and all I need is the discipline to do it more often. Today I set off in a mild Irish mist that was softly falling and was hydrating my face, it was gentle and refreshing.

We have been experiencing lovely mild and sunny weather lately, making us think that it is an Indian summer. However, autumn signs can be seen and the lovely bright colours of the berries and the leaves are a pleasure to behold. A mellow early autumn walk was just what I needed after a hard day’s work in the garden.

I was glad to discover that there is plenty of Ivy this year, I always use this to make flower pieces at Christmas time. Apart from that there are moths and butterflies that lay their eggs in Ivy. An important plant. The blackberries are plentiful too and ripening fast now, they are plump and delicious.

Talking about the Boreen, this is the Irish word bóthrín, which is a diminutive of bóthar, meaning ‘road’. It is used to denote a narrow country path often surrounded by hedges, or sometimes by stone walls. Here in Ireland you might often see these paths very overgrown, because nature does take over and if the paths are not used regularly they just close more or less with overgrowth of brambles and other wild plants. However, what is very important about these Boreens is that they are ancient, and in this way they often still contain many native plants. This is important for biodiversity. In this particular Boreen I have found the creeping Hypericum plant, and this evening I checked and found that it is thriving. There are also a few different Ferns, and common Violets. Lots of Ivy, Hawthorn and also some Gorse. All of these are native plants or shrubs. I know that some well-meaning people use the strimmer on this particular Boreen several times every summer and it saddens me, I wish that at least they would let flowers come into seed before strimming.

Meanwhile in the garden lots of work is waiting for me, I did three days of it in the past week, it has only scratched the surface of it. I love autumn though, lots of tidying up, taking notes, and making plans for the next season. All good fun and a great work-out too, especially with nettles that I allowed to grow to 3 meters high!

Sending many thanks this way to all the blessed wishes from everyone on our wedding day.

SHORT WALKS

Gorse growing in the West Cork landscape along the road leading from the town of Skibbereen towards the coastal villages of Castletownsend or Unionhall. I walked only as far as Russagh Mill Hostel which lies about 2 km from the town. The walk is a pleasant one even though it is along a busy enough road, there is a footpath most of the way which makes it quite safe.
I found that along the road there was quite a bit of wetland, and also a small stream, ducks flew up when I approached. Though my reason for taking the walk was to become fitter, I enjoyed finding so many wild plants and spring flowers by the roadside, among them were two types of wild geraniums.

To my right was Lick Hill, a long hill which is so familiar to me as I can see it from the upstairs window where I live. Its bedrock is made up of purple mudstone and siltstone, behind it and to the South lies the sea, the wild Atlantic Sea. A little more towards the S.West lies the famous Knockomagh Hill, at Lough Hyne. But walking further along this road I passed some lovely green fields, very green, like you only get them in Ireland, typical with Gorse, Hawthorn, and Blackthorn growing in the hedgerows. And today the sky was blue, dotted with woolly white clouds, what a lovely contrast.

Above – Looking back towards our houses, with hawthorn hedging and wetland in front, and then the walk goes on past Liss Ard Estate where I found lots of native trees growing, their buds bursting in the warming spring sun, and birds singing their hearts out for sheer delight.
Also along my walk, and I love to see this, were stone walls, beautifully built from local stone, purple mudstone, shale and I even saw some quartz here and there. These are often grown full of little ferns, mosses, and other wild plants, this one in the photo must have been built fairly recently though.

And in people’s gardens, a magnificent Camelia bush in full bloom!
I also came across this beautiful blue door, the colour of it dazzled me!
Last, but not least, this little ladybird was sunny itself, I’m happy to say that I’ve seen at least a dozen over the last few days.
I have marked out at least seven walks in the vicinity of Skibbereen town, I’m doing this for my health, both body and mind. This particular walk took me 50 minutes and all round it was about 4km in distance. When we used to spend our winters on the island of Gozo I used to walk everywhere, exploring the whole island and all it’s little villages, and it was such a delight. I have missed this very much in the past six months and so I decided to make the best of it by mapping out some do-able walks around here and exploring nature or architecture or whatever I can find to interest me, and reading up on it all. The beautiful sunshine of the past few days has helped greatly to encourage me and inspire me, and off to a good start it has been. I am truly grateful.

A BLESSED SUNDAY IN RURAL IRELAND

cropped-dscf1085.jpg

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.
DSCF1048

Sts Louis IX and Martin of Tours – stained glass window by Harry Clarke.
DSCF1078     DSCF1089
Sunday stroll around the old pub where we had lunch, an old farm door took my interest.
20151030_174645   DSCF1062
Magically recreated soap powder boxes.  And deep pink hydrangeas along the Irish country roads.
DSCF1090    DSCF1108
Starlings gathering in the trees, and autumn leaves all along the hedgerows.