P1230189'sizeIII © 2015 Andrew. All rights reserved.

The Emerald Isle

My return visit to the magical country of Ireland.

Owing to some IT issues I haven’t blogged for some time, a situation exacerbated by lagging motivation for photography at the moment. It happens to all snappers.

Anyway, below is a collection from an Easter trip to Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, which is on the so called ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. I have been once previously a decade ago, and it was just a magical as I remembered.

We stayed in an Airbnb property named ‘The Cuckoo Wood Hexagon‘ – essentially a luxury tree house on stilts. For the first three days it rained continuously and relentlessly, but luckily the accommodation was a delight, replete with stove for burning peat from a nearby bog (the smell is wonderfully evocative).

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P1230061Out first foray out of the bolt-hole was to Connemara, specifically Kylemore Castle, which was built by English businessman Mitchell Henry in the mid 19th century. It has served as an Abbey and a convent school. The estate also includes a Victorian walled garden, multiple lakes and footpaths.

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P1230046'The castle was dedicated to Henry’s wife and when she died unexpectedly he built a small chapel in her memory nearby.

P1230036Note the three types of Irish marble.

P1230038-copyThe real draw of the area though is the spectacular coastline, with Clew Bay shown below. The series of little islands are called drumlins and are a post-glaciation geological feature. John Lennon bought one to live on is peace before he was shot.

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P1230106-seasonsPresiding over Clew Bay is Croagh Partrick, a holy mountain and site of christian pilgrimage, where legend has it that St Patrick fasted for 40 days and 40 night on the summit in around 800AD.

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Hordes of the faithful and others climb the mountain in the hope of being rewarded with stunning views, if the clouds permit.

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CrankedThe ship sculpture is a macabre but poignant memorial to the Irish famine and resulting exodus. Many millions died of starvation.

P1230130burn P1230132Of course Ireland also offers plenty of extracurricular activities in the pubs and bars.

The style of Irish bars is quite distinct, often a simple, brightly coloured facade marked by the owner’s name with initial and first name.

P1230285Of course it’s what’s inside that counts. Plenty pubs around the world have Irish folk music, but you know it’s the real deal when they sing in Gaelic. Also video here: https://vimeo.com/124254752

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P1230087Does the Guinness taste better in Ireland? I recon so.

GuinessMany tourist destinations have latched onto the recent popularity of cycling, often creating ‘greenways’ along disused railway lines. I’ve ridden many of these but none come close to the ‘Great Western Greenway’ in County Mayo. It’s like stepping back in time to a bygone era of rural Ireland taking in derelict, abandoned farm buildings, rickety bridges and bright scrubland.

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One Comment

  1. Tam

    Loved looking at these stunning photos Andrew. I spent 4 weeks cycling and camping around this area in August 1991 with Pete. Your photos are so evocative, it feels like last year rather than 24 years ago.

    Thank you

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