From our overnight stay in Ballyvaughan, we drove into what would be a mostly partly-something day – partly cloudy, sun showers, warm, chilly, windy. It was a good mix of weather and kept things interesting.
As we approached Black Head Light, some of us may have wondered why the lighthouse was painted white and not black. The only dark part was the solar panels. (This is the northernmost tip in County Clare in Blackhead.)
I was fooling around with my fish-eye lens and produced this highly curved view of the ocean. (I’m not a flat earth-er, I guess.) I’m sure others in the group have much nicer, more conventional images. But with the wind blowing as it was, I wasn’t going to pull the lens off the camera (exposing the sensor to dust and water drops) so fish-eye was what you get.
It was very slippery and, with the wind, taking steps along the edge of the rock cliff (which may not be obvious in this fish-eye shot) was dicey. Off in the distance, others in our group were far more brave going out further. Bless them.
Sometimes you can make a fish-eye photograph and not be able to tell right away. I was intrigued by these stone walls and how the stones were placed vertically. Interesting.
The ocean is still fish-eye curved so, more proof we live on a round word, not flat. Neat wall, though.
Cliffs Of Moher
The cliffs are famous. You’ve probably seen photos before and wouldn’t be wrong to just want to see them than photograph them. Still, the urge to point a lens in their direction is great when you get there.
There is a 700 foot drop in places and there are fences to keep people away from the edges. We’re told that there were times when you could go right up to the edge in places, before fences, and that must have been exhilarating (or frightening). Certainly, parts of the cliffs have broken off and fallen to the sea, so that’s something else to worry about. Fences are good.
It would have been easy to spend the whole day here. Any photographer would do that just to catch the cliffs in different light conditions. Wandering around, in apparent sunlight and little rain, you were still subjected to rainfall. In places, the wind pushed the seawater up the Cliffside, over the edge, and into a shower of salty rain that could certainly ruin a camera’s electronics. So, rain jackets were a smart idea even on this partly-sunny day.
First Lady Of Concertina
We stopped at Crotty’s Pub in Kilrush Co. Clare. This pub was, apparently, started by Mrs. Elizabeth Crotty who has the honor of being considered “The First Lady Of Concertina”. Google her for more info.
The folks at the pub were expecting us and had just lit the peat stoves. It really wasn’t that cold this day but the fire would add ambiance…had it been lit earlier. While we were there, sitting close to the fire, we got a lot of smoke from the peat fuel. If you are used to fireplaces, this isn’t such a problem because you know it’ll soon burn hot and the smoke will diminish. For some of us, it was a bit much and tables in other rooms were filled first. Lee and I don’t mind having had three fireplaces in our home for many years. Smoke? Easy.
Here’s Ciara sitting with two couples who chose Ireland to meet. One couple from Australia and the other from the US. They first met during another tour in China and decided to meet up again for a tour of Ireland There is something quite cozy about a pub for lunch.
Crossing The Shannon River
Our arrival at the ferry that crossed the Shannon River gave us an opportunity to get coffee, use the bathrooms, and take photographs…or just wait on the bus. I chose photographs. I made a video of the ship approaching the docking area. Unlike many ferry operations, this one was simpler. The ship approached the sloped cement area along side the dock and dropped the bow. Cars rolled off, we rolled on, and we took off.
The other ferry was called the Shannon Dolphin. They told us we might see dolphins during the crossing, but I didn’t think they meant the ship. I looked for actual dolphins but saw none. I did see landscapes.
The Rose Of Tralee
We stopped in Tralee. Ciara gave us about 45 minutes to check out this interesting town, but Lee and I managed to stay close to the bus and explored a small park nearby. As it turns out, we learned about The Rose Of Tralee.
This is a long running festival featuring women of Irish descent. We looked at the names in the surrounding wall of fame and recognized many of the places from which the ladies came – not all native to Ireland, itself.
Of course, the park had more going for it than just the Rose Of Tralee statue. Although beginning to fade in October, there were extensive rose gardens all around, impeccably kept up. Lee managed to find a tree trunk that was on display. We never could figure out why it was there.
The Emerald Isle – Finally
From our departure in Dublin and our drive through to the Burren Mountains, we couldn’t help think that the countryside was a lot like what we saw in New England all the time. Our daughter, who had been to Ireland several times, sent email and wondered about our impression of the “Emerald Isle” quality of the landscape. I had to admit that I wasn’t really seeing it that much. She seemed disappointed. Then, as we left Kilrush, that all changed…
We were climbing to higher elevations and the partly-everything nature of our weather started to partly open up letting sunlight in across the valleys below. There was one breathtaking vista that Ciara sped past, to the gasps of the photographers in the van. A missed opportunity? Well, there was more to come.
Ciara asked, as we started to see more of the Emerald Effect, “Would you like me to stop?”
We would, thank you very much.
Has Anyone Ever Heard Of Tom Crean?
Ciara asked about Tom Crean. Few of us (none?) had heard of him. So, she explained that our next stop would be at the South Pole Inn and that it all had to do with Tom Crean. He was a Irishman who’d joined the British Navy and was selected to participate in the attempt to get to the South Pole. (Check out this website for more.)
We drove to Annascaul where the Inn was located, enjoying the emerald colors of Ireland (finally) along the way.
This place turned out to be quite famous. It’s one of the top 10 “must see” pubs/inns in Ireland according to one website we perused. More to the point, across the top of the bar are badges from police and fire departments from around the world. We found several that were close by to were we lived in Massachusetts.
The proprietor came out and told the Tom Crean story. With my hearing (poor as it is), I had a tough time hearing anything. If it hadn’t been for Ciara’s thorough explanation in the van, I wouldn’t have understood the importance of this place and person.
Another notable event – Lee had her first beer in Ireland. She’s not a beer drinker but, as Ciara (or Vagabond, actually) was buying us all a round, Lee opted for a Guiness. I did too. I’m not a beer drinker for medical reasons but I ordered a small one and it tasted so good.
After our drink, I managed to sneak away from the pub and explored a bit. I came across these horses in a field and started photographing. As I did, they kept coming closer and I was able to get a good composition. It’s like they knew what they were doing for the camera.
More Of The Emerald Isle
As we drove away from Annascaul, we saw more of the emerald green colors. The mountains, here, didn’t have the erosion that we saw in the Burren Mountains. Ciara told us about how we’d see sheep high up in the hillsides; it was their natural habitat. The farmers spray painted the sheep to mark the animals and sheep dogs took care of the rest as needed. In both the Burren Mountains as well as here, one could see stone walls both in the valley and going straight up the mountain sides.
We arrived in Dingle, which would be our location for two nights. We stayed at the Emlagh House Bed and Breakfast. It was a really nice place; more about that tomorrow.
This is the view from the parking lot. We didn’t really have the energy to wander around this first evening and this was about all I could shoot. We did take the recommendation of the B&B caretaker and had a terrific meal at a local pub. Then it was time for Zzzz’s.