TIME AND TIDE – and Flaking Paint

This lovely but derelict old boat is dry docked at Latchi, on the western side of Cyprus. Looks like its sailing days are over, but I guess it is photographed by many passers by. Who could resist it, even knowing that there are so many other photos of it out there. I tried to find some information about its history, but couldn’t find anything.  Perhaps someone out there can enlighten me?
















Thank you for looking at my photos of this beautiful boat.

Many more photos of Cyprus are on my website:









To see more Dingle Peninsula photos please visit my website: http://helene-brennan.com/c25-dingle-peninsula-photos





Please see my website for more Murioch photos: http://www.helene-brennan.com/tag/murioch



The warm colors of evening sun on the ruins of Great Blasket Island. The island’s beautiful beach lies behind.

More paintings of the Blasket Islands on my website:




Tralee Ship Canal, with a view of Blennerville Windmill

Some of you may be aware that I have previously posted photos of Tralee Canal, one of my regular walking and photography routes and in this post I would like to mention just a little snippet about the history in which this canal played a part.

This canal has a rich history. It was built to bring trade to the Tralee area around 1830. But my interest often focuses more on the human side of the story. It was from here that many people set sail for America in the original Jeanie Johnston tall ship during the Famine years of the 1840s to escape hunger and even death, with dreams of a new life in a faraway country, about which they knew very little. This was a dreadful time in the history of Ireland, and its repercussions still resound in the minds and hearts of the people here.

The Jeanie Johnston was a three masted barque that was originally built in Quebec, Canada, in 1847. It was purchased by a Tralee business man who used it to ship emigrants to North America and timbers back to Europe. It was particularly notable because nobody died on the emigrants voyages, unlike on other similar ships of the time, dubbed ‘coffin ships’. From 1848 – 1855 she made 16 voyages to Quebec, Baltimore and New York, taking around 47 days and carrying about 200 people on board. One can only imagine the challenges of this long and arduous journey, on the wild Atlantic Ocean.

When I walk by the canal down to the coast, I contemplate the beautiful view over Tralee Bay and the Sliabh Mish Mountains of the lovely Dingle Peninsula, and sometimes try to imagine what it must have felt like for those thousands of people who left their home country with dreams of a better life, and saw the shores of their beautiful homeland for the last time. I look at the sights they saw as they sailed out to sea, to an unknown fate, and think of their fears and hopes as they knew this might be the last time they would see their beautiful but desperate home country.

In spite of the challenges that confronted them, many achieved their dreams, and many of their descendants have become high achievers in many fields,  some even reaching the highest office of the US.  

Check out this link for a list of 20 US Presidents with Irish connections: 


The Jeanie Johnston is remembered as a ship of great importance to the Irish people. A replica ship was built in Blennerville, Tralee, 1998 – 2000, in a boatyard adjacent to the Blennerville Windmill. It was an ambitious project that cost nearly 14 million euro – way over budget and was sold to The Dublin Docklands Development Authority in 2005, for less than 3 million euro. Unfortunately it did not remain in Kerry, where many stakeholders incurred huge financial losses. It can now be seen moored off Custom House Quay, in Dublin. I have no photos of my own of the current Jeanie Johnston, but here’s one you can see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jeanie_Johnston.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Jeanie_Johnston.jpg

Read more about the Jeanie Johnston on: http://www.jeaniejohnston.ie


The canal now provides a wonderful amenity to local people who enjoy the beautiful walk along the towpath


A rainbow seen from the canal

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Wetlands border the sides of the canal, on its route to the sea


The emigrants may have been glad to leave the uncertain and swiftly changing Irish weather – though it has a beauty of its own



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Through the lock gates and out into Tralee Bay


A last look up the canal after exiting the lock


The last few yards of the canal before entering the calm waters of Tralee Bay


Keeping the Sliabh Mish Mountains on the left, thousands of emigrants sailed out towards the wild and rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean, to reach America in approximately 47 days


Please take a look at my website on the Tralee Canal Category: http://helene-brennan.com/c112-tralee-canal–county-kerry–photos.

Great Blasket Island – Photographs, Comments, Stories (Part 2)



Great Blasket is a very beautiful Island which has been unhabited since 1953. It’s three miles from the mainland, a mountain rising up from the sea. There is one lovely sandy beach, about 60 acres of arable land in and close to the village; the rest is highland bog and rough grazing land.

On Gt Blasket, viewing the mainland.

Walking on the ridge of the island, viewing Mount Eagle on the mainland

There was once a vibrant, egalitarian community living there – up to 150 people at one time.  A hardworking people who had little material wealth, but they had an enormous wealth of culture and noble values, manifesting in the richness of their language and storytelling. The island boasts several writers among its people, who wrote mainly about life on the island and about its characters, and that’s what makes this island different from other island communities.

Music, song and dance played a dynamic role in their lives, and the island enjoyed the talents of a number of fiddlers and singers who entertained at gatherings in the houses. Traditional set dancing was a popular feature of these social evenings. It was also common for groups to gather for debate and discussion, gleaning information from each other after mainland trips and especially from ‘The King’ (a community leader), who would read the newspapers and keep up with the news of the country and the rest of the world.

Several scholars visited the island in the early part of the 20th Century, being drawn by the language and culture: The  playwright J.M. Synge, linguists like Carl Marstrander and Robin Flower, and many others such as George Thomson, the great Greek scholar, and Kenneth Jackson, the Celtic scholar were among the people that went to learn about the culture and the language.

The people mainly survived on fishing and most families also kept a cow, some sheep and hens. They grew potatoes and a few basic vegetables. Donkeys were also kept for carrying loads, like turf (peat) from the bog, or seaweed for fertiliser. To many of us now, their diet would seem somewhat exotic – aside from the usual potatoes and common vegetables with buttermilk or thick sour milk and  fish – they ate rabbit, birds (puffin, razorbills or young gannets), gull’s eggs, limpets and periwinkles, various seaweeds, lobster roe  (they did not like the lobster flesh), roasted red crab and roasted seal meat.

Resident Donkey on Gt. Blasket Island

A few donkeys are resident on the island

The decline of the fishing markets contributed largely to the process of emigration from the island. The young people left their island homes for a better life in America or the mainland. The vast majority of emigrants settled in Springfield MA. Their numbers declined until in 1953 there were only 22 people left on the island. They knew they had reached the end when a young man died of meningitis and because of a storm that lasted for about three weeks they were unable to get medical assistance for him. Following that they were also unable to bring his body to the burial ground on the mainland. The difficulty of bringing services to the island was no longer acceptable in the middle of the 20th century, when mainlanders appeared to have an easier life. So finally in 1953 they vacated the island.


These houses ,different in character from the other island houses and recently renovated, were built by the Congested Districts Board in the early 20th Century. The famous storyteller Peig Sayers lived in the 2nd left.


The lovely island beach, An Trá Bán (White Strand) is shown here. The grasses in the fields are summer gold.

It’s impossible to not feel some sense of sadness to see the ruins of what were once the precious homes of good people. In the much quoted words of island writer Tomás Ó Croimhthain “Our likes will never be seen here again”. It’s compelling to imagine how it must have been? How did it look then? How did it feel to live here? In what activities were they involved – men, women, children? How different were their lives from the mainland people of the time, and now?  What did they think and feel about the island? Did they love the place? Did they appreciate the beauty of it? Were they proud? They could never have imagined how so many people today could be so very interested in the lives and characters of the island and their way of life.

Thousands of day trippers flock to the island every summer. none can fail to be touched by what they learn of the island, and all of them would be greatly impressed by the beauty of the island and the views from there.

Part Three to follow.

My paintings of Blasket Islands can be seen on my website:

http://helene-brennan.com/c62-blasket-islands-paintings  and:


More photos of the Blaskets can be seen on my website:


More information about the islands can also be gained from the following websites: