TIME CHANGES EVERYTHING – The Schoolhouse from the Ryan’s Daughter Movie.

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Sometimes I enjoy taking photos that show how things change over time. The schoolhouse from the Ryan’s Daughter movie is one such subject that has caught my attention.

On this wonderful awe inspiring peninsula in 1968 a film crew from MGM descended to make a movie, directed by David Lean, which, though not immediately popular with the critics, became a huge box office success. Many local people were extras in the movie, or worked in some capacity for the film company and still have many memories and stories of the events of that time. Imagine how exciting it was to the people in an area which, at that time, in spite of its exceptional natural beauty was economically struggling. The exposure of this marvellous place to a wider world contributed greatly to the increase in visitors the Dingle Peninsula has enjoyed over the years since then.

Most of the set built for the story was destroyed when filming was finished, but the schoolhouse still remains, in an increasingly ruinous state, perched on the coast of Dunquin and with marvellous views of the Blasket Islands. Most visitors don’t even know it’s there. The name Kirrary National School still to be seen there means nothing to most people. (Kirrary was a fictitious place.) There has been talk of restoring the building. That could be interesting.

Since I started to prepare this blog I discovered that there is another wordpress blogger who has written on this topic. For more in depth information and images of the schoolhouse from the time of filming, see  SMcP Blogfeast’s very interesting blog:

https://blogfeast.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/saving-ryans-daughter/

You can check out this on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan%27s_Daughter

Also to see more images from the Dunquin area of the Dingle Peninsula please visit my website:

http://helene-brennan.com/tag/dunquin

Here are some photos taken in October this year (2015) as well as some taken in September 2013. As you can see the timbers have now been ripped from the roof with the storms that have raged since.

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VIEW FROM MOUNT EAGLE

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On the path coming down Mount Eagle, the views are stunning. Here you can see Dunquin and the Island of Inis Tuaisceart, (The Sleeping Giant) one of the islands of the Blasket group, off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, South West Ireland.

Please check out my other Dunquin photos on http://helene-brennan.com/tag/dunquin

CLOGHER

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One of the most wonderful places to be on the Dingle Peninsula. Tiaracht  and Inis Tuaisceart (Sleeping Giant) – both islands of the Blasket group, are on the horizon, left to right.

Please see more of this area on my website:

http://www.helene-brennan.com/tag/clogher

Great Blasket Island, Part 3

Great Blasket Island, Part 3

As promised, this is Part 3 of my post on Great Blasket Island, which is off the Dingle peninsula, County Kerry, south-west Ireland.

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Blasket Islands from mainland

The gorgeous visual beauty of the island and the glorious views provide great delights for visitors. The familiar landmarks on the mainland – Mount Eagle, Cruach Mharhain, Sybil Head, Mount Brandon, Dunmore Head… and of course the other islands of the Blasket group all conspire to present a feast for the eyes and soul.  Walking around and along the length of the island is such a pleasure and a privilege. Sitting on a rock in a heathery hump, observing the slow passage of feathery, fluffy and puffy clouds  and the swell of the blue ocean with ribbons of white trailing the contours of the land, while enjoying a simple sandwich and contemplating the splendour of our natural environment, cannot fail to re-affirm your values (if needed).

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The island Inis Tuaisceart – also known as The Sleeping Giant, or The Dead Man, as seen from Great Blasket Island. The sleeping man shape not so obvious from this view.

The island, like many remote islands, has its own unique ecology. Wildlife on the island is a special reward, especially so for those who are experts in the fields or ornithology or biology etc. But even for those of us who are no experts, but who have an appreciation for the wonder of all the earth’s creatures, there is great enchantment at even the sight of a humble rabbit, of which there are many on the island.

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Blasket Rabbit

I recently caught a fleeting glimpse of a hare – scampering away at the speed of light. Hares are not indigenous to the island, having been introduced by man’s interference with nature for his own dubious reasons.

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Nice quiet place for a nap – no tourists down there!

There are sheep kept on the island, and a few donkeys are left to roam free most of their time, much to the delight of visiting children. I once watched with amazement while a donkey led his harem of females to the field of choice to settle down for the night, and then proceeded to move all the sheep well away from that field. He walked and walked, his head nodding up and down and the sheep all across the fields in the area in front of him slowly moved towards the setting sun, and when he was satisfied that the sheep were far enough away, he walked back to rejoin his ladies. I concluded that this was his habit at the time, and the sheep probably knew the drill.

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Group hug

The seals are a big hit with visitors. They are usually seen just off shore during the day and when the visitors leave they come up onto the beach. They are usually too shy to hang about when humans arrive. At night they make some very eerie sounds, their howling and wailing being reminiscent of the stories I heard as a child of ghosts and banshees. Thankfully, I don’t believe in ghosts, so it doesn’t worry me.

All seal eyes on the human visitors on dry land.They appear very untrusting – not surprising as there have been reports of mass slaughters of seals on these islands.

The nights also bring the strange, unmelodic calls of the manx shearwater as they return in their thousands to their colony under cover of darkness.  This is one of the largest colonies in Europe.  On my recent stay on the island I did not hear so many, and whether their numbers are diminishing or if they just vary their itinerary or timing according to weather and lighting conditions I’m not sure. There is also a major colony of Storm Petrels – most of which nest on the Blasket Island of Inis Tuaisceart. This is the largest colony of the Storm Petrels in the world. The mink on Gt. Blasket Island are seen as a serious threat to these ground nesting creatures.

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Butterfly, quietly resting in the grasses on the island.

There are no rats on the island, and of course most people would want to keep it that way. There is no landing pier there, and there has been much controversy about whether or not to build one. The larger vessels that could land there could potentially carry rats or even other creatures that would disturb the delicate balance of nature. The ferries cannot moor at the small rough concrete slip so passengers have to climb down a ladder into a dinghy, which drops them off at the slip. This slip hangs on the end of a very rough rocky and steep approach to the more smooth and grassy but also steep path that leads up and around through the village. Those visitors who have some mobility or fitness issues may  find their enjoyment of the island somewhat compromised.

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The village is built on quite a steep slope.

But aside from these inconveniences, I have no doubt that all visitors are glad they made the effort. Information about the islands history and heritage is available from friendly guides on the island, and there is usually plenty of time for a trip to the magical beach, or maybe even a long walk along the island, before returning to the ferry.

Walking on the island, with the mainland in view

It’s with great reluctance that I leave the island and I always intend to return soon. That’s not always possible. Now that October is here, I don’t expect any more ferries until next year. One day, I’ll get my own boat!

More photos and also paintings on my website:

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

http://helene-brennan.com/c53-blasket-islands-photographs

The Blasket Centre in Dunquin is well worth a visit:

The Blasket Centre/Ionad an Bhlascaoid

For more information on Flora and Fauna and other Blasket Islands information see:

http://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/blaskets.html

For bird lovers:

http://www.birdwatchireland.ie

http://www.kerrybirding.blogspot.ie/

Cruach Mharhain Paintings

Following my blog on walking up Cruach Mharhain on the Dingle Peninsula, I am posting here a couple of my paintings in oil pastels of views from this mountain.

See other paintings on my website: http://helene-brennan.com/c104-recent-paintings

Standing at the top of Cruach Mharhain, Dingle Peninsula.

Painting of a view of Inis Tuaisceart from the top of Cruach Mharhain, which is topped with a little snow in this painting.
Inis Tuaisceart is one of the Blasket Island Group, and is locally known as The Sleeping Giant, or The deadman .Oil pastels. 29″ x 21″

 

Snow on Mount Brandon.

Painting of view on the descent of Cruach Mharhain, Dingle Peninsula, with Mount Brandon, snow capped. Oil pastels. 29″ x 21″

 

 

Cruach Mharhain

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This is a modest sized mountain on the Dingle Peninsula, between Ventry and Dunquin, via the Clasach. A small but steep walk will take one to the top of this peak from the car park by the mast. It’s also a very satisfying journey, offering stunning views on the ascent and descent, and an even more rewarding vista at the top.

I always feel that this walk is best after few dry days, as the ground can be a very boggy, soggy affair. It’s also advisable to tuck your jeans well into your socks, as even this precaution doesn’t prevent the ticks from finding their way to a bit of your flesh, as I discovered. It’s a question of making it as challenging as possible for them. This is sheep country.

There is an easy path to the top, except where is gets so squelchy that one may have to deviate, carefully. This is probably where the tick risk arises, as one treads through the growth of heather.  Near the top it becomes more steep and demanding, as is often the case when walking up mountains; the top appears to be drawing near, but with each hump achieved, another looms large, until finally the real peak is conquered. I always have a good excuse for stopping to catch my breath, as I would need to take a good look around and take some photos. If the weather is good there is no point in rushing this very delightful experience; every moment should be savoured. I feel sorry for people who think they should rush to the top of every mountain; they miss so much.

Finally, the top is reached. This is really a wow experience! So many familiar landmarks of the Dingle Peninsula can be seen from this vantage point, and don’t they look spectacular from here? Sybil Head and the Three Sisters have that ‘hey! look at me’ kind of attitude, while the Blasket Islands just have ‘attitude’, Mount Eagle is quietly condescending and Mount Brandon just has it all (– when it’s not hiding under a cloud!), with Ballydavid Head, its faithful companion. It’s also possible to see across Dingle Bay to the mountains of the Iveragh Peninsula. After heartily consuming all this splendour and taking several photos -while hanging onto a fence post to brace oneself against the wind, one reluctantly starts the descent. The views towards Mount Brandon are particularly attention grabbing on the downward journey, which doesn’t seem to take long at all, even with several more photo stops.

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View of Sybil Head from the top of Cruach Mharhain

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View of Inis Tuaisceart, one of the Blasket Islands – also known locally as The Sleeping Giant, or The Dead Man.

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Mount Brandon and Ballydavid Head

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In this image one can see across Dingle Bay to the Iveragh Peninsula, also towards the left is the entrance to Dingle Harbour.

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Another view of Mount Brandon

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Dingle Bay and The Iveragh Peninsula under a beautiful sky

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Fields of many colours with Dingle Bay and the mountains of the Iveragh Peninsula

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The Three Sisters as seen from the top of Top of Cruach Mharhain

Check out my website: http://www.helene-brennan.com/tag/cruach+mharhain

Clogher Beach

Clogher Beach, Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

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A really massive splash

Clogher Beach must be the most photographed beach in County Kerry, both by tourists and local residents. It is a beautiful beach, though relatively small, but the main attraction is that it probably has the biggest waves on the Dingle peninsula – not waves for surfers, but really massive, ferocious, turbulent and truly awesome waves.  Swimming is strictly prohibited on this beach, even on a calm day, lest you should be sucked away by a dangerous rip current. On a rough day, which is frequent enough, you can see a number of cars in the car park, their owners risking the salty, damaging (to the cars)) spray, for the pleasure of observing and marvelling at the sight of these big, splashy rollers.

There are certain problems around trying to get good photos here. When the sea is rough this usually means there is an equally powerful wind, and even the best tripods may be somewhat challenged, and it’s virtually impossible to stand still. Another problem may be that the spray is coating the lens, as you get carried away trying to get those fantastic shots. This is even more of an issue when there is a spring tide, combined with a strong off shore wind, when you would be lucky to even stand in the car park without getting completely drenched – a disaster for your camera!

I was very lucky one day recently, when I went out to photograph the snow on the mountains, but stopped off at Clogher Beach, to find some of the biggest waves I have ever seen there. It was surprising because it wasn’t windy, but apparently there was a huge storm surge coming in from the Atlantic. There was beautiful sunlight, which was an added bonus.

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Close Inspection will reveal two tiny figures on the headland on the right. This gives an idea of the size of these huge waves.

It really is a hugely exhilarating experience to just stand and observe this exciting spectacle – gigantic breakers, whooshing, rushing and crashing like thunder, often on top of each other, surging forward, sizzling and fizzing to the shore. Massive splashes rise up from the rocks, apparently resolute on climbing high over the clifftops.

I became completely absorbed in this contemplation, and every, now and again I pointed my camera to grab the shot of that extraordinarily colossal wave or particularly massive splash, often just missing the moment, which could be very fleeting.  Eventually, I took several photos, and some of them are shown here.

Also, More info on my website:  http://helene-brennan.com/c25-dingle-peninsula-photos

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The island seen from this beach is Inis Tuaisceart, also known as The Sleeping Giant or sometimes The Dead Man (Fear Marbh)

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