2020 – A POTTED PERSONAL REVIEW IN PHOTOS

2020 for me started in the beautiful state of Mizoram, in North East India, where I spent Christmas and New Year. Here is the city of Aizawl, built on mountain peaks, and with wonderful sunsets.

Back home to the Dingle Penninsula, in the South West of Ireland, to enjoy, endure, survive the winter storms and the powerful, magnetic and awe inspiring Atlantic Ocean.

And experience the beautiful beach walks!

But….who could have thought…the dreadful Covid-19 came along and threw us all sideways – or worse, in some cases.

I had planned a trip to Italy in March, but had to cancel. Social life was on hold for most people.

Luckily, I was still able to walk and capture the beautiful coastal images – for a while longer, before restrictions became stricter.

More time to study the birds in my garden, through the window.

As a little experiment I recorded myself playing flute with the bird song in the garden. If the image looks upside down to you, it will correct itself when you click it.

Local sunset, below.

Lockdown to a greater or lesser extend affected all of us, world over. Our individual experience of the world became very small, as we were obliged to reduce our social contacts and curtail travel. Many shops and pubs were closed. My regular trad Irish music sessions in local pubs, where I joined in with my flute were cancelled, indefinitely!

For a time my photography focused on my immediate area, and the garden. These sunsets from around the house and very local area take on a caged appearance, as indeed we were caged, all of us, in some measure.

I am very lucky that the local area has many beautiful places for walking. beaches were closed for some weeks, but cliff walks were possible.

My birthday celebration was a cliff walk, with friends. It was lovely.

Much garden navel gazing was undertaken. I never took so many photos of flowers and garden creatures before.

I never before appreciated how beautiful apple blossom can be.

Wildflowers became objects of scrutiny and much enjoyment too.

So many bees in the garden!

– And I discovered just how photogenic the humble daisies can be.

Thistles too!

I am so thankful for my good luck in being able to take many coastal walks.

Seaside and flowers together here. Lovely sea pinks make a wonderful show in early summer.

Beaches finally opened again, in June, I think. It’s all a bit blurred in my memory now, as Covid-19 figures rose and fell and lockdowns went in and out of different levels of severity.

Tourists returned in full force to the Dingle area in the summer, much to the relief of those whose livlihoods depend on tourism.

Sunsets around my area continue to fascinate, less cage-like with the summer foliage.

Lovely coastal and mountain walks. These photos were from different sides of Mount Brandon.

I updated my photos of Dingle Harbour, and took several shots around the town of Dingle.

The swallows raised two families in my shed. These first day out fledgling swallows only had a couple of weeks to grow strong before their long flight to South Africa. I wonder if they made it.

Some apple trees did bear fruit, though hundreds of babies were blown off the trees in summer storms before they were ready to eat. This is the entire harvest from several young trees.

Exploring beyond my own area, as easing of Covid restrictions permitted, I visited Killarney, South Kerry, West Cork and more.

The Gap of Dunloe, near Killarney.

On Cape Clear Island, above, off the coast of West Cork.

The small mainland harbour, Baltimore, County Cork, below.

Back on local Ventry Beach, below.

In October, a cruel hand was served on Dingle. After a several months of Covid-19 related hardships, Fungie, the globally famous Dingle Dolphin disappeared, without trace. Fungie, a wild dolphin has lived in Dingle Harbour of his own free will for 37 years. He was probably about 45 years old. Missed by many, whether they made a fortune running Fungie tourist trips, or whether they were just people who loved to see and play with the dolphin. For sure, Dingle will be a different place without him. This was a major event here. It’s not easy to explain how this wild, free dolphin touched the hearts of Dingle people and many visitors from around the world.

I have no photos of Fungie, preferring to leave that to the Fungiephiles who had developed considerable expertise. Here is a video from Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schamhardt.

More local captures below.

Fungie is gone, but the Dingle Peninsula remains the same beautiful place.

An autumn forest walk, above, in Glanteenassig Wood, on the Dingle Peninsula.

December shots from Mount Eagle, below.

The Blasket Islands, above.


Snow on Mount Brandon, shot from the garden, heralding the coming of Christmas 2020

On Christmas Day on a local Ballyferriter beach, Béal Bán, some brave swimmers rushed into the cold water, with an air temperature of about 8 degrees C. I did not partake, I prefer to stick to the heated pool these days. But it was fun to be there and support them.

Recent Storm Bella, seemed to last for about three days.

I completed a number of paintings this year, and failed to complete several more – so far. I’ve dicovered that I can be more motivated in that field when I have more activity in general in my life. The slower pace of things this year seemed to diminish my motivation in the more demanding creative side.

Now we are in a 3rd wave of the Corona Virus, with a new more transmissable variant of the virus in the country. In fact a case was discovered in Dingle recently. We have a high level lockdown again, going even stricter after today, but vaccines have arrived in the country; I for one will not hesitate to take advantage when it’s my turn.

So now 2021 approaches. May you all be lucky enough to only have contact with those people who are honest, compassionate and kind, who treat you as they would wish to be treated, and I wish the best of health and happiness to you all. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

CAPE CLEAR ISLAND and BALTIMORE HARBOUR

 

My trip to Cape Clear Island involved an 8 mile ferry ride from the charming small coastal town  of Baltimore in West County Cork, in the South West of Ireland.

There are also at least seven towns in USA called Baltimore. I wonder how many inhabitants of those towns have any idea what it means. I used to assume it meant big town, from the Gaelic (Irish language). Baile means town and mór means big. But I recently looked it up and apparently it means town of the big house. Baile (town) + Tí or Tigh (house) + Mór (big). So, Baltimore is an anglicisation of the Irish name Baile Tí Mór = town of the big house. The big house seen in the top of this photo above is Baltimore Castle, originally built in 1215.

Just hanging about, waiting for the ferry.

 

On the ferry out of Baltimore Harbour one can see the Beacon. It was constructed in 1884 and marks the headland of the strait between Sherkin Island and the mainland at the entrance to Baltimore harbour.

Approaching Cape Clear Island.

 

These photos were taken from the boat.

 

 

 

Approaching the Island’s North Harbour.

 

 

 

Just next to the harbour is this old ruin, St. Kieran’s Church, dating from about the 12th century.

 

At the harbour there is a tourist information centre, cafe, pub, heritage centre/museum, all of which were closed, due to the covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time. A map outside the tourist info centre would have been useful, but there was none.  Food and tea/coffee were available from a kiosk, where the woman serving was run off her feet with the visitors from the ferries.

Nothing to do here on this 3 x 1 mile island but walk, nothing wrong with that on a beautiful sunny day. Of course I took the usual hundreds of photos on this walk around the roads of the island, which is very hilly, up and down, up and down… and very short of signposts.

 

The sight of old ruined stone cottages is a common one all over ireland. Over the years, particularly the past two centuries, people have left their homes and many emigrated for a variety of reasons, mostly because of poverty, famine, eviction etc.  Some, in better times, simply built a new house nearby and let the old one decay.

 

 

 

 

Cork has many islands but only about 7 of them are inhabited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

True love!

There are about 100+ inhabitants on this island, although pre-famine (mid 19th century) there were over 1000. They would like to attract more people there now, particularly young families. If I were younger I’d give it some thought!

Capr Clear is a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) island.

 

 

 

Fastnet Rock Lighthouse.  This is the closest I could get to it. There is a ferry trip from Baltimore that goes to the lighthouse, as well as calling at Cape Clear Island. I would really love to have done that trip, but due to my propensity for sea-sickness, I had to give it a miss. But now that I’ve seen the boats (they’re quite big and stable) I think I should do it next time.

 

 

 

 

The island’s South Harbour, above.

The old lighthouse and signal station unused since 1854, when the first Fastnet Lighthouse was built.

 

The lighthouse is in amazingly good condition, with its precision cut granite  block construction.

 

 

I suspect these harbours would normally be much busier. Covid-19 has taken its toll on tourism and marine leisure activities.

 

Glamping has come to Cape Clear; there are some yurts for holiday rental.

Time to return to the mainland.

 

 

 

Leaving Cape Clear Island.

 

Back at Baltimore. A gorse/heather fire was on the hill, creating a lot of smoke.  Farmers burn the gorse and heather to create more grazing land.  Don’t know why they don’t use goats.

Baltimore Harbour, with the big house, or castle, overlooking the harbour.

 

 

I was going to split these photos into two separate posts, but I decided to put them all together. Thank you for your patience if you have reached the end. I hope you enjoyed the trip to Cape Clear with me. Thanks so much for viewing my post.

More West Cork photos on my website: https://www.helene-brennan.com/c865-west-cork

 

 

MIZEN PENINSULA, WEST CORK

 

I have so many photos from my September trips to West Cork, that I have to show them in several posts, in order to do them some justice. No point in showing too many at once. This is another lovely area in the South West of Ireland, with a beautiful coastline, many ancient historical monuments and much more…  I was lucky to get to do a few trips before stricter lockdown restrictions were imposed again.

This post focuses mainly on the Mizen Peninsula of West Cork. There is so much to see here that I only skimmed the surface really, in a manner of speaking. It would be necessary to stay for an extended break to explore more thoroughly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Altar Wedge Tomb, above, which dates back to 2500 to 2000 BC. This was easy to find on the coastal drive. It’s about 7 kilometres west of the town of Schull, and overlooks Toormore Bay.

This information was taken from notices at the site.

 

Some of the coastal views near the tomb, below.

 

 

 

 

 

Mizen Head, below.

This is a popular place for visitors, with a visitor’s centre, an interesting bridge leading to the Mizen Head lightouse and fog signal station.  Mizen Head is the most South Westerly point of Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lighthouse and signal station, above.

 

 

 

The rock formations here are really quite something to look at.

 

 

 

They say this can be a good place to spot seals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was really quite busy with visitors, making social distancing somewhat awkward on the narrow paths and bridge.  I use this as an excuse for the fact that while concentrating on my photos, plus trying to maintain appropriate distance from people, I managed to miss the path to the lighthouse, and I returned to the beginning of the walk without going there. It was a very hilly and exhausting walk, so I didn’t feel like going around again.  Ah well, next time!

Next stop Mount Gabriel. The photo above was taken later, it shows the two giant footballs on the top of the mountain. This is actually an aviation radar station and we thought we should go up there to investigate and see the views.

 

Views from the top of Mount Gabriel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of this radar station is to track flights over european air space. In September 1982, one of the two globes was bombed by the terrorist group, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA, a splinter group of the IRA).  It is believed that the bombing was prompted by the publication of a newspaper article which claimed that the installation was part of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) radar system.  Generally believed to be fake news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I appreciate your visit and hope you will come back again to see photos of Cape Clear Island. Cape Clear is just a short ferry ride from Baltimore.

More West Cork photos on my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c865-west-cork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROM WEST KERRY TO WEST CORK

 

Here are several of the photos I took while on a trip to the Beara Peninsula of West Cork, from The Dingle Peninsula, West Kerry.

Driving along the Dingle Peninsula on the Inch road, the morning water was so calm and blue, with the mountains of the Iveragh Peninsula of South Kerry in view, I stopped for a few captures here.

Going through the Killarney National Park area, I stopped for more views.  I also took many of the Gap of Dunloe, which I previously published, so I will bypass them in this post.

 

 

At Moll’s Gap, still in County Kerry, here is Molly Gallivan’s 200 year old cottage, a visitor’s centre, traditional farm, museum, local crafts shop and cafe.  Molly Gallivan was a widow with seven children in the nineteenth century who employed her tremendous personal resources to support her family with her small farm, running a shebeen, poteen making (illegal alcohol), traditional handicrafts, providing sustenance to passing travellers etc….)

The wood carving of the druid represents the people who originally inhabited this area more than 6,000 years ago.

Seeing the oil tanker here I realised that Whiddy Island oil terminal was across the water here. This was the scene of a horrific disaster in 1979, when there was a fire and explosion on the French oil tanker The Betelgeuse, where 50 people lost their lives. There are ongoing issues about this.

 

Hungry Hill, the mountain above, is one of the Caha range of the Beara Peninsula. We took a route over the very scenic Healy Pass which transverses the Beara Peninsula.

 

Glanmore Lake, on the Healy Pass.

 

 

 

 

Here we are lost, but enjoying the views and taking lots of photos. I asked directions in a local shop, but a staff member there gave wrong directions. Aside from time being short – it’s a long drive back to Dingle, I enjoyed the ride!

 

The remnants of Shronebirrane Stone Circle can be seen in this field below, which I now know is in Drimminboy Valley.

 

 

Now I think this is the Adrigole region…..

 

 

 

 

After a long drive, back now on the Dingle Peninsula below, just as the sun was setting and casting a pink glow on Inch Beach.

Thanks for viewing my photos. If you would like to see more images of the Beara peninsula, West Cork, (many of them taken on an earlier trip), please check out my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/tag/beara+peninsula

I managed to do another trip to West Cork before our current level 5 Covid-19 restrictions started. Please come back again to see photos of Baltimore, Cape Clear Island and the Mizen Peninsula.