Didn’t have email before so this is a day late.
Yesterday, Saturday we headed west across the top of Co. Mayo. The whole area is one huge blanket bog. We visited Ceide Fields which was first discovered in the 1930’s but not really begun to be understood until decades later in the 70’s. It is a large (10 sq kilometers) area of farmland and living areas dating from 3-4000 BC which has been buried and preserved under the bog all that time. Blows the mind!
Neolithic stone walls at Ceide Fields
Then on to Achill Island on the west coast. Pretty much a touristy, holiday resort in a very dramatic place full of cliffs and mountains and ocean beaches! We drove along very high mountain roads where the side dropped down to the ocean and sheep wandered all over the place. On the hills, on the road, eating, watching us, and sometimes running along. Usually they just look at cars and move to the side of the road, pretending we don’t exist.
On the way back we stopped at the Deserted village in Slievemore, a village of 80 – 100 stone houses which was abandoned during the Great famine. it is a very sobering experience. And full of sheep.
Sheep at the Deserted Village
Then back to Ballycastle for our last evening of peat fire and red wine!
Today, being Friday is our last day to work with people at The Ballinglen Arts Foundation. Bob took videos of two of the artists in Residence, Mary Lohan and Eddie Kennedy as well as taking shots of the two invaluable women who keep the place going, Una Forde and Christine (Chrissie) Tighe.
Normally we would rent heavy equipment on location such as lights and large tripods but since time was short and we didn’t want to give up a second in Dublin going to pick up and drop off such which meant we would be taking (and carrying) what we needed. So, we took the minimum equipment needed to get the job done, cameras and a mic with small tripods. Since the light is so incredible and always changing we used this as part of the background information as to the feeling of Ballycastle.
Bob with tiny tripods.
The rest of the day Bob shot around the village while I got caught up on other work and after driving to Killala for fresh fish for supper we headed to the beach.
Rainbow at the beach!
So much of the land ends with cliffs high above the ocean, we wanted to get closer to the water. (This isn’t swimming weather as the temperature here in August is around 60 to 65 degrees F in the day as opposed to Philadelphia being 85 – 90!) Ballycastle does, however, have a sand beach with dramatic rocks to one side and rolling hills to the other—lots of little shells and long strands of kelp were washed up.
Rocks at water’s edge.
I’ve posted that the people are warm and welcoming always ready to stop and chat and get to know you but even the beach sends a welcome!
Heart shaped stone.
Happy Birthday Curt!
Today was mainly a working day. Shot cottages where the Fellowship artists live, the exhibition room and print studio—dealt with email. Did go to Killala for some delish fish and chips fresh from the pier and then photographed at Lackan Strand.
Bob buys Fish and Chips at the Killala pier
The ride back was through more beautiful countryside covered with heather.
Rocks covered with Heather!
Met a woman with her dog, Lucky, who sports a pink collar with rhinestone bones as everyone calls her him. People are so friendly, talk and wave all the time. Ever ready to tell you their favorite place where you just have to go and to introduce you to their dog, Lucky who just wants to play that international doggy game, “throw the rock”!
Our first peat fire!
Tonight we had a peat fire. We’ve seen places where peat is harvested and homes with blocks of peat piled up like cord wood outside, but our cottage is supplied with peat briquettes. Our cast iron stove is made at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, England, home of one of Bob’s favorite bridges. We bought lamb chops from George O’Grady the butcher (his sign says Victualler) to eat in front of the fire.
This has been a busy day – started with the rainbow mentioned in the last post.
At 10:00 we met with Una at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation to discuss how to proceed. While I finally got on line, updated my post, checked email and did the few things that required, Bob discussed locations to video and photograph. He also began shooting the library. Peter and Margo, the founders of the BAF have donated their private collection of art books etc to the Foundation. Filling a whole room, it is an amazing resource for the artists who visit and anyone in the Ballycastle community.
After more discussion we had lunch with Una, Christine who also works for the foundation and visiting artist Eddie Kennedy and his wife, Eithne, at Mary’s Cottage Kitchen, a wonderful lunch café plus “she’ll make most anything you want kind of place”—then we headed to Downpatrick Head, the signature rock formation in the area—pretty wild!
Rock formation at Downpatrick Head
There was a memorial to:
“To the memory of the people of
Knockaun and Killeen who lost
their lives here in Poll Na
Seantoine in the aftermath of
The Rebellion of 1758.”
The weather is nutsy/crazy. . . while we were shooting the sun would be shining brightly and suddenly clouds would come racing out of the ocean somewhere and dump a bucket of water on you and then the sun would shine as if nothing had occurred. . . Some times the sun would never bother to stop shining. This happened over and over. Each time bring more and more incredible cloud formations and light situations leaving one breathless—and wet! People who live here just smile as we think this is strange.
This morning we woke to a bright sunny day and as we were getting breakfast, it began to rain with the sun out—sure enough my first Irish Rainbow—right over our cottage!
I don’t have internet access where I’m living so these posts may be a day late.
Lots of driving through a incredible country side—The Connemara, on the west coast of Ireland. Hedges 10 feet high of fuchsia, mountain sides glowing with golden Broom and purple Heather, orange flowers everywhere. )The roads are very narrow!
Left Clifden and drove the “Sky Road” which goes high in the hills overlooking Ballymakill Harbor and the Atlantic.
Very Narrow roads and even a castle!
Lots of ponies—this is a great area for ponies!
There are a number of handcraft shops but most are pretty touristy, BUT, Cottage Handcrafts in Mayard, Co. Galway is far and above the others I saw.
Then back to the N59 through Letterfreck to Leenaun—more magic —lots of sheep, lots and lots and lots of sheep! At Leenaun we stopped at The Sheep and Wool Center where they had sheep shearing, spinning and weaving demos. I bought a small bag of fleece to spin when I get home. from a Manx Loaghtan, which is a rare four horned sheep – pretty natural tans and browns.
Lots of sheep—this is a great area for sheep!
By then we were running late and so we headed straight to Ballycastle with a quick stop in Westport to find a mac machine, get gas and call Ballinglen.
We met Una, who took us to our cottage, I unpacked while Bob drove back to Ballycastle to get supplies for supper. He went to Polk’s which has everything. It’s a grocery store and bar combo and meets most basic needs. he came back with wine, pork chops, carrots and parsnips, and, my mother will be pleased, Irish potatoes. We feasted by candle light, looking out over fuchsia hedges, past fields with cows grazing to the North Atlantic!
Up early yesterday and picked up our rental car. Good location as straight shot out of Dublin to the N6 – divided highway – so had to drive on left for a while. Were used to it by the time we hit country roads. Straight across Ireland to the WEST. Lots of farm land, sheep cows and bails of hay. Very textural landscape. Hilly with stone walls as we got more west.
Spent some time south of Galway around the Burren and decided to go to Connemera. N6 around Galway has the most circles or roundabouts I’ve ever seen but they make it very easy to get past the city. Got to N59 and stayed there! Most beautiful magical drive trough barren mountains and lakes with lots of heather and sheep. misty then rainy. Stayed in Clifden at the Benbaun House just outside the town center—turn left at the Esso station and it’s just up the hill on the left—can walk into town. Dinner at Mitchell’s—wonderful seafood. Waiters a bit too full of them selves. . .
Just had a full Irish breakfast and we’re off to Achill Island and then to Ballycastle.
Sorry, no images will post some next time.