Tag Archives: Co Mayo

October Beach Walk

As some of you will know one of our favourite family activities is a visit to the beach!

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Even at this time of year, a beach walk brings much pleasure. The day was grey and perfectly calm, so the planned kite flying had to be abandoned. Still we enjoyed some beach art, rock jumping, fossil hunting, and I got to play with my camera. We even had a paddle, but it felt VERY cold!

From the shore of Beltra beach, you get to see Ireland’s pilgrim mountain, Croagh Patrick and looking out into Clew Bay you can see the hump-back shape of Clare Island. On the island is a 16th century Tower House or Castle which was one of the homes of the legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley (in Irish Grainne ni Mhaille  though she was also known as Granuaile). It is a place that is on our list of “places to visit”.

Before heading home we enjoyed our picnic, which included some warming pumpkin soup.

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Advertisements

Mausoleum at Belleek Woods

So as Eliza guessed, the snap shot I gave you yesterday was just some little detail of a mausoleum.

Peek

Peek

The mausoleum lies in Belleek woods in Ballina Co Mayo. Sir Francis Author Knox Gore (1803-1878), inherited Belleek Demesne in 1818. He was responsible for building Belleek Manor (now Belleek Castle hotel).  On his death he wished to be buried in the grounds of the demesne with his horse! His son, Sir Charles James Knox Gore, had the mausoleum built over what is thought to be his father’s grave. It was designed by James Franklin Fuller and demonstrates Hiberno-romanesque architectural style. Franklin Fuller also designed Kylemore Abbey and Ashford Castle.

B

Fairy Trail

Just before the summer holidays finished, we visited Belleek woods in Ballina, Co. Mayo. We had visited the woods before, but one of the paths was now part of a new cycle greenway from Ballina to Killala (called the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway) and we thought we’d try some of the route.

Monastries of the Moy Greenway

Monasteries of the Moy Greenway

As we followed some of the woodland paths on our return we found these lovely fairy houses.  The fairy trail has been a relatively recent addition to the woods and many of the fairy houses have been made locally through the men’s shed project.

It was a great little find and particularly entertained our six year old who enjoyed running ahead to see what little fairy house she could spot next.

Street art with a difference

Last weekend, we attend the Foxford Riverfest, a celebration of fishing and nature based around the River Moy, in Foxford, Co Mayo. There were lots of fishing competitions, wildlife walks, crafts, civil defense rescue boat, and lots of fun activities for the children.

But the things which seem to have caught everyone’s attention were these knitted and crochet items on the street corners.

The aptly named “Yarn Bombing” was a street art initiative organised by the men and women of Foxford as a means of brightening up their town for the Riverfest. More of the wonderful creations can be seen on the Riverfest facebook page.

Tourmakeady woods

Today, our amble was at Tourmakeady Woods in County Mayo. It is a lovely woodland walk. We took the path along the River Glensaul, then followed the red walk loop that goes around the lake, past Tourmakeady Lodge.

The sun was shining and there were lots of butterflies about, but the stars were the Silver-washed fritillary, of which we saw seven. These large butterflies are often seen in deciduous woodland. The caterpillars feed on violets.

Silver-washed fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary, hiding in the falling leaves

The woodland, was one of sixteen chosen to be part of the People’s Millennium Woods to commemorate the new century. The project involved the planting of 1.3 million native Irish trees.

Tourmakeady Woods

Tourmakeady Woods

Not having been there before, and only reading up on the site on our return, I see that we missed what is supposed to be a lovely waterfall which was on another path than the one we took!! Never mind, something to see the next time we visit.

Peacock

Peacock, determined not to show it’s beautiful colours!

 

 

The Great Yellow Bumblebee Hunt

On Saturday last, we attended part of the Annual Bee and Butterfly Recorders weekend held on the Belmullet Peninsula here in Co Mayo and organised by the National Biodiversity Data Centre with BirdWatch Ireland hosting.

Belmullet is a special place. It’s wild and windswept and much of it is surprisingly flat, which means the Atlantic winds just howl across it.

There are many treasures on the peninsula including Erris Head which I wrote about last year. But for the recorders weekend the habitat we were most interested in was Machair. Machair is a flat, specialised and rare, sandy habitat formed from windblown calcareous sands.

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking at the photo you may think that it is nothing special,  but a closer inspection reveals a mass of flowers! And of course that is what the bees (and butterflies, but it was so windy they were out of sight) were there for.

Machair

Machair

We were looking, in particular, for the Great Yellow Bumblebee.  I hadn’t seen this bumble before as it is now restricted to just a few areas on the west coast. The species is listed as endangered in Ireland. Well, we did see it! And while it may not quite live up to it’s name – it was indeed yellow (with a single black band), but ‘great’ – well pretty small really. Still it was amazing to see it.

Great Yellow Bumblebee

Great Yellow Bumblebee

To make the day even better, we saw two other bumblebee species that I have not seen before. The Large Carder bee, a beautiful blond and ginger bee. And the Red-Shanked Carder bee, which is black with a red tail and red hairs (quite hard to see) on its hind legs. The Red-Shanked bee is also rare and listed as having a vulnerable conservation status. While the Large Carder is listed as near vulnerable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-shanked carder bumblebee

Like all threatened species, it is important that we learn as much as we can about these species, so that proper conservation management strategies are put in place to ensure their survival.  Dr Tomás Murray, Project Co-Ordinator, for the NBDC had earlier emphasised the importance of monitoring this species (and all bees and butterflies).  Anyone interested in bees or butterflies can become involved in monitoring, for more information follow this link.

I would like to express my gratitude to all dedicated professionals and amateurs involved. I learned so much on the day.