These photographs were taken last autumn on the Mullet Peninsula here in County Mayo as the wild Atlantic was churned up by strong winds.
The Belmullet Peninsula on the west of Ireland may not be Tuscany, but under the sun it can be a little bit of paradise too. We had the chance to enjoy a sunny Sunday there recently.
The Peninsula lies on the north western tip of County Mayo, and is part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Farming and fishing are important. And while there are quite a lot of houses many are holiday homes.
There are many long and sandy beaches to explore……………………….
Plenty of water to have some fun in.
……………..with only a few islands between you and the wide Atlantic ocean.
Stunning scenery all around.
This walk is part of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail. Croagh Patrick is a pilgrim mountain here in County Mayo climbed every year by thousands of pilgrims. This Heritage Trial though is a much quieter place and the day I walk this bit of it, I had the whole place to my self.
Part of the walk winds it’s way though a lovely hazel woodland.
Here there is plenty time to take a quiet moment to enjoy the wonderful flowers.
We visited The Burren in County Clare last August. If I was to return I would go in early spring to see the famed spring flowers. The late summer flowers were stunning but when botanists speak of The Burren they talk about the spring flowers particularly.
Another place I would love to return to is Clare Island. We visited in January 2018, but if I was to return I would go in the early summer to see the wildflowers and nesting sea birds.
One day, when we are back to some form of normality, we will again visit the many amazing places we can find in Ireland.
The 17th March is Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Usually we would be celebrating our day with Saint Patrick’s day parades – instead everything has been cancelled in the chaos that is Corvid-19. It feels very surreal but all too real. Schools are closed and all activities and events are off. Like many families we are in self-imposed isolation, only going out to stock up on food.
Still it is Saint Patrick’s day and I feel the need to celebrate Ireland. So I have chosen the chaos of our Atlantic coast to share with you. Stay safe and well everyone.
My first few choices is the very appropriate Down Patrick Head, on the north west coast of Ireland. A wild and beautiful place.
And to end a sunshine one. Stay positive and hopeful, the sun will shine again.
The Mayo coast is one of those places special spots. The north and far north western corners of the coast are a bit off the beaten track. Back in November we had the opportunity to do part of the Carrowtige Loop walk. The full walk is over 10km long but it is possible to do shorter loops (of about 3km), which we did. The walk offers spectacular views of Broadhaven bay, the Atlantic ocean and majestic sea cliffs.
We were lucky to have got one of those bright winter days but the wind coming from the ocean was bracing to say the least. In the distance of the photo below you can see the Stags of Broadhaven, some rocky outcrops that jut into the Atlantic.
The surrounding landscape is bogland, a rare and important habitat and an important carbon sink in a time of climate change.
Carrowtige is Ceathrú Thaidhg in Irish. Ceathrú means quarter or quarterland and Thadhg is the name of a person.
Kid island is grazed by sheep – how the farmers get them onto this rocky island is a bit of a mystery to me!
Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil in Irish) is a small island (just under 3km2) that lies between Achill Island and the mainland off the west coast of Ireland. We had the opportunity to visit the island a couple of weeks ago. The journey, just takes a few minutes in a small boat from the mainland.
The island has only very small roads and with hardly any cars, is the perfect place to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
One of the oldest building on the island is the church, a small pretty building on the eastern side of the island.
The island was only first inhabited in 1834. At it’s peak the island had a population of 171 and throughout the early 20th Century the population remained about one hundred. By 2006 the population had dropped to just 24. Today, there are just ten households occupied throughout the year and only 14 people living on the island permanently. The majority of inhabitants are over 50 years of age. The ferry man told us there was no longer any children living on the island.
In the past, farming and fishing would have been the main occupations but today only a couple of landowners continue to farm (sheep and cattle). Tuft is still being cut in some places.
The island has a magical quality to it. It is so peaceful, the views are stunning and the light is special.
But at the same time there is a sadness, a feeling that humans time here is coming to an end. The men who took us across on their boat were very conscious of the changing climate. They could already see the impact on their community, with rising sea levels and increasing strengths of storms. They showed us at how extra stones cages have had to be installed at the pier to protect it and how the floating platform needed and extra 30cm added to the top to deal with higher tides and storm surges. We often think of sea rise as only affecting tropical islands but for these islanders it was very real too.a
The island’s isolation is both it’s magical charm and it’s potential ruin.