Tag Archives: County Mayo

Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil)

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.

Boat ride

Boat ride – looking back to mainland

The island has only very small roads and with hardly any cars, is the perfect place to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Inis bigil

Inis bigil

One of the oldest building on the island is the church, a small pretty building on the eastern side of the island.

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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.

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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.

Inis bigil

Inis bigil

 

Ferries to the island are available from the mainland at Doran’s point or from Achill island, see this link.

 

Donkey

Would you just love to have this fellow as your pet?

Donkey

Donkey

It was really friendly too – just wish I’d had a carrot or apple with me to give it a treat.

 

Inspired by this week’s lens-artist photo challenge – precious pets

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #27: My Travels

I enjoy traveling within my own country but am often reluctant to travel further – but sometimes you don’t have to go far to see stunning scenery. Two days ago we headed for the west coast to Doolough near Gweesalia, here in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland.

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If there’s a heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached to it” – Jimmy Buffett.

I had to “borrow” this wonderful quote from PA Moed, as it is very true for me.

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To the right you can see the Mullet Peninsula, to the left Achill Island.

The beach is a great one for shell collecting.

And at over 2km long  you can also get a very decent walk. I know there are many beautiful places out there to see and many of you have shown me some of them in your own blogs. But for my travels, I  am, so far, content with this.

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Botanising

Last week I was very lucky to spend a day with the BSBI (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) during their Mayo recording event. The botanists had spent 4 days in County Mayo, recording plants on Clare Island, Inishturk as well as on the mainland.

This is the second BSBI recording event I have attended and I am always impressed, not only by the knowledge of the botanists doing the recording, but also by their enthusiasm to pass on their knowledge to amateur botanists like myself. In Ireland, we have about 980 native vascular plants and a further 1300+ non-natives.  The last time the recording event was held in Mayo back in 2015, a whopping 10,824 plant records were collected. All this information will go to feed into the BSBI Plant Atlas 2020.

On the day I attended, the group was broken up into a number of smaller groups of about 4 individuals, each with a specific area to survey. Each group had a mix of botany skills, from experts to beginners. Our group started recording in some flora rich grasslands along the shores of Lough Carra.

Flora rich grassland

Flora rich grassland

Botanising often requires that you get up close and personnel to your subject matter,  particularly if it is something rare that you don’t want to pick.

Up close

Rory using hand lens to identify plant features

In this case (see above photo), it was determining if the plant was Spring Gentian. In flower the plant is easily identified by it’s beautiful blue flower,  but when you only have a dried flower stalk and some leaves you need to use something like Webbs An Irish Flora plant key to make sure you have your identification correct.

Spring gentian

Other habitats we looked at during the day included road verges, hedgerow banks, bogs (including a dried-up bog pool, unusual but perhaps not surprising after our dry June and July), and turlough (though again totally dry).

 

If you see a group of people with their heads stuck in a hedge they are likely to be some kind of scientist!

Botanists

It really was a great day out.  Our group recorded about 220 species, everything from common dandelions to rare spring gentians. I learnt so much from Maria, Rory and Mark, my colleagues for the day. A huge thank you to all involved but particular Maria Long, BSBI’s Irish Officer.

Lough Carra

Lough Carra