Tag Archives: Ireland

Clare Island

Visiting Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland has been on my bucket list for a couple of years. We recently had the opportunity to visit the Island and even though it is January we decided to go. We were not disappointed.

Clare Island, is approximately 7km long and 4km wide, and lies 5km of the west coastal of Ireland.  The highest point Knockmore (“An Cnoc Mór” in Irish, meaning great hill) is 462m. Today, there is a population of about 160 though many of the houses on the island are holiday homes.

We took the ferry from Roonagh pier, just outside Louisburg, on a cold but bright morning. The sea was choppy and hopping from the pier steps into the ferry had to be timed with the swell. Once all the passengers were safety on-board, the crew hoisted a trailer full of hay with the aid of a small crane. This was quickly followed by an ancient jeep.

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Clare Island

In less than half an hour, we found ourselves alongside the Clare Island pier. We took the road heading west from the harbour, and part of the Clare Island loop walk. Looking inland the land rose to Knocknaveen. Out at sea, we could see the smaller island of Inishturk.

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The mainland from Clare Island

At this time of year, many of the facilities are closed but thanks to the hospitality of a local family we enjoyed some tea and hot chocolate,  and also learned a little of Island life. There is only a primary school on the island so once children reach their teenager years they leave for secondary school on the Monday morning ferry, returning to the island on Friday evening.

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12th Century Abbey

We continued our walk, pausing for lunch, at the island abbey, unfortunately also closed for repair. There was then a steep climb along the road as we headed inland, but we had an extra treat of seeing an Irish hare! The land is grazed mostly by steep, with a few cattle, donkeys and ponies.

After crossing the interior of the island, we headed south-east back toward the harbour. Close to the pier stands a Tower House once owned by Grace O’Malley the famous pirate queen (whom I have written about previously).

We left the island on the 16.15 ferry back to the mainland.  We were further blessed with a magnificent sunset over Inishturk and the sighting of three bottle-nosed dolphins (too far off to get a decent photo). I can safely say that we were all take by the beauty of the island and the hospitality of it’s inhabitants. And we hope to make a return journey later in the year.

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Sunset over Inisturk from the Clare Island Ferr

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2017 – The Environmental Year

I thought I would have a brief look at some environmental topics that were hitting the headlines both here in Ireland and wider afield in 2017.

  • Wild native Irish honey bees are still here.  A good news story for a change.
  • Melting ice, read more about the melting of the Larsen C iceshelf here.
  • Fracking. Thankfully onshore fracking was banned in Ireland earlier in the year, though it is still possible to do off-shore fracking. Still a huge step in the right direction.
  • Wildfires – California saw it’s largest ever wildfires in 2017. Over 40 people were killed in wildfires in Portugal and Spain. Canada, Greenland, Chile and southern Europe all experienced devastating wildfires during 2017. It has been one of the worst years for wildfires globally and many link the fires to climate change.
  • Hurricanes – both national and international hit the headlines. Hurricanes Irma, was the most powerful recorded Atlantic hurricane in written history. Hurricane Ophelia had been down-graded to a storm by the time she made landfall in Ireland. However, she was the most easterly Atlantic major hurricane on record. 2017 is classed as the fifth most active on record, with 17 named storms.
  • Other weather events – there was torrential rainfall the the NW of Ireland in August causing substantial flooding and property damage particularly in County Donegal.
  • Neonicotinoids are know to be harmful to bees and other insects including aquatic insects and there is increasing evidence that they affect other animals (e.g. songbirds) too. Research from England has found that 88% of tested rivers showed contamination by neonics. Of these eight rivers exceeded recommended chronic pollution limits, and two were found to be acutely polluted.
  • The Great Barrier Reef appears to be dying at a much a faster rate than scientists thought. Again climate change is a factor, as the reef suffers sever bleaching due to rising water temperatures.
  • Plastic in our oceans. This has been a growing problem for many years but this year it seems to have hot the headlines more. We produce over 270 million tonnes of plastic every year, half of which is simple use. over 7 million tonnes end up in our oceans. To learned more click here.
  • USA leaving Paris Climate Accord Agreement. This can only be bad news. Climate change is a global issue and we need to work together.

Let us hope that in 2018 the world will start to take note. Climate change and pollution are some of the greatest threats we face as a human race. We cannot keep abusing this place we call home, because if we do there will be no home left for us.

 

 

Almost there…..

We are almost there,  and for any of you that are celebrating Christmas and have children in the house, the excitement, may be mounting exponentially.

In a time, when in Ireland, our homeless crisis is huge, currently over 8800 people living in hotel rooms or on the street, it makes me stop and think how lucky I am to have a house over my head (and no bank breathing down my back).

In a time when 767 million people live below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, I wonder at the excesses of Christmas? Like many, there will be more than enough gifts under our Christmas tree.

For the children, I try to include useful and practical presents like books and clothes. My daughter loves fairies so we’ve all being working on some presents for her. I gave my son the job of building a miniature fairy garden. My husband has made a fairy door and I have made her two fairies adapted from these tutorials by Untidy Artist.

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We’ve also made simple gifts for relatives. Being creative makes me feel a little better about the consumerism of Christmas, probably because I am as guilty as the next person!

Where ever you are this Christmas, whatever your circumstances, I hope that you find happiness and peace, and I hope you have time to enjoy the company of family and friends.

 

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