Inner Ring, at last

Site of earliest construction, 1,100 BC

A view to the northwest from within Dun Aonghasa in springtime. The interior a karst formation (see my post, ” Galway Bay View from Dún Aonghasa”), the grikes filled with grass and a sprinkling of white and yellow flowers, a cloudscape rising over the walls. Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the FIRST post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Reference: wikipedia Dún Aonghasa

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Grykes and Clints

where the wildflowers grow

The exposed limestone of the Aran Islands here transitions to a fertile field of grass, husbanded by generations of islanders. Photograph was taken from the path on Inishmore leading up to Dun Aonghasa. 

The Aran Islands are an extension of The Burren of Ireland’s Counties Claire and Galway.  The word burren is from the Irish Boireann, meaning “great rock.”  The glaciers that covered Ireland, retreating about 10,000 years ago, scraped down to the bedrock, exposing wide areas of limestone and dropping, here and there, large rocks.  When people came along the foreign nature of the large rocks was recognized, all the more obvious for lying on the horizontally bedded, exposed limestone.  We call the foreign rocks erratics.  The underlying scoured rock is a pavement for a resemblance to a cobbled roadway.

The incised line, filled with grass and wildflowers, in the following photograph is called a gryke.  The body of stone between the grykes are clints.  Sometimes, the grykes are cross hatched and the clints resemble cobblestones or flat paving stones. 

The view is northeast toward the 12 Bens of Connemara. Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland

Click the photograph for a larger view.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Click me for the FIRST post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search wikipedia “The Burren” and Google “gryke”, “clint.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Modern Drystone, Dún Aonghasa

a season of wildflowers across a karsk landscape

Modern stonework borders the 1/2 mile path to the inner Dún Aonghasa walls, keeping tourists off delicate plants, maintaining the integrity of this ancient site. 

The view north, northwest over the walled path to Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) looking across karst landscape, walled fields, farms, the North Atlantic Ocean, coast of Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click the photograph for a larger view.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search wikipedia “Dún Aonghasa.”

Stiffed

The bicycle rental place got the short end…unfortunately.

Admittedly, I over-planned the Ireland trip.  For every day possible the venues were pre-booked and paid.  In theory planning provides more flexibility when life interrupts.

For the Inishmore planning, a perfect day, for me, was tooling around on a bicycle stopping where we pleased with welcome exercise in between.  That was unrealistic, the day worked out otherwise. 

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Upon disembarking from Queen of Aran, our ferry out of Doolin, onto the Kilronan quay we walked toward the bicycle rental and Pam refused to bicycle. Her objections were many, safety, impending rain, time. She did have a point about time, the ferry leaves at a set time leaving errant tourists to fend for themselves. We were unused to cycling, still Dun Aonghasa is just over 5 miles from Kilronan, less than an hour round trip. With our starting time of 11:30 am there was 3.5 hours slack for returning to the quay before the 4 pm departure. Plenty of time for wandering the ruins and stopping along the way.

We followed Pam’s advice. Still there were the many bicyclists. Perched on our horse drawn carriage, on the uphill runs, each bicyclist we passed was proof positive to Pam of the wisdom of our choice. I was silently envious of their freedom and overlooked the many mini-buses on the narrow road.

When the day comes to mind, not often, I am left with the guilty feeling of not stopping into the bicycle rental office to cancel the reservation. An email was waiting for me the next day, asking where we were. Thus, the title of this post, “Stiffed.”

Pam’s Response to this post.

Pam’s reasons for not wanting to ride a bicycle around Inishmore:
“I hadn’t been on a bike for approximately 20 years.  However, if it wasn’t going to rain (it did), if the narrow road was larger, if there weren’t any minibuses loaded to the gills or horse traps sharing the same single lane, I would have considered it.  Sitting back and enjoying the beautiful view on our private horse trap and listening to our very knowledgeable tour guide/driver was the highlight of this adventure for me. I am sorry you felt like you didn’t have a choice.”

Pam’s correction of my statement about her being concerned about time:
“Time wasn’t a factor in my decision making.  I also didn’t have a problem with you biking but there was no way I was going to do that.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

What is a rock? What is a stone?

Daisies are a plus

Enjoying travel on a horse trap, a type of carriage, on Inishmore , the largest Aran Island in Galway bay, we headed up Cottage Road from Kilronan, the main island settlement. It was from Kilronan we disembarked from the ferry, hired the driver and trap. Our destination an Iron Age fort, Dun Aengus, and sights along the way.

Dry Stone walls abound throughout Ireland.  Ancient walls, buried in peat, were discovered in County Mayo and dated to 3,800 BC.  This is a field wall on Cottage Road with daisies growing at the wall base.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Roadside Daisies against dry rock wall on Cottage Road, Inishmor

The wall is composed of stones, not rocks. I have read in places a stone is a rock put to use or shaped by human hands. Other usages have rock and stone used interchangeably. For example, an internet search on “Dry Rock Wall” will return hits on the same. “You pays your money and takes your choice.”

Sources for this post: search Wikipedia for “Dry Stone”.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Killeany Bouy

a dangerous channel

The approach to Killeany Bay of the Aran Island Inishmore is very dangerous, guarded by a Lighthouse on Straw Island to the South and the Killeany buoy to the North.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
KilleanyBouyINishmore2014-8

This view is to the north, northwest from a ferry en route to Inishmaan through Galway Bay.  In the distance is the Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

There of stories of this buoy coming unmoored.  October 27th 2012 it went adrift.  An Aran fisherman, Micheál Seóighe (Ml Joyce) and his boat Naomh Beanán tracked  it down, hauled it back to the harbor.  The buoy was back in service shortly after.

Here is a photograph of me with the camera used.  It is a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III with a Canon lens 200 mm f2.8/L.  I am standing on the deck of the Queen of Aran ferry out of Doolin next to the Cliffs of Mohr.

Pam Wills took this photograph with her Samsung Galaxy 4 smart phone.

WillsMichaelGalwayBay2014
Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
SONY DSC
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Skellig Puffins

The Lovable Puffin

Each of the 603 steps between the Skellig Michael dock and the monastery evoked contemplation, caution, wonder and gratitude.

  • Contemplation: how did the monks manage to survive while placing the steps?  It can only be by a careful division of labor once a survival tripod was build.  By tripod I mean the basics food, shelter, warmth.
  • Caution: as with any steps, for a 60+ person I have learned the hard way falls take a long time to recover from.
  • Gratitude: for the opportunity, growth and knowledge afforded by travel.
  • Wonder: every step offered a new vantage and discovery.

Puffins were on my mind for most of the lower steps being immediately at hand, almost underfoot, constantly.  Underfoot, not in a obnoxious way.  Underfoot in being right there, unabashed, going about the business of life.  Pam and I were lucky, Puffin wise, for the weather.  Sensible birds, when the visibility is low Puffins stay close to the burrow, making improvements and socialize with neighbors.

Puffins of Michael Skellig

Bad News: Atlantic Puffin populations are on a precipitous decline across Ireland and British Islands.  There are talks of a population collapse.  Researchers enlisted assistance from wildlife photography enthusiasts with outstanding results released in 2017.  The photographs showed parents returning with less nutritious fish.  The stress on Puffin populations follows the decline of fish stocks from over fishing.  I listed two references at the end of this post.

The disturbing element to our experience was not one of the birds flew in with a catch.  On second thought, this is not unexpected.  Late May the eggs are laid and under incubation.  The individuals in these photographs were feeding only themselves.  If we returned mid-June there would be chicks to feed.

Puffins of Michael Skellig
Puffin with an inquisitive attitude

Why do we love Puffins?  We see reminders of ourselves.  The expressive large eyes, over a striking beak and there is something expressive about the birds’ body movements.  Don’t you almost know what’s on the mind of this fellow?  “What’s going on, over there?”

Puffins of Michael Skellig
A colony of nesting puffins on a flowering cliff of green.

Puffins are small birds, the size of a human hand.  This colony returned in late March or early April, each breeding pair claiming a nesting site.  The coloring of the beak happens during breeding.  The bird molts while at sea during the winter, the beak and other brightly colored facial characteristics are lost.

Social Puffin
Michael Skellig puffins in social setting on cliff with burrows and flowers.

Puffin sexual differentiation is unique among birds.  The coloring and markings are identical between males and females.  Males are somewhat larger than females is all.

Puffins of Michael Skellig
Soft soil covering the flanks of Skellig Michael is the site of age old Puffin colonies.

Here is Puffin nesting behavior up close.  I did some research on the flowering plants surrounding the burrows and am not sure.  I believe the white flowers are a mixture of Sea Campion and Sea Mayweed.

As far as my photographic technique.  There are two sets of Puffin shots from Skellig Michael.  For the the walk to the top, the monastery site, I used the lighter Sony Alpha A700 dslr with a Sony variable lens, DT 18-200 mm F3.5 – 6.3.  On top, I switched to the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III and, for the descent, fitted a Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM lens.

The shot above and following are the Canon, taken on descent.  Prior shots are the Sony, taken on ascent.

Puffins of Michael Skellig
Puffin Entering Burrow

Puffins have striking black and white plumage and leg color some describe as “tangerine.”  Tangerine?  I guess.  Here an individual ducks into the burrow.

Puffins of Michael Skellig
A grouping of Michael Skellig puffins, the foremost with an attitude of regard.

I did not spend a great deal of time in any one spot, being time limited and needing to get back to the boat.  Don’t recall very much social interactions between individuals, other than this perching together on the rocks.  The foreground Puffin seems to take the behavior of another bird to task.

Puffins of Michael Skellig
Puffins are capable, if awkward, fliers.
Click for another Ireland Posting, “On the River Cong.”
 
References
Puffins and Technology
Clues to the Puffin Population Decline

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserves

Moll’s Gap on Getty

Happy New Year….starting it off right

We are near Molls Gap on the Ring of Kerry. At our feet is Eric townland, there’s an eponymous Bog Nature Reserve down there. At our feet is Eric townland, there’s an eponymous Bog Nature Reserve down there.

Click me for the two (2) Molls Gap photographs accepted and published by Getty.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Seven Ladies View Accepted by Getty

My wife, Pam, at Ladies View, on the Ring of Kerry

Here we are, on the road from Kenmare to Killarney, N71, part of the Ring of Kerry around the Iveragh Peninsula. The view was celebrated by Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting during an 1861 tour of Ireland

Click me for the seven (7) Ladies View photographs accepted and published by Getty.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Ladies View 10

last version

Here we are, on the road from Kenmare to Killarney, N71, part of the Ring of Kerry around the Iveragh Peninsula. The view was celebrated by Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting during an 1861 tour of Ireland

Here the camera, link #9, is turned toward the sun, low in the evening sky, emerging from clouds with a bright sunbeam on Upper Killarney Lake. The previous view was portrait orientation. This is landscape orientation.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved