Skellig Peek

A Trinity of Skellig Images

Now’s time to share a trinity of images from a morning spent about the Skellig Islands May 2014.

Pam and I have many stories from that day, a favorite is from the parking lot of Portmagee where we met the fast boat to the island. I prepared for the day by making a reservation for our ride. We traveled from Killarney, where an early morning breakfast feast spread by The Killarney Royal Hotel fortified us for the adventure. Throughout our tour, experiencing Ireland was like taking blinders off, this first experience on The Ring of Kerry was no exception, driving on a tight timeline to reach Portmagee with minutes to spare, every turn of the road presented a new delight.

Grateful to have made it to Portmagee, we quickly pulled our kit together. As I closed the bonnet, Pam exclaimed “our umbrellas.” At this point of the story we laugh together. Umbrellas indeed. I had a dim clue of what lay in store for us and insisted the umbrellas be left behind, a counter-intuitive decision for a rainy Irish day the Wild Atlantic Way. Regardless of the time, we needed a bathroom break as there will be no facilities on the fast boat or the World Heritage Site where there is no space for human waste products.

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Skelligs from Valentia Island
I was here perched on a cliff of Valentia Island across from Portmagee looking southwest across Valentia Sound.

The humor is in our welcome aboard the fast boat, like a fishing boat with a small cabin and small deck dominated by the engine hatch. We crowded on, handed a full set of fisherman slickers. This is a heavy coat with hood and pants, all waterproof. Our close timing guaranteed the worse seat, away from the cabin in the open. It was a new experience for us and we felt a sense of dread as the craft left the protection of Valentia Sound into the open Atlantic Ocean.

We faced a west wind, driving 12+ foot waves, as the boat breached each wave the crest went over the cabin in a waterfall of salt water. Up and down, up and down. Thankfully neither of us lost breakfast as some did. I do not have photographs of the trip out or the approach to the island, my equipment was safely packed away.

In the above photograph you see the entire course of our approach to the island, a bit more than 10 (land) miles from Portmagee. We toured Valentia Island that afternoon.

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Skellig Steps
Climbing the side of Skellig Michael, approach to the peak and monastery.

There is a fair climb to the top to view the former monastery buildings. The steps are uneven and, when wet as it was that day, slippery.  I wore a waterproof North Face shell with hood for the low threatening clouds.  There was no rain as such, a constant fog on the top kept all exposed surfaces wet.

From the point on, until the top, was the most exposed and uncomfortable (frightening, chilling…you get the idea).  Spare yourself the experience if you are afraid of open spaces and heights.  Here was a stiff wind blowing from the right, on the left the cliff falls away to the ocean.  Ahead, the path narrows to about 10 inches with a cliff wall on one side, the precipice on the other.  Then come the monastery entrance and rock wall safety.

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Monk Cell
Monk Cell, Grave and Cross

This single image gives a succinct impression of the monastery setting.  The bee hive shaped stone monk cell requires a stooped crawl to enter.  Inside, the space is small and, thankfully, dry.  The structure keeps out the rain and wind, a marvel of stone construction. This cell is off to the side, on a cliff balcony, over the wall an ocean precipice.

My closing advice is to plan your time wisely.  The ship boards in less than an hour, in that time you climb the 700 steps and explore.  There are people all over the place, in waves. To capture the structures without humans, you need to wait until the cohort become bored and leaves.  There will be a space before the next wave of tourists breaks. Leave enough time to descend the steps safely.  People have suffered fatal falls on the steps and cliffs, it is easy to do.  Make your personal safety a priority.

Click for another Ireland Posting, “On the River Cong.”

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Around the Kiva

a fascinating lecture

This diverse group of fifty three individuals are gathered around a kiva of the Mesa Verde Cliff palace on a July afternoon.

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Botanic Garden of Belfast

In closing

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday Pam and I wandered for twenty minutes to sweep away the cobwebs of our rainy drive from Coleraine.

I do not have an identification for the following photograph. If you know, please comment. Thank You.

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“Tropical” palm trees and bromeliad are found throughout Ireland. Thank You Gulf Stream.

Another unidentified plant…..

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Paper Thin and Wet

Poppies!!! Petals like paper

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday, after the Foxglove flowers of yesterday’s post, flourishing, bright red poppy flowers caught my eye.

Here is a take on poppy flower buds on long stems among leaves.

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Poppy is a storied plant, most species do not produce the narcotic alkaloids associated with sleep and death, pain control. Papaveroideae, the sub-family of these plants, is derived from the Latin for paper, papyrus. You can see the association in the following photographs, petals drenched in water, crumpling like wet paper.

….and more.

..to be continued…..

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Foxglove

Approach to the Museum

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday we needed the umbrellas several times during our twenty minute digression before the museum engulfed us.

The rain brought out this snail, house on its back.

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We found flowers flourishing throughout the island. These foxglove were huge. The common name is after Leonhard Fuchs, who first described it. “Fuchs” is German for fox.

..to be continued…..

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Entrance

Approach to the Museum

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday. We needed the umbrellas several times during our twenty minute digression before the museum engulfed us.

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A solid fence, more dignified than a “Keep Off The Grass” sign.

This large, 28 acre, city owned park is free, opened to the public. It is treated with suitable respect by the residents.

..to be continued…..

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Gardens

Approach to the Museum

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. Armed with umbrellas, Pam and I parked on this interesting street, Colenso Parade, on one side these row houses, on the other the gardens.

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We parked and walked in, free as you please, taking in some of the beauty on our way to “Treasures from the Girona”, a permanent Ulster Museum exhibit.

Our time strolling the walks was all too brief, 20 minutes, not enough to savor the treasures of knowledge suggested by the words “Botanic Garden.”

..to be continued…..

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Coffee

After the Ulster Museum and Garden

After our tour of the Ulster Museum and the Botanic Gardens of Belfast we stopped in for refreshment across the street at Maggie May’s Belfast Cafe. I am wearing a Cortland Line Company fishing vest adapted for photography. I purchased the vest at the company store, Cortland, New York just north of our Ithaca home.

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Our latte’s were perfection. The header photo looks forward to our visit to the gardens.

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Breezemont Manor

math-bhuilich Coleraine and July 2020

A steady, drenching rain graced the landscape and ourselves during the road trip from Coleraine to Belfast. These are the parting photographs of Breezemont Manor, our lodging for the Antrim Glens exploration (see “A Bit about Torr Head for an entry point).

Before leaving I did a cursory photographic tour, skipping the messy bedroom. We arrived very late, after the posted arrival time. A plain-spoken Ulster Scotsman kindly let us in with a few choice words. After dinner out photographing the very nice room in pristine state was neglected.

The foyer, carpeted in a plaid and photographed below, bore the Scottish identity of the proprietor.

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Throughout there were tinted etchings, featuring local buildings.

An overview of the property. The glassed-in addition on the right hand (east) side is the breakfast room.

We enjoyed two breakfasts here.

There is a strong connection with the USA, where many Ulster Scots emigrated, including my own great and double great paternal grandmothers.

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La Girona VIII

Whistle, Astrolab and more

Let’s finish our exploration of the “Treasures from the Girona” permanent exhibit, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

One hundred and eighty five (185) years after La Girona ran aground and broke up on the, later named, Spanish Rocks, the first reliable navigational chronometer was tested (1773). The navigators of the Spanish Armada remnants were sore pressed to follow the orders of their commander (see below) because (1) Spanish charts were incomplete and inaccurate (2) without accurate time keeping they were only able to reliably measure the location north/south (latitude), not east/west (longitude). Without this, navigators used Dead Reckoning, they measured current position from the last position, heading (direction of motion), and speed.

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The astrolab (below), used to measure the angle between a heavenly body (sun/moon/star) and the horizon at a given time of day, obtained the latitude. The dividers used on the (unreliable) charts. A weight on a measured cord determined the depth of the bottom. Not recovered was the instrument for estimating speed. It is a length of rope knotted at set intervals and attached to a “chip log” resistant to passage through water. Thrown into the water a sailor counted how many knots passed by in a given time, thus the designation, still used today, of speed in “knots”.

Sound (a whistle) was the method used for command and control by both Spanish and British.

Interesting odds and ends.

Evidence of trade between England and Spain.

Thank You for visiting (Click for the first post of this series)

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