Westport - A little taste of the wild Atlantic way

Last week I took a 3 day trip to Westport. We started our trip with a visit to Westport house (although I didn't make it in to visit the house)! I was too busy enjoying the many rides in the pirate adventure park such as the pirate log flume and the pirate rocking ship! The grounds are beautiful though and I did spy this lovely vista as I stepped off the swan boats.

Waterfall in the grounds of Westport House Co. Mayo

Westport town is a pretty town it's clean and colorful and flowers adorn the exterior of most of the many pubs and restaurants which cater for the large volumes of tourists who visit in the summer months. James street is where most of the action is in terms of eating and drinking and picking up an arran sweater. At the top of James street the iconic clock tower can be found.

The clock tower in Westport Town

At the bottom of James street we find the Carrowbeg river which is sandwiched between the curiously titled streets of North and South Mall. There's not much going on on the North and South mall in terms of shops or restaurants but the view is lovely.

The carrowbeg river flows through Westport
Feeding the ducks in the Carrowbeg river

Westport Quay can be found 1km to the west of the center of town and another selection of hotels and pubs can be found by the sea. We took a spin out to Roman Island around sunset and the scenery is really spectacular in the fading evening light. To the southwest looms Croagh Patrick.

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A fishing boat returned it's crew of tourists safely back to the harbour.

Fishing boat returns to Westport Harbour

A seagull flies off toward the many Islands in the bay.

A seagull flies accross Westport Bay

An old stricken wooden Boat rots away by the quayside

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We carried on driving West toward the village of Murrisk which is at the base of the slopes of Croagh Patrick. Murrisk is the starting point for the many pilgrims who traverse the mountain every July to hear mass being said at the summit. We took a detour down to Murrisk pier to check it out. You can see Croagh Patrick in the distance. It's a lot bigger looking in the flesh!

An old tractor sits on the Headland beside Murrisk pier

An old tractor sits on the Headland beside Murrisk pier

An old boat rusts away in Murrisk Pier

An old boat rusts away in Murrisk Pier

Some the many sheep that can be found in these parts.

Some the many sheep that can be found in these parts.

From Murrisk we headed West toward Louisburgh. It was getting dark so we made on last stop at Oldhead when we arrived at the pier we unexpectedly found a small crowd of people. There were a number of fisherman and a bunch of kids jumping off the pier while their parents watched on. There is a campsite close to the beach so it looked like a great place to set up camp.

the pier in Oldhead Co. Mayo at Dusk
Jumping off the pier at Oldhead County Mayo

The next day it was time to go home. I took a quick stroll in the morning and found an old railway bridge and line that had been converted into a cycle path and walkway. I met an old man walking his dog. He said that you could follow the cycle path for 40 miles all the way over to Achill Island. Now that sounded like a real adventure. Maybe next time!

Cyclepath along old rail Lines Westport Co. Mayo


Christmas in Cabra

I took a drive around with my daughter last night to take a look at some of the Christmas lights displays that can be found around the Cabra area. The first house that we took a look at was amazing. They used a lot of lights on this one.

Cabra christmas house 1

The highlights were a high flying Santa up on top of the chimney and a custom made neon crib!

Christmas display crib

The next house didn't use as many lights but they used the lines of the house to great effect.

Christmas House 2

Lastly these lighting artists decided to put all their lights into decorating a tree in their garden instead.

Christmas Tree

It's amazing to see how people can transform their houses at this time of year I recommend taking a spin around your own neighborhood and checking out some crazy Christmas houses!

For those about to run - I salute you

Every year on the October bank holiday Monday the Dublin city marathon takes place. I have covered the marathon for the last 5 years working as a photographer with the Garda review magazine. Here are some of the sights that you see around the start line.

The marathon runners start to gather down along Fitzwilliam Street from the start line beside Fitzwilliam square. The long line of runners stretches out along the road into the distance.

Dublin city Marathon start line

After a rendition of the national Anthem the competitors were ready to go.

Singing the national anthem at the Dublin city marathon

There were over 14,000 entrants this year. The first group of racers to start off are the wheel chair racers. They go out 10 minutes before the first wave at 8.50. They need some clear track ahead in order to post some good times.

Wheelchair racers at the Dublin city marathon

This spectator managed to get a great vantage point right at the start line.

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The first wave of runners waits for the starters pistol to fire. Wave one includes all the elite athletes who will compete for the €10,000 first prize.

Start line of the dublin city marathon
Starting gun for the Dublin city Marathon

The first wave of runners is off at 9.00am with another wave of runners to follow at 9.10. The final wave will be released 10 minutes later.

Runners in the Dublin city Marathon
runners in the Dublin city marathon
French couple running in the Dublin city marathon
Runners approach the start line of the Dublin city marathon

As the last couple of runners embark on their epic 26.2 mile adventure it's time for the clean up operation to begin. The runners have discarded thousands of tracksuit tops and bottoms, hats and old jumpers which they wore to the line to keep warm.

Discarded jumpers at the start line of the Dublin City marathon
Rubbish bin at the start line of the Dublin city marathon

This troupe of marauding runners will snake their way through the city leaving behind a trail of banana skins, empty water bottles, energy gels, blood, sweat and tears. The finish line in Merrion square is only a short walk for me maybe 5 minutes altogether but for some of the runners it will be five or six hours before they return. It's a pretty crazy thing and so to the marathon runners - I salute you!

Duffy's circus

Yesterday afternoon I brought my daughter Annie to see the Tom Duffy circus which is in Blanchardstown for the next two weeks. The show was due to start at 4.30. We were a little early so we took a stroll around the camp of trucks, mobile homes and tents trying to sneak a look at some animals. The compound was securely fenced off so we would have to wait until the show started to see the sea lions!

A circus child's bicycle under a trailer.

A circus child's bicycle under a trailer.

The show got underway and really kicked into life with this act. This was some kind of pendulum of death! It was pretty amazing really. Two fearless performers attempted death defying vertiginous acrobatics on a rotating pendulum with no safety wires!

The pendulum

The pendulum

They had the usual couple of clowns filling in the gaps between the main acts. Pestering the audience members by splashing water and throwing shaving foam at them.

One of the clowns and the ring leader having a laugh

One of the clowns and the ring leader having a laugh

They had some top notch juggling. This guy juggled clubs, fluorescent footballs and of course fire!

Fire juggler

Fire juggler

They have a lot of animal act in Duffy's circus. They have dogs, lamas (or maybe alpaquas!) and lots of horses including these 3 dalmatian style steeds. Large, medium and shetland.

Dalmatian ponies get close to the audience

Dalmatian ponies get close to the audience

They also had a dancing pony.

Dancing pony

Dancing pony

And a bareback horse riding display.

Tandem horse riding

Tandem horse riding

They had some really nice looking rope gymnastics!

Curtain gymnastics

Curtain gymnastics

Then it was time for the sea lion show consisting of 3 adult sea lions who balanced beach balls, waved their flippers and did various balancing tricks.

Sea lion show

Sea lion show

The curtain call

The curtain call

The final act of the evening was the globe of death! A trio of daredevil bike riders from Brazil who race motorbikes inside a tiny metal sphere.

The sphere of fear!

The sphere of fear!

After the show was over they invited the audience backstage to see the animals lodgings for a reasonable €2 per person. This was pretty cool as I always wanted to go back stage at the circus and maybe even get a job as a clown.

Backstage passes

Backstage passes

This was the portable swimming pool where the three sea lions lived.

The sea lion pool

The sea lion pool

The animals tent

The animals tent

One of the Datamation ponies hanging back stage

One of the Datamation ponies hanging back stage

Not everyone was enjoying the circus. These animal rights activists were protesting against the use of animals in circuses. They believe that circus animals have a low quality of life, are caged for the majority of the day and are trained using fear tactics and intimidation.

Animal rights protestors outside the circus

Animal rights protestors outside the circus

The sunsets as the evening show begins.

The sunsets as the evening show begins.


Hell and Back

Yesterday my son took part in the Hell and back race in the grounds of Killruddery house co. Wicklow. It's a 12k adventure course with 28 different obstacles for the competitors to overcome. These obstacles include an ice cold water bath, pits of mud, paintball snipers, electric wires, swamps and even a few hay bales!

Hell and back sign

Before taking on the course the competitors enter a warm up area by crawling down a dark plastic tunnel.

The entrance to the warm up area
The pre race warm up

Once the warm up is over the competitors take a dunk into an ice cold water bath before tacking the first main obstacle which is called hell on Earth. It's a series of mud pits which requires some team work to safely clamber up the steep and slippery muddy slopes.

The pits of mud
A little help from friends
The first obstacle

After traversing the series of muddy pits and jumping over a few hay bales the competitors take off into the woods and on up the slopes of a distant hill.

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I couldn't be bother to run up the hill after them so instead I went to sample some of the food on offer in the tents beside the finish line. I had a look at some paella which looked tasty but in the end I went for a bit of pig on a spit in a bap!

pig on a spit

After refueling on roast hog and coke I set off to find a good vantage point for some of the obstacles that the competitors would face as they neared the home straight.

This obstacle involved following a guide rope through chest deep mud before finally reaching a wooden climbing frame to escape from the swamp.

crossing the swamp
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This obstacle was a bunch of car tyres hanging by ropes from a wooden frame. It was fine for the competitors with a small build but pretty tough for the larger bodies to fit through!

Tyres obstacle

There's quite a bit of running across fields and trekking up and down hills - it is a 12km course after all. Some people enjoyed the running and others just strolled along taking their time.

Crossing the fields

Here competitors follow a guide rope along a muddy stream through freezing cold water.

Crossing the river
Reaching the river bank

This is the famous electric shock obstacle. Electric current runs through the white wires hanging from the roof and competitors have to take the pain as they run through it. To make matters worse a couple of guys seem to poke them with sticks for good measure as well!

The electric fence

One of the final obstacles is the 10 foot wall. Here Team work seems to be the only way for most people to get over the wall. Although a few hardy competitors who arrived ahead of the main groups were able to scale the 10 foot wall single handed!

The ten foot wall

The final obstacle is a steep ramp called Mount Olympus where competitors have to run up most of the way and hope that someone sticks out a hand and gives them a little lift to get to the summit.

Mount olympus

On the far side is a slide that leads to the finish line. A couple of the kids got to blast the competitors with some water guns to keep themselves amused!

The final slide

Then it's on to the finish line and home for a nice hot shower.

The finish line


Miami Beach

I just returned from a two week stay in Miami Beach in Spain. Miami Platja as it's known locally is a seaside resort situated about 30km south of Tarragona in the region of Catalonia. Miami beach is a long strip of golden beaches, rows of apartment blocks. beach side bars, cafes, restaurants and beach shops.

There are many small sheltered beaches where you can relax and catch some sun or take a swim in the Mediterranean. Most of the beaches have a small snack bar where you can grab a beer and a paella. The restaurants start to fill up late in the evening and there's live music and cocktail bars a plenty to enjoy.

Miami beach is a laid back resort with less of the hustle and bustle of the bigger resorts like Salou. If you like to chill by the ocean and sip on a ice cold beer it is a fine place to do it.

I took a walk down to the beach one evening to try and capture some shots of the super moon phenomenon - where the moon looks much larger than usual. Luckily for me the moon rose right over the ocean that night  so I was in the perfect place to take some photos.

The super moon rise

The super moon rise


Super moon over the ocean

Super moon over the ocean

A couple watch the moon rise over the beach.

A couple watch the moon rise over the beach.


Old and new abandoned buildings

I took a drive at the weekend down to the Western region of Connemara to visit my son who was in an Irish college down there. Whilst journeying West I kept my eyes peeled for some interesting locations to snap a few photographs. I had in mind a nice desolate landscape shot. The land around Carraroe is stoney and desolate in parts with the Maumturk mountains looming in the distance along the road ahead. While good landscape shots were not too easy to come by due to time constraints I had ample opportunity to photograph another favorite subject of mine - old abandoned buildings. Buildings that have served their use, that are obsolete and are now crumbling away.

The first place I spotted along the drive was a towering shell of a building that in the distance I thought might be an old castle but up close I was shocked to see this was actually a recent construction. Abandoned despite the walls being almost finished. This was probably another ill fated construction project from the Celtic tiger building boom.

 

Abondoned building in Connemara
Interior and exterior of abandoned building in Connemara

Just down the road from this Celtic tiger disaster is an old stone farmhouse. This abandoned house seems to be stuffed with rubble if you look closely you can see the stones piled up in the windows.

Old stone farmhouse
Close up of an old stone farmhouse

On the road to Carraroe we passed another shell of a building which looks like an old garage.

Abandoned garage in Carraroe

Further down the road we passed an old quarry.

Abandoned quarry near Carraroe

The scenery around Carraroe is so desolate in places it's almost like being on another planet.

The following day I was back on the road again this time on the way to Athlone in County Westmeath. I decided to take a spin around and see could I find anything interesting to snap. Here's another couple of abandoned farmhouses that I came across on the outskirts of Athlone.

Old farmhouse near Athlone
abandoned farmhouse

Back in Athlone town I came across a grim industrial estate with many unoccupied units. Not quite the same desolate beauty as the old farmhouses but it has a strange appeal all of its own.

side view of a vacant industrial unit


Everton Legends charity match

I took photos for a charity match that took place on June 1st in Dalymount Park home of Bohemians football club in Dublin 7. Football For Charity, the Jack & Jill Foundation and Billy's World organized a football match which saw an Everton Legends Select XI team take on a team made up of Irish Everton fans.

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It was a real family affair with several generations of fans showing their support for the Irish toffees fans team and the Everton legends. For the players on the Everton fans team (playing in the white strip) it was a dream come through to line out with their football heroes in the famous Dalymount Park stadium which has hosted many Irish international matches.

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Staurt Barlow was lively throughout the match and scored a goal in each half. Peter Beagrie showed a few tricks on the wings. The fans team gave a good account of themselves leveling the match just before half time and taking the lead in the second half. The legends managed a late equalizer and the match finished at 2-2. The legends were managed by Joe Royle the FA cup winning former Everton manager.

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In the end it was a day for Everton fans and their families making the most of a warm Sunday afternoon and enjoying watching an entertaining match.

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The battle of Clontarf

Today I traveled to St Anne's Park in Clontarf to watch a historical re-enactment of the battle of Clontarf which took place on this very day in the year 1014 AD. The battle saw the high king of Ireland Brian Boru battle the Vikings. The skirmish featured around 500 fully costumed and committed battlers from many countries including of course: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Denmark and even a bunch of Texan Vikings.

The combatants went at it with gusto and few survived the bloody battle with their intestines intact. The sun drenched fields of the sprawling St Anne's park also played host to a live music stage and a host of traditional craftsmen and women making clothing and wooden weapons. There were also demonstrations of archery and falconry. The festival is running all weekend and you can find out more on the official web page. Go and get in touch with your inner Viking and bring a sword if you have one!

A viking family out for a spin in their long boat and a viking armoury

A viking family out for a spin in their long boat and a viking armoury

The banners of war are flown and the combatants prepare to mix it up on the battle field.

The banners of war are flown and the combatants prepare to mix it up on the battle field.

War is hell and most of the participants are put to the sword.

War is hell and most of the participants are put to the sword.

Viking craftsmen and women try to flog their wares to the passing peasants.

Viking craftsmen and women try to flog their wares to the passing peasants.

Demonstrations of traditional crafts

Demonstrations of traditional crafts

A young wench enjoys the sun and a child soldier gets an archery lesson

A young wench enjoys the sun and a child soldier gets an archery lesson

Some roasted squirrel is prepared for the victory feast.

Some roasted squirrel is prepared for the victory feast.