Friday 26th July ’19
I woke up this morning at 04:00, really excited to go photograph the sunrise over Shanakeever Lough. Except, it was pouring. So, I went back to sleep, and woke up at 05:00, but the heavens were still open. So, I went back to sleep again, planning on getting up at around 06:00, but overslept. I finally woke up at 08:00 and thought I'd go out to at least get a photo of the lake, but after pouring all night, the entire field that the pathway went through was a 15cm (6") deep lake. There was no way I was wading through a lake to photograph a lake. Although in hindsight, I'm upset that I let a little water (okay, a lot of water) stop me.
I was soaked, my camp-sight was soaked, my clothes were soaked, the world was soaked, but with so much water everywhere, my spirits were buoyant. With all the beauty I'd seen the previous day, I was really excited and looking forward to the day ahead of me. I packed up, and headed out, eager to see what new adventures awaited.
Within a few short kilometres, I started seeing turf drying in fields. Ba-Bing!! Something else on my bucket list, right there in front of me!! And the further I went, the better the views.
One of Ireland's most characteristic features is the bog. Covering 1,200,000 hectares (1/6th) of the island, Ireland contains more bog, relatively speaking, than any country in Europe except Finland. Across Europe, as well as in Ireland, bogs have been used in recent centuries as a source of fuel (for more detailed info go here: https://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/geography/bogs.html).
There are plenty of Irish people who make a living by cutting, drying and selling turf for generations. As far as I understand, the Irish government is going to be banning turf cutting because they're worried that the burning of turf will contribute to global cooling/warming/climate change. Needless to say, this will have a tremendously negative impact on those people that have been supporting their families this way for so many generations. It will be a way of life that will get lost in the annals of time. The tantalizing yet comforting smells of turf fires will be no more.
Hey, whats that smell?!?!?!???
Ummm..... what did I stand in?!??!!?!?!?
Hahahahaha. Mom always told you to watch where you walk, or you could step in some baaaa baaaa baaad stuff.
Dirt roads take you places. Sometimes it pays to get off the beaten track.
In life I've found that when I go past the boundaries that other's won't approach, I see beauty and meaning beyond compare. When I play it safe, I feel stifled. I feel stuck and held back. I have an itch to explore. To travel. To see the world. Through my eyes.
The wonder I feel at new discoveries, the joy and exuberance of seeking the mysteries of what lays around that next bend, past the next corner, behind the next mountain keeps me enthralled, motivated, inspired.
Holding me back feels like throwing me in prison. Like torture. Like tying me down and smothering my dreams.
But those dreams are there. They always have been, They always will. And I will follow them in good time.
Today they led me to rivers and mountains, sheep and waterfalls. Vistas beyond compare. And fun.
I went past a lake with a sailboat. An old, but beautiful boat. And when I was carefully traversing over the slimy rocks that were exposed during high tide, and trying not to slip, I was looking for a good composition when this car pulls up onto the pier and ruins my perfect shot. And then even worse, this elderly gentleman gets out and starts walking around on my pier, right behind my boat. And of course, I wave at him, asking him to vacate MY pier. He just looks at me, and gave some gesture that I was happy that I couldn't see.
It turns out that the boat and pier weren't mine, the boat actually belonged to the elderly man (after that gesture, there was no way I was calling him a gentleman any longer) and he was going to take just as long as he pleased.
So, I decided to wait patiently until he left, and balanced precariously on the sludge, slime and dead algae, breathing calmly. Or at least trying to. Breathe calmly, that is. My balance was just fine.
After about 25 minutes, he finally left. And I got back to being frustrated. While he was rummaging around in his boat, I had found a few perfect compositions. But now, as I started to photograph, the rains started up again. And I realized again that G-D has a great sense of humour. He does what He can to keep me in suspense. And laughs, and laughs, and laughs.
And then He lets me get my way, and He stopped the rains. I started trying out the different compositions that I had scouted out earlier, and to my delight, they seemed to start coming together. And then, the skies cleared up enough that the sun came out, and shined gloriously. Until the next rainstorm that is.
Carrying on down the road, I came to Kylemore Abbey over Pollacapall Lough. The view of the lough and The Twelve Bens Mountains were a sight for sore eyes. And yup, they were sore. I had spent too much time photographing, and my eyes really couldn't handle it yet (They still can't but I'm doing my best).
Every mile, every view got better than the last. The Twelve Bens Mountain Range kept dishing out surprises. It was Friday and I was trying to get to Newport to find a B&B for the weekend, and I was seriously worried that the views would keep getting better and I would never arrive at my location. These are definitely the types of problems I love to have.
Of course G-D still kept having fun with me, giving me bouts of rain and sun, sometimes seconds apart.
Erriff river and Aasleagh Falls. Less than I thought, but also more. Definitely worth the side trip though. The best views were through private land, and there was a sign on the gate that said "no trespassing". No-one else seemed to care, but I just couldn't get myself to open the gate and saunter on through. It just didn't feel right. So, I resigned myself to second rate photos, and got rained on again.
And then I arrived in Newport. With time to spare. I found a cheap B&B and boy, was it cheap. The mattress felt like the springs had spent eternity trying to escape solitary confinement, and they kept working their way out the entire time I was there. But the people were very accommodating, and helped bring in a table and chair, and allowed me use of the kitchen. And then again, compared to the whole in the wall I stayed in back in Waterford, this place was the epitome of luxury (look back at my blog "On the road again".)
Before I rested for the weekend, I had to go out and photograph Newport. Here are a few photos from that Friday. There will be more of Newport in the next blog.
Thanks again for reading the whole blog (or if you just browsed the photos and then skipped to the end, that's cool too), and I would love to hear what you think. Go ahead, leave a comment. You know you want to :-).