Right on the edge.

Map 28 - small

Monday, July 29, 2019

I woke up this morning with quite the agenda. I was planning on a really, really long trek, with a very specific ending in mind, and had mapped out the entire route last night. This was all based upon having good weather.

Of course, as per Murphy's law, the weather did not oblige. I awoke to something that isn't seen often in Ireland, rain. Yup, it's not seen often, it's seen almost all the time. Certainly on this trip of mine. Turns out, if I didn't want rain, I should have cycled this route the summer of 2018, when there was no rain. Lucky for me, I enjoy the wet and bubbly. Umm.... rain. Not champagne. Certainly not while cycling. Okay, maybe a Guinness or 2, but that's where I draw the line.

I got up, and sloshed my way through the wet grass over to the bathroom, finished up and broke down camp. I was wet, my tent was wet, my sleeping bag was wet. So, I did what any sane human being would do. I made coffee. And yup, the coffee was also wet. But hot. And good. The elixir of the gods.

After recharging my batteries, literally, I loaded up all my gear and hit the road. I headed off into the rain and clouds. And went off to awaken the dead.

My singing has been known to wake the dead, and so has my snoring. I left the campgrounds with quite an entourage. Everyone wishing me well along my journey. They were sending me along with gifts like rocks and stones. Pretty sure there were no dead people there. Although I would have been if I hadn't cleared out real quickly.
Just joshing of course, no-one threw rocks at me, but I did have a few people make some comments like, "Don't worry, you weren't snoring, you were just dreaming of being a motor bike", and "I had a tractor that sounded like you, I shot it and put it out of it's misery", and "Did my ex hire you to remind me why I divorced them?"

Slievemore Main Cemetery under the Slievemore Deserted Village - County Mayo

Turns out, I was out of practice, and couldn't wake the dead at all. Maybe because they were so old. This was after all Slievemore's Main Cemetery. But then again, it could be because all the dead had already left, being that it was the cemetery by Slievemore Deserted Village. Either way, I decided not to tempt fate around cemeteries again, and kept on going (see my blog July 4th celebrations!! And Ghost stories for details).

I really enjoyed stopping along the side of the road to photograph the raw weather hanging on the mountains as I left the campgrounds.

Keel Lough looking toward Minaun Hill - North Mayo County - BW
Minaun Hill - North Mayo County - BW
Houses at the foot of Slievemore Mountain over Keel Lough - County Mayo - Large Pano

Other than sheep on the roads, there really wasn't much traffic at all. Which suited me just fine.

Sheep walking on the side of the road - County Mayo
Brown Guinness sheep with raggedy coat grazing
White sheep looking at camera hiding behind shrubbery

I had met someone (virtually) on an Irish Drone Group on Facebook and he had kindly offered for me to stop for a cuppa tea with him and the missus, and today was the day that I would be going right past their B&B.
There was a fair amount of construction in front of their home, but managed to get past that and pulled up into their driveway. They arrived a little later and I got to meet a very sweet couple Jim and Catherine Reilly. Their B&B was really nice, and I would highly recommend staying there if you have the chance.
The B&B is called Breezemount and is located in Mulranny, County Mayo. I helped Jim get his DJI Phantom Drone up into the sky and after a couple of pointers, it started raining again, so we brought the craft down and went inside for a nice and well deserved cup of tea. Jim and Catherine were delightful to talk to, and after explaining what I was doing and why, they not only made a very generous donation of €50 to my cause but amazingly also offered me free accommodation after my next surgery (coming at you from the future - unfortunately, I was never able to take them up on their exceptionally generous offer, as I had to stay local for testing after the surgery, before heading back to the USA).
Needless to say, the next time I'm in the neighbourhood, I'll be looking them up for sure

Unfortunately, due to the weather, I didn't take out my camera, so I have no photos of my sidetrip (in hindsight, it was a mistake, but that's okay, I love being human 🙂 )

A while later on, I stopped off on the side of the road to get a photo of an old home, and added one more image to my bucket list. It's not the best photo, but I'd rather have this, than nothing.

Old stone house ruins foot of Knockletragh Owenduff Hill - County Mayo - straight on view

The further I went, the nicer the weather became. The rain cleared out, the sun came out in glorious bursts, and the clouds spread out.

The light was just mind boggling and I couldn't help myself, I kept stopping to take photos.

Croaghmoyle Hill from R316 - County Mayo - Close up
Croaghmoyle Hill Late afternoon sun - County Mayo
Tristia Hill from R316 - County Mayo
Farm house at the bottom of Nephin Mountain - County Mayo - B
Farm house at the bottom of Nephin Mountain - County Mayo

I finally started getting close to the finale for the day, the location that I had aimed for all day, and hoped for good weather. The closer I got, the darker the clouds became. It looked like the weather was taking a turn for the worse.

I pushed on, feeling despondent, because I really wanted to fly my drone at the Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack. When I arrived, it was drizzling quite heavily, but I pushed on up to the top of the cliffs.

I was greeted with the strangest grass clumps I had ever seen. The grass was a vibrant Irish green, and the clumps were soft, springy and spongy. It was like stepping into another realm.

Grass at Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - looking South-West - North County Mayo
Grass and cliff edge at Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - looking South-West - North County Mayo

While at the top, I heard crying. And saw a young couple sitting on the edge of the cliffs, and the young lady was crying her eyes out. Her boyfriend was sitting with her unable to console her. As much as I wanted to see if they were okay, I felt that it would not be the right thing to intervene or interfere. But I did take a photo of them, and hope they're both okay.

Grass at Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - North County Mayo - people sitting

As the late afternoon wore on, I became resigned to the fact that I would not get the sunset I was looking for, but was very relieved and thankful that the rain had stopped. This allowed me to get my Eye-In-The-Sky up into the air.

The first thing I did, was get the drone up and over the blow hole which led straight from the ocean.

Blowhole at Downpatrick Dun Briste - County Mayo

I then flew out over the cliff and got some fun photos, while testing my DJI Mavic Pro 2 in the strong winds that were buffeting the cliffs.

Aerial view - Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - North County Mayo

If you look at the above photos, you will see the words EIRE 64 cut into the surface near the edge and a small hut.

This was to let the Nazi Luftwaffe know as they were homing in on England for the notorious blitzkrieg, that they were over Ireland, and not England.

I finished up taking some more photos, and headed on to my campground "Belleek Park Caravan & Camping" for the night. I really wanted to get there before it got dark to set up camp.

Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack late afternoon - North County Mayo
Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack - North County Mayo - 2
Downpatrick Dun Briste Sea Stack Cliff edge long exposure clouds water- North County Mayo
Downpatrick Dun Briste Cliff edge - North County Mayo - 2
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