Wednesday, August 23, 2017


No white pudding for me, thank you. Yuck!

Black pudding is a type of blood sausage commonly eaten in Great Britain, Ireland and in other parts of Europe. It is generally made from pork fat or beef suet, pork blood and a relatively high proportion of oatmeal, in some recipes mixed with oat groats and sometimes even barley groats.

White pudding or oatmeal pudding is similar to black pudding, but does not include blood; it consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal formed into a large sausage (Wikipedia).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Ballyvaughn, Ireland

Thanks to biebkriebels, I was able to learn more about the European Union's regulations regarding bovine animals, all of which makes great sense to me after having once seen the devastating results of hoof-and-mouth disease among cattle in Hungary:

In April 1997, in response to the BSE crisis, the Council of the European Union implemented a system of permanent identification of individual bovine animals enabling reliable traceability from birth to death.

The basic objectives for Community rules on the identification of bovine animals are:
  • the localisation and tracing of animals for veterinary purposes, which is of crucial importance for the control of infectious diseases
  • the traceability of beef for public health reasons
  • the management and supervision of livestock premiums as part of the common organisation of the market in beef and veal

Monday, August 21, 2017


What do you know? I actually have a mural to share for Mural Monday! This one was found in--well, you guessed it, Ballyvaughn. :-)

"Ballyvaughan or Ballyvaghan (Irish: Baile Uí Bheacháin, meaning 'Ó Beachán's townland') is a small harbour village in County Clare, Ireland. It is located on the N67 road on the south shores of Galway Bay, in the northwest corner of The Burren. This position on the coast road and the close proximity to many of the area's sights has turned the village into a local center of tourism activity. At the time of the 2011 Census Ballyvaughan had a population of 258. The area was officially classified as part of the West Clare Gaeltacht, an Irish-speaking community, until 1956" (Wikipedia).

BTW, did you see the children walking to school together? It's that time of year again. :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dunguaire Castle

"Dunguaire Castle (Irish: Dún Guaire) is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvara (also spelled Kinvarra). The name derives from the Dun of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. The castle's 75-foot (23 m) tower and its defensive wall have been restored, and the grounds are open to tourists during the summer" (Wikipedia).

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I started seeing these signs everywhere I went in Ireland and, for a while, I had no earthly idea what they were about. We call this operation "booting" where I come from. :-) 

Friday, August 18, 2017

European Stonechat

As I took a stroll down Galway's promenade, near the end where people traditionally "kick the wall" for good luck, I was joined by this charming stonechat. I did kick the wall, by the way, and I guess you could say my having the chance to photograph this little guy was very good luck indeed. :-)

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Cong, I discovered, is a village straddling the borders of County Galway and County Mayo in Ireland and is . . .

located on an island formed by a number of streams surrounding it on all sides. It's also where The Quiet Man was filmed in 1951, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, although I confess I've never seen the movie. Have you?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


"The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a nimbus or ring that emerged in Ireland and Britain in the Early Middle Ages. A type of ringed cross, it became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the islands, especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries, from the 9th through the 12th centuries.

A staple of Insular art, the Celtic cross is essentially a Latin cross with a nimbus surrounding the intersection of the arms and stem. Scholars have debated its exact origins, but it is related to earlier crosses featuring rings. The form gained new popularity during the Celtic Revival of the 19th century; the name "Celtic cross" is a convention dating from that time. The shape, usually decorated with interlace and other motifs from Insular art, became popular for funerary monuments and other uses, and has remained so, spreading well beyond Ireland" (Wikipedia).

Cong Abbey, Ireland

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


"Admire well-preserved ecclesiastical ruins while following in the footsteps of ancient monks at Cong Abbey. Established in 1120 as an abbey for the Order of St. Augustine, Cong Abbey sits on the site of a 7th-century monastery. At its peak, the abbey was home to a remarkable 3,000 cenobite monks. It was left to decay during the reign of Henry VIII and later brought back to its former splendor by Irish philanthropist Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness.

The abbey is celebrated for its showcase of early architecture. Stroll along the paths that weave around the cloisters, chapter house, church and lush gardens. Spot Gothic-style windows, Romanesque doorways and medieval arches. See arcades, colonnades, freestanding columns and intricately carved capitals" (

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dry Stone

"Dry stone, sometimes called drystack or, in Scotland, drystane, is a building method by which structures are constructed from stones without any mortar to bind them together. Dry stone structures are stable because of their unique construction method, which is characterized by the presence of a load-bearing façade of carefully selected interlocking stones. Dry stone technology is best known in the context of wall construction, but dry stone artwork, buildings, bridges, and other structures also exist.

Dry stone walls have been traditionally used in building construction as field boundaries and garden or churchyard walls, and on steep slopes as retaining walls for terracing" (Wikipedia).

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Killary Mussels

"The Atlantic Ocean feeds Killary Harbour twice daily with 1000’s of gallons of fresh seawater, bringing the natural food source of phytoplankton to the growing mussels. Killary is the catchment bay for the surrounding valleys of Delphi, Maam and Eriff which give a continuous flow of freshwater into the bay. The resulting unique mix of fresh and salt water is said to give Killary mussels their distinctive sweet flavour.

Each year Killary Harbour produces up to 2000 tonnes of rope mussels, providing local employment that gives a sustainable use of the natural marine resource. The Connemara Mussel Festival celebrates this high quality, local, natural food that is uniquely the Killary mussel" (Connemara Mussel Festival).

Friday, August 11, 2017

Killary Harbour

"Killary Harbour/An Caoláire Rua is a fjard located in the west of Ireland in the heart of Connemara which forms a natural border between counties Galway and Mayo. It is 16 kilometres long and in the centre over 45 metres deep. It is one of three glacial fjards that exist in Ireland, the others being Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough" (Wikipedia).

Thursday, August 10, 2017


With nothing to recommend it
But its harsh tenacity
Between the blinding windows
And the forests of the sea,
As if its very existence
Were a reason to continue.

Crone, crow, scarecrow,

Its worn fingers scrabbling
At a torn sky, it stands
On the edge of everything
Like a burnt-out angel
Raising petitionary hands.

~ From The Return by Derek Mahon

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Victorian Walled Garden
Kylemore Abbey

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Monday, August 7, 2017


Head Gardener's House
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden

Without a doubt, my favorite thing about Ireland is its tea. Here in the United States, we're a coffee culture. Everywhere you go, you can find coffee. Shoot! We even hand some of it out free. But just try to find a decent cup of brewed tea and you're usually out of luck. 

Something else I discovered at Kylemore Abbey was chocolate . . . in tea. Turns out the nuns make a bar chocolate that's just--dare I say it--"heavenly" dipped in a cuppa Irish brew.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Head Gardener's House
Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden

"'Good morning, Grace,' I said. "Has anything happened here? I thought I heard the servants all talking together a while ago.'

'Only master had been reading in his bed last night; he fell asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains got on fire; but, fortunately, he awoke before the bed-clothes or the wood-work caught, and contrived to quench the flames with the water in the ewer.'" ~ From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Gardener's House

"Kylemore Abbey Head Gardener‘s House sits in a prominent position overlooking the Garden where in times past it gave it’s occupier a perfect view over both the garden and the workers. Unlike the other garden buildings and glasshouses the main structure of the house remained intact and indeed it was home to many guests of the nuns over the years. These guests included a local family who lived there for a while after their own home had been destroyed by fire in the 1970s and the famous German travel writer, A.E. Johann, who used it as a base when he wrote his classic travel guide to Ireland in the 1950s ‘Home of the Rainbows’.The house has been lovingly restored to give a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Head Gardener and his privileged position in Victorian society" (

Friday, August 4, 2017


The flower pots from France made me think of the impact Brexit will have on Great Britain's economy. Not so much here in the Republic of Ireland, which I understood people to say has opted to remain in the European Union.

Victorian Walled Garden
Kylemore Abbey

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kylemore Castle

"Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. He moved to Ireland when he and his wife Margaret purchased the land around the Abbey. He became a politician, becoming an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885. The castle was designed by James Franklin Fuller, aided by Ussher Roberts. The construction of the castle began in 1867, and took the total of one hundred men and four years to complete. The castle covered approximately 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) and had over seventy rooms with a principal wall that was two to three feet thick. The facade measures 142 feet (43 m) in width and is made of granite brought from Dalkey by sea to Letterfrack and from limestone brought from Ballinasloe. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. Other buildings include a Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum containing the bodies of Margaret Henry, Mitchell Henry and a great grand-nephew" (Wikipedia).

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Kylemore Abbey
County Galway

"Rhododendron – a well-known sight, particularly in the west of Ireland – is an undeniably handsome plant. Sadly its rather nasty habit of taking over is causing grief to many native species by shading them out and growing all over their natural habitats. Often more of a small tree than a shrub, it can grow as high as three metres. Forming dense thickets, it bears evergreen, hairless, shiny, elliptical leaves, dark green above, light green below" (

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Benedictine Nuns

"The Abbey remained in Henry's estate after he returned to England. The castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909, who resided there for several years before being forced to sell the house and grounds because of gambling debts. In 1920, the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres, Belgium during World War I. The nuns, who had been based in Ypres for several hundred years, had been bombed out of their Abbey during World War I. The nuns continued to offer education to Catholic girls, opening an international boarding school and establishing a day school for girls from the locality. The school acted as the main educator for most girls from Renvyle, Letterfrack and further afield for almost a century but it was forced to close in June 2010" (Wikipedia).

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Neo-Gothic Chapel

"In 1874, Mitchell Henry Family holidayed in Egypt – an exotic and popular destination in Victorian times.

Sadly, tragedy struck on the River Nile. Margaret contracted dysentery and died sixteen days later. She was beautiful, 45 years old and a mother of nine. “It is not our mistress we have lost, but our mother” said one tenant as the distraught Mitchell had Margaret’s body embalmed and brought back to Connemara so that she could be laid to rest at her beloved Kylemore.

He could not bear the thought of having her lie in the cold ground of a foreign country. Mitchell immediately set about building a cathedral-in-miniature in memory of his wife Margaret. The beautiful gothic church is a testament of his love for Margaret.

Originally, the Gothic Church was a place of Anglican worship. Following the arrival of the Benedictine Nuns to Kylemore, it was re-dedicated as a Catholic Church in 1920. Today, it is used to host musical recitals, poetry readings and cross-community celebrations" (

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Connemara National Park

Pollacapull Lough with the mountains of Connemara National Park behind

"Connemara National Park was founded and opened to the public in 1980. It features 2,957 hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and forests. The entrance is situated on the Clifden side of Letterfrack. There are many remnants of human civilization within the park. There is a 19th-century graveyard as well as 4,000-year-old megalithic court tombs. Much of the land was once part of the Kylemore Abbey estate" (Wikipedia).

Monday, July 24, 2017

Blackface Sheep

"This type of blackface sheep have evolved and adapted to the mountains of Connemara and West Mayo. The rugged sometimes harsh conditions that they survive in have shaped them to what they are today. In stature they are slightly shorter with good width standing with good ground clearance. They sometimes can have some black wool appear through their strong warm fleece but it is their head that clearly distinguishes them from their Blackface cousins (Scotch, Lanark, Swale dale, Perth and Kerry Hill). The head is lighter with a nice balanced set of horns usually with a black face but can have the occasional speckled face as well. The nose can turn grey as the sheep ages but not as pronounced as the Lanark or Swale dale breeds.

They are a low input breed that converts the heathers and a variety of grasses on the mountains into a sustainable diet. They are superb mothers that offer the lamb’s great protection at birth and within a few minutes the lambs are up and about. They longevity is a key part of their makeup and it is not unusual to see ewes leaving 8 or 9 crops of lambs after them. 'In lowland situations' they are a good ewe to rear from a terminal sire or crossed with a Leicester ram leave a very desirable mule lamb" (