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" (

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Moss & Lichen

I found these specimens along the shore of the lake I showed you yesterday. They form an interesting landscape of their own, I think.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017


My understanding is that the Joyce Family Museum, if that's what it's called, is simply a collection of things they've acquired after years of travel associated with their marble quarry. There were lots of interesting things to see, but I naturally "focused" only on those things that were of interest to me photographically. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Actually, before I take you inside to see the Joyce Museum (at least that's what I'm calling it), I thought this garden outside was interesting. Notice how they're using local peat as the medium to grow their plants in and how far they are along, especially as this was only mid-May.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Shoulder Month

May is called a "shoulder month" in Ireland when you are in between the wet and dry seasons as well as between colder and warmer temperatures. That certainly was my experience. While I carried an umbrella with me most days, I only had to use it occasionally and only for short periods of time as here where I made my way past a garden at the Connemara Marble workshop to a kind of Joyce family museum across the street. 

Monday, July 17, 2017


The workshop where some of the smaller pieces of Connemara marble are used to create various craft items and jewelry.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Connemara Marble

So meet Ambrose Joyce of Connemara Marble.

"In 1822, the Joyce family from Galway opened up a quarry in Clifden called the Streamstown Marble quarry. The Joyce name was to become synonymous with Connemara Marble and have supplied some world famous buildings with the iconic marble. For those lucky enough to visit Galway they should seek out the Galway Cathedral in the city where you will see a beautiful example of Connemara Marble forming the floor and completing the beautiful cathedral. This floor is one of the largest examples of the marble in the world and was supplied by the Joyce family mentioned previously. It will ensure that the family name will live long in the folklore of Galway and cement their association with the local marble" (

Saturday, July 15, 2017


The floral centerpiece in the lobby of my hotel. What I noticed is that every one of the blooms could also be found growing in people's home gardens. Made me wonder if that's where they came from. I should have asked someone at the front desk.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017


"Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem which is believed to be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. The object of the stations is to help the Christian faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It has become one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in the churches of many Western Christian denominations, including Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Western Orthodox parishes" (Wikipedia).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Petitions & Thanksgivings

"Petitions about health and family disputes appear to have replaced stressed mortgages, failing businesses and money worries which dominated the thousands of petitions submitted to the petitions and thanksgiving boxes at the Cathedral in the last few years."

Monday, July 10, 2017


"The Galway Cathedral was opened on 15 August 1965. President Éamon de Valera lit the sanctuary candle and Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston delivered a sermon 'Why Build a Cathedral?'. Bishop Michael Browne, Bishop of Galway, was accompanied on the altar by four Archbishops" (Wikipedia).

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Galway Cathedral

"The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, commonly known as Galway Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Galway, Ireland, and one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the city.

Construction began in 1958 on the site of the old city prison. It was completed in 1965, making it the last great stone cathedral to be built in Europe. It was dedicated, jointly, to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and to St. Nicholas" (Wikipedia).

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Unwearied still, lover by lover, 
They paddle in the cold 
Companionable streams or climb the air; 
Their hearts have not grown old; 
Passion or conquest, wander where they will, 
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water, 
Mysterious, beautiful; 
Among what rushes will they build, 
By what lake's edge or pool 
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day 
To find they have flown away?

Wild Swans by William Butler Yeats

Friday, July 7, 2017

Menlo Castle

"Menlo Castle was built in 1569 and was the ancestral home of the Blake family until the 26th July 1910 when disaster struck and the castle was destroyed by an accidental fire. The inside was completely gutted and only the walls were left standing. One of the victims of the fire was Eleanor Blake and a short distance from the castle lies a memorial to her, which was erected by her brother.

Menlo Castle is a very well known local landmark and this magnificent ivy covered ruin sits in a beautiful location on the banks of the River Corrib. In the summer months this is a busy spot with people jogging, walking their dogs and taking in the scenery and it is well worth a visit if you are in the Galway area" (

Thursday, July 6, 2017


I was unaware of how important horses are to Ireland's culture and economy. Those shown above would appear to be Kerry Bog ponies.

"The Kerry Bog Pony is a small sturdy Native Breed standing approximately 102-117 cms for stallions and 102-112 cms for mares. The Kerry Bog Pony has a fine, intelligent head with large kind eyes. It has a strong and well set on neck, with a rounded shoulder and compact body. The Kerry Bog Pony is extremely hardy, resistant to many equine diseases, with great powers of endurance. It has ample bone, and can carry heavy burdens in relation to its build. Traditionally it would have been used as a pack animal carrying heavy loads. This rare breed is an ideal family pony, full of character and fun. Generations of use on small farms has produced a pony of calm temperament, willing and able to perform in a wide range of disciplines" (Irish Horse Gateway).