Thursday, March 13, 2014

Over the Glen Gesh Pass to Fintown

It's amazing how quickly a day can go by, you can see so much, and only travel about 50 kms. This is obviously just a taster trip to Donegal ... how on earth did we think we could get to know it well in such a short time! How arrogant we were :-)

Glen Colm Cille is a peaceful village at this time of year. In the morning, as we puttered through, on our way to find some cliffs, we spotted the Evie Hone stained glass window in the church.

Our little church in the Maam Valley is also the proud owner of an Evie Hone stained glass window ... I must pop by and photograph that one too soon.

Comparing them to the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare, the Slieve League cliffs at Glen Colm Cille are quite awe inspiring. These cliffs are more "jaggedy", not falling straight down into the sea but rather sloping down with powerful-looking pointy bits!

Thanks to a fair amount of Furze burning in the area, the atmosphere
was rather smoky and not the best for photography.

I loved the contrast of colour, line and atmosphere ...
cool, blue, powerful, jaggedy cliffs and peaceful, golden, sheep-grazing fields

And I can never resist a few wave-crashing shots!

After a bit of soaking up the sun while we did a bit of cliff-gazing, we set off again.

Sometimes we can see huge similarities here in Donegal with Connemara in the golden, rusty and brown colours, the grassy vegetation and the mountains, and then a few minutes later, along a rather flat stretch of countryside, we're saying "Gosh, this feels like another country, doesn't it". Even the turf, although piled the same, is often covered in straw ... something we don't see in Connemara. I feel a need to stop and photograph these turf piles, thinking it may not be long before this picturesque method of cutting fire fuel is lost forever, but so far there hasn't been a convenient stopping place.

In our endeavours to get closer to Letterkenny for a Thursday car service at the Fiat dealer, we chose a route to Fintown over the Glen Gesh Pass. For some kilometres the road gently sloped upwards and we were duped into thinking this pass was even lower than our own pass into the Maam Valley ... and then suddenly, around a bend, we looked down to this:

Real first gear driving down that little hill! Stunning. Although, again we were reminded that photography has been rather hindered for a day or two by a bit of gorse bush (furze) burning, leaving the atmosphere a little less than clear.

Going through the village of Ardara a little while later, I spotted a sign to Stephen Bennett's art studio and gallery. Stephen and I were part of a group of nine artists who made up the Irish contingent at the 2005 Biennale art Exhibition in Florence. This was a must-do stop! Luckily the boreen to Stephen's house was just wide enough for Milly and we spent a happy time saying Hi and enjoying Stephen's gallery of work. Look him up on google ... it's worth it! Great work, great chap.

Not long after that, we found Fintown, where we spent a peaceful night, looking out across Lough Finn to mist-topped mountains. We couldn't have asked for a better spot to park, especially with a pub right across the road! Of course that meant a couple of pints for Alan and a glass of wine for me at The Railway Inn. Great pub. They encourage motorhomers to park in the spaces across the road from them and always offer oft-needed water supplies. Nice folk.

And today it's the outskirts of Letterkenny where Milly is getting a titivating service and we're catching up with a bit of reading and blogging. We're aiming for a quiet weekend with a lot of painting time for me (I hope) and a much looked-forward-to meeting with Facebook friend and artist Liz Doyle on Cruit Island tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On the road again .... Doolough to Glencar and on to Glen Colm Cille

Water lapping gently at the edge of the lough, a fishing boat bobbing slightly at the mossy stone pier, a heavy chain dropping down from a stone wall and trailing underwater towards the boat, and tall trees waiting to silhouette in the almost-evening light. Absolute bliss at the edge of Doolough, about 30 kms from where we live in the Maam Valley, after a hectic two weeks at home.

I had had to provide food enough for three months for Ferne (my niece), Mathias (her boyfriend) and my Mum, as well as a good starter-stock for ourselves in the motorhome. That meant totally scaring myself silly at Tescos ... filling and paying for a full trolley load of groceries and going back to fill and pay for a second full trolley - and that was after I had filled a trolley at Musgrave wholesalers as well. In Tescos I made sure to not go to the same teller I was so embarrassed to be buying so much! That night, sleep was not my friend ... I twitched from tiredness and fretted about how rich I had made Tescos that day. Good - it's just an amusing memory now.

Talking about being scared silly ... which I'll change slightly to the fun of being silly ...this is the pair I have left behind to care for my most valuable things in life. Should I be afraid do you think?

Nah. I'm not worried.

Doolough was balm to my soul. I didn't pick up a pencil, open a book, or plug in my laptop. I zombied and chilled, took some photos ... and reverted to my glassy-eyed chillin'. I did though summon enough energy and pull my eyes away from the sunset to cook us a pizza.

I've decided not to spend hours and hours of valuable travel-time fully editing my photographs on Photoshop and Irfanview. Instead I'm going to do batch conversions to reduce the images to a web-friendly size, and then do a bit of select editing when I get home at the end of June. So the images you see from now on may have shaky compositions or colouring until later in the year. Please forgive them and me!

Here are a few of the first day/night of about one-hundred-and-two day/nights ...

 Can you see the chain in this one?

We can hardly believe it ourselves, but we slept for a full twelve hours!

For those who'd like to follow our route we tootled up through Louisburgh, past Clew Bay (where we felt totally frustrated as the view was incredible but there was absolutely nowhere for us to pull off the road for a photo-stop), through Westport and Castlebar to Pontoon for lunch.

But .... before we got to Pontoon we stopped at a little village called Ross for a leisurely photo-break. You know how it is - we had trundled through the village, spied a fleeting glimpse of atmospheric old buildings, then risked our lives and Milly's in a driveway turn-around because we just couldn't miss going back and soaking up the feeling of history. This is what we found ...

It was our first sunny day for a while so the road up through Easky - the surfer's Sligo paradise - past The Split Rock to the edge of Sligo was really lovely. We didn't take pics along the Easky Road simply because there was so much to see, so much to drink in and stunning beaches to get to, that we'd rather do it full justice and go there again as a destination.

The (unphotographed by us) Split Rock was quite something, sitting there unobtrusively in a field next to the road, silently boasting it's story of being sundered in anger by the sword of Finn McCool after he lost a bet in a rock slinging contest.

Just the other side of Sligo Town we meandered down a picturesque boreen to Glencar Lake (Lough) beneath Ben Bulben, for a peaceful night. Here are are first pics from when we arrived there. You'll see from a couple of the shots, here and later tomorrow, that Spring has sprung and the grass iz rizz.

After our mammoth sleepathon the night before, waking up just before sunrise was pretty much a given. We started off gazing at the scene through our bedroom window, and taking one or two shots for the sake of memories, before deciding this was definitely worth risking being seen in jammies and slippers ... and in Alan's case, his beanie ...

Glencar Falls was just down the road and we were all prepared for about an hour-long hike in and another back again ... only to find it was a little saunter of five minutes through tinkling stream-land. Sadly, even although Summer hasn't pushed Spring out the way, there were signs of yobbos having been there - beer cans and bottles sitting jarringly in clean young moss and foliage.

Within a kilometre of our overnight home, we passed from Co Sligo into Co Leitrim. Later, during a warm and sun-snoozy drive we reached Co Donegal, passed Donegal town, and the road finally brought us to the fishing town of Killybegs on the coast of Donegal for, coincidentally, a seafood chowder I had bought the day I scared myself silly shopping. I'm really into this chilling thing now ... not something I'm really used to, being rather a hyperactive and burn-myself-out type of person ... and we spent a relaxed lunch hour-and-a-half-odd in the harbour enjoying the sun and the scenery - although not the fishy smells so much.

Just as we were doing the gas-off, sky-vent-closed, everything-ready-to-roll routine, a chap parked us in and enthusiastically talked motorhome talk to Alan. Good thing too ... he told us where we could spend a safe and peaceful night overlooking the sea and Glen Colm Cille village. We're here right now!

A quartz rock just outside our window.
I love rocks and have a story or two to tell
about collecting rocks in Namibia in Southern Africa.

A bit of a washed-out shot of one of the churches in the valley.

And so, to our absolute delight, we trot on ........