Atlantic Evening

Evening light cascades over Eyeries Village on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland, where the brightly painted houses add a welcome touch of colour to the often grey Wild Atlantic Way

The wind has swept from the wide atmosphere
Each vapour that obscured the sunset’s ray;
And pallid Evening twines its beaming hair
In duskier braids around the languid eyes of Day:
Silence and Twilight, unbeloved of men,
Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.
…by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“The Sampson”

Four kayakers en route for a sea view of “The Sampson”, a crane ship washed onto Ardmore Head on the County Waterford coast.

Samson had left Liverpool in 1987, bound for Malta under tow from a tug boat. The towline parted in a gale off the Welsh coast early on 11 December. The two men aboard the barge were rescued by helicopter after attempts to reconnect the tow line failed.

The barge eventually ran aground, but it wasn’t economic to salvage it and there it, although the ships’ propeller was removed and put on display in the village of Ardmore. Since then the entire jib had now collapsed into the sea.

Just one of many shots featured in the book “Waterford, A County Revealed”, details here

Reach…

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
‘Til I’m free
Fly through the revolution… Steve Miller

The skies the limit: on that optimistic note I’d like to wish everyone a peaceful and contented 2023

Anna Liffey

The River Liffey, flowing through the centre of Dublin to Dublin Bay, aka the Anna Liffey, possibly from an anglicisation of Abhainn na Life, an Irish phrase translated into English as “River Liffey”. Shot from the Ha’penny Bridge, evening light reveals the Millennium Bridge and Grattan Bridge behind.

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.
.. Alfred Lord Tennyson

One Midsummer Morning

A simple still-life with hints of Spain, a straw hat, glass of red wine and an opened illustrated copy of “As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning“, by Laurie Lee, English poet and novelist, and a descriptive, richly lyrical memoir.

The book is a sequel to “Cider with Rosie” which detailed life in Gloucestershire after the First World War, in which Lee leaves the security of his Cotswold village in1934 to embark on an epic journey, beginning with a walk to London. During his time there, about a year, he picked up the Spanish phrase “¿Podría darme un vaso de agua, por favor?” or “Will you please give me a glass of water?” and some months later decided to go to Spain.

There he scraped together a living by playing his violin outside cafés, and slept in his blanket under the open sky or in cheap, rough posadas. For a year he tramped through Spain, from Vigo in the north to the south coast and Almuñécar, where he is trapped by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War until a British destroyer from Gibraltar arrived to pick up any British subjects who might be marooned on the coast.

back in England. he started to study for an art degree but returned to Spain in 1937 and volunteered for the International Brigade, but his service was cut short by his epilepsy. His experiences were recounted in A Moment of War , an austere memoir of his time as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).

He wrote a few more books, but without the success of the first three, and although Lee’s first love was poetry, he was only moderately successful as a poet. Sadly, his muse deserted him, and in his later life, he was left deaf, nearly blind, and often the worse for drink, living the kind of destitute life he had gone in search of as a young man. He slipped off his mortal coil in May 1997.

Old Environmental Thoughts

Many years ago, aged about 12, I became interested in bird watching. Browsing through nature books in my local library I came across a book published the previous year. Called “Happy Countryman”, I took it home.

The first few words of Roberts’ lyrical and atmospheric writing forever hooked me into natural history. The wonderful descriptions of his exploration throughout the British Isles in the first half of the 20th century also included aspects of country life tied to nature; rural traditions that have long since disappeared.

To digress momentarily, I’m currently reading “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, an eye-opening and fascinating history of humankind, a book IMHO everyone ought to read. It brought to mind a short passage in “Happy Countryman”, about man and the natural world, written well before the mainstream environmental movement appeared. Written in the early 1950s, it could have been written today…

“…Always it seems, the so called lesser creature must be subservient to the whim of man, put on this planet either to conform to whatever pattern he decrees, or be destroyed. Mankind will never know true humility so long as he regards himself as Earth’s supreme arbiter. Who are we to decide which creature shall, or shall not, live its life in peace…every living thing has its niche in a vast natural pattern. Reflect that man is the only species that wantonly interferes with the pattern, and witness the chaotic state to which he has brought the world.”

Roberts’ pen and ink sketches are beautifully observed…

I borrowed it from the library annually until I left Liverpool in the 1970s. Attempts to get the book for myself were unsuccessful, until on-line bookshops appeared. And now I still read it annually.

And for the many naturalists out there, copies of the book can still be found in online bookshops. The full title is “Happy Countryman” by E L Roberts published 1956 by Herbert Jenkins, London.

Winter Seas

Waves come crashing to grey sullen shores.
Powerful and strong, it breathes and roars.
Cascading and caressing each grain of sand,
A warm embrace between sea and land.

High above, a seagull soars high.
Wings of purity it spreads to fly.
Battling high against darkened cloud,
In a wind that blows fiercely, flying graceful and proud.
Poem by Edel T. Copeland

Growling Sea

Down on the shore, on the stormy shore!
Beset by a growling sea,
Whose mad waves leap on the rocky steep
Like wolves up a traveller’s tree;
Where the foam flies wide, and an angry blast
Blows the curlew off, with a screech;
Where the brown sea-wrack, torn up by the roots,
Is flung out of fishes’ reach…
By William Allingham

Image from Waterford, A County Revealed

Coumshingaun Lough

A beautiful, quintessential glacial lake in County Waterford’s Comeragh Mountains, Coumshingaun Lough is a habitat of peregrine falcons, ravens and the elusive nightjar. A delightful peaceful place it wasn’t always so tranquil, especially during the life of William Crotty.

The leader of an 18th century gang of highwaymen who like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. Locally born, his poverty stricken Crotty family where evicted from their home, so his career choice, for which he was well suited, was hardly surprising.

Crotty had a safe retreat – a deep underground cave only accessible by means of a rope dropped down – and another cave near the lake for the stolen livestock. His observation point at nearby Crotty’s Rock commanded expansive views of the highway and no one could come close unnoticed. He knew the Comeraghs like the back of his hand, so when he was being chased by the authorities he could easily hide on the mountain range.

The authorities offered bribes to some of Crotty’s men for information on where he was hiding. Local legend suggests David Norris, Crotty’s most trusted companion, accepted a bribe. One night when he’d poured enough whiskey into Crotty to make him sleepy, he wet his gunpowder and stole his dagger. When the guards arrived to arrest him, Crotty didn’t stand a chance. He was sent for trial in Waterford City in 1742, found guilty, executed by hanging and his head spiked outside the County Jail as a warning to those tempted to follow in his footsteps.

On dark nights, as the nightjars make their eerie calls near the lough, Crotty’s ghost, known as Dark Stranger is said to “come out of the mist, tall, dark clothed, moving purposefully, his footsteps making no sound.”

More about Ireland’s “hidden” county here

Whitby

Beyond the yachts, a glimpse of the Whitby Swing Bridge over the River Esk in Whitby, North Yorkshire, England.

Apart from its links to Dracula, the town is also famous for Captain Cook who moved there from Staithes where he had been an apprentice to a draper. The young man was besotted by the sea, and his passion that grew every day as he gazed out from his lodgings on Grape Lane directly at the harbour.

When he joined the Royal Navy he advanced quickly and was promoted to command, but before he making his first voyage, he learned his trade sailing on vessels from Whitby Harbour to the Baltics. Two of the ships he sailed on and commanded were also closely linked to Whitby harbour as they were built there.

However, it’s the Endeavour that’s the most famous of Captain Cook’s ships, seen below as it returns to Whitby harbour. The ship is not the original of course, but a faithful replica built to offer a brief opportunity to experience life on the ocean wave for Captain Cook and his crew.

The “Bark Endeavour”, a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, sailing into Harbour, overlooked by Whitby Abbey on the clifftop
and the Old Boatman’s Shelter Apartments in the foreground.

Pavilion for Scandal

The magnificent Royal Pavilion, aka the Brighton Pavilion, was created for the Prince Regent during the madness of his father, George III. Building, to the design of architect John Nash, heavily influenced by Indian Mughal influenced architecture, began in 1815, and contrary to what one might assume, conceals an interior theme of Chinoiserie – the then fashionable craze for Chinese decorations.

The Prince of Wales, who later became George IV, first visited Brighton in 1783, at the age of 21. The seaside town had become fashionable as a result of the residence of George’s uncle, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, whose tastes for fine cuisine, gambling, the theatre, and general fast living were shared by the young prince.

The Pavilion has long been associated with scandal, serving as a discreet location for the Prince to enjoy private liaisons with his long-time companion, Maria Fitzherbert. A rumour spread that a tunnel beneath the Pavilion Gardens lead to his mistress’s house, but in truth, it only went as far as the royal stables, because the Prince Regent was so unpopular and overweight towards the end of his life that he didn’t want people to see him crossing the gardens above ground.

Prince George may have loved his Pavilion but his niece, Queen Victoria, “wasn’t amused” and didn’t like it one bit, and sold it to the Brighton Corporation in 1850, which is why it is a visitor attraction rather than a royal palace these days.

Days of Future Past

The future: Mooncoin Coin is a proof-of-work based cryptocurrency mainly used for micropayments.

The past: A little cottage dating from 1757 in the Irish village of Mooncoin (in Irish: Móin Choinn, meaning ‘Coyne’s Bogland’), made famous by the song ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’, written in the 1800s.

The composer was a local schoolteacher and poet named Watt Murphy, who fell in love with a local girl known as Molly. She was just 20 years old, and Watt was 56, but the age difference was of no consequence. Both were intellectuals and would stroll along the banks of the river Suir, composing and reciting poetry. However, Elizabeth’s father, who was the local vicar, did not approve of their relationship, and she was sent away to England. Watt was brokenhearted at the loss of his beloved lady, and wrote this song in her memory.

“How sweet ’tis to roam by the sunny Suir stream,
And hear the dove’s coo ‘neath the morning’s sunbeam.
Where the thrush and the robin their sweet notes combine
On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin.

Flow on, lovely river, flow gently along.
By your waters so sweet sounds the lark’s merry song.
On your green banks I’ll wander where first I did join
With you, lovely Molly, the Rose of Mooncoin.

Oh Molly, dear Molly, it breaks my fond heart,
To know that we two for ever must part
I will think of you, Molly, while sun and moon shines
On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin…”