Connemara, Co. Galway
Mary O’Malley is truly the person who has written Connemara, her writing laced with the fierce beauty of the landscape, and the sounds of the sea. In ‘Porpoises’ she sends our minds out to sea from the most westerly point of the county:
The sky is close.
Out from the once manned rock
White electric light
Arcs over the Water
Difficult not to agree with her when she states that the sea is “just the place from which all things make sense”.
Pierce Hutchinson, also writing on Connemara, said:
There are chinks between
the neat stones to let the wind through safe,
You can see the blue sun through them.
But coming eastward in the same county,
the walls grow higher, dark grey;
an ugly grey. And the chinks disappear:
through those walls you can see nothing.
Perhaps our poetic landscapes remind us of that – to keep our hearts alert for experiences of water, wind and wonder.
This time last week during a weeks holiday to both counties Sligo and Mayo, in the norths west of Ireland, we hiked up Croagh Patrick or “The reek” as locals know of it. This mountain is one of Irelands Highest peeks and is most famous for being climbed by pilgrims on Reek Sunday every year, which is the last Sunday of each July. On this Sunday, thousands of pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in honor of Saint Patrick who, according to tradition, fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441.
It has been a personal aim to walk the peeks of a list of mountains in Ireland for a couple of years and “The Reek” is just one of these mountains to hike in the next couple of years.
The weather on the day was perfect and we started our walk about Midday having driven some 80km to the main car park used to start the hike. The start of the walk is good, being flat for a while and then only slowly rising in level, so you get a little time to warmup before the main slopes higher up the mountain side. Once you hike the first slopes the path levels off for a while until you come to the bottom of the main peek.
I really enjoyed this hike, its hard – no getting away from that fact but when you do finally get to the top the views are amazing, you can see most of county Mayo and well into county Sligo from here. there is a step that surrounds a small chapel that you can sit on to eat and have something to drink. We rested here for about 10 mins before walking around the top of the peek.
As you can see these images below are mostly taken at the top, when I finally go to open my bag and get my camera out. As I said you truly feel on top of the world here, this point is some 764 metres (2,507 ft) above sea level, not the highest mountain in the country by about 250 meters but here you start your walk at sea level so it could well be the highest distance you have to walk to get to the top…..
I will let these images do the rest of the talking for me other than to say , this is one of the most enjoyable walks of my life and I cannot wait to walk more Irish mountains in the months yo come ..
Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, A gallery
The Mountain Horse
Its cold at dawn in the Great Divide
And the Dew lies thick on the mountainside,
The bite of the cold air nearly makes you choke
And breath from your nostrils like dragon smoke.
The saddles are on and the cinch is tight,
Bridles are buckled and a bit to bight,
The horsemen are ready to break the camp,
The mist still rising and the bush is all damp.
The mobs been found in a clearing up ahead,
They’re all wild horses and they’re mountain bred.
Bushes flying by lashing legs and sides,
There’s danger here now for anyone who rides.
An overhanging limb so bend down low
Around rocks and wombat holes we go
There’s a mighty log we’ll have to jump
Look out, look out avoid the stump.
The big bay stallion leads his harem through the creek
There’s no place here for faint hearted or the meek,
Their hooves are like thunder and stock whips are cracking
Horses are snorting and their courage is not lacking.
Down along the valley where he knows every stride
Down along the valley where the wings are stretching wide,
But it’s too late, he knows it now, there’s nowhere left to run,
He turns and rears up high, his fight has just begun.
Something about these mountains makes you want to stay
And a mountain horse’s spirit you cannot take away.
My mind wanders back to a day not long ago,
When the horsemen came and found my mob and I put on the show.
The Spink and the Wicklow Mountains National Park
Back in the 6th century, hermit monk Saint Kevin first sought solace and contemplation in the idyllic surroundings of Glendalough. His followers established a monastery here, which would become one of the most important monastic sites in Europe. The focal point was the 33m high round tower, where the monks could hide away, keen to keep their precious manuscripts from the hands of invading Vikings.
The Glendalough Valley is now part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Established in 1991, it now extends to more than 170sq km. Only an hour’s drive from Dublin city, there is a vast array of routes at all levels of difficulty. But Glendalough is best explored on the Spink and Glenealo Valley Route, a high quality loop walk with excellent waymarking and a well-maintained trail.
Back at the Visitor Centre there are refreshments available in the restaurant, or you might want to head for the nearby village of Laragh with its restaurants and pubs. Laragh also makes a great base for further exploration of the surrounding mountains. Experienced walkers might want to climb Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in Wicklow, while those in pursuit of more leisurely walks can explore historic Glenmalure or the scenic area around Lough Dan.
Slightly further north is the village of Roundwood, with its thriving Sunday market. Further north still the beautiful formal gardens of the Powerscourt Estate lie in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain. Don’t miss Powerscourt Waterfall close by, at 130m the highest waterfall in Ireland or Britain. The cascade is impressive at any time of year, but especially dramatic after rain.
The Spink, Wicklow Mountains National Park, Gallery
Just Over The Mountain
© Michael Ruger
As a tangerine sky lights up countless trees
sunrise has come to bless my way
Comes another day away from my yesterdays
Yes they wait just over this mountain
Down a steep ragged hill
across a rock gurgling streams
into the valley low
I will never go back
This mountain and me are one
It know I mean it no harm
It allows me to live here in peace
Today is fresh wild strawberry day
Compliments of this mountain meadow
I will take only what I need
for there are so many creatures that have need of them.
The Blue Jay screams you go
as Crows on the way give a call
I will walk back to the spring down below
and just sit there and take in THE ALL
Its is another grand day on the mountain
The most amazing thing about living close to a mountain is that almost every time your lucky enough to walk to the top the weather is different, sometimes rain, sometime fog and others times bright sunshine.
The type of weather on the mountain, I love the most is the dramatic rain and mist ….
Carrauntoohil (/ˌkærənˈtuːl/, Irish: Corrán Tuathail)
The highest peak on the island of Ireland. Located in County Kerry, Ireland it is 1,038 metres (3,406 ft) high and is the central peak of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks range. The ridge northward leads to Ireland’s second-highest peak, Beenkeragh (1,010 m), while the ridge westward leads to the third-highest peak, Caher (1,001 m). Carrauntoohil overlooks three bowl-shaped valleys, each with its own lakes. To the east is Hag’s Glen or Coomcallee (Com Caillí, “hollow of the Cailleach”), to the west is Coomloughra (Com Luachra, “hollow of the rushes”) and to the south is Curragh More (Currach Mór, “great marsh”).
The summit of Carrauntoohil
Carrauntoohil is classed as a Furth by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, i.e. a mountain greater than three thousand feet high that is outside (or furth of) Scotland, which is why it is sometimes referred to as one of the Irish Munros.
The Macgillycuddy’s Reeks also contains many loughs of which lough callee is just one, the image above was taken last week while approaching the devils ladder route up to carrauntoohil Mountain peek. The morning was misty yet lots of wonderful light was finding its way on the the green slopes and the deep water of the lough, the mountain top is some distance above this level and hidden in the mist ……
Peace hath an altar there. The sounding feet
Of thunder and the wildering wings of rain
Against fire-rifted summits flash and beat,
And through grey upper gorges swoop and strain;
But round that hallowed mountain-spring remain,
Year after year, the days of tender heat,
And gracious nights whose lips with flowers are sweet,
And filtered lights, and lutes of soft refrain.
A still, bright pool. To men I may not tell
The secrets that its heart of water knows,
The story of a loved and lost repose;
Yet this I say to cliff and close-leaved dell:
A fitful spirit haunts yon limpid well,
Whose likeness is the faithless face of Rose.
Flow from the Mountain Spring : Gallery
rides the foothills
beneath gray waters
the warming sea
in constant current
with ripened need
she lives to die
The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain
By Wallace Stevens
There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.
He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.
It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,
How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,
For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:
The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,
Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.