"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"

- Alan Hogan

Showing posts with label Galway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Galway. Show all posts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Loops and Hookers!

Connemara pony at Gurteen Bay, Roundstone

Part 5 of my holiday adventures in Ireland and sadly this was our last day on the west coast. The main reason I made this blog was to reflect on the type of holiday I rarely have a chance to take. Mainly because whenever I do manage to get back to Ireland it is important for me firstly to spend time with my parents and my brother's family living in Dublin. Also, it's rare that Ireland's summer weather gets as good as this year 2013.

This part of our trip took us around one of Ireland's best locations to drive, the Connemara Loop. After leaving early in our car from our Kinvara holiday home we first drove around Galway bay and immediately tried to bypass Galway city. Easier said than done however, with so much traffic and a chain of roundabouts to pass. Luckily our Finnish friends had lots to talk about and questions to be answered, so the time went nicely. Below are a few photos from our trip, simply click on each image to enlarge.

Roadtrip map around the Connemara Loop.
(our route in red)

Having bypassed Galway city our journey took us right through Galway county and it's beautiful landscape. It's easy to enjoy the views of the Twelve Bens mountain range along the way, but care was necessary as some of the local sheep have a habit of wandering out on to the roads. Here's someone else's video footage of the views.

This area is a popular part of Ireland for artists also, with some of the country's most famous artworks originating from here. Jack B. Yeats and Paul Henry are just some of the famous Irish names associated with painting in Connemara.

Cloudy Day, Connemara - Paul Henry
Oil on canvas board, 

The first stop we made on our route was Roundstone, a village popular for it's culture and arts. As well as being a home for painters, it's also rich in traditional Irish music and dancing. Unfortunately we weren't sticking around long enough for any of that. So a quick stroll up and down the village, a cup of coffee and a slice of cake in a cafe and we were on our way again. We did get to see the nearby bus-stop, an all-in-one Post office/Petrol station/Grocery store and a couple of Galway Hookers!

Click images to enlarge!

Bus-stop at Roundstone

Shop/Gas station/Post office

Galway Hookers
Traditional fishing boats used in the Galway Bay area

Roundstone, Co.Galway.

After leaving Roundstone, we couldn't resist stopping of at one of the many nearby beaches dotted along the Connemara coastline. Here we had to kick off our shoes and go for a paddle.

White sandy beach at Gurteen Bay, Roundstone.

'Good to get the feel of Irish waters again!!

Beach at Gurteen Bay, Roundstone.

It was time to head to the town of Clifden next for dinner. The sea air in Ireland always makes me hungry for some reason. We had some excellent food at Mannion's Seafood Restaurant on Market street in Clifden. A great place to eat!
After dinner we headed out from Clifden via the Sky road, a scenic route which takes you up over the landscape and offers amazing views of the coast from a parking point along the way. It's not called the Sky road for nothing!

View from the Sky road, Clifden

With the sun finally began to go down it was time to head back to spend our last night in Kinvara. But before that we made our way past several other scenic locations, stopping at Connemara National Park, Killary Harbour (Ireland's only fjord), Leenane and Kylemore Abbey. Although we didn't actually manage to see much of Kylemore Abbey as the sun was setting blindingly in our view. But I did capture this nice shot from the opposite direction which I thought was even more appealing. 

Landscape close to Kylemore Abbey

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This is part 5 of a set of 'Ireland' travel posts here on my blog. Click on the destinations below to read the rest!

Share this blog!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Artist on the edge! - Aran Islands

Part 4 of my summer holidays 2013 in Ireland, and a visit to the Aran islands was our next destination. From the day we arrived in Ireland the weather was great. But today was by far the hottest, reaching over 30°C. Our first stop was Doolin harbour were my friends and I tried to find a ferry-boat. Due to the good weather a lot of other people made the same plans. Luckily I had pre-booked our places for the boat. There were plenty of boats going over to the islands, all extremely busy the whole day. The Aran islands are made up of three islands, Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore. I had planned on taking my Finnish friends to the largest of the three Inishmore, but due to the amount of visitors things got a little chaotic for the ferry owners and we ended up stopping on all of the islands. We did spend most of our time on the large island as planned though.

First stop was the little island of Inisheer, or as I like to call it 'Craggy Island'. It was a unexpected surprise for me to be on this island, even though we only stayed 20 minutes at the harbour waiting for the next boat. This small island with a population of only 297 is full of history and geological wonders, just like almost everywhere along the west coast of Ireland. But I like to call it Craggy Island for it's modern history and charm. It gets the name Craggy Island from a very popular tv sitcom 'Father Ted' starring the late Dermot Morgan. It was the island of Inisheer which featured in the program's intro.

The Father Ted series became so popular that it gained a cult following, and even after many years fans still come to visit the island and pay homage to the show. In fact they visit all three islands as well as the house where the show's main characters lived. The house itself is not actually on any of the islands as many assume, but is in fact on the mainland in County Clare. Anyone interested in it's true location can find it here on Google maps.

Here's a few photos I took while I was there. 
Click on each image to enlarge.

Inisheer or 'Craggy' island

One of the many small ferryboats visiting
 the Aran islands.

A 'Father Ted'-themed tour vehicle on Inisheer.

Ferryboat from Doolin to the Aran islands.

The Plassy shipwreck on the small island of Inis Oirr, just off the west coast of Ireland. The ship went down in 1960, and it's wreck has since become more famous for it's appearance in the opening credits of the popular tv comedy series Father Ted.

Next stop was the middle island called Inishmaan. There wasn't much to see while waiting at the harbour here. We only had a few minutes before our boat to the main island arrived. It's pretty much the same as it's sister islands. Here's a photo of the harbour wall and an old Guinness commercial made on the islands.

Lego-like harbour wall at Inishmaan island

After a brief visit to Inishmaan we jumped aboard another boat and headed to the largest of the three islands Inishmore. This was where we spent most of our day. On arriving at a very busy harbour we tried to find one of the many horse-drawn carts set out for visitors. Unfortunately they were all hired out and we had to take one of the many mini-bus tours instead. In hindsight it was a better choice as we may have got too hot or sunburnt on the long cart trek. I was a little concerned about how the horses were coping with the heat and the hauling of tourists around all day. But I saw that their owners seemed to be giving them some rest and plenty of water. Anyway, 'sure it isn't every day the weather is this hot in Ireland. For a moment it brought to my mind the memory of a holiday I spent in Rhodes, and seeing the Lindos donkeys. A very upsetting sight to see if you like animals.

Horse and cart on the island of Inishmore.

A traditional Irish thatched cottage with a
matching leprechaun version next door.

One of the beaches on Inishmore.

Traffic chaos on our mini-bus tour of Inishmore. 
Thanks to our driver Rory for getting us back 
to our boat on time! 

The Man of Aran cottage which featured 
in the 1934 movie 'Man of Aran'

Old ruins

Limestone pavements on the Aran islands

During our visit to the island of Inishmore we went to see the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa which is located at the spectacular cliffs overlooking the atlantic ocean. I have been to this island before wishing to see this unique location but was unable due to bad weather. Instead I ended up drinking Guinness and playing pool all day in the harbour pub with a good friend. I call that a social visit!
I was very happy about finally going to see this famous fort and it's cliffs, especially with the great weather! We also discovered a small visitors centre before walking up to the cliff edge. A small cottage setting can also be found nearby selling the famous Aran sweater and wools. There are also other craft-shops selling items such as jewellery, hats and t-shirts. Most of the t-shirts have slogans written in the native irish language of course. I did see one t-shirt which I thought was incorrectly written and complained to the old woman working in the shop. It wasn't long until she proceeded to give me a bollicking about it. I explained to her that I had been sent to learn the Irish language in the nearby village of Kilkieran on the mainland when I was a boy and this was the dialect I knew to be correct in the area. But the old woman told me off and said the Irish of the islanders is correct and all the rest are wrong. 'Being a meagre Dubliner, who was I to argue with this pleasant old lady. But I wonder was she ever taught by the Christian brothers or nuns! 

Craft shops near the Dún Aonghasa visitor centre.

Landscape of grass and limestone.

View over Inishmore from the prehistoric 
fort of Dún Aonghasa.

Cliffs at Dún Aonghasa

A Chinese tourist just lost his boat ticket!

Artist on the edge ... at Dún Aonghasa 
before my big splash! (not recommended)

Nice view!

Walking back down from Dún Aonghasa.

Village of Kilronan on Inishmore island.

Of course the weather isn't always as cheerful and sunny as we had experienced on the island of Inishmore. On the contrary, it's by far one of the harshest weather locations in Europe with rain and strong galeforce winds constantly arriving in from the Atlantic ocean. So local businesses have to make the most of welcoming tourists and visitors whenever good weather arrives. Tourism has become the islands main source of income in recent years.
Most of the people I have met anytime I have visited the west coast of Ireland have been great craic and for me it's the best place in Ireland!

The Aran island ferry owners
had a good day at the office! 

Finally here's a piece of music I like by the band British Sea Power. It's called Man of Aran and features footage of the 1934 movie 'Man of Aran' which was filmed on the island of Inishmore. The original movie in full can be found on YouTube here.

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This is part 4 of a set of 'Ireland' travel posts here on my blog. Click on the destinations below to read the rest!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Postcard from Kinvara

... And so to part two of my Irish summer holiday recollections. This time a look at the village of Kinvara in County Galway on Ireland's west coast. This was to be our basecamp as planned back in Finland since way back in January beforehand. I even mentioned my plans to Irish radio presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin on his breakfast show to warn him I was coming over! 

Kinvara can be found on the map below just south of Galway city in the centre of the picture. The village name can also be spelt Kinvarra as on the map here, but please don't ask me why!
After driving non-stop from Dublin it was nice to stretch the legs and find our pre-booked accommodation. And we were not disappointed!

Click on image to enlarge

View of Kinvara harbour with the Burren hills behind in the distance.
Our house rental is in the centre of this photo.
Click on image to enlarge

Nice living space with all mod cons and free wi-fi! 
Click on image to enlarge

Hawthorn / Fushia House Rentals
Click on image to enlarge

This was our home for three hot days and nights (that's something you don't hear too often in Ireland!).  It got so warm that the asphalt on the roads started to melt. Unusual weather for Ireland, but always welcome. We prebooked our accommodation at the Hawthorn home rental after we booked our flights back in Finland. 

Patio view of the harbour

Patio view with free parking

The tide comes in!

The tide goes out!

Kinvara Garda Station (Police)

Watching the sun set at a nearby beach

Old ruins close to Kinvara

A boat

A wall

A closed Pub???

For some reason P.J.Flatley's pub seemed to be closed while we were in Kinvara. I heard about a cellar bar there which interested me. But a visit wasn't to be had!  
Luckily there's no shortage of bars and pubs in this small village, and over our short stay I got to visit a few of them. We got to hear some traditional Irish music in a pub called Connollys. Even though it's a pub aimed at the tourist trade, it came with a decent pint and prices weren't a rip-off like so many other tourist pubs. We also popped our heads into a pub called Conole's, but skipped having a drink as it lacked any atmosphere whatsoever. Instead we headed up the street to Tullys Bar which was just what I was looking for. A normal bar with a tv and music playing in the background. It also had a pool-table and friendly staff behind the bar. I wouldn't call Tullys a tourist pub, but it's a good place to meet and chat with the friendly locals. I couldn't have found a nicer place even though some dog ran off with the cue-ball in his mouth! 
A decent pint of Guinness also.... mighty!!!

Good Morning Kinvara! Maidin mhaith!!

After a pleasant Guinness-fuelled sleep it was great to open my bedroom window to the smell of the sea. I've done this on occasions in Finland also, but it's never the same. It's a completely different experience. The sea looks and smells very different with salty water and seaweed everywhere.

Kinvara, Co.Galway

During our time in Kinvara we used the facilities in our house rental as often as we could. I got to cook a full-Irish breakfast to my Finnish guests which was hard work but fun. I then watched as they all tried to figure out how a typical Irish heating and shower system works, which was even funnier! Yep, some things are different in Ireland.

We did get to sample some of Kinvara's restaurants and pub-grub, the best being served at the Merriman Hotel where the staff were excellent.

Using Kinvara as a base on the westcoast we also travelled to nearby Doolin in County Clare, driving through the Burren and visiting the Cliffs of Moher. We also took a boat-trip over to the Aran Islands as well as driving around the Connemara loop. But I'm gonna write about that on my next blogpost.
Before leaving the west coast and heading to the city of Kilkenny we visited Kinvara's main tourist attraction Dunguaire Castle.

Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, Co.Galway

Check out this program from the BBC here which shows more scenes from Ireland's west coast as well as some interesting bits of history. Might be a good idea to go full screen for this one!

Share this blog!

This is part 6 of a set of 'Ireland' travel posts here on my blog. Click on the destinations below to read the rest!

Share this blog!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


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The Art Garage, Finland

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