May 9, 2013
I’ve read of ‘thin places’, a term originally used by Christians in the Celtic-speaking world of the early Middle Ages to describe places where it seemed the veil between heaven and earth was ‘thin’.
This all came to mind recently as we were walking along Harbour View Beach (off the R600 between Timoleague and Kinsale).
We have walked there many times, but it felt particularly ‘thin’ that day…
(All photos taken on my phone and processed with Instagram)
September 9, 2012
If the Eskimos have many different words to describe snow, so here in West Cork there are many words to describe the numerous types of rain that we enjoy in this part of the world. One of my favourites was stated by a wise old farmer who greeted me earlier today with the words:
Grand soft day.
And that was it, no more needed to be said. The rain today was not heavy, it was not that awful sideways stuff that blows in off the Atlantic, it was gentle, misty and slightly swirling; in a word it was most definitely ‘soft’.
I had been invited to come along ‘and show my face’ at a vintage threshing day near Pedlar’s Cross (halfway between Clonakilty and Bandon). Although I brought my camera with me I left it I the car (due to my not wanting to expose it to the ‘soft’ conditions). So I only had the iPhone to take pictures with.
I really love these community events, enjoyed by all ages, farmers and non-farmers alike. There is something here for everyone to enjoy and appreciate and everyone has time to talk, whether it’s about the weather, the price of milk, the hurling final or anything you like.
A grand soft day it was.
September 5, 2012
Last Saturday we joined with a sizeable number of others taking part in the annual Sheep’s Head walk for Christian Aid. The “Sheep’s Head” is a peninsula in West Cork jutting out twenty one kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean and is only four kilometres across at its widest point. It is a truly spectacular location. We started from and finished at Kilcrohane Community Centre, with a very enjoyable walk along the way.
We soon found ourselves up at about 300m above sea level and the views were spectacular. Then what so often happens anywhere along the West coast of Ireland happened – the clouds and mist started to roll in off the sea.
But the light remained bright, so even though we were walking in cloud and fog, the visibility remained good. Just occasionally the veil was lifted and a swirling gap of light presented the opportunity to take a picture of the wonderful and vast scape of land and sea. At times it was hard to see where the sky, sea and land met each other, such was the wonderful array and trickery of the light.
Of course the whole point of the walk was to raise money for Christian Aid. Andrew Coleman and his team of volunteers had (as they always do) done an excellent job of organising the day and making it enjoyable for all ages and walking abilities. In brief but powerful words, Canon Patrick Hewitt reminded us that the distance we had walked that day would be a daily necessity for many, whether to collect water, medicines or simply to go to school. In some small yet not insignificant way the money raised by this event would go to help people a long way from this place, that at that moment we somehow felt a little closer to even though in many ways in comparison with them it felt like we were walking at the edge of the world…
Link to photos on Flickr:
June 15, 2011
I was walking back to the car with two very hot ‘Americanos to go’, so balancing them vertically with my left hand and trying to hold the camera in my right I fired off this quick shot of the signpost in Ballinspittle. It was not until after I had taken the picture that I realised I was unwittingly entertaining some builders who were not working too hard!
Thankfully the picture came out OK, though if I were to take it again I would do so from a lower angle so as to avoid having any background other than the sky (as I think the background here is distracting).
I love those old signs with the distances in miles. Many times I can remember driving to places, and you would see a sign saying, for example, ‘Sligo 16′ and then around a couple of bends there would be another saying ‘Sligo 18′. The old signs are less clinical and have a more ‘ah sure you’ll get there soon enough’ attitude. I miss miles, kilometres are much too European for my liking!
May 13, 2011
I must have passed this window dozens of times and never really noticed it before. It is on the road between Timoleague and Kilmalooda – ‘in the middle of nowhere’, you might say! As far as I can tell the cottage is no longer lived in and yet the owner has gone to the trouble of putting a pot of flowers on the windowsill. It reminds me of ‘Old Ireland’, of days different to these. Of course for all the romantic notions of yesteryear we know there was much that was bad about Old Ireland, and in so many ways the Ireland of today (despite its many faults) is a better place to live. But still, I sometimes wish I could time-travel and experience the days when living in cottages like this was the norm and when people had more time and when the world was in less of a hurry than it is now…
October 1, 2010
He draws up the water vapour
and then distills it into rain.
The rain pours down from the clouds,
and everyone benefits.
Photo taken on the Cork Kerry border on the N71 between Kenmare and Glengarriff.
June 30, 2010
Towards Castlefreke and Long Strand
There’s a time in the evening when the sun is thinking about setting but seems reluctant to do so. Low in the sky the light is soft and filtered, imparting a certain ‘glow’ to everything.
As I stood in that field of Barley, I felt like I was in the midst of a great painting, a work of genius, by the great Artist. It was a moment of beauty; I could hear the sea rush against the shore to my left and I could smell the earthy ground, still wet from the recent rainfall. A breeze was gently blowing across the fields so that the Barley seemed - almost – to mimic the movement of the nearby waves. There was a mist beginning to rise in the distant hollows and I knew that the special light was about to leave, so I reluctantly did the same.
June 11, 2010
One of the advantages of rural life in Ireland (as I suspect is true of non-city life almost anywhere) is the way time is treated. Country time is not the hard slave master that city time can be; everyone in a hurry to be somewhere to do something to meet someone etc. In West Cork, time is not a precise phenomenon, it is merely an advisory instrument that may or may not be relevant for the conduct of any given day or occasion. Things will happen when they will, people will arrive when they mean to and not a moment sooner or later.
What got me thinking about time? Well if you’re still reading then you must be vaguely interested so I’ll tell you – The Innishannon Steam Rally.
This grand occasion happens over the June Bank Holiday weekend every year. It’s a great family day out, but what really caught my interest was (wait for it) … the “Slow Tractor Race”. It’s complicated, but basically the winner is the person to drive their tractor the slowest without stopping, so the person who comes last is the winner. Ingenious!
Can you imagine such a thing happening in New York, Tokyo or London, where millions of people race around as if their lives depended upon it all day every day? After witnessing this race – there were two heats and a final and it took a long time (but nobody was in a hurry), I know where the better quality of life can be found…
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8)
May 17, 2010
Nikon D70s, f4.2, 1/5 sec, ISO 200, 85mm
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
This was the view from the Rectory garden just after ten o’clock last night. Too large to be a star, my best guess is that it’s Venus (see here).
Photo notes (If you’re interested in the technical aspect of the picture): I set my camera on a tripod, placed on firm ground and put a timer delay so that there would be no vibration for the long exposure necessary. To my surprise I noticed however that even though there was no wind and I didn’t touch the camera during the exposure the picture is still slightly blurred. The only conclusion I can come to is that the slap of the viewfinder mirror caused it. Unfortunately my camera does not have mirror lock-up, which would have prevented this. Next time however I will take a much longer exposure and hold the lens cap over the lens for the first second so that the initial vibration is not recorded on the final picture.
May 5, 2010
Nikon D70s, 1/160 sec, f6.3, ISO 200, 105mm equivalent (click to enlarge)
This is the now long-abandoned remains of Rathbarry Church, on the Castlefreke estate, near Rosscarbery. It was quite a gloomy day so I greatly appreciated the fact that the clouds parted just enough to allow the sun to light up the ruins for the photo. This light only lasted a few seconds and then was gone again. It seemed to us that access to the church was no longer available, but I was reliably informed the other day that as the church yard is still open for burials, the track leading to it is a public right of way. The local land owner has made a convincing attempt to make it look as though you would be taking a very grave (excuse the pun) risk in setting foot on the road, but maybe next time we are taking a walk on the nearby beach at Long Strand we’ll take a better look.
Seeing closed and derelict church buildings dotted around the countryside (of which there are many) could cause one to be a little downcast at the current state of the Church today. ”Numbers are not what they were you know”. A Rector taking a service at which there are six people present (including the Rector) is encouraged by the words “In my day there were at least oooh ten thousand people in these pews at 5.30 am on a Sunday morning” and clergy are blessed by tales of how “in the good ol’ days” they had great fun breaking the ice in the font in order to baptise the queues waiting outside. Make no mistake, these are challenging times.
I’ve always had a great respect for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières
(Doctors with no boundaries, frontiers or borders) and I just love the name and what it means and what it implies. Of course, the same idea is true of the Church also. We are (or at least we should be) a church without boundaries, frontiers or borders. Yes we meet together in buildings that are beautiful, historic (and cold and costly) but we are not limited by them. Even if we had no buildings we would still exist (though the buildings committee might have to find something else to do). A “church without walls” is not a new concept, but it ever remains an attractive one…