Posts tagged ‘Co. Sligo’

July 17, 2013

Random Light No. 8

Hungry Horse 1

Shire Horse at Courtmacsherry, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/1000 ƒ/6.7 ISO 160 35mm

Manch Woods

Bluebells at Manch Woods, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/90 ƒ/8 ISO 220 35mm

Mullaghmore Harbour

Mullaghmore Harbour, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/250 ƒ/8 ISO 100 35mm

Mullaghmore window

Mullaghmore Window, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/750 ƒ/5.6 ISO 100 35mm

Loughanelteen Panorama

Loughanelteen, Co. Sligo, (Panorama taken with Samsung Galaxy Note II)

Ripening Barley

Ripening Barley, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/125 ƒ/6.7 ISO 200 300mm


Pippa the puppy, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/125 ƒ/3.3 ISO 100 35mm

July 28, 2012

Rosses Point

The two headlands of Sligo bay are Strandhill to the south and Rosses Point to the north.  Strandhill is arguably the more ‘happening’ place, with a strong surfing community, more noise, bigger waves, and lots more seaweed!  Rosses Point is more genteel, more Jazz or Folk to Strandhill’s Rock ‘n Roll.  Both are great places and depending upon one’s mood one will be preferable to the other…

For the few days that we stayed at Rosses Point campsite, the weather followed a regular pattern; during the day it would be cloudy with a bit of rain here and there and then in the evening the clouds would scatter and the sun would apologise for its lack of visibility during the day by putting on a spectacular sunset.  On the occasion of the above photo, I was very grateful to the local yacht club for sending out a few boats to make the photo more interesting!  I can’t think of a more beautiful evening to learn how to sail.  The Sun cast a golden glow over everything so that it was hard at times to distinguish where the sea ended and the sky began… (See photo on Flickr here).

This statue, entitled “Waiting on Shore”, is one of the more famous landmarks of the area.  (See photo on Flickr here).  A plaque at the base reads:

This sculpture reflects the age-old anguish of a seafaring people who watched and waited for the safe return of loved ones.  The men and women of Rosses Point Parish have a proud history of courage and survival of loss and grief that should not be forgotten by future generations.

It is to honour the memory of these brave people who once lived, sailed, or were lost at sea, that this woman, cast in bronze, stands today on our headland.

Lost at sea, lost at sea or in the evening tide, we loved you, we miss you may God with you abide.

A front row seat for this evening’s performance… (See photo on Flickr here).

July 26, 2012

Ben Bulben

One of the first things that a visitor to Sligo will notice is the impressive shape of “Ben Bulben” dominating the skyline to the north of the town.  The name is an anglicisation of the Irish Binn Ghulbain, meaning “Gulbans’s Peak” or “Jaw-shaped Peak”.  W.B. Yeats in one of his last and most well-known poems ‘Under Ben Bulben’, penned the  line: Where Ben Bulben sets the scene, which I think describes the mountain perfectly.  (If you are interested, I wrote about Yeats and Ben Bulben before here).

Ben Bulben impressively sets the scene for what ever the performance might be, whether in mythology, such as with the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne or the poetry of Yeats, or the more recent pantomime of Andy ‘the Bull’ McSharry, a farmer who fashioned himself after John B. Keane’s famously unaccommodating character Bull McCabe in The Field.  Ben Bulben had its role to play in more troubled parts of Irish history too, such as a refuge (albeit a futile one) for IRA soldiers during the Civil War or as the backdrop for a huge “Brits Out” (180 ft wide and 25 ft high) sign during the 1970’s.  A good starting place to find out more about this fascinating mountain is this Wikipedia article.

Below are a few photos of the mountain all taken a couple of weeks ago.

From the West (just of the N15).

From the Forestry road to the North.

From the South.

From the top (photo taken by Sonja).

These photos were taken while we were up in Sligo for the New Wine Summer Conference.  One of the great things about Sligo is its beautiful landscapes and seascapes which more than in any other place I have ever been make me want to fall on my knees and worship the One who brought it all into being…

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast in the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

Psalm 36:5-9

January 16, 2011

Corinth, a perfect Church?

"The Split Rock" Easkey, Co. Sligo Sermon from 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Probably all of us have been frustrated with the church at one time or another.  It may well be that the God-given gifts which we have are not being given the opportunity to be used.  Maybe someone has said something to us that hurts or maybe we are feeling ignored and left out of things.  There is no such thing in this life as the ‘perfect church’, every church has its faults and problems because it is made up of imperfect people – forgiven and redeemed people yes, but nevertheless far from perfect.

As we sigh and get frustrated with the fact that we are part of an imperfect church we can draw much support and encouragement from the Scriptures, especially the letters written to the early churches, and there was perhaps no church in need of more help than the one in the city of Corinth.

This ancient city was a major centre for trade in its day and it was a mix of many different people, religions and cultures.  The Apostle Paul had been there around about 50 AD during his second missionary journey and with the help of Priscilla and Aquilla had set up the church there over eighteen months or so, (quite an achievement given the type of place it was).  Perhaps not surprisingly the young church had its fair share of problems, which Paul deals with in the letters we have today of 1 and 2 Corinthians.  Divisions appeared in the church between the stronger and weaker members, those with money and power in society and those without, those that had great oratory skill and those that were less well educated.  There were problems too with sexual immorality and social snobbery.  On top of all this, they had little understanding of Christian marriage and their worship services were lacking in order and discipline.

You would have thought that with the church in such a mess, the Apostle Paul would get immediately stuck in, but he doesn’t, he actually starts off with a lovely greeting and then for the rest of today’s reading he tells them just how thankful to God he is for these Corinthian Christians.

Look at verse two.  Paul writes:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…

To be ‘Sanctified’ means to be cleansed and set apart for God.  This is done through the Lord Jesus, for there is no cleansing apart from Him.  Yes the people had been sanctified by the blood of Christ but they were still not living their lives for Christ as they ought.  The church is supposed to be a physician, there to help heal the sickness of society, but what can a doctor do if he or she is suffering from the same sickness as those they are trying to cure?[1] This was the case with the Corinthians – they hadn’t yet been able to be fully free from their previous way of living and this was killing off their ability to act as effective witnesses for Christ.  Remember that the Lord called his disciples to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16); salt to arrest the contamination of the world around us and light to shine God’s truth and love to dispel the darkness of this world.  But just like the church today, the Corinthians were swept away by the twin tides of contamination and confusion.  Just like so much of the church today the Corinthians were paralysed by moral laxity and doctrinal uncertainty.  This is why the Apostle Paul was writing to them and that is why this letter is perfectly preserved, because we need it just as much in the church today.

In the nine verses that make up our reading, the Lord Jesus’ name is mentioned nine times – why?  Simple, because He is the answer to the problem.  To use a sporting metaphor, the Corinthians had taken their eye off the ball, meaning they had taken their eyes off Christ, and to do so is to fail and fall.  We need to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, He should be our first thought in the morning and our last at night and his name should be continually on our lips and for ever present in our minds.  He is the way the truth and the life, He should be everything to us because without him there is no hope for us, we are totally reliant and dependent upon Him for our salvation and without Him we are nothing.  So in verse two we see that He sanctifies His followers, then we see that His followers are called to be saints.  Saints are not just super-Christians, the heroes of the faith, Saints is a similar word to Sanctified in the Greek, it means ‘holy people’.  Anyone who has invited Jesus into their life has been set aside by God as a holy person, and because they are a holy person they need to reflect their masters holiness.

There is a word in verses 3 and 4 which helps all this to make sense.  First of all though think about this; have you ever heard the phrase ‘that’s not very Christian’?  It is usually directed at someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus that has done something wrong.  I’ve had it said to me a few times, especially when I was a new believer and I was constantly talking about what Jesus had done in my life and annoying a few people as a result!  They would look for every opportunity to show me up as a hypocrite, which was an easy task!  None of us are perfect, none of us deserve the love that God shows us through Christ, none of us has any right at all to think of ourselves as better than anyone else.  What’s that word I was talking about, sure you know it:


There are lots of definitions of grace, one of my favourite is by Bono,[2]

“Grace makes beauty out of ugly things”

Because of our sin, we are ‘ugly things’ but the beautiful thing that Christ has done has changed us and will go on changing us more and more into the likeness of his image (2 Cor. 3:18)

By ourselves, none of us are very ‘Christian’ because all of us have fallen short of God’s standard (Rom.3:23) so that is why Christ came and that is why the Apostle Paul mentions Christ’s name so much because Christ died and Christ rose again for the Corinthians and for you and for me.

We were heading for death, but Christ has given us life.  The very second you gave your life to Christ (if indeed you have done so) God set you apart and made you holy.  God has fulfilled His side of the bargain, He has declared us to be Holy, through the Person and work of Christ, now we have to act Holy, we have to live our lives set apart, Holy lives; not cut off from the world, but in the world, as salt and as light.  We are holy in God’s eyes already, so we need to be what we already are![3]

[4]For 11 years a lady by the name of Mary Leonard has dealt with polymyositis, a rare inflammatory tissue disease that invades the muscles. There is no known cause or cure.

Mary’s case turned deadly when the disease invaded her heart. In fact, last March, Mary was told by doctors that she had 24-48 hours to live. But after 20 days in a hospice centre, another 51 days in rehab, and a number of days at home, Mary is still alive. She’s now reflecting on the changes that take place when you learn your time is short.

“I call myself an average Christian,” Mary says. “I don’t know exactly why God has done this for me, but I do know that life looks different now.”

Mary offers five life lessons she learned through the ordeal:

1. Know that prayer is powerful.

2. Mend fences now.  [Mend your relationships as best you can]

3. Release the reins of life to God.

4.  Know that God is able—more than able.

5.  Put your focus on what really matters.

All of us could benefit by being told that we had just two days left to live.  Imagine if everyone in the church was told the same – oh how those problems would just melt away!  Denominations – who would care? Theological differences, what would they matter?  When death is staring you in the face there is only one thing, or rather one Person that matters. Jesus.  If we could live like that all the time, the church would very different, and so would we… Amen.

[1] Metaphor from Roger Ellsworth, ‘The message of 1 Corinthians’, Evangelical Press, 1995, p.11

[3] ‘Closer to God’ Bible notes vol. 13, p.57 Scripture Union, 2002

March 14, 2010

The return of the "Prodigal Son"

Nikon D70s, 1/500 sec, f10, -1/3 EV ISO 200 (Bigger)
Waiting on Shore“, Rosses Point, Co. Sligo
Today’s Sermon, Text Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 (Mothering Sunday)

Facebook is sometimes in the news for bad reasons but there is also plenty about it that is good too. One of the good things about it is that it brings people who had lost contact together again. Here’s an example: When Avril Grube’s marriage came to an end in 1982, she decided to remain in her hometown of Poole in Dorset, while her husband returned to his native country of Hungary. The couple had one son, Gavin, of whom Avril was awarded sole custody. Avril’s husband was only given visitation rights.
One day, while in town to visit his son, Avril’s ex-husband asked to take Gavin to the local zoo. Avril agreed, and off the two went for a day of fun. As day turned into night, however, Avril became worried. She waited and waited for them to return, but they never did. She would soon learn that Gavin’s father had taken the boy back to Hungary.
For years Avril and her sister searched for Gavin, going so far as to take up their case with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the authorities at the Hungarian Embassy. But their efforts were fruitless. Over time, Avril slowly lost hope of ever seeing her son again.
But 27 years later—27 years—she found him.
In March of 2009, Avril’s sister typed Gavin’s name into an internet search engine and found his Facebook profile. Avril and her sister immediately started sending him messages. When Gavin didn’t respond—they later learned he doesn’t use his account much—they started messaging his children, who also had Facebook accounts. Eventually, the two finally reconnected after so many years apart.
“She is absolutely on cloud nine,” Avril’s sister told a reporter for the BBC. “They have been hugging—really, really happy.”
Brian Lowery, managing editor,; source: BBC News, “‘Kidnapped son’ found on Facebook” (5-29-09)
The parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’, (as it is often known), is probably familiar to most of us. It is a very powerful, moving and challenging story about a Father and his two sons. This being Mothers’ Day, it is not too hard to apply the role of the Father to that of the Mother also. Most parents of grown-up children will be able to relate (at least a little) to what the Father goes through, and all of us (as God’s children) know what it is like (at least a little bit) to be like that ‘Prodigal son’. The older son is typical, taking responsibility and protocol seriously and the younger son too is typical (perhaps stereotypical) as carefree and with little or no understanding of duty or respect.
So we begin with the younger son saying to his father ‘give me my share of the estate’. He wants his inheritance NOW! He is naive and has little or no sense of worth or respect. He seems to be only thinking about himself and what he wants. Why does the Father agree to this very unusual request? Perhaps we wonder why God lets the sinner go his or her own way. Why doesn’t God stop them, we ask? Perhaps sometimes the only way we can learn is by learning the hard way.
So the property is divided between the two sons. The younger son collects together everything he has and sets off for a distant country. What does he do? We are simply told that he ‘squandered his wealth in wild living.’ In the original language it reads that he ‘scattered his resources’, it is like he literally throws his money away. Now he is penniless things get even worse. A severe famine comes over the foreign country where he is. Desperate for a job, the only thing he can find is one feeding pigs (a job that would have been very dishonouring for a Jew, for whom pigs were ‘unclean’ (see Leviticus 11:7)). So he has hit rock bottom, even the food that the pigs are getting is better than what he has. Here is the lostness of a sinner – but at least he realises it, many people today are lost and do not realise it.
At last, in the hour of his deepest need, he begins to come to his senses. Even his Fathers servants have a much better life. To be outside of God’s family is to be utterly alone. So he makes plans to return home. It was only a short time ago that he couldn’t wait to get away from home, now he can’t wait to return, no matter if he is only hired as a slave when he gets there.
He has a thin thread of hope that his Father will take him on a a slave, perhaps after a severe telling-off and punishment. Little did he know what was about to happen. He might have for a time forgotten all about his Father, but his Father never forgot about him. There may have been times in our lives when we have forgotten all about God as we have gone away from Him, but he never forgets about us.
But the son doesn’t even get near his home before something extraordinary happens. The Father couldn’t care about protocol, with unconditional loving abandonment, not caring what anyone else thinks or says he runs, yes he runs to his son. His heart is overflowing with love and compassion. He drapes his arms around his child and kisses him. The son manages to begin his long-rehearsed apology which no doubt is now from his heart but his Father doesn’t notice it – he is too overcome with joy.
You know, I have met people who think that God can’t or won’t forgive them. People often see God as stern, an old serious man with a white beard and a pointing finger. This is very different to the Father that Jesus told us about, who actively seeks out the sinner and goes looking for the lost, or as Francis Thompson describes him in his famous poem, He is “the Hound of Heaven”.
The celebration begins. The Father calls for the best robe to be brought and a ring and sandals, for the fattened calf to be killed and for a celebration to begin. O what rejoicing there is in heaven Jesus tells us over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). What celebration there was in heaven the day you gave your life to Christ / what celebration there will be for you the day you decide to give your life to Christ if you haven’t yet done so.
The elder son had been working in the fields. He hears all the music and dancing and wonders what is going on. A servant tells him that his younger brother has come home and they have killed the fatted calf and are celebrating.
The elder brother is enraged. He refuses to go to the party. His Father comes out and pleads with him. Here is a great irony. The son who was on the outside (the younger son, is now on the inside and the son who was on the inside (the elder son) is now on the outside! This is what Jesus means when He talks about the first being last and the last being first. Where are we on that scale – Do we resent God for forgiving those who we think we are better than? God will lavish His grace on the undeserving and that included us – none of us deserve God’s love, none of us are ‘good enough’ to ‘earn’ His forgiveness. Who are we to think like the older brother – and yet we do – and if we do we need to be careful, very careful.
The Father explains to the elder son that there is no need to be angry, everything he has belongs to him. The elder son has always had reason to celebrate because everything will one day be his. One of the things that makes this such a powerful parable is that the story is left hanging – we don’t know what the elder brothers response is. Of course the whole point is to provoke a response from us – what would we do in his place?
God’s grace is unfair and that means it is is unfair for us all. We don’t deserve God’s love, we don’t deserve His forgiveness. Yet once we experience it, who are we to question who God should forgive.
God’s open arms extend to all who will come to Him, they are open for you, for me and for anyone who will turn around from their old way of life. All of us are in this parable somewhere, are we the younger brother before he leaves home, are we the younger brother who has gone away are we the younger brother who is at last beginning to come to his senses? Are we the younger brother fearful of what the Father will say, are we afraid to go home? Are we the older brother? Do we have a superiority complex!? Do we think of ourselves better than we ought? Whoever we are and wherever we are we need to come to the Father and trust that when we do so it will have been the best and most important decision we have ever made… Amen.

May 2, 2009

Lough Gill

Nikon D70s, 4 images @ 1/200 sec, f7.1, 52mm equivalent

For our belated Easter holiday we had a great few days away in Sligo. It was typical April (and indeed Sligo) weather – all four seasons every few hours!

I thought it was about time to change the banner at the top of the page. This one is a panorama of four images taken one evening from the northern shore of Lough Gill. For my wife and I this is a special place, our first house after we got married was just a bit further around the lake from where this picture was taken. It was an old stone cottage with thick white-washed stone walls, a corrugated tin roof, oh and it was damp and with no central heating, just a wood-burning stove to cook on and to provide heat! Sadly it has since been knocked-down and replaced by a large new house that looks very comfortable but somehow doesn’t look right in this landscape (of course you will not get an objective opinion on it from me!)

September 1, 2008

Strandhill, Co. Sligo

Strandill Beach with Ben Bulben in Background (Click to enlarge)
Nikon D70s, 1/50sec, f18, ISO 200, 70mm, RAW

Another photo from our holiday in the West / North West. Using a polarizing filter really helps to bring out the detail in the clouds…