Last week was a dream. Brad and I made it to our favorite place on earth – Ireland. Despite the ash cloud and it’s attempts to ground us, our flights to and from were safe and on-time! I have so many photographs from our trip and can’t wait to share them with you! Besides my trusty 5D, I also brought Diana along – the unpredictable little plastic camera which shoots 120mm film. I LOVE the mood Diana captured and wanted to share these with you first as they required no editing.
I have so many stories to share too. You can look forward to getting to know other places on the Emerald Aisle a bit more in-depth when I post photos from my main camera. Those photographs will also be a bit more “green.” And there will be castles. I promise.
This first series of images is from Skellig Michael – meaning “Michael’s Rock.” Scholars date this as a 7th century monastic settlement. What’s different about these monks? They lived on an island, miles from the mainland. The living was dangerous and difficult, for their church and celtic monestary were perched atop a 230-meter-high rock jutting out from the sea. Their existence was so remote, in fact, that they were able to survive numerous viking raids and other uprisings on the mainland. They inhabited the island for what many think to be 600 years and are considered the first Irish Christians.
Since this place is so remote, it has been well preserved against the wear-and-tear of tourism. Visiting this ancient place, and climbing to the ruins, was no doubt a life-changing experience for Brad and I.
To get to Skellig, we boarded a small fishing boat, manned by Des Lavelle of Lavelles Skellig Trips. He affectionately referred to us as Captain Kirk and Mrs. Kirk. If you’re interested in reading more about the Skellig Islands, Des actually wrote a book about them called The Skellig Story.
Our trip there was rather calm as we left Portmagee and sailed to sea.
After about an hour, we came close to Skellig Michael. This is where I started to become slightly anxious about our climb. At least we had stairs, I suppose.
Here you can see the craggy cliff edges as our boat gets closer.
Look closely toward the left on the island. You can see the zig-zag path the monks climbed (and later lighthouse workers) 1000′s of years ago.
There aren’t any photographs from Diana on the way up. I was just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and reaching the top. The next photo is of Beehive huts at the top. The construction of these is incredible, using only stone and nothing else to hold them together. They almost resemble stone igloos. I can’t imagine a life up here! You’ll be able to see more of the surroundings and the monastery in the photos from my main camera to come later.
Window overlooking Little Skellig – an island almost identical in shape to Skellig Michael, inhabited by an unreal amount of birds. All the white you see is pretty much birds.
Below is Glenstal Abbey – a monastary we were fortunate enough to live right next to. After stopping in the gift shop and purchasing their homemade chocolates and CD, we received an impromptu tour of the icon chapel by an extremely kind monk. The chapel houses 17th century Russian icons and art. Beautiful to behold. It was an experience we’ll never forget. You can actually purchase some of their music on iTunes. Just look up Glenstal Abbey. You can also listen to a PodCast by the Irish Fireside with an interview with Abbot Christopher, the leader of the Glenstal Benedictine community. You’ll also get to hear some of their Mass in Gregorian chant.
Road trip to the Dingle Peninsula.
Charles Fort, in Kinsale, County Cork. A British fort constructed in the late 17th century. EVERYTHING in Ireland has such a rich and deep history!
A night on the town in Galway. It took us 1.5 hours to find free street parking here. It was worth it. Excellent Pub Grub and Guinness for dinner, and a nice Irish Coffee to cap off the eve along with live traditional Irish music in the pubs.
The Sheeps Head Penninsula on our last day. We hiked almost all the way out to a lighthouse on the end of this Penninsula, but the growing darkness encouraged us to turn around before we reached our destination. Below is a hidden lake we came across on the hike.
We were the only ones for miles.
Now I will leave you with a gallery of all my Diana images from our trip. Ireland, I want to come back home!