Monday, August 20, 2012

Hill of Allen

Thanks to heritage week 2012, the tower on the top of the Hill of Allen is open this week. I was on a day's holidays so took the opportunity to take a wander up, it being a nice day and all. There's a car park at the base of the Hill which is usually blocked up, but it's open for the week at least.


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You can see in the satellite photo that most of the Hill has been removed at this stage, the quarry has fed many major road projects in the area as far as I know, but the tower is still in situ at the top. I remember going up here as a youngster with a friend who lived nearby, when the air was thick with the legend of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna - the legend had it that this was their seat, and that Fionn himself was buried here.

So what's up there now? A walk uphill through a forest, with constant signage reminding walkers of the quarry to one side, leading up to a pretty impressive tower which was built as a folly between 1859 and 1863 - each of the 80-something stone steps has the name of a builder carved onto it.

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As you get to the top, the tower is capped rather oddly (ignominiously?) by a squat conservatory type structure. Obviously this is to prevent damage to the castellations at the top, but it doesn't help you get a view of the surrounding flat countryside.

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The tower is as yet untouched by the quarrying operations and is still impressive in its own right.

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Unfortunately at the base of the tower the brambles are too high to get any sort of panorama, and at the top, well you're hemmed in a bit. That's the disappointing thing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hollywood Fair 2012

I don't remember where I heard about the Hollywood Fair (Wicklow, that is, not LA), but I did. And as the other half was benefiting from a first opportunity to visit the hallowed ground that is Croke Park, I took the advantage of the fine weather and a new SD card to tip across the border and have a poke around.

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Well I have to say it was a great couple of hours. Loads to see and do and a fantastic buzz around - I reckon all of the locals went to great effort to dress in theme - late 1940s, early 1950s kind of thing.

There was an announcement on the PA system that went along the lines of "could the owner of the 1972 MG parked on the main street please return to the vehicle, it's not old enough and needs to be moved" so they really were taking it seriously!

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Steam engines, thrashing, farriers, shearing, horseshoe throwing, facepainting, tractor assembly, and goldfish in a bag. You name it they had it. Really, they had a group of 4 men from Carnew who put a Massey Ferguson tractor together from pieces in the space of about 15 mins.

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There was plenty of interest. And I wasn't the only photographer there! Looks like there was a club outing from somewhere.

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So, I'm definitely looking forward to next year. Hearty congratulations to the people of Hollywood and the surrounding area, you put on a fantastic fair and I don't need to say anything about enjoying it because you certainly were!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Looking muddy in Glenbarrow

A wee walk, to dodge the showers. It's quite muddy in Glenbarrow today, but there's a nice bit of water in the waterfall, too.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Graphic Design company launches new website

It's been exciting times for the guys at Doodle Moose Designs, they've been preparing their material for the new website which went live just today! They're a Kildare based graphic design company, offering a bespoke design service for your business as well as a selection of greetings cards for birthdays, Mother's day (get in there soon!), anniversaries and blank for your own message.

They also have a great range of colourful and fun wedding stationery, and can do everything from wedding invitations to save the date cards and wedding location maps - in their own designs or customised wedding stationery that reflects what you want from your wedding day. (Some of Doodle Moose did these invitations previously...)

So why not pop over and have a look at their brand spanking new website!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Easy Walk in Laois Offaly

This has been a nice weekend and I've had a bit of time to get out and about. I left home with the intention of taking a few pictures at Glenbarrow in the Slieve Bloom mountains, but I got sidetracked.

Halfway between Mountmellick and Portarlington, there's a forest at Garryhinch.


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Which is in Offaly. This is a forest with walks along the river Barrow, and ruins for exploration (though be careful, as ever with ruins they seem to attract activity, with the attendant rubbish). Parking here for probably about 15 cars or so, and 2 marked walks at about 4kms each are outlined on the notice board in the car park. One red, one blue - so they are nicely distinguishable for the colour blind among us. Trails are generally on hardcore forest roads, so pretty easy if a little tough underfoot from time to time. Worth bringing boots if you have them and raingear because you're in Ireland.

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A river runs through it - and you cross the bridge to get to the larger body of the forest.

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The forest floor offers a lovely combination of colour and texture:
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As does the fungus on the trees! Not sure exactly what sort of fungus this is, but I didn't eat it.

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I have information on another walk in Portarlington but more about that later.

More information on the walks in Garryhinch available on the Coillte website here and here.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

New Pics

Been running some star trails through Picasa - it's impressive how many more show up when you tweak the settings, though the image is a little more noisy. These I took last week, when skies were clear.

Photographer's tip: I used Bulb mode to control the exposure time. Using a Pentax k-x for any long exposure work is a little bit of a disadvantage, and I must qualify that because it's a great camera anyway. The Noise Reduction feature on it, if left active, will take an equal exposure against a black screen, i.e. with mirror down. This second exposure is the same length as the one you've taken and is used for the software algorithm to take out any "noise" in the image. So you're left with doubling your time outdoors or halving the work you get done on long exposure stuff. Just a note!

Star Trails:
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And with wonderful lens flare from a nearby streetlight...
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Otherhow, I've been out to Dun Laoghaire last weekend and during a quick walk out the pier snapped these. A bit underwhelming maybe, but I think the Black and White treatment of the city skyline is interesting.

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That's all for now! Comments box is open down below. Etsy prints, as ever, out here.

Brian.

Beerhall Beer Blog: Irish Beer Festival

I like the sound of the "Ultimate Tasting Tray" - sounds like fun!

For more, see the Bull and Castle's blog link below.

Beerhall Beer Blog: Irish Beer Festival: This year we will have more Irish Craft Beers than ever thanks to the hard work of the Craft brewers of Ireland. Lots of draught beers, pl...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Couple of books recently read

Including: 

  • Lego: A Love Story (Jonathan Bender);
  • Labyrinth (Kate Mosse); and
  • Paula Spencer (Roddy Doyle)
Lego: A Love Story is an interesting book. Jonathan Bender spent some time with AFOLs (Adult Fans Of Lego), attending their conventions, building their challenges and just generally falling back in love with Lego (though not quite to the same extent as some of the others described in the book). Nicely written, it's a really intriguing and at times puzzling story about how grown-ups still play, model, and build with what is traditionally seen as a child's toy.

He describes the model Titanic built for a convention, the input that the AFOLs have on the kits that Lego develop and the obsessive compulsions suffered and enjoyed by collectors and builders as they buy and sell individual bricks and pieces over the internet. I recommend this for anyone who is still a little bit of a child, and for anyone who isn't (yet) still a little bit of a child. Enjoyed, 4/5.

Labyrinth is a Grail tale - 2 stories set centuries apart in and around Carcassonne in Southern France. One woman is a modern day archaeologist, another a mediaeval woman living in the time of the Crusades. I read this, and I think you might like it if you like the grail legend type of thing, but it was just too long for me. I had stayed attracted to it for about half of it and so I finished it but it didn't leave a lasting impression on me either way. So, I suppose 2.5 out of 5. 

Paula Spencer - fans of the Van, the Snapper and the Commitments might be surprised by this book, as it doesn't quite have the same style as those. An excellent character study, it watches Paula (a recovering alcoholic who's just got out of a difficult relationship) for a year of her life. Really astute dialogue between the characters (mostly Paula's children and sisters) builds their personae into something really believable. This one was well able to keep my attention and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4/5 

I'm finally reading Catch-22, and enjoying that. It's superficially zany, but I think there's a deeper commentary on madness in there. I can see how it's such a classic, and I love finally understanding the phrase! More on that later.