Achill Island

1st of July, used to be remarkable day, start of summer holiday. At present bears no significance to me, so there I set off. Leaving Dublin on afternoon, heading to County Mayo for few days. It’s sticky sweaty hot, temperature in car shows +24 C. It’s a long journey, after 2 hours i’m only pass Longford, still have to drive thru Roscommon – probably the least interesting part of Ireland. Just single carriageway, nothing on surrounding, no houses, rivers, lakes, just forest and hills. Suddenly phone rings – friend of mine was driving in opposite direction, didn’t see him. After passing road sign Welcome to County Mayo, first it started drizzle and later turned into constant rain. Hope it’s not what to come. From Castlebar it’s still long drive, need some break after non-stop 2.5 hours. Stopping at local petrol station, a couple on brand new BMW 1200GS are waiting for rain to stop. Finally arriving at Westport, realizing I did detour, should follow to Newport. Nevermind, full tank, just traffic thru town is not what I like. After Newport sign direct me to Achill, trick is they are in gaelic first, english is second language. And on Achill Island only gaelic, luckily can’t get lost. Finally in heavy rain arriving at supposedly the most beautiful beach in Ireland – Keem strand. IMG_1113   IMG_1125 IMG_1069     Evening it’s still raining, so I’m awaiting in car, eating tuna can, reading Pete McCarthys’s book. Finally rain has stop, so grab my gear and head forth. Sunset is behind hills on my back, casting shadow on beach, but illuminating clouds with some fantastic effects. IMG_1055_1 IMG_1073   IMG_1059_1   IMG_1094 At car park I’m not alone, there is some 5 other cars with clear intention to stay over night, so I don’t see any problems here. Into the sleeping bag and goodnight. Morning is clear, though it was raining during the night. Sunrise is over the hill on left, tide incoming. Perfect conditions, don’t know where to point camera first, everywhere seems to be perfect location.   IMG_1134   IMG_1061_1 IMG_1083 1 After 1.5 hour on beach is time for breakfast and little nap. I’m awaken by procession of sheeps gathering for some morning ritual on beach. Some of them make really strange noise. Time to pack up and ready for road. With no time pressure I take cruise around the island. Scenery is just pure magic, breathtaking around every corner and bend, light casting shadows and illuminating hills and sea. Stopping at 5 minutes intervals, taking camera out of bag and taking pictures in all directions. Dramatic sea cliffs, distant mountains. Roads are narrow and winding, real challenge for driver, but I’m having great time. IMG_1138 IMG_1150 IMG_1157 IMG_1154 Finally, it’s time to leave this beautiful place, but with clear plans for return in future. Next destination – Ceide Fileds on north coast of Mayo. Crossing vast plains, only edged by mountains at far horizon, lush green meadows, occasionally dotted by farms and few small villages. Taking some detours again, just for fun and discovering some hidden beauty spots along the route. Another 2.5 hours later I arrived at Ceide Fields. IMG_1170 It’s not much to see there, but this place makes you think and wonder simultaneously. The guided tour is the key, as this place has more history to listen than thing to look at, nevertheless it’s landscape settings is wonderful. Downpatrick head on far horizon for instance. And there is I’m heading next. IMG_1181 I do quick walk around, just to see what to expect later in evening. It’s still early fo any decent photographic attempt. As I walk up the hill there are few warning signs saying “Blowhole”. I have no idea what does it mean, and as I walk to first one I’m speechless. One could say it’s just a hole in ground, but this one is size of house and has Atlantic Ocean at bottom. IMG_1211 Further up is cliff edge, with old look out hut and aerial signs from WW2. As I walk back to car, I met this girl I saw at Ceide Fields. We smile at each other and start to chat. It turns out she from local newspaper, driving along the Wild Atlantic Way and interviewing interesting people, see what they have to say about this tourist attraction. We exchange few words, she took a picture of me, I handed her my card and say farewell. Down at car park I met the guy I saw again at Ceide Fields, he is walking around Ireland for charity and awareness. His name is Ron, so if you see him at side of the road, don’t give him lift. Dun Briste is a sea stack some 80 metres from 50 metres high cliffs on coast of Mayo. The cliffs in heights may not match Cliffs of Moher, but for scenery and “easy” access right to the edge they are more that equal. IMG_1215   IMG_1240     Like those two local girls who came just to sit on edge and enjoy beautiful sunset. I asked the if can frame them in photo, just to give it some scale proportion, also it makes it somewhat different. The were very happy when they saw the result at back of my camera and even asked if the can take a picture with mobile phone. So I gave them my card and said I email the final photo. IMG_1248   IMG_1232_1 IMG_1255 Sunset was spectacular, clouds casting all different shades, shadows and colours. Time for sleep, morning is not too long away. Sunrise on this location must be something magical at any time, but when you see this colours on horizon, it’s just one step better. It lasted only few moments as sun is quickly hidden behind clouds, but this give me opportunity to go down to beach to take some low tide photos. IMG_1260 IMG_1272 IMG_1266 After breakfast is time to leave again, but again with note of return. Next stop is Castlebar, Country Life Museum. It’s free admittance, so why not. Exhibition is nice, revealing history of life that was not too in past, but as it’s full of tourist from all over the world, I take a quick tour, have a lunch a hit road for home.

Arrived home tired as a horse. IMG_1182More photos in Gallery section.

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