OT: On the Western Fringe

Little Miss Bling is now fully functional – and after the rocky start, we are now best of friends. Yes, like any diva, she took her time getting dressed. But once she was ready, there was no stopping her. She is smooth and lithe, the extra slim keys on the keyboard an absolute pleasure to write on. She’ll be fun to have around.

After the sneak peek from yesterday, I took to the computer today to put the photos into a smooth slide show and spent all morning tweaking the soundtrack, the sequence and the transitions. The result is now ready, but I want to add a few words for context.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 13.16.42My little break took me to the bit of Ireland that is “teddy bear’s arms”. This is an area of Ireland on the West coast, comprised of counties Galway and Mayo. Much of the filming for Pilgrimage was done in the area which I have circled in the map of Ireland to the right. Getting to the West coast from Dublin takes about 2.5 hours when you are staying on the motorway. Up slightly further North, Co. Mayo, is more remote and has less comfortable roads, so a trip to the Irish West coast is a half-day enterprise.

We were headed for the Belmullet peninsula, the little hook you can see jutting down from the top of the circled area in the Ireland map. Co. Mayo was one of the worst affected areas during the mid-19th century famines, and it is easy to see why. The landscape is scraggy and barren, not easy to make a living off it. A third of the population either died or was forced into emigration, the ships to America sailing straight from little harbours off the Mayo coast. A later emigration drive in the 1880s took 3,500 people from Mayo to the US, and it is estimated that about 2 million Americans descend from them alone.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 13.17.45They left behind an area of stunning natural beauty, with a craggy coastline of high cliffs and deep inlets, endless bogs and rock-strewn hills. Our accommodation for the short break was on a tiny island in Blacksod Bay, connected to the mainland via a natural causeway. The only access was by car over the beach, which you will see in the slide show. We stayed in the grounds of the old Belmullet Coastguard Station, in a cosy pod that looked like an upturned boat. It slept four and had its own toilet/basin in there. Best of all, it came with extremely friendly hosts – the young farmer and his retired dad who both had grown up on Claggan and in typical Irish fashion stopped for a friendly chat every time we bumped into them on the premises. And they supplied us with fresh duck eggs every morning for our breakfast.

From our base on Claggan Island, we explored the area, drove all the way down to the Northern tip of the Belmullet peninsula and went on hikes along the rock headlands of Northern Mayo. We took the opportunity to visit the Céide Fields, remains of neolithic settlements which are supposedly the most extensive such anywhere in the world, containing the oldest known field systems in the world. Not much of it can be seen – it is only fields after all, identifiable by piles of rocks. But it is staggering to think that they were deliberately placed there by humans, 5,500 years ago! The fields are on an exposed hillside on the sea, and the view from up there is beautiful.


A little further North is Downpatrick Head, a headland jutting out into the Atlantic. It boasts a massive blow-hole and a sea stack, called Dun Briste. The headland is named after Ireland’s patron saint, S Patrick, who built a church on the headland. Legend has it that the sea stack broke away from the mainland because Patrick had banished all snakes onto it – that was his way of ridding Ireland of the reptiles.


All along the Irish coast line, hiking paths are maintained, sign-posted and well-worth walking. The views are stunning; you can sit and watch the gulls nest in the sheer cliff faces, and spot seals in the gushing surf below. If you look hard at the image above, you may even spot the Guylty Family sketching the view from the top of the grassy rock in the foreground. We took the Ben Wee Loop walk, and the Erris Head Loop walk, coming across the ubiquitous look-out stations from WWII that are now bare shells. Erris Head also sports one of the aviation signs that were spelled into the Irish coast line, a kind of analogue GPS, if you want.

Erris Head

It is not quite the right time of year for a trip around Ireland. While temperatures are not chilly, the wind can be, and the grass of the Emerald Isle is not as juicy and green as it is in late spring and all through summer. But in many ways the hibernating winter look is very fitting for this part of Hibernia; it is characterised by a rough beauty, depicting the awe-inspiring proximity of the elements on life on the Western fringe. It is not charming but of a dark, precarious beauty. More in the slide show below. Start the video and click on the enlargement symbol to see it in optimised size.

Mayo 2016 from Guylty Pleasure on Vimeo.


Proclamation of IndependenceHope you have enjoyed that little trip to Belmullet. Ireland, meanwhile, is getting ready for the big celebrations this weekend. Easter Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, an armed insurrection against British rule in Ireland which was essentially a quickly suppressed suicide mission – but set the path for later independence from the UK. Within Europe, it was the first of a string of revolutions that ended monarchism. And it was a huge step forward for women, too, as the proclamation of independence penned by the Easter rebels granted equal rights to women:

“The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally…

Happy Easter, everyone! 🐰

57 thoughts on “OT: On the Western Fringe

    • The food of Ireland, you mean? There is – unfortunately – not that much to say. For an island nation, the Irish used to be astonishingly ignorant of fish as a food source. That was one of the factors of the famine – people depended mostly on the potato for food, and when the blight obliterated the crop, they were left without sustenance. Wheat etc is not much grown in Ireland (certainly not in the West, where the soil is not good enough for it), so flour was scarce. It was replaced with maize meal that was sent from America, but which people did neither like nor digested well. Meat was only for rich people. And fish – see above, largely ignored. Nowadays, the potato still features heavily in Irish cooking, in any shape or form, boiled, roasted, baked. Or as a potato cake, which our hosts also provided – a flat pancake-shape mix of flour and mashed potato that is cooked in a frying pan. Tastes delicious with butter.
      As for the slide show software – it’s Apple’s iMovie, which you can easily import your photos into, download a piece of music from your iTunes onto, adorn with titles and change transitions to suit your focus. Very easy to use!


  1. Wow! Stunning scenery. I love that type of spare, bleak beauty, and your photography blows me away! Oh, and a quick question- we have ducks but we’ve never tried using their eggs. I’ve heard of them used in baking recipes, but not as breakfast material. How were they?


    • Yes, that landscape is bleak, especially in such overcast weather. It looks a bit sweeter when the sun shines and when the grass is greener.
      The duck eggs had lovely greenish shells. In terms of taste, there was no discernible difference to hen eggs. They came from happily free ranging birds.


    • Oh hello Linda – hope my comments on Ireland are approved of by a *real* Irishwoman. 😉
      Dancing ban – oh dear… now that you mention it, my feet are itching to put on “Move on up” by Curtis Mayfield, and rock off in my kitchen while the potatoes are boiling for supper :-D. Hope the dance ban is not holding you back in good ole Berlin!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha, never 🙂 But I’m not much of a dancer so I’m happy enough about the ban! Went out for a few quiet drinks last night and ended up in a gay leather fetish bar – only in Berlin 😉 Watch Footloose while you’re at it 😉


        • Footloose was exactly what I was thinking of. Some radical proddy religious dance ban – who would’ve thought the Germans are so orthodox. Good on ya for the leather fetish bar – sort of a “KOntrastprogramm” to the dark oppressive depressiveness of Good Friday… Looking forward to reading about it on your blog 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • There is not that much to it, really. Well, maybe a few lessons in composition. For instance, it always looks better if you do not put the horizon line into the middle of the picture, but on a “thirds” line. That way you get in lots of dramatic cloud (when the weather is right) and create a sense of space. The rule of thirds also applies to the composition from left to right – asymmetry looks dynamic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Easter!
    Wunderschöne Fotos, erinnern mich direkt an eine bezaubernde Reise vor knapp einem Jahr in sehr netter und anregender Gesellschaft……
    Das Häuschen ist ja nett! Und das Wetter sah gar nicht so schlecht aus….
    …..einmal den Wind um die Ohren blasen lassen bei grandioser Aussicht 🙂
    Schön, dass der neue Computer das macht was Du willst ❤


    • Ich habe auch ganz oft an unsere Fahrt gedacht. Das lag irgendwie nahe – im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes. Das Wetter war aehnlich wie bei uns – trocken, gelegentlich ein paar Sonnenstrahlen, drohender Regen. Fruehling eben.
      Der Computer ist prima – obwohl ich jetzt gerade in der Kueche am iPad hacke. Das MacBook ist erstmal aus der Naehe von Fluessigkeiten verbannt…

      Liked by 1 person

        • Oh ja, auch ich denke seither immer dran, alle Tassen und Gläser ausreichend weit weg zu platzieren (dabei denke ich dann immer: “nur nicht, nur nicht!!”) – frau ist ja lernfähig.
          Die komplette Familie saß heute Abend beeindruckt auf dem Sofa und hat deinen Film bewundert. Nur der Schatz war bisher in Irland und du hast uns allen Lust auf diese wunderschöne Landschaft gemacht. 🙂
          Frohe Ostern für dich und deine Familie. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, wie schön, freut mich, wenn die Fotos angekommen sind. Und wenn dein Mann schon mal hier war, dann kann er dir ja auch bestätigen, dass es hier sehr schöne Ecken gibt. Eine Reise hierher lohnt sich auf jeden Fall. Beste Reisezeit: Mai und September. Dann gibt es die meisten Sonnenstunden. Mehr als im Sommer 😀

            Liked by 2 people

              • Sehr schön! Ich hasse solche Viecherchen.
                Er war während dieser Reise auch in Schottland und hat dort draußen übernachtet und da haben sie ihn sehr geplagt. In Irland hat er dann lieber drinnen geschlafen – lernfähig…


              • Im Gegensatz zum Schatz hab ichs auch nicht so mit dem “Mitten-in-der-Wildnis-zelten” 😉 Ich hab schon gern ein festes Dach über dem Kopf und fließend warmes Wasser nahebei – Luxus eben.


                • Ich bin da relativ schmerzfrei. Letztes Jahr habe ich mit Mr Guylty in Connemara auch eine Nacht mitten in der Wildnis gezeltet. Für mich ist das eher immer so der Test, ob ich’s noch drauf habe 😀

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. What rugged and lovely scenery. It looks like you had the county to yourselves.
    The skies were as beautiful as the land and ocean. Thank you for sharing them. Happy Easter.
    Just one question – is there no dancing allowed at Easter time? We go to a place that has a live band and the kids and adults dance all afternoon.after the Easter egg hunt. Rock’in and roll’in in California.


    • That’s the advantage of travelling off-season: The tourist season had not yet started, and we were alone everywhere.
      Re. dancing at Easter time – I think that is a protestant thing. The ban is hopelessly outdated, though, and seems to be only in place in Germany 😉


    • Oh, I love hearing that, Zan. I promise you, there is little photoshop in those pics. Ireland really does look like I show it in my pictures (they are only cropped and enhanced for light). Hope you make it over here some time. And if you do, factor in a cup of tea courtesy of Guylty 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Puh, jetzt habe ich mir auch endlich Zeit für dies hier genommen. 😉

    Tolle Slideshow! Wirklich tolle Landschaft, und die Wolken wirken manchmal eher wie auf einem Gemälde, nicht wie “echt natürlich”. – Ich hätte glatt Lust, selber einen Ausflug zu machen … *seufz*


    • Was hält dich davon ab? Nach Irland gibt es zahlreiche, günstige Flüge! Zugegeben, Essen und Unterkunft sind in Irland etwas teurer als auf dem Kontinent, aber wenn man beispielsweise über LivingSocial oder Groupon sucht, kann man extrem günstige Angebote finden. Unser dreitägiger Aufenthalt in diesem “pod” war so gebucht – 139 € für 4 Personen. Angebote gibt es auch für schöne Hotels und Ferienwohnungen. In diesem Hotel in einem historischen Castle war ich beispielsweise vor drei Jahren mal mit meinen Eltern und den Kindern. Zwei Nächte für 2 Personen 139 €. https://www.livingsocial.com/escapes/1588272-4-roscommon-castle


      • Im Moment geht da gar nix – aus verschiedenen Gründen -, aber ich behalte deinen Tipp im Hinterkopf. 🙂

        Wobei es sogar in meiner Ecke schöne Plätzchen gibt. Ich sollte mir mal eine Kamera besorgen und DIR die Nase lang machen … 😀 😀


  5. love the video! and the sights and photos… nothing really like coastal places and temperamental weather.. sigh.. always makes me want to breath in deeper as i could inhale the fresh air… thanks for putting it all together like that so we can enjoy it repeatedly.
    The pod looks very interesting, a modern construction? fresh duck eggs 🙂 nice! i always mean to take up an offer like this to somewhere remote close to a beach 🙂 Maybe in autumn with a bit of luck.
    Have a good celebration in Ireland 🙂

    PS never heard of dancing ban… sigh, too many innocent things are being banned and a lot of crazy stuff is rampant, the world often is on its head.


    • The sea is somehow always “life” – it certainly makes me feel alive, it consoles when I am sad, it invigorates when I am tired, it lifts me higher when I am already feeling good.
      The pods were a modern construction, yes. Really cool, I have to say. I love staying in quirky accommodation, it always adds to the overall experience.
      Too right about the banning of innocent, life-affirming things, while the negativity is giving full reign. What sad times we are living through right now…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Easter and thanks for the lovely pictures and video. The Atlantic looks beautiful. I could almost smell the ocean and feel the wind.


  7. Pingback: OTT? | Guylty Pleasure

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