Here are some photos from the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. They can be broken down into roughly three sections.
Hook Head: We took a walk in Hook Head on a very wild day and it was beautiful, with waves crashing against the rocks and the foam and spray creating its very own white Christmas for the visitors braving the elements. However, I had no tripod as I lost it here on Christmas Day after leaving it behind me and, in any event, the wind was so strong it was impossible to stand still, let alone hold a camera still. In fact the first thing we heard on the radio after getting into the car to drive to the Hook was to stay away from exposed coastal areas due to extremely strong gale force winds… but we weren’t the only people ignoring that sound advice! The light was poor too, so hence the pretty awful image quality, which does not even do scant justice to the beauty of the Hook that day. I’ll get it right there some stormy day!
Curracloe: Another walk. This time in my favourite place, which I have blogged about many times before on here. Again my missing tripod would have been a great help due to the low, fading light, but I took a few shots anyway. Plus, tripod or not, they would have been no match for Curracloe on a sunny day.
Round the house: These mostly involved testing my new lens by pointing it randomly at various household objects and patient relatives, as well as taking a few shots of my sister’s family – another of this blog’s regular star turns – when they came to visit.
So to escape Christmas cabin fever and get some much-needed respite from rich food I went for a walk this afternoon.
I met the normally Helsinki-based Kevin and Kati at the only place you can experience a “White Christmas” around these parts this year – Hook Head.
That’s if you don’t mind substituting sea foam for snow. I certainly don’t.
The unseasonably mild weather we’re having is great, especially after the cold snaps we had last year. I can’t say I miss the snow at all – or all the problems that came with it.
The wind was really strong down on the Hook peninsula today, which made everything that bit more spectacular and sent the snow-like foam floating around us on a short walk as the waves came flying in.
I realised this evening I really better get a crash course in camera settings soon. There was a bit of light when we arrived, but the sun was sinking fast and the conditions were tricky enough for a novice like me.
With better knowledge of my equipment (a Nikon SLR camera I have a loan of at the moment) I’m sure I could have got a lot better images. There was a definite gap between knowing what I wanted to do and being able to do it, which was frustrating.
Another item for the 2012 to-do list!
The Tall Ships in Waterford and the Lonely Planet’s “Flashiest Lighthouse” accolade has put Hook Head back in the news again recently.
I wrote about the latter development and was more than happy to do so, given that Hook Head is another of Wexford’s true gems. It’s such a beautiful place and, in my opinion, actually more spectacular on a wet and wild day. It’s definitely a rugged beauty.
But if you’re not up for that kind of outing then it’s also great on a sunny day. It’s just five kilometres from the lighthouse to Slade Harbour and back along by the cliffs. You won’t find many nicer short walks anywhere in Ireland.
If you have an interest in finding out more about this historic area you should get your hands on Billy Colfer’s fantastic book “The Hook Peninsula”. To say he’s an authority on the area is putting it mildly. Even the locals will have learned a lot from reading this book. Here’s an overview.
For the non Wexfordians among you, Billy also happens to be the father of author Eoin Colfer, whose star just continues to rise since the phenomenally successful Artemis Fowl series.
An interesting thing I only found out about Hook Head recently - through Wexford artist Eleanor Duffin – is that the late Stanley Kubrick was in love with the place.
He went there on holidays with his family and was looking at the possibility of making a film there. (Eleanor has been given access to the great filmmaker’s archives by his family and it will be very interesting to see what she comes up with!)
It seems Stanley was also fascinated with Loftus Hall, the second most striking structure on the Hook Peninsula. This famous house has now unfortunately gone to rack and ruin and is once again up for sale, with an asking price of €635,000.
Loftus Hall has a fascinating history in its own right, not least the story surrounding it’s most famous visitor, Satan (allegedly!). Read all about it here.
Ramsgrange Church was broken into recently and someone stole the chalice that Fr Thomas Broaders reportedly used in his famous exorcism at Loftus Hall. Thankfully it turned up, as Elaine Furlong reports.
In conclusion, I have two things to say.
Firstly, if you haven’t been to Hook Head in a while, or particularly if you’ve never been, make it your business to get there soon.
Secondly, Fr Broaders, who is buried in Horetown Cemetery, has one of the best epitaphs I’ve ever seen:
“Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders, who did good and prayed for all, and who banished the devil from Loftus Hall.”