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Looking out to sea from Howth

A sunny Saturday morning in Curracloe

White Rock, Killiney

A few photos from a recent trip to White Rock, Killiney, with a stop in Dun Laoghaire on the way back for ice creams and a stroll on the pier. Click on any of the photos for the bigger version. It wasn’t an ideal day for photos (or swimming) so I’ll have to go back when the sun is shining… any day now!

White Rock

Dun Laoghaire

Walking the Raven Loop


Holy Goose Barnacles Batman!

I’ve walked a lot of beaches, but I’ve never come across anything like this before!

And unfortunately I still haven’t. These images were captured by Kilrane resident Kevin MacCormick (or Mac as he’s better known) ‘s he enjoyed a stroll on Ballyteige Burrow in south Wexford last week.

Kevin, a member of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, is no stranger to unusual sea-related sights, but this one had him baffled when he first spotted it.

“I saw it from a distance as I walking down the beach. I didn’t know what it was as I approached it, it was almost like a Christmas decoration from the ocean!” said Mac.

When he got up close for a proper inspection he realised that it was a large piece of washed-up wood covered in goose barnacles. I can only imagine his reaction!

“We rarely see them, I think the only time we do come across them is when they wash up after a storm. I had seen them many years ago, but there was only a very small amount of them – nothing like this,’ said Mac.

He said he was aware that goose barnacles are a delicacy in many countries, but he wasn’t tempted to indulge!

A White Christmas… of sorts!

 

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!

Get thee to Kilmore Quay… but don’t run in the dunes!

THOUSANDS of seafood lovers will flock to a small Co Wexford fishing village this weekend.

Kilmore Quay is famous for its many thatched cottages and it’s fishing, with the latter taking centre stage over the coming days as the picturesque seaside village hosts its annual Seafood Festival.

The festival begins in seafaring style Thursday night with a maritime-themed parade through the village and the programme of events continues through to Sunday evening.

Tonight also sees the festival’s famous seafood platter prize competition, where the local restaurants and bars compete to create the best seafood platter, with bragging rights bestowed on the winner as their creations are enjoyed by the crowd.

The local fish processors in Kilmore Quay have come together for the traditional fish market, which starts Friday and will offer visitors the best of freshly caught seafood at once-off, specially reduced rates. Fresh seafood will also be available to buy at the harbour stalls on Saturday and Sunday.

However, there’s more than seafood on the menu, Kilmore Quay will also be serving up “mussels” of a different variety during the Republic of Ireland’s Strongest Man competition and there are a vast array of exhibitions and activities, from yacht races to sandcastle building competitions.

Festival Co-ordinator Sylvia Kehoe said this year’s festival is centred on “seafood, fishing and free family fun”.

“This festival has been firmly established over the last 26 years with families who travel to Kilmore Quay to join in the traditional family fun of the festival and to enjoy the fresh catch from the Wexford coastline,” said Ms Kehoe.

“We are expecting large crowds and we have a five day festival programme with something for everyone to enjoy,’ she added.

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I was down in Kilmore village and KIlmore Quay this evening and as I have started running again this week (a whole other blog post in the making!) I said I’d get one in while I was down there.

So I took my dodgy hip and rickety shins through the dunes on The Burrow. Beautiful scenery, but Maram grass is not my friend!

Curracloe

I met some Wexford people who have been giving generously of their time and energy to preserve a place that I – and many others – love.

The story is below some photos I took at The Raven/Curracloe on my phone earlier this year. It’s probably my favourite place and I can’t praise the “Friends of The Raven” enough for the work they have been doing.

They won’t get a warden, but hopefully they will raise awareness and engender a greater sense of ownership and pride in a paradise on our doorstep.

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CALLS have been made for the by-laws governing one of Co Wexford’s most popular beauty spots to be enforced before it is spoiled.

The Friends of The Raven Coastcare Group have said that anti-social behaviour and littering are getting so bad in Curracloe that it’s now getting to their point where their voluntary efforts to clean the area are becoming ‘futile’.

The Raven Wood Nature Reserve, adjoining the hugely popular Curracloe beach, is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and by-laws there include no camping, no fires, no littering (including dog foul) and that all dogs must be kept on leads.

In a letter to Minister Brendan Howlin, their most senior local representative, the Friends of The Raven said: ‘as we embark on the coming busy summer season, we are increasingly concerned that the degree of camping and littering within the wood and its environs is seriously escalating’.

Sunny weekends attract visitors from all over Ireland and on the June Bank Holiday Weekend the local volunteers counted 19 tents in the area, ‘with a number of camp fires having to be put out and the garbage left behind having to ne gathered and hauled out by us’. The Friends of The Raven also made their case in person to Minister Howlin’s cabinet colleague Jimmy Deenihan at Wexford’s Wildfowl Reserve last Friday.

Dave Costelloe and Pat Burke are two of the longest serving members of The Friends of The Raven and carry out regular clean-ups and litter picks there. They are part of a small core group of volunteers that has become increasingly busy since the summer season kicked in.

The group was formed out of a love for the area, but Dave said the level of rubbish there at the moment, from campers and people littering as they walk through the woods, is ‘heartbreaking’.

Pat said one of the problems stems from the fact that the area is governed by a number of authorities. ‘The enforcement of the by-laws falls between a number of stools. This land in the woods is governed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service; Coillte are responsible for the trees and when you go out onto the dunes or beach or into the car park, that’s Wexford County Council’s area,’ he said.

‘It’s easy to write by-laws, but enforcing them is another matter,’ added Dave. He said that they are a small group and the mounting rubbish is becoming too much for them.

‘You could go on forever through other people’s dirt,’ said Pat. ‘We’re getting towards the quitting stage, we’re beginning to feel that our efforts are futile,’ added Dave.

Pat pointed out that The Raven Wood was one of five locations in Ireland recently chosen by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for its ‘Bioblitz’ initiative and is a site of national importance.

Senan Reilly, another Friend of The Raven, said they want to increase awareness of the area and ‘encourage a sense of ownership and pride’ among local people.

Pat pointed out that the majority of the regular users of the area are fully supportive of their efforts, but the problems there continue to escalate nonetheless. ‘There’s great good will out there and people really do appreciate this place and we can’t let a small number of brats ruin it for everyone,’ he said.

‘The by-laws are there, it just requires political will,’ said Dave. The Friends of The Raven have called for a full-time warden to oversee the area.

However, they acknowledged that funding is a major issue and at the very least want to see ‘joined-up thinking’  between the Gardaí, the Department of the Environment, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Wexford County Council and An Taisce.

The Friends of the Raven hope that this would lead to ‘more frequent weekend monitoring and policing’ of The Raven Wood and ‘more stringent application’ of the by-laws governing the area.

The Friends of The Raven also pointed out that many cars are broken into, on an ongoing basis, in the car parks adjoining Curracloe beach while people are out walking and that anti-social behaviour in the woods is also ‘causing some members of the public to avoid the area out of concern for their personal safety’.