Hook Head

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Sorry it’s a bit crooked – I was kneeling at the edge of the cliff and bracing myself against the wind *and* trying to time the shot so the water would be rushing over the rocks. ;)

I did the Ring of Hook today, including starting out at Duncannon Fort (where the Count of Monte Cristo was filmed, apparently). The lighthouse tour was interesting – we climbed 115 stairs to get to the “roof” and the familiar gale force type winds coming straight off the bare Atlantic. Good thing I didn’t spend time on my hair (though there were a couple of girls who maybe did…). After that, I went to get more sea air and took those coast pictures (way more on my actual camera). I used my macro filters on the tidal pools (cute little barnacle guys and tiny little blue mussels) and on the fossils in the stone. There are intrusions in the rock as well (straight, intersecting white lines – quartz or calcite? I didn’t scratch it to see). I stopped at this little ruin on my way out to take some more sea pictures, and then I stopped at the Hook church ruin – St. Dubhan’s Church (Dubhan means “hook”). So interesting.

I then took a little hop over to Slade Castle, a ruin next to an active fishing pier/port. I was basically able to wander around there a little but since people actually live there, it’s tough to tromp into their front yards to take photos of their castle ruin.

But, I tripped over another castle ruin more on its own – Fethard Castle. Apparently not terribly stable (huge sign absolving whoever from whatever accident may befall you – a sort of “we warned you!” sort of thing). It was quite picturesque and I was able to see some baby oak leaves on one of the trees in front. I also switched to my wide angle lens to be able to get a picture of the fabulous mature tree growing out front.

And then I was on my (slow) way to find Tintern Abbey. Another set of ruins, but these were set far back from the road (and I parked near the road, unnecessarily). I hiked in the driveway, which was lovely and pastoral. I got some stares from the Irish cows and Irish sheep (and lambs). I heard some Irish warblers and maybe even some rooks? And then came upon the abbey. Originally housing imported monks from Wales (from the *other* Tintern Abbey), they were apparently very enterprising and sent out their monk workforce over all the lands that belonged to the abbey to make stuff or gather food all week, only returning at the end of the work week. Some of these guys had to walk 35km to get to their tasks. I also walked through some of the forest and found my way to the walled garden, which was just being planted / sprouted / blooming, but I got a few sweet shots of the early bloomers, including a really dazzling blue poppy.

But I have to go on a bit about the forest surrounding Tintern Abbey. It is really gorgeous. The bluebells were filling the glades below huge old muscular trees, which had ivy twining up them. If it wasn’t bluebells, then it was swaths and swaths of wild garlic. I wondered why I was getting whiffs of it here and there and really wanting something yummy and garlicky for dinner. Apparently one of the things the monks would take advantage of. The forest also has ruins in it – I found a tower that might have been a mill of some sort. And stone walls running through it that are breaking down and hosting ivy, ferns and flowers on it. As well as moss and lichens.

So after so much fresh air and wandering, I came back to town and grabbed a quick bite at the local chipper (veggie burger and a bag of chips – that is fries). Now it’s time to sign off! More Ireland to see tomorrow!

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