Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Achill Island, Ireland

Achill Island, Co Mayo is the largest island off the coast of Ireland.  We followed the Atlantic Drive from Mulranny.  This coastal highway hugged the edge of a land filled with breath taking views of a brilliant blue ocean crashing on the rocky beaches beneath the grass covered cliffs.  We stopped several times enjoy and photograph the views.  We marveled over the sure footed sheep grazing along the steep grassy slopes, at the very edge of the cliffs.

We returned to sea level to cross the bridge at Achill Sound.  We continued following the Atlantic Drive around along Achill Sound to Kildavnet church and graveyard.  The 87% of the island is covered in peat.  Which explains the lack of trees in most of these photos.  The peat bogs support a unique flora of grass, heathers, sphagnum moss, rushes and sedges.  It also provides a habitat for insectivorous sundews (Drosera rotundifolia), butterworts (Pinguicula vulgrais) and bladderworts (Utricularia spp.).


Then on to Keem Bay.  Keem Bay is a horseshoe shaped bay sheltered between the cliffs of Benmore and Croaghaun mountains. To day it is home to numerous birds and tourists.  In the 1940's it was the site of a large Basking Shark fishery.  The sharks were tangled in nets hung from the cliffs as they swam through the bay feeding on plankton.  The fisheries flourished until the 1970s when the populations of basking sharks dwindled due to over fishing.

We stopped at the deserted village of Slievemore on the southern coast.  The remains of almost 80 unmortared stone cottages sit on the slope of Slievemore mountain.  Sheep wander between the rock walls that run down toward the ocean.  I did a quick plein air sketch of the lower mountain side while the rest of the group wandered among the abandoned village.  

No comments:

Post a Comment