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Bloggers in the Mist!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Travel writers become time travellers as they step on board the traditional Galway Hooker for a trip around south Connemara's bays

All Photos: http://www.seanomainnin.com/p561751324

Walking West were proud to have as guests 19 bloggers who had attended the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference (the world’s largest event for online travel journalists and travel industry companies) which took place last Thursday and Friday (3rd and 4th October) in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin. Our mission was to introduce the online scribes from all over the world to the lure of south Connemara.

We didn't realise that introduction would start almost immediately after they boarded their bus at the Cashel House and the Zetland hotels. A herd of cows and their young walked the road in front of us. Our skilful driver managed to pass two but then slipped back into sixth place again as the two bullocks (Sebastian and Lewis) performed outrageous galloping manouvres to pass us out again. (Video footage was sent to the police). Finally the bovine road runners found their exit right and we resumed our journey.

Our destination was Cill Chiaráin, a snug port on the Connemara south coast road. There waiting for the bloggers was a traditional Connemara sail boat or "Hooker" (so-called as they used hook and line rather than nets to fish - check further usage in "Moby Dick") ready to take them out. The wine red sails hark back to other centuries when they were used for transport by the largely sea-going people of Connemara and the islands when roads and bridges were scant. These sailing workhorses are now retired but are still sailed for love and recreation by those determined to keep the tradition alive. So our bloggers became, in essence, time travellers as, amid flapping sails and creaking rigging, their vessel set sail through an eerie Celtic mist that had stealthily enveloped the world. 

The photographs here plus the picture link above  show how the bloggers got on. The trip on board "An Truelight" was organised by Walking West guide Emer Ní Chualáin while colleagues Flan Kelly, Tomás Ó hAinreacháin and Vincent Barker kept an eye on proceedings. Elsewhere Walking West photographer Seán Ó Mainnín and cameras were getting very wet to procure the images you see here.

Some landlubber bloggers chose to go walking with WW guides Eoin Cox and Kevin Rogers rather than sailing. A report on their adventure appears below.

Bloggers, it was very nice to meet with you. Feel free to link or download any photographs. We would love to have links to your own photographs of the day, on land or water, to include here.


Six energetic members of the TBEX party opted to explore the Connemara coast on foot rather than by sea so it was to Moyrus beach that Mary Jo, Tony, Kirsten, Agata, Lanora and Carina ventured. Together with Walking West guides (cum chauffeurs!) Eoin Cox and Kevin Rogers they journeyed from Cashel House through a dense mist that obscured all views en route. The confused looks of the party when asked to disembark from the cars at the top of a boreen clearly showed they had neither any idea where they were, nor why they were stopping there.

The panoramic views midway down the boreen had to be imagined rather than experienced, while a herd of bemused cows watched proceedings and posed effortlessly for photographs. Wild blackberries provided a foraging opportunity for one brave soul, the rest of the group being more than happy to leave her to it. As the group descended down the boreen the Moyrus beach finally came into view, and the confusion lifted… even if the mist remained.

With the tide at its lowest there was ample beach for the group to explore sand, seaweeds, shells… and the omnipresent spirals of lugworm casts. The mist added atmostphere as the sounds of the occasional gull and breaking waves came from near and afar without the accompanying visual. At the northern end of the beach the ruins of the Protestant mission provided an opportunity to discuss the role of religion, famine, education, land ownership and much more in Connemara history.

In the distance two horses complete with jockeys visited the deserted beach for a morning gallop. With time against us, the group headed back across the beach to the graveyard where the ruins of the 12th century church were examined. The grave of Joe Heaney was visited; a native of Carna Joe is recognised internationally as one of the best exponents of sean nós (old style) singing and was artist in residence for two years in Washington University, Seattle. This was a particularly significant landmark for Tony and Mary Jo who hail from Washington Seattle... expect some Youtube hits for Joe in the coming days!!!

Finally the group crossed the last stretch of sandy beach to the pier just as the mist turned into light rain, from where they were chauffeured safely back along Cill Chiaráin bay to their seafaring colleagues. 


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