Thursday 28 June 2012: Gougane Barra
Son number 1 is now safely ensconced, sporting his super duper new camera (a canon 5D mark 2 - plus accoutrements for those of you who know about these things) and as the torrential rain turned mostly soft, we decided to head off to Gougane Barra. This is inland and up into the mountains and marks the start of the gaeltacht area. Gougane is a magical place - a huge landlocked lake surrounded by mountains and forest. In the 6C St Finbarr built a church/hermitage here and even today it is a place of pilgrimage and worship. The site is full of the ruins of old churches, holy wells, stations of the cross and everywhere , onto the trees and stones, are scratched crosses. St Finbarr was famous for all the usual saintly things- disliking humans and retreating , converting the odd heathen and slaying the dragon that lived in this lake.
As well as being a a place of pilgrimage it is also a magnet for another kind of event - weddings. In the summer there can be wall to wall weddings going on. One had just finished as we arrived and we ate our toasted cheese sarnies in the cafe and watched the wedding guests disperse. The creations were gob-smacking - my favourite was a very short strapless turquoise puffball thing, just about encasing a girl of ample size. The shoes were also turquoise and the heels were mighty. The whole thing was complimented by a very orange tan.
Away from this idyllic but rather manicured scenery, you then head off into the woods and the mountains and this is so dramatic. The trees are huge - western hemlock, sitka spruce, and all bedecked in a luminous and riotous green moss. Waterfalls gushed and roared, and everywhere dripped. We walked up high through the forest and ended up on the rough moorland above where the heavens opened and the sheep scattered. The highlight though was seeing two red squirrels. None of us had seen them in the flesh before and it was magical - smaller than I imagined, with blonde undersides to their bushy tails.
Remember, I mentioned son number 2 was photographing a band, Shamboree, as they hit the festivals. He's two down and it's been damp! . This weekend he's off to another in the Ribble valley - and probably more damp.
Comments will be a bit scarse for the next week so apologies in advance.