Category Archives: Co. Down

Strangford, Co.Down

When it come to scenery, there’s few places better than Strangford and Lecale, – an area of outstanding natural beauty, and of great scientific interest.

On Thursday 7th January I crossed the straits between Portaferry and Strangford on the ferry, with my Fujifilm X-T4. It was a cold, bright winter day, and Strangford village was sparkling in the winter sunlight.

Fujifilm X-T4, F=95mm, f/6.4 @ 1/250th sec on ISO 400

Shrigley, Van Morrison and that Clock!

The Martin Memorial Clock Tower – beloved monument or ‘a decrepit eyesore?’

Back in September, 2020, Janette and I did a drive around the Lecale District, an area of outstanding natural beauty, not too far from where we live in Co.Down.  I did three blog posts about that area, and in the first of those pieces, https://bobmcevoy.co.uk/2020/09/01/the-lecale-district-1/ I mentioned Van Morrison’s song, “Coney Island.” (Is it really a song?), in which Mr Morrison, one of our native sons, mentions many of the local places of interest in this part of Northen Ireland.  But one of the lines of the song intrigued me.  For Mr Morrison writes of driving through Shrigley to take photographs before he travelled on down to Killyleagh.

Continue reading Shrigley, Van Morrison and that Clock!

Dark Mournes – Murlough Bay

Shooting into the Sun!

Shooting into the midday sun is never a great idea but the waves and the dark Mournes were irresistible today.

The image was captured today on Murlough Beach, a National Trust property, between Dundrum and Newcastle, Co.Down. The tallest peak is Slieve Donard, part of the Mourne Mountains range.

Shot on the Fujifilm X-T4, F=30mm f/20 @ 1/125th sec on ISO160.

Continue reading Dark Mournes – Murlough Bay

Slidderyford Dolmen

Ancient Engineering at Slidderyford, Co.Down

Between Dundrum and Newcastle, Co.Down is this ancient Dolmen, a strange stone structure that stands out against the skyline.

Slidderyford Dolmen

It is generally supposed that these stone structures mark burial grounds, probably from around 3000-4000 BC. Who built them, or how they were built is a mystery, it seems, but they occur all over Western Europe. Notice how the heaven top rock seems to fit into ‘sockets’ on the supporting rocks, and marvel at ancient engineering skills! To visit the Dolmen take the A2 road from Dundrum to Newcastle, and on reaching Murlough Nature Reserve turn onto Old Road, The Dolmen is on the left. Be aware though, that the tomb is sited on private land, which often is sowed out in crops, and to cross over to the monument would be trespass. It’s wise to take a medium range zoom lens if you want to photograph the Dolmen, and work from the road verge.

I visited the Dolmen on a bright afternoon, so conditions for photography were not optimal. I had to overexpose by around 2 stops to bring out some detail in the stones, which left the sky overexposed. I’d no tripod with me, so no opportunity for a series of shots for HDR processing.

The images above was made with the Fujifilm X-T2, F=180mm, f/8 @ 1/250th sec on ISO250.

Drumbo Round Tower

Between Carryduff and Lisburn, with views across Belfast and the Lagan Valley lies the hamlet of Drumbo, with its historic Round Tower, now situated the graveyard of the Drumbo Presbyterian Church.

Drumdo Round Tower, Fujifilm X-T30, F=24mm, f/13 @ 1/200th sec on ISO500

The tower is one of the oldest monastic monuments in Ireland, dating from around the early medieval period. It was around in AD1130 when records show that it was plundered by one Connor McLochlin.

Continue reading Drumbo Round Tower

The Lecale District #2

Ardglass in a Jamjar!

Why is Ardglass in a Jamjar? I’ve no idea! But I’ve heard that expression used by my late grandparents, back in the 1960’s. It was made famous by Van Morrison, the singer/sngwriter, who immortalised it in his song ‘Coney Island.’

…On and on, over the hill to Ardglass
In the jam jar, autumn sunshine, magnificent
And all shining through Stop off at Ardglass for a couple of jars of
Mussels and some potted herrings in case
We get famished before dinner…

Van Morrison
Ardglass Harbour
Continue reading The Lecale District #2

The Lecale District #1

Kilclief, Co.Down

Van Morrison (who I understand had a significant birthday yesterday) wrote a song called ‘Coney Island’ in which he mentions ‘the Lecale District.’ It’s that broad area that stretches along the Co.Down coastline between Killyleagh and Killough, and includes towns like Downpatrick, Shrigley, Strangford, and Ardglass. locale is (like Strangford and the Ards Peninsula), a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.’ – so it’s no wonder that when Van Morrison made his meandering car journey through it, he would wish that it could be like this all the time!

Fujifilm X-T30, F=21mm, f/5.6 @ 1/180th sec on ISO400

One of those outstandingly beautiful areas is the little hamlet of Kilclief, perched right on the edge of ‘the Narrows’ that bottle-neck of unpredictable tidal water at the mouth of Strangford Lough. Kilclief has an old castle, (Caislean Cill Cléithe) a state supported monument, a ‘tower-house’ built around the years 1412-1441, by one John Sely, the Bishop of Down, later defrocked for living at this castle with a married woman who went by the unusual name of Lettice Savage!

Continue reading The Lecale District #1

Driftwood

Newcastle Co.Down.

The recent storm (Ellen, I think) caused flooding in the seaside town of Newcastle as the Shimna River burst through its banks. The Shimna rises in the Mournes and meanders through forested areas on the sides of the hills. Wood swept down by the torrential currents ended up in the Irish Sea and washed up on the beach.

The dark hills in the background are the Mourne Mountains of Percy French fame, sweeping musically down to the sea. I like this image because of its contrasts, its light and shade, the textures of the driftwood and the deep shadow of the hills.

Fujifilm X-T2, F=18mm, f/6.4 @ 1/125th sec on ISO800.

The driftwood is quite bright – after all, it’s been washed clean by the sea, so I exposed for the wood, which cast the mountains into deep shadow, an effect I rather liked!