It’s not often you get a chance to get so close to whales, dolphins or even seals in their natural habitats. Depending on where you live it could be the result of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or something completely unexpected.
For others it could be relatively common, something almost unnoticed. I posted a poem, “The Tholsel, Kilkenny”, here on that very topic, one person’s exotic being another’s normal.
This was my response to a painting by Paul Henry RHA of the ancient Toll House (Tholsel) in my native Kilkenny City, Ireland. The first time I saw this I was astonished that a sight as familiar to me as a wristwatch could be seen and painted in such a beautiful way by someone from elsewhere. The poem includes the couplet
“So my familiar seems exotic to you,
as my exotic is your familiar too”
Perhaps this is an uncommon call to be prepared for astonishment in a wonderful world.
Searching for ‘whale watching tours’ will direct you to various scattered locations such as Alaska, California, Boston, Hawaii. Perhaps other evocative names appeal to you? How about Madagascar, Newfoundland, Vancouver Madagascar? Ireland will be familiar to some, distant and imagined to others.
Walk down the street where I live and you will come to a busy fishing harbour. Trawlers come and go, fish are offloaded and truck heavily-laden pass through the village carrying the haul to the next destination. Two piers make up the harbour. The outer one is larger and is built in deeper water. The inner pier creates a small harbour generally used by the smaller craft, including charter boats.
‘The Rebecca C’ is a catamaran which is moored in our inner harbour when it is not at sea or berthed in similar ports along the coast. She has a yellow hull, white deck and cabin and is skippered by Martin Colfer. In season ‘The Rebecca C’ is chartered by angling groups who spend time at sea pursuing their passion.
There is another season in Martin’s work. He is also a leading light in the Whale Watching World. Nature enthusiasts, TV crews, photographers, both professional and amateur, pursue their prey with his help, out beyond the Hook Head Lighthouse.
January and February seem to be the best months to catch sight of the migrating whales. Travelling out towards likely viewing sites you can often pass through large pods of dolphins or be watched by curious seals
One trip in 2016 brought us through a pod of dolphins so large we gave up trying to count beyond a hundred. What was particularly touching that day was that they seemed to be clustered in family groups, trios mainly of mother, child and father. Playful animals that they are it is easy watch them race the boat, chase each other towards or sometimes simply showing off. We have even seen individual fish skimming along beside us, escaping from their pursuers.
Without a doubt the most memorable experience to date has been meeting a Humpback Whale in January 2017. We were so close not only could we hear her breathing but even see the droplets of water falling from her body, her flukes, as she disappeared into her other home in the depths below. Gone for now, out of sight, but lingering in our memory for a long time to come.
June 20th 2016 had a fascinating day wandering around the first UCD Festival with Catherine. We toured the Veterinary Hospital, fascinating all the incredible technology used there. I have often seen references to Dublin Zoo sending animals to UCD for examination and treatment, a truly marvellous facility. In an agricultural country like ours such a research centre is obviously of great importance.
There was so much to do and see we couldn’t take in everything, sadly missing out on friends and family of the late, great, Maeve Binchy talking about the wonderful writer she was, next year perhaps.
Robert Grogan gave a mighty performance of an action packed fun-filled tour through James Joyce’s Ulysses. Great show and can be seen all summer here -Strolling Through Ulysses! @ the Stag’s Head Parlour Lounge, Dame Court, D2 http://www.strollingthroughulysses.com
There was what one speaker called a “poet rich audience!” (wonderful phrase) for the poetry and song gathering. As part of that event they invited poets to handwrite and sign a poem of theirs to add to the Poetry Wall. It was without doubt an inspiring event and one I will definitely list again next year, as the UCD motto has it, “ad astra”
Pools of Light, poetry, prose and photography is now available on iTunes in an iBook version. This is an enhanced edition which includes both video and audio. The recordings of the poetry made at the Crossroads Studio, Kilkenny are included, just click and play. Hope you enjoy this and spread the word widely. Thanks, Kevin.
“Pools of Light”, my 2015 collection of poetry, prose and photography is available now for purchase online, in eBook format. I know this will make it easier for readers across the globe to access and I look forward to hearing your comments. My thanks to Diarmaid O’Riordan, who is responsible for all the technical magic behind this eBook. Any mistakes are all my own responsibility, of course.
Minutes ago finished writing Children’s Novel or perhaps novel about children, we’ll see how it goes. Have been working on this for a few months hence my absence from here. Delighted to be thus far. Voluntary readers most welcome. Formatting for submissions happening now, by the way, any publishers out there interested, call, all contacts answered. I’ll keep y’all posted.
Today, February 24th 2016, began a whole new series of projects. I went over the hills and far away to Crossroads Studio in Ballycallan, County Kilkenny to record all the poems in the “Pools of Light” collection. These recordings will form the basis of number of different projects over the next few months.
I’m delighted to be heading off in new directions and bringing some long dormant ideas to life. I will keep y’all posted as CDs and some other items become available.
Out was a great day in the studio and my thanks to all concerned, not least to the main man behind these new projects, Diarmaid O’Riordan.
I’ve been away from this blog for a good while now because I’ve also been finishing up one novel, a collection of short stories and preparing another novel for publishers. 2016 is going to be the year!!