zaterdag 25 december 2010

Happy Christmas!

The Christmas spirit as embodied by a colourful family of snowmen including a couple of kids and a lady in a bikini top. They were spotted outside the house next to the chemist's in Achill Sound.

Photo: Hank Kune

zaterdag 18 december 2010

A Crock of Gold?

In this part of the world, torrential rain can change in an instant into bright sunshine. That's why Irish landscapes are littered with rainbows. Is there a crock of gold waiting at the rainbow's end? With the luck of the Irish, quite possibly!

Photo:Henk de Lange

zaterdag 11 december 2010

An Extraordinary Experience

During his recent visit, Pirate guest Henk de Lange was about to climb Croaghaun Hill when he experienced something extraordinary."What looked like a pair of tramps were waiting for me as I set off from the car park. They were playing violin and flute in the apparent hope of encountering tourists. And I was the only one. I gave them €5 and they played for me until I disappeared from view. That was great. They also told me that I would find plane wreckage when I reached An Corrimore Lake at the top. Although I didn't actually find any, there were some markings."

Drawing: Henk de Lange. It was made on Croaghaun Hill above An Corrimore Lake and looking out towards Achill Head.

zaterdag 4 december 2010

zaterdag 27 november 2010

zaterdag 20 november 2010

The Living Room Immortalised

This drawing of the living room in Polranny was made by the artist Henk de Lange, who was a recent guest. He descibes his stay as follows: "I used the slightly less than two weeks that I spent in Polranny for reflection and inspiration. It was the ideal base camp for exploring Achill Island and its surroundings, and for roaming around the hills, cliffs, beaches and ruins. Sometimes I didn't see a single person.
S P A C E and mysticism: it purifies the mind!"

Photo: Henk de Lange

zaterdag 13 november 2010

Bog Oak

Thousands of years ago this used to be a mighty tree, now it's slowly fossilising on Fahy Beach, about thirty minutes drive from the house in Polranny.

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 6 november 2010

Costa Mulranny

Sometimes the seaside village of Mulranny looks positively tropical... when it's not raining of course!

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 30 oktober 2010

There's a Whole World Underwater

There's also a lot going on above. The boat is a currach and is first mentioned in writing around the time of Julius Caesar. Saint Brendan is reputed to have crossed the Atlantic in one in the 6th century, which would have definitely been an act of faith.

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 23 oktober 2010

Badgers Were There...

According to people who know about these things, these are the signs of badgers attempting to dig up the front garden. For years there have badgers in the back garden, although nobody ever sees them. Personally I was beginning to think that they were mythical, much like the leprachauns.

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 16 oktober 2010

Rabbits Were Here...

... lots of them. That's why these sandy dunes and accompanying bay are known in Pirate parlance as "Bunny Beach".

Photo Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 9 oktober 2010

Weird Beastie

Is this some rare and endangered Irish creature? No, its a red hot poker in the garden after a rain storm!
Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 2 oktober 2010

And the Winner Is...

Just make sure that you don't sail down wind of him...

zaterdag 25 september 2010

The Height of Fashion

Wellies by Barbour!
Manolos and Jimmy Choos should be left at home.

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 18 september 2010

Puppy Love

Trudi - a Irish Setter/Border Collie cross - greets Buster Brown, her big love. Trudi lives with Pirate friends Al and Jane at nearby Corraun House.

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 4 september 2010

Pirates to the Rescue!

While driving around the craggy coastline of Currane Peninsula, an eagle-eyed Pirate recently noticed a sheep in trouble. It had got its head well and truly stuck in a gate. What to do? The guards (police) don't normally respond to calls for stricken sheep. Fortunately other drivers stopped to help and eventually a neighbour turned up with a formidable pair of bolt cutters that soon did the trick! Although shaken, the sheep was fortunately none the worse for the experience.
Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 28 augustus 2010

Treasure Trove

Neolithic treasure discovered by Pirate Annie on the ancient coast of Clew Bay.

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 21 augustus 2010

The Day of the Auction

It's September 1944 and the house is about to be auctioned. It would pass through several other hands before ending up with the Polranny Pirates. Some the men in the photo are related to the Sweeney family, who had lived here up to now.

Photo: Courtesy of Charles Tyrrell

zaterdag 14 augustus 2010

The Family Car

And a magnificent beast it is too! Artfully posed in front of it are previous residents Peter and Margaret Sweeney while their daughter Gretta sits behind the wheel.
Photo: Courtesy of Charles Tyrrell

zaterdag 7 augustus 2010

Sewing Machine

I love this photograph of Margaret Sweeney, sitting outside with her sewing machine and the turkeys or geese behind her. Margaret was the mother of the Sweeney family who lived in the house in Polranny many years ago.
Photo: Courtesy of Charles Tyrrell

zaterdag 31 juli 2010

The Drive Seventy Plus Years Ago

The house and the wall are unchanged but nowadays there's far more foliage around the drive.

The demurely smiling lady is Margaret Sweeney, the matriarch of the Sweeney family that used to live here.

Photo: Courtesy of Charles Tyrrell, Margaret's grandson.

zaterdag 24 juli 2010

Things Have Hardly Changed

The house in Polranny, the porch, the kitchen on the right, AND that all important car. This photo was taken sixty plus years ago when the Sweeney family lived here. But essentially not that much has changed... except the car is slightly more modern.

Photo: Courtesy of Charles Tyrrell

zaterdag 17 juli 2010

Eileen (2)

Here is another image of previous resident Eileen Sweeney; this time shown as a proud graduate.

Photograph courtesy of Charles Tyrrell.

zaterdag 10 juli 2010


A sweet photo of Eileen Sweeney, a member of the family who lived at the house for most of the first half of the 20th century.

If the house could speak, what tales it would tell...

Photo courtesy of Charles Tyrrell.

zaterdag 3 juli 2010

Palm Trees in Ireland?

No this is not Spain. It's County Sligo in August!

Photo: Profoundly Superficial

zaterdag 26 juni 2010

Little Faces from the Past

Two more historic photos of Tonragee National School, which is still located just down the road from the house in Polranny. In fact next year the School will celebrate its centenary and there are plans for a book about the last hundred years. Doubtless many descendants of these kids still live in or around the village, while others will have been part of the "Scattering", the successive waves of Irish emigration to countries such as England and the United States. Hopefully they too will make their way back to Mayo in time for the festivities.

Photos courtesy of Charles Tyrrell.

zaterdag 19 juni 2010

Tonragee National School

This is Tonragee National School where Peter and Margaret Sweeney taught, the couple who lived with their daughters Patty and Gretta at the Pirates' house in the early 20th century. Peter is standing at the back on the far right-hand side. But Margaret's absent. Maybe one of her girls had just been born. In her place - and standing to the left - is their aunt Bridget Flynn.

Many thanks to Charles Tyrell, Patty's son, for the use of this photo. Click to enlarge. It's well worth it!

zaterdag 12 juni 2010

Patty's Parents

Here are Patty's parents, Peter and Margaret Sweeney, photographed in Westport in approximately 1906.The little girl isn't Patty, it's her big sister Gretta. Were they already living at the house in Polranny? Had they just started teaching at the National School in the neighbouring village of Tonragee? Whatever the truth, it must have been a busy and exciting time for them and their young family!
Photo courtesy of Charles Tyrrell, Patty's son

zaterdag 5 juni 2010

A House With History

The house in Polranny is more than a hundred years old, so many people have lived here before the Pirates and their friends. This is Patty Sweeney with an armful of kittens including a princely Siamese. She lived here with her parents, Peter and Margaret, who were teachers in Tonragee National School just down the road.

Many thanks to Patty's son Charles Tyrrell for the use of this photo.

zaterdag 29 mei 2010

Magda, Prosper and Stanley

In the house, we've cooked each day on the Stanley range. You need thirty minutes to get the fire really going, but after that if you add some wood once every twenty minutes and poke it around a bit, you'll end up with a really hot hot plate. You have to light the fire from above: just lift up the left-hand hot plate and you can get to it. By opening the small door beneath the fire, you will let in more oxygen and make it burn more intensely. The hot plate on the left-hand side is really warm, and is suitable for frying and roasting. The one in the middle is good for boiling potatoes, and the right-hand one is slightly cooler and can used for simmering or keeping yourself warm. Turf briquettes keep the fire going, and wood gives the heat that's needed to get the food cooked properly. And after the meal, it's still warm enough to make tea and coffee. The rest of the evening you can keep the fire smouldering. If need be, you can open the oven door so as to let more heat into the kitchen.

Photo: Magda

zaterdag 22 mei 2010

ET in Mulranny???

As Magda writes in her journal: "One day, when we were standing next to the Spar supermarket in Mulranny, gazing at the magnificent spectacle of storm clouds and sunshine, an old man with a roll-up between his fingers peered at us inquisitively. He'd also seen that it was beautiful. Then he began to talk to us. It sounded like he was drunk, but after a while we began to get used to the sounds, and we could make out words such as "beautiful!" and "universe". He made sweeping gestures in the direction of the water and the clouds. Patches of blue sky were reflected in his eyes. Suddenly Prosper understood what he was talking about and repeated his words: "There must be life on other planets". "Yeah!", the man replied and they threw their arms around each other. From that point onwards, Prosper and the man understood each other perfectly.

Not so long ago, Prosper had made a documentary of the "science" of extraterrestials ( So that's why they got so well. The man had to take the bus that was waiting in front of the petrol station. But Prosper and the man could just as easily have rushed to the nearest pub and had a great night together. Perhaps it's just as well that the man caught the bus..."

Photo: Magda. Click so that you can spot extraterrestials

zaterdag 15 mei 2010

New Guests at the House

Artist Magda and documentary film-maker Prosper recently stayed at the house in Polranny. In her journal, Magda describes her first impressions: "For us Ireland was terra incognita, so we were dying to explore it. Once we arrived at the house, we looked at the map and decided that we would first visit the seaside village of Keel on Achill Island. It's located on the southerly part of the Island, so with the sun hovering above the water just as it does in the Netherlands. As we drove to the Island, dark clouds and brief showers alternated with rays of sunshine. We passed mountain tops that were hidden by mist. Breathtakingly beautiful. Then we arrived at a tiny harbour littered with abandoned boats, fishing nets, piles of rubble and crab skeletons. A small boat appeared out of the waves and headed for the harbour. Men in wet suits got out of it. They were tidying up their gear; we didn't ask them what they'd been doing but it was a fascinating sight. And there were sheep and lambs everywhere! I wanted to make a photo of the sheep because they have such pretty black heads, but they're difficult to approach. The only way to get closer to them was in the car. Finally I managed to get a picture of a fleeing sheep!"

Photo" Magda

zaterdag 8 mei 2010

The Old Car

The Pirates' Old Car - seen here with friends Astrid and Floortje - which has now been replaced with the New Car, or rather the Slightly Less Ancient Car.

Photo: Annie

zaterdag 1 mei 2010

Where's Summer?

Pirate Bert with our friends Jane and Al in a desperate search for summer.
Photo: Annie

zaterdag 24 april 2010

The Galway Hooker

When taking the train from Dublin to Polranny, thirsty travelers always drop in at the Galway Hooker, since time immemorial the watering hole at Heuston Station. It's also famous for its Carvery Lunch, loving cooked by Ivan, a globe-trotting Russian who now presides over the meat and two veg.

As for the name, it's not what you think it is: the Galway Hooker is a sailing vessel, as depicted in the painting on the wall.

Words and photo: Peti

zaterdag 17 april 2010


A recurrent moment in driving through Ireland involves a rainy view of a graveyard.

Photo: Annie

zaterdag 13 maart 2010

Peti's Arrival

On her last day in Polranny, Pirate guest Bernadette writes: "Just as I was sitting down at the kitchen table with two sandwiches and a cup of tea, Peti arrived from the Netherlands after taking a few detours. It was the first time we'd met face-to-face.

As we divided up the sandwiches and I made her a cup of tea, she told me about not only how she came to own the house but also the origins of the Polranny Pirates. It turns out that I'm the very first guest to rent the house on her own!

In the afternoon, we drove around Achill Island and climbed the highest mountain where our heads were almost in the clouds.

Photo of Peti and Clew Bay by Bernadette

zaterdag 6 maart 2010

A Quiet Day

After all her bike adventures, Polranny guest Bernadette decided to take it easy: "Today I cycled to Mulranny; it's dry, sunny and there's lots of wind. Right from a distance, I could see a painting palette on a red easel at the side of the road. Indeed the landscape is extremely painterly. Once I arrive at the School of Painting, I take a look inside at paintings of this landscape by a variety of different artists.

Back home and tired from all the walking and cycling of the last few days, I opt for an early night."

Photo: Annie, the view from the bedroom window.

zaterdag 27 februari 2010

Bernadette's Bike Adventures (Part Three)

Polranny guest Bernadette Paternotte is continuing her cycle tour of Achill: "Cycling alongside the Atlantic Ocean was becoming increasingly difficult. Struggling against stormy, torrential rain, I tried in vain to cycle up a mountain. Finally I just pushed the bike to the top.

When I arrived back in Polranny soaked to the skin, Ray the builder came indoors, bleeding profusely from a gash in his wrist that was covered with a hankie. I ran upstairs to the bathroom and grabbed the first aid kit that I always stared at when sitting on the loo.

With a little help from my own medical gear, Ray's wrist ended up looking quite professional. However, I did make a point of telling him to go to the doctor to get it sewn up, which he immediately dismissed and went straight back to work.

Then it occured to me that Ray and I were now quits: me with my bike tyres patched by him, and him with his wrist bandaged by me.

Photo: Annie

zaterdag 20 februari 2010

Beyond the Secret Garden

Polranny guest Bernadette has borrowed a bike from Pirate friends Willem and Doutsje, the owners of the nearby Secret Garden. She writes in her journal of 24 August 2009: "So I set out on my adventures on a old-fashioned, rusty Gazelle bike. Willem told me to take the left-hand turn at Achill Secret Garden so that I could cycle around the most southerly tip of the Island. For most of this trip I was surrounded by water, and for half the time I had a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. I wanted to get as close as I could to the point where the rocks and the sea fight it out with such violence. I wanted to capture the most spectacular moment of this battle with my lens. But each time the combatants were too quick for me; each click was too late. It was as if it were set-up. Yet I didn't mind that what I saw could not leak out, that I could keep it all for myself as the splashes of water on my lens and my glasses obstructed the view and I was forced to abandon the scene of the battle".

Photo: Annie

zaterdag 13 februari 2010

Finding Transport

On 24 August, Polranny guest Bernadette wrote in her journal: "Today there was a visit that I simply couldn't ignore. There was an absolute racket behind the door separating the extension from the kitchen, while simultaneously an enormous cloud of dust rose from under it and invaded my territory.

So this was how I got to meet the builders: Ray, who I talked to the most, and the others, who I could barely understand. I also noticed that the roof was now almost covering the extension.

A little later when I'd been standing by the road for a while trying to hitchhike, Ray came up and asked me for the key to the house so he could go inside. By now I didn't reckon my chances of getting a lift so I asked him whether I could borrow a bike from him. The answer was no.

But he had a think about it, babbled, and gave me to understand that there was a bike somewhere and that he was kindly offering to drive me over to it. Later we took the turning to Achill Secret Garden, where my bike was waiting for me with... two flat tyres. While Ray glued the tyres, I drank coffee with Doutje and Willem, the Dutch owners of the Garden."

To be continued...

Photo: Bernadette Paternotte

zaterdag 6 februari 2010

Love Hurts...

... a heart-shaped jellyfish found by artist Bernadette Paternotte during her visit last August to Polranny.

Photo: Bernadette

zaterdag 30 januari 2010

The Road to the Sea

On her third day in Polranny, our guest Bernadette Paternotte writes: "Today I turned my back on Achill Sound and walked in the opposite direction. Turning left, I took a side road towards the coast. I stood there for a while, absorbing my surroundings and recording them with my camera.

At first it seemed grey and dingy, but later the heavens opened and everything became ever more colourful with a little rain, which was something I took in my stride.

An untouched coastal landscape: large and small stones staring up at me silently, some covered with greenish yellow seaweed. Long strands with little balls that popped under my weight, I slipped with every step.

The sea water murmured gently, the sky became bluer and the emerging sun felt warm on my skin."

Photos: Bernadette Paternotte

zaterdag 23 januari 2010

The Next Day...

Polranny guest Bernadette Paternotte continues her Irish diary: "The next day I walked to Achill Sound. The weather was chilly and overcast but dry.

Achill Sound is located on Achill Island with a bridge connecting the island to Ireland. It's the largest Irish island with a circumference of some 144 square kilometres.

There was no bus in sight even after waiting for a while. My well-filled backpack made walking back rather difficult, so I made a virtue out of a necessity and picked the prettiest flowers alongside the road and took them home with me. Once I arrived, I arranged them in a vase and placed them on the kitchen table next to the window. This had become my favourite place for sitting and working."

Photos: Bernadette Paternotte

zondag 17 januari 2010

A New Guest Arrives...

Polranny guest Bernadette Paternotte writes: "On 21 August 2009 I took a taxi to Polranny House from Westport. It was evening and already dark when I arrived. Once I'd entered the house and turned on the lights, I wasn't shy about checking everything out. After all, it would be my house for the next ten days. Familiar smells wafted towards me. The smell of stove polish dominated, and for a moment I was overcome with nostalgia for my old house with the wood-burning stove, sawing the wood that was washed up in the ditch, spending the summer outside in my shorts. Then there was my studio with its view of the meadows, the cows and the vast skies. So far as I'm concerned there's nothing unfamiliar about country life."
Photo: Bernadette Paternotte

zaterdag 9 januari 2010

As Smooth as Silk

The side of a fallen tree at Bleanáskill Lodge, Achill's secret garden run by Pirate friends Willen and Doutsje (
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge