Kinsale is the gourmet capital of Ireland and rightly so with its profusion of exquisite eateries. The salty sea air, wailing of gulls and winding medieval streets whet the appetite and feed the soul.
Our food tour takes you on a food odyssey of this incredible part of the world. Your guide will regale you with local history and the food culture. You will meet the connoisseurs and characters that have contributed to the prowess of this foodie’s dream.
The food tour will allow you to sample artisanal foods as we wend our way through this colourful coastal town.
Tour Length: 2-2.5 hours
Group size: Min 6 – Max 12 (private bookings also available)
Cost: €50 per person (all food tastings included)
Contact and bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or 00353(85)1076113
Strandings of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) happen worldwide, sometimes in specific and regular locations such as Farewell Spit, Golden Bay in New Zealand but also in random places and at random times. The reasons for them to strand can not always be understood but possible reasons can include:
1) Disorientation in unfamiliar territory-cetaceans use sonar (sound waves) to ‘see’ their environment but unusual topography like sandbars, rapidly shifting sands and tides can be problematic and leave them beached or stuck in unfavourable conditions.
2) An animal is sick or dying– when a whale/dolphin is very ill they will sometimes be very weak and unable to swim properly. If this occurs they are sometimes washed into shallower areas as they are unable to keep themselves buoyant and mobile. Strong waves and tides can push them closer to shore, into harbours and even rivers that connect to the sea. Multiple strandings can occur if they are in a pod or family group. The other members will usually stay with the stricken relative regardless of risk to themselves and hence, multiple strandings can occur.
3) Effects of noise disturbance underwater which can cause an animal to flee an area-seismic activity which includes drilling underwater for oil and gas exploration can cause serious problems for cetaceans. The sound produced from these activities can cause hemorrhaging in the creature’s head and noise can be so unpleasant they flee the area rapidly. Effects of these on the sonar of cetaceans who are extremely acoustically sensitive can sometimes be fatal.
4) Escaping from predators-in areas where large predators like sharks and orcas prevail, smaller whales and dolphins will often flee their attacker but unwittingly strand themselves in the process.
5) Chasing prey close to shore -dolphins sometimes chase schooling fish into shore and can accidentally strand themselves when doing so.
What to do if you find a Stranded Whale or Dolphin?
It might seem obvious, but the first thing to check is that they are alive! Cetaceans are conscious breathers, we are voluntary. This means they consciously hold their breath when necessary. They do this when diving underwater but will also do this when in an unfamiliar situation/environment and are stressed. A whale or dolphin that appears to not be breathing might actually be holding its breath! Gently touch the blowhole to see if there is any reaction.
Second thing to check if they don’t appear to be breathing is their eye(s). If the eye is closed or not blinking, gently blow on it to see if the animal responds. If it does not respond to these checks it has most likely passed away.
If the animal is breathing or some eye movement is detected you can now proceed. Call the local Coastguard, Fire Brigade, Marine Research centres, Animal Welfare Conservation groups to people who can respond quickly and effectively.
The animal will definitely be very stressed, scared and likely in pain. Water allows these animals to grow large without the constraints of gravity. On land their prodigious size in some cases can cause bone and organ crushing on land and impede their ability to breathe easily.
It is imperative to try and keep the animal as calm as you can. Simple measures to make it as comfortable need to be employed as soon as possible.
Do not have anyone standing in front of the animal or behind. The tail fluke can be powerful and dangerous so keep well clear. The animal has an area in the front of its head called the ‘melon’. The sonar that the animal uses comes from here. They are very sensitive to their immediate environment and any person or object in front of their heads needs to be moved away. A bucket, dog, cloth, person in front of them will cause them unnecessary stress. Please keep this area clear.
To keep animals calm, avoid loud noises, keep dogs and small children away and make no unnecessary movements.
If the animal is on its side, cover it with wet sheets (do not cover the blowhole). Try to dig a shallow trench parallel to its belly, remove the sheets and gently roll the animal into the trench. Ideally use 4-6 people for this.
Keep the flippers tucked down and into its side and dig a trench below each flipper so that they can hang freely and not be crushed.
If the creature is too big to do this or is suctioned to sand, take care not to over exert yourself and injure yourself and others.
Cover the animal in wet sheets or clothing, keep pouring water onto these regularly. DO NOT cover the blowhole, eyes and mouth. DO NOT pour water into the blowhole.
Have a buddy-designate someone to sit next to the animal, by their side, near to their head to gently talk and reassure them.
Once all of these measures have been employed and the animal is as comfortable as you can make it, it now can be seen if the animal can be returned to deeper water or if the tide will come in sufficiently.
If the animal is small enough to move like a dolphin or porpoise and there are enough people, a tarpaulin, sling or pontoon can be used to return it to water.
Care must be taken when moving it, using the tarpaulin, sling or pontoon to support the animal and not to drag or pull at its body, particularly its fins and fluke.
Avoid the mouth and fluke for safety.
Only people with wetsuits should be involved in the refloating and release. Try to time the release with waves for easier release and buoyancy of the animal.
Keep the animal from rough surfaces or rocks on the beach or in the water.
Once the animal is in waist-deep water you can gently rock it from side to side to help it reorientate itself. This should be done with at least 2 people, one on each side and done for as long as possible to familiarise the animal with its environment.
At least half an hour should be spent with each animal and check to ensure it is surfacing to breathe, its body is upright and it can upright itself if rolled over.
If the animal swims back towards shore, slapping the water’s surface or striking a metal object can deter them. If enough people are present a human chain can be used in the water to try and prevent the animal swimming back.
Body language such as tail slapping and open mouth lunging can be signs of aggression. If the animal is acting defensively or aggressively do not risk your own safety.
If a small boat, inflatable or kayak is available these can also be used to guide the animal out to deeper water.
Every now and then if you look out to sea, you may see something which is hard to believe. A large, white bird, hurtling at breakneck speed towards the water. If you have been a lucky witness to this, the bird you have seen is a gannet. These are the largest sea birds in Ireland with a wing span of just under 2m. The gannet species which frequents our shores is the Northern gannet.
Ireland is actually one of the strongholds of this incredible avian, with ¾ of the world’s population breeding in Ireland and the UK. The three largest colonies in the country are at Little Skellig, County Kerry, Great Saltee, Co. Wexford and Bull Rock, Co. Cork. Little Skellig by far has the largest colony with over 26,000 nests. The birds are so proliferate here that the imposing rocks have what looks like a coating of icing. This is actually ‘guano’ or bird waste which scours out the rock due to its acidity.
The birds nest here in large, smelly, noisy colonies. They raise one chick annually with their faithful partners. Gannets reach maturity between the age of 4 and 5 and will pair with another bird for multiple seasons and possibly for life. Chicks are fed semi digested fish when very young and this will change to whole fish as the chicks grow. This baby will not move about or flap its wings as it could fall from its precariously balanced cliff nest. It will leave its parents when it is 75 days old and glide down the cliff to the sea, never to return.
Physically these birds have a dazzling array of features which morph them into torpedoes for their high impact sea entries. They have extremely acute eyesight and can spot a fish from 40m above the water surface. Once their quarry is spotted, they proceed to fold their wings back and pierce the water like an arrow. They can hit the water at 100km/h which could be fatal if wrongly timed. They have very thick skulls which act like crash helmets. Their throat also contains air pouches which inflate and function like an air bag to protect their bodies. They can even chase their fish down another 10m to seal the deal.
Even though gannet may be a byword for gluttony, would you really work that hard for your food?
Life as a startup contains as much drama and intrigue as you would find in Lord of the Rings. According to CEO and Founder of Exceedence, Ray Alcorn, the quests for both are surprisingly similar. Dogged determination to find the ‘precious’, overcoming your foes and dealing with inner and outer demons. The achingly beautiful highs and the devastating lows, to finally emerge, victorious. It takes a special type of person for this quest, and it is not for the faint of heart.
The story of Exceedence has been a fairytale all of its own, blazing a trail in the Renewables industry. The company’s inception began in 2008 when Ray was running a research centre in UCC on marine renewables. Working with industry partners, he saw that many companies were struggling to raise finance as there was little confidence in their techno-financial models. Investors were unable to assess where risks would arise in the business and often the models themselves were inaccurate, either through mistakes or misinterpreting the process.
In 2011 at UCC’s HMRC, the software was developed by Dr Gordon Dalton. The company was founded in UCC Gateway and moved to The Entrepreneur Ship incubator at IMERC when the software was licensed in Autumn 2015. Their aim was to create a standardised approach that would allow like for like comparison of financial outcomes across different technology types in Renewable Energy projects. Their software is designed to assess a staggering 1,015 variables including parameters such as financial viability, wind speed to company location. This allows companies to reduce risk, save time, increase profitability, maximise resources and optimise the development of projects.
In less than 2 years, Ray and his team have amassed an impressive treasure chest of accolades and funding. In Dec 2015, Exceedence was awarded £90,000 sterling for the Wave Energy Scotland Stage 1 PTO Funding as lead company and in Sept 2016 were awarded a further £495,000 for a Stage 2 development. Jan 2016, Exceedence was selected by NDRC in their Catalyser Programme. This gave Exceedence an investment of €100k and access to their intensive 3 month mentoring programme culminating in a Liftoff pitch event in June. This funding helped them build their team, market presence and their message and taught them how to engage with customers and understand their needs.
Also in June 2016, Exceedence secured 100k ODINE Funding. They are the first Irish company to be selected for the Open Data Incubator (ODINE). This funding allows Exceedence to develop and offer a cloud based lite version of the Exceedence Finance software. The same month Exceedence was selected for Microsoft Bizspark Plus Support. Through the NDRC they will be supported for 3 years, with €360k worth of Azure credits and all the development and backoffice software they need to roll out a cloud based SaaS version of the Exceedence Finance software.
They have now sold more of their software and have a development relationship with paying customers such as Wavepower Ltd. These developments gave Ray and two other team members the confidence to quit their jobs in UCC and work full time for Exceedence.
A Merry Band
To realise your dreams, you usually need the support and strength of your fellow(ship). Ray’s merry band are a group of highly skilled and talented individuals who have decided to join Ray on his mission to help fulfill the dreams for Exceedence. The team is composed of Ray Alcorn, John Keating, Chris O’ Donoghue, Annicka Wann, Bichris Coupama and Anthony Sherlock.
Ray is CEO and Founder of Exceedence. He is a chartered electrical engineer, working in research and development of marine renewables, research and commercial career. In 2014 Ray went to part time work at UCC to found Exceedence and lay the groundwork to spin out from UCC and license the software. He cofounded the company with John Keating who is also the Director and has considerable experience in the renewable energy industry. John spent almost 17 years in commercial consulting with a heavy emphasis on renewable energy. Chris trained as a telecommunications engineer and he is the Principal Software Engineer for the Exceedence Finance software. Annicka is the Senior Project Engineer and she attained an MSc Engineering in Energy systems as well as a BSc in Business and Economics in Sweden. Bichris is the Business Developer and gained two Masters degrees in France, one in the management of biodiversity (Biology – Ecology) and one in business management. Anthony is Exceedence’s newest addition as ICT apprentice in Software Development.
Ray says the biggest issue Exceedence faces is trying to shift people away from what is the status quo. “So even though people are using something that’s broken (eg. using Excel as an analytical tool) and they know it’s broken, and they even know it’s inefficient, they are very reluctant to give that up and do something new. We are trying to level everybody the whole way along the supply chain. And that disruptiveness requires education and that’s our challenge.”
Sharing the Adventure
Ray’s enthusiasm for the industry and its potential is infectious, “I want to help more people generate projects and be successful. To create a lot more of these opportunities for other companies. The likes of the companies we share incubation space with, Dare Technology, Solo Energy etc. to make it much easier for them to raise the finance.’’
Sailing to Success on the Entrepreneur Ship
Since Exceedence relocated to The Entrepreneur Ship, Ray has already noticed many benefits to the move. “The advantages here are through colocation and we already have projects that we worked on with CIT and the Maritime college and with UCC MAREI. In fact some of our staff are ex UCC MAREI employees as well, including myself. The mentorship network is very good and you are also a relatively big fish in a small pond which is nice because we are very focused on what we do here and we are part of a cluster. We share funding programmes, we tell people what else is coming up and we invite people to various workshops and we try and learn from each other.’’
To date all their sales have been outside Ireland. Exceedence has a combined revenue from a range of consultancy projects (in particular Wave Energy Scotland which was 90k over 6 months) including NDRC, ODINE funding plus sales consultancy. This has generated about 300k in revenues from Sept 2015 to end 2016. Their obvious success in bootstrapping and making revenues in what is technically a seed round will help Exceedence scale with their software and increase sales.
As they continue on their epic adventure, their tale shows us that in real life the surest route to success is holding to your dream with the aid of your allies and forging those bonds. With these lessons, happy endings are real and achievable.
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Red Strand and Galley Head encompass a quieter part of the South West Coast but are no less beautiful than their popular neighbours. The nearby town of Clonakilty has had a significant effect on the area for many reasons. A small bustling, cosmopolitan town, it has become renowned for many reasons.
Clonakilty won the Tidy Towns competition in 1999 and went on to become Ireland’s first official Fair Trade town in 2003. This was not the end of the accolades that were yet to come with it also being the first ever Irish town/city to be awarded European Destination of Excellence in 2007.
The positivity, creativity and sense of spirit that this innovative town has engendered is nothing short of mind boggling. In 2012 they created the ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ Festival with the motto ‘Cut the Misery and Spread the Positivity’.
The same year the local organisation ‘Sustainability Clonakilty’ joined forces with the NGO, ‘Elephant Family’ to create ‘Jungle City’. Thirty animal sculptures were created as permanent art fixtures to be found around the town and a map to find the various creatures. Of these sculptures, some are vividly coloured elephants. In 2008, both organisations worked on a project to save the Asian elephant and it’s habitat in India. The project was called ‘The Survival Tour’ and 13 life sized Asian elephant sculptures were created. They toured around Ireland and England raising awareness of the elephant’s plight. The tour raised half a million euros and became the precursor and inspiration for the ‘Jungle City’. With all things sustainable in mind, Clonakilty hopes to become carbon neutral by 2020.
After our jaunt in the urban jungle we ventured out to the local beach, Red Strand which is a hit with surfers. A long, golden sand beach with magnificent views out onto the Dundeady peninsula and Galley Head lighthouse. It is nestled in Dirk Bay and is blessed with a sheltered reef that has a reasonably consistent surf with the best wind coming from the North. Surf is best here at high tide but attention is required due to rocks in the line up. The bay also has a tolerable anchorage in the fine sand with decent holding. It won the Green Coast award in 2016 for excellent water quality and beach condition.
Mizen Head and Barleycove are two spectacular locations down in the most Southerly parts of Ireland. The waters here team with life and in the summer particularly it is not unusual to see whales, basking sharks, seals and a plethora of birds with regularity.
Mizen Head is drenched in history and has played a significant role in the culture, development and pride of the local community.
The Teardrop of Ireland
The Irish Lights Board decided to build a lighthouse on Fastnet Rock as the Cape Clear island lighthouse was too far inland. This was the first landfall after America and was called the ‘Teardrop of Ireland’ as it was the last place that Irish emigrants saw when they left Ireland. The first lighthouse was built in 1854 and lasted till 1891 but had to be replaced as it was made of iron and was unable to withstand the merciless fury of the Atlantic ocean.
It was rebuilt in 1899 using Cornish granite and was completed in 1903. Each block of granite weighed 3 tonnes and were interlocked for maximum strength and protection.
Mizen Head History
In 1906 the Board of Trade along with the Irish Lights Board decided to build a fog signal station on Cloghane Island, Mizen Head. In 1909 the fog signal was established and in bad visual conditions the keepers manually set off a charge of explosives at 3 minute intervals. The arched bridge was built between 1908-1910 to connect the island to the mainland. The design was picked from a competition that was run to create the best bridge. The bridge is 172 feet (54 m) across by 150 feet (50 m) above sea level.
In 1931 a wireless beacon was installed at Mizen Head and in 1959 a light was placed on the rocks at the end of the head at a height of 180 feet (60m) with a range of 13 miles in clear weather. The fog signal was discontinued in the 1970’s when sonar and satellite navigation (GPS) took over. Mizen Head Signal Station has participated in the whole history of radio communication.
The local village of Crookhaven was the first and last port of call for ships going between Northern European ports and America. The ships stocked up on fuel and provisions before tackling the Atlantic ocean. A flurry of small boats would meet the arriving ships, swarming around them to get business. Lots of these boats came from the UK and were commisioned by Reuters and Lloyds agents.
Reuters and Lloyds agents had flag signalling and semaphore equipment up on the nearby headland of Brow Head to communicate with passing ships. At the end of the 19th century there were so many boats in the harbour that you could walk across the decks from one side of the bay to the other. Up to 700 people lived and worked in the village during this period. Currently there are only 29 permanent residents living in Crookhaven.
The End of an Era
The signal station at Mizen Head was automated in 1993. The same year with a lease from the Irish Lights Board and with funding from the rural development LEADER programme, the local community of Goleen decided to reopen Mizen Head as a tourist attraction. Murphys, West Cork Bottling, Cork County Council and Ford helped match the funding to open the centre to the public. This attraction is now internationally renowned and has hosted over a million visitors!
The dreamy, beautiful Barleycove beach was formed under auspicious circumstances. The sand dunes there were thrown up by a tidal wave that swept through Europe after an earthquake in Lisbon in 1755. Today the dunes are now partially eroded but the beach and surrounds are designated as a Special Area of Conservation. It is host to a diverse range of habitats and wildlife that preside in and around the sand dunes.
CURRENT RANGE: West Coast of North Island, New Zealand
CURRENT THREATS: Fisheries, oil exploration, inbreeding, disease.
CONSERVATION STATUS: Critically Endangered
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Occasionally between Manukau Harbour and Port Waikato, North Island, New Zealand.
What is a Maui Dolphin?
The Maui dolphin is a tiny dolphin that is endemic to New Zealand. This beautiful cetacean is also the world’s smallest dolphin and rarest subspecies of dolphin, growing to a maximum length of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
These dolphins have distinctive markings with black, white and grey coloration and a short snout. Their dorsal fin is rounded, almost looking like a Mickey Mouse ear popping out of the water. A playful, social creature that lives in small pods, they can be seen chasing each other, playing with seaweed and blowing water bubbles. They tend to live in shallow water, close to shore for protection from large predators.
It was discovered in 2002 that the Maui dolphin was a subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin. The Hector’s dolphin is found off the South Island in contrast to the North Island dwelling Maui. Analysis of their skeletons as well as mitochondrial and nuclear DNA proved that the two dolphins are genetically distinct. This type of genetic difference over such a small geographical range has never been observed in any other species of marine mammal.
Why is the Maui Dolphin endangered?
Set netting and trawling are the principal threats for these animals. Set netting is practiced close to shore and around harbors where these dolphins frequent. The dolphins are unable to detect the fine filaments of the net in the water and get caught and drown. Accidental bycatch in these nets as well as in trawling has decimated the species.
Scientists such as Liz Slooten in New Zealand have estimated that there has been a decline in the population of 93% over 3 generations between 1970 and 2009. Numbers dropped from approximately 100 in 2004 to 55 in 2012. The current number is said to be fewer than 47 individuals.
Of the remaining dolphins, it is believed that there are only approximately 10 females of breeding age left. With such a small number of potential breeding females, the loss of even one female is a significant blow to the species. Females only start breeding between the age of 7 to 9 and will have one calf every 3-4 years. The small number of animals can also lead to a genetic bottleneck which leaves these dolphins susceptible to diseases, birth deformities and higher mortality rates.
Disease outbreaks of Brucellosis and Toxoplasmosis are an additional, potential problem for this vulnerable population. Notwithstanding the accelerated and worrying loss of these creatures, insufficient protective measures are in place to help their recovery.
What’s being done to save the Maui Dolphin?
Despite calls from scientists, conservationists and the general public to create a larger exclusion zone for these dolphins, large areas of habitat are still exposed to various threats.
The New Zealand government has banned the use of set netting in some areas, but has resisted measures to further increase the protective zone for these dolphins claiming that they are not found in the areas where there is a supposed threat. The government opened up 3,000 sq km of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary for oil drilling in 2014. This area is the main habitat for the Maui’s and comprises a quarter of the whole sanctuary.
Conservation organisations such as NABU, the International Whaling Commission and WWF New Zealand have lobbied extensively to safeguard these dolphins. Current recommendations are to have a full ban on gill netting and trawling in all areas where Maui’s are found.
It is predicted with the current decline in the Maui population, that they could be extinct within the next 15 years.
Red Strand is a gorgeous long sandy beach only a stones throw from Clonakilty. It looks out onto the magnificent lighthouse at Galley Head. We will do a walk of the beach here then do a walk along the coast by Galley Head.
This lighthouse is now used as holiday accomodation for the discerning lighthouse lover. A beautiful walk along the headland here shows dramatic cliffs and quiet coves below. The walk is easy enough and will take 2 -2.5 hours at a relaxed pace.
What to bring: Rain gear, walking shoes/boots, warm clothes, packed lunch for picnic.
We will stop at a cafe/bar for refreshments/food at end of trip.
Gougane Barra is famous for many reasons. The source of the mighty river Lee is found here as you ascend the slopes of its impressive hills. The cool green calm forests here cocoon you in a gentle embrace as the grind of life falls away. It is here that Saint Patrick is said to have banished the snakes from Ireland, one so large it gouged the valley of Gougane itself.
One of the most beautiful, ancient churches in the land sits on the lake not far from where the sinister serpent was banished. It now has a far more benign function, purveying blessings on newlyweds and curious travellers from near and far. The forest here was originally farm land which was purchased by the State in the late 1930’s. It has since been reforested with over 20 different types of trees, predominantly coniferous.
A very famous couple lived in the area in the early to mid part of the 1900’s. The husband, Tim Buckley was known as a great storyteller and tailor. He was 9 years younger than his wife, Ansty. He had a crippled leg from childhood so as they aged, visitors became increasingly important to them. His vivid tales drew people from near and far, including a journalist called Eric Cross who regularly visited the couple in the 1930’s. Unbeknownst to them, Cross wrote a series of articles on their lives which later became a book and a play. The book was banned by the Censorship board in 1942 for supposed indecent subject matter. A huge furore played out over the book and was even brought to Senate!
Gougane Barra also has the auspicious honour of the loveliest latrine in Ireland, and with a thatched roof to boot!
It is no wonder that saints and scholars from all over the world have ventured to this magical place. Nowadays couples exchange vows in its natural splendour.