Yellow Strand Sligo

I have been putting it off for a while, or rather meant to do it for some times and somewhat forgot; Well over twenty years now in fact. But the other day, the idea of going on a wild goose chase, travelling to the north west of the island to witness the wonderful ballet of Barnacle Geese, had been resuscitated by my friend Jonathan Shackleton. I must have mentioned it in one of our conversations, and as he was soon to be heading back to Antarctica for another few weeks’ round as a guide and lecturer, time was ticking, and by the time he’d come back, they would probably be gone back to Greenland. He rang me a couple of days before to confirm, and Sunday last, we finally went.

Birdwatching West – Photo by Daphne Shackleton

When I go on one of my ornithological outing, I make sure to eat a good breakfast; something that can keep me going until late in the afternoon, the worst thing that could happen to me, is a bout of the munchies! I made, like every other morning, a buckwheat crêpe, with scrambled eggs and Gubbeen cheese from West Cork, a mug of green tea, a banana and some fresh walnuts… Yeah, I was ready.

Gubbeen cheese, scrambled eggs on buckwheat crepe…

Jonathan and his wife Daphne picked me up at 10am; I love driving, but I must say that I was happy enough to be the co-pilot this time; we headed across country on the small roads of the foggy midlands, before reaching Longford, Carrick On Shannon, and finally entering co. Sligo by Castlebaldwin, home of the famous Cairns of Carrowkeel, Neolithic vestiges of a long gone people, passage way to another world.


We arrived in Lissadell townland, just a few miles north of Sligo town. It didn’t take us long to find them, in a field overlooking the sea, hundreds of Barnacle Geese were grazing on the lush green grass, gentle cacophony that reminded me of their nearest smaller cousins “The Brents”; I used to patiently wait for them to come back from Siberia and Spitsbergen, spending the winter outside my window, in the Golfe of Morbihan, allowing this little boy to travel with them, wonderful and resilient, truly inspiring. A friend of mine was hoping to find a name for her recently opened psychoanalysis practice, and after seeing a flock of them in Dublin, I suggested “Branta” after its latin name… “Branta Psychoterapy” it became, with all the symbols it represents…

In the Goose Field
Barnacle Geese ( Branta Leucopsis)

We found a hide near Lissadell house, and stayed there for a good hour, before heading for Raghley and yellow strand for a bit of lunch, like three cops on a stake out, waiting for that heavy shower to stop. Daphne had made some kale and artichoke soup, and it was thick and delicious. We were dwelling on a rare Icelandic Glaucous Gull we just saw, another Arctic Circle visitor, while Jonathan explained to me his own annual migrations, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, boarding a ship for the Austral continent of ice…

Hide and seek
A flock of barnacles

Sometimes I wish I was either of them long haul travellers, I have always been fascinated by cold lands and birdwatching in Ireland has allowed me to get a step closer thanks to our winged visitors. Before heading back, we took a walk on yellow strand, and I promised that our outing will inspire me to do a recipe… Something reflecting the day, the Polar Circle, something satisphying and filling… I was thinking of a buckwheat coulibiac… That should do nicely…

Taking a walk on the wild side
Yellow Strand – Sligo
Rainbow on yellow strand
Smoked Haddock Buckoulibiac, coming soon…
Benbulben … Until next time.

Keep Well and Eat Happy

Slán Tamall,


14 thoughts on “Bipolar

  1. Great stuff Franck The last shot of Ben Bulben is fantastic. I spent a lot of my youth in Sligo, waterskiing and drinking pints. We stayed in a cottage without running water and survived just fine. Happy days they were.

    1. Hi Conor, thank you! I lived in Sligo for about a year, it is calling me back sometimes, great efforts have been made to facilitate walks and outdoor activities. The town has changed for the best. A great place, with good memories too… And yes, great pints!

    1. Hi Cecilia! Well thank you, it is a bit special all right, and let’s say I don’t wear T-shirts very often! 🙂 I love the North West of the Island, a great sense of freedom. I make that kind of crepes in the morning, super easy and very tasty! Thank you for visiting! 🙂

  2. Oh Lordy Lord where do I start – the drive and the brekkie (Gubbeen you know I am wed to) and the pictures and the promise of the smoked haddock coulibiac I think I would call it and I’ve eaten it in Russia and would’ve died in Red Square for her. Geese. I’ll stick with Geese – -honkers you are my darlings and I love you unreservedly. Franck you are another darling and the rest follows ….

  3. That Smoked Haddock Buckoulibiac looks delicious, and I’m yet to see the slice. What I love about Ireland is that it has such beautiful colours. Great post as usual, makes almost want to grow wings 🙂

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