First Wedding – Next Wedding

I did the photography at a friend’s wedding 40 yeays ago this weekend. It was my first wedding and my friend still jokes, it was his first wedding as well. In the coming weeks, after a long break, I will be doing another wedding. It sounds like a long time ago, but 40 years seems such a short time… looking back. 


I did many weddings back in the 1980s but almost none since then. For many years I did little photography – apart from what I did for pleasure. The 1980s was a time of recession and low incomes. Friends and neighbours would ask me to do the work to basically save themselves money in hard times. The boom years in between saw wedding photography reach new highs – both in terms of technical advances and in terms of expense. Strangely, as we steer our way through yet another recession, the more simple type wedding photography seems to appeal once again.

Henry L. Gavigan

The Bard of Kilmactigue (AKA Henry L. Gavan)

Henry Lawrence Gavigan (1872-1933), was one of eleven children. Born into poverty, to parents who had survived the Great Famine, he grew up in an Ireland that was conflicted between its loyalty to the British Empire on the one hand and a desperate struggle to escape it on the other.

After attending and teaching school in his native Kilmactigue in Co. Sligo, Henry emigrated to America in 1893. He quickly made his way in life, progressing to a key administration position in the U.S. Postal Service.

During his lifetime, Henry developed a reputation as a poet and became affectionately known as The Bard of Kilmactigue.


My native land of mountains grand
I love thee to the core,
With all an exile’s yearning love,
And will till life’s no more.


The Bard of Kilmactigue–His life and collected poems… by Pat McCarrick will be launched in 2021.

New Book out in October 2021

My new book about the life of Henry L. Gavigan, and including his collected poems id due out this October. Know as The Claddagh Poet, Gavigan developed a reputation during his life time for being a writer and antiquarian. 

Henry Lawrence Gavigan (1872-1933), was one of eleven children. Born into poverty, to parents who had survived the Great Famine, he grew up in an Ireland that was conflicted between its loyalty to the British Empire on the one hand and a desperate struggle to escape it on the other.

After attending and teaching school in his native Kilmactigue in Co. Sligo, Henry emigrated to America in 1893. He quickly made his way in life, progressing to a key administration position in the U.S. Postal Service. During his lifetime, Henry developed a reputation as a poet and became affectionately known as The Bard of Kilmactigue.

Whether you collect poetry, appreciate history, or just enjoy an old-fashioned yarn about love of family and country, Pat’s story of Henry L. Gavigan is sure to touch your heart in some way. The Bard of Kilmactigue is more than a work of love. It is a story of emigration and overcoming hardships to rise as far as one’s determination allows. And it is the story of a man who, despite achieving acceptance and success in a foreign land, never stopped pining for his birth mother and his mother country.

Peggy Gavan, New York.


I’m going home to Kilmactigue,
To Sligo in the spring;
And, oh, to hear in leafy lanes
The thrush and blackbird sing;
To see anew the shamrock bloom
In field and sheltered glen
That nestle round the Claddagh hills
I’m going home again!

The paths I trod in boyhood days
Shall know my steps once more;
I’ll visit shrines of saint and sage
From lovely shore to shore;
Beside the Moy I’ll muse and dream
Of Erin’s storied past;
My road is now to Kilmactigue
Oh, Fortune, speed me fast.

When dawn above the Irish coast
Dispels the gloom of night,
With joy shall I behold again
The land of lost delight;
And when the sun in liquid gold
Sinks over Corthoon Hill,
My lips will utter thankful prayer
My soul with gladness thrill.

I’m going back to Kilmactigue –
Oh, blessed ship and train! –
I’ll see the river by the road
And feel the scented rain;
Thank God that now ’tis come to this,
The die at length is cast,
To places holy in my heart
I’m going home at last!




Windings of the Moy Book

The Windings of the Moy Revisited is a photographic coffee table book produced by Pat McCarrick, photographer and owner here at the B&B.

The author of the original Windings of the Moy (1923) was Rev. James Greer. This new book however is principally a book of photographs; inspired and carried along by Greer’s original text. The original book contained only a few images, this new book contains many images and just selected excerpts from Greer. The combination of old text and modern images work very well to bring colour and new life to the Windings of the Moy story.

Pat says of the new book, It was a joy really to highlight something like the river Moy. It is of course a world-famous salmon fishing river but it has a great natural beauty as well and of course our B&B is named after the river also. Working with Greer’s text and capturing the images to match it, one hundred years later, proved to be a very rewarding project indeed.

My photography is the principal influence in this new book. Having the Ox Mountains and the source of the river at my back door, engendered a certain pride of place and urged me to create this photographic record while at the same time commemorating Greer’s original work.

The project highlighted to me the value of our region; beautiful and unspoiled. It was a bit like when we opened our home to guests; we began to enjoy the house a lot more. I now feel like that about the wider region where we live; I enjoy it a lot more!

The book is available online from or direct from the B&B when you visit!

Feature image: Moyne Abbey near the mouth of the Moy.

Image above: Original author, Rev. James Greer (1845-1929)

Opposite image: Front Cover


Landscape and Portraits

It can be fun to combine being a B&B owner and being a photographer. Photography has proved useful in promoting our accommodation business.

Right from the start I had planned to use the best images I could create to promote the business; whither on our website, on other booking platfoms or on social media. I had the idea of showing the place as well as I could but not over selling it either. There is nothing worse than showing up at an accommodation and finding it is nothing like the images that sold it to you in the first place.

It is also nice to refresh the images used and there is always opportunities; changing seasons or even changing the front door colour. Redoing the images is a bit like redecorating. It was funny in recent times when we changed our front door colour from red to yellow. Many of our former guests didn’t like the change and yet new arrivals commented how much they liked the yellow! Our local landscape is full of inviting images and I love to put them up on our Facebook Page to help entice visitors to our region and guests to Moy River.

Our old cottage has lovely early morning light that streams in through the lace-curtained window. It has proved great lighting for many portraits over the years. Often a travelling musician or a honeymoon couple will inspire a photo shoot before departure and it always proves a lovely connection; an opportunity to have a bit of fun, something to remember the visit and an invitation to return.

Food is another photography friendly subject because of colour and composition. We have found that popping breakfast on a plate can be a very creative opportunity and in like measure, an image of it can show perspective guests what lays in store in the morning.

Our unique selling points are that we are off the beaten track and we do things a little bit differently. So whither landscape or portrait, the photography has proved the perfect compliment to Bed and Breakfast!


Western Skies

The artist, Paul Henry, made the skies here in the west of Ireland famous. From Achill Island, he showed our skies as a curiosity for outsiders and a source of pride for those of us who live here. Despite our less than perfect climate, the skies are a compensation.

In the 1920s and 1930s Henry was Ireland’s best known artist, one who had a considerable influence on the popular image of the west of Ireland. Although he seems to have ceased experimenting with his technique after he left Achill and his range is limited, he created a large body of fine images whose familiarity is a testament to its influence.

The lack of high mountains and the influence of the Atlantic Ocean are undoubted factors in the ever-changing displays of mood and colour. No two days are the same and indeed, at times, no two hours are the same. The old saying that you can experience all four seasons in the same day is true for sure. Despite the unprecedented nice weather of the past six weeks, or maybe because of it, the skies over Sligo did not disappoint. Morning and evening skies had a kind of magic about them that we seldom experience. There was talk of Sahara dust, chilly influences from northern climes and Europe (both unusual) and maybe this coloured things more than a little.

Whatever the reason, the spring of 2019 was a season of bright days and some spectacular skies – a feast for the eyes. However, any season provides skies to marvel upon and so we recommend a visit with camera or artist’s brush year round.

Painting Sky

The heavens beaming ever bright
On silent clouds that sail on high,
Sometimes laden, sometimes light
But always, always painting sky.

Nebraska to Cloonacool

Recently I watched the movie, Nebraska. It’s a great movie on many levels; it’s a nice father and son, road trip story better than most but what makes it stand apart is that it is filmed in black and white. You can watch this movie with the sound off and photographically, its stunning! It inspired me to make this short video, Sligo – Black and White.

The thing about black and white images is that even before you look at the content, you get an atmospheric overview. As a photographer, I used to love colour and at times saw black and white as old fashioned. Not anymore; if photography is an art form, then black and white is art and then some.

The images in this video where all taken in colour but where chosen for this project because they transferred well to black and white, sometimes in a subtle way, sometimes with contrast. The piece is about Sligo and all the images are local, people and places. Rural life, tradition and landscape are the themes because for me these things define Sligo, especially rural Sligo. I see little separation between Queen Meadhbh and Harry McGowan, between Appalachian Music and an Ox Mountain cottage, between disused railways and new growth. County Sligo is a many splendid place and its charms need to be sung, and in keeping with this little project; photographed and developed! I hope this video helps in that regard.


The music on the video, Down by the Sally Gardens, is of course a Sligo tune and is played here by Austrian classical flutist, Karin Leitner. Yet another connection with this piece sees Karin Leitner play a House Concert here at Moy River Folk Club in Cloonacool on September 28th next.

See Sligo – Black and White here.

House Concerts

Moy River Folk Club is a performance space at Moy River B&B. We host House Concerts from time to time, offering audience a close-up and intimate experience with local, national and international artists.

Our kitchen and living room space holds about 45 people. It’s too good a space not to use. It was designed for parties in the first place, long before the B&B idea came along. Like most things, we started not knowing how it might work but with a vision of how we would like it to be. It has worked and audiences love it; its homely while the entertainment is highly professional. Artists such as Charlie McGettigan, Kieran Goss, Tommy Sands and Mick Hanly have charmed audiences here and have given us very positive feedback on their experience. In addition to that we have had Mama & Fyrmoon, a bluegrass group from Switzerland, as well as a few homegrown gigs featuring the best local talent in our community. We also hosted a charity concert in support of a school and Rita and I support in Kenya. 

As part of the process, we offer the various artists accommodation in the B&B but we generally have a room or two left if you ever want to attend a concert and also stay to enjoy the complete Moy River experience. It will also allow you to breakfast with the stars!

Keep an eye on our  Facebook page for details of up-coming events or ask to be added to our mailing list. If you would like to perform at the Club, call us on 087 2512030.

Our Garden Birds

We do our best to make our garden as nice a place as possible for garden birds. Their colour and character add so much to our surroundings here at Moy River.

We had a service man call to us on some business a few years ago and before he left told us very excitedly about ‘an unusual bird’ he had just seen outside. He described the bird enough for us to be able to tell him it was a Goldfinch. While the Goldfinch is not unusual, it is indeed very colourful.

Robin protecting his dinner!

Golfinches are great; if you get one, you get a few as they travel in flocks. They deserted us for a year or two however but we later found out there was a few reasons for this. The very cold winters of 2009 and 2010 was severs on all garden birds and that was a reason but another reason was that these lads are fussy enough about what they eat. In an effort to attract the Goldfinches back we researched what they like best and we discovered it was… nyjer seed. Nyjer seed resembles small grains of wild rice and is highly desirable by many finches for its high fat and protein content. Nyjer has another name, thistle, which sometimes alarms people. Many people think they will be growing thistle weeds in their garden if they offer this seed. On the contrary, nyjer is not a thistle at all. It’s the seed of the nyjer plant native to Ethiopia.


Shy Blue Tit.

You will have gathered that the Goldfinch is our favourite but every garden bird has something unique to offer. The robin is special and loves nothing more that a simple baked potato. Mind you he hates sharing and despite his sacred reputation, he has a temper like a Philistine! The Siskin is selfish and will beat off all-comers from the peanut feeder. The Blue Tit is shy while the Coal Tit is clever beyond imagination and the Great Tit is… well just great! Chaffinches tend to stay on the ground and are happy with the crumbs from the table above. We have Wrens and Tree Creepers as well but they tend to be the minimalists in the world of garden birds; they live on little and don’t give away many secrets!

Coal Tit taking the shortest route to the food!

Our grounds are geared for wildlife in general and birds in particular. We leave wild areas for natural food sources and safety in summer and we hang a few nest boxes so that we can enjoy the goings on in spring. We avoid cats! The average cat kills 300 garden birds each year and as we all know, there is no such thing as an ‘average’ cat!

Rather selfishly, we have placed our two bird tables close enough for us to enjoy from inside the house. One is outside the kitchen window while our guests get to enjoy the one we located just outside the dining room.



Moy River Birds

We are located at the headwaters of the river Moy in Cloonacool. Every stream that runs by our door is a small tributary to the river which eventually reaches the sea near Ballina in County Mayo. Any day you can spend a few minutes along the streams or the river itself, you will see lots of wildlife, especially birds. The following colourful characters are usually on display. 

Dipper A short-tailed, plump bird with a low, whirring flight. When perched on a rock it habitually bobs up and down and frequently cocks its tail. Its white throat and breast contrasts with its dark body plumage. It is remarkable in its method of walking into and under water in search of food. Shown above.

wagtailGrey Wagtail The grey wagtail is more colourful than its name suggests with slate grey upper parts and distinctive lemon yellow under-tail. Its tail is noticeably longer than those of pied and yellow wagtails. They have gradually increased their range in the past 150 years and in the UK have expanded into the English lowlands from the northern and western uplands.

Kingfisher Kingfishers are small unmistakable bright blue andkingfisher orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly, low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water’s surface.
They are a vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses. Kingfishers are amber listed because of their unfavourable conservation status in Europe.

moorhenMoorhen (known locally as Waterhen) Moorhens are blackish with a red and yellow beak and long, green legs. Seen closer-up, they have a dark brown back and wings and a more bluish-black belly, with white stripes on the flanks.


Ref: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)