The Emerald Isle
by Allie Richards
This year, Paul and I decided to scout Ireland for a photo tour we’ll be launching in 2020. We had a great time traveling all around the country, from Dublin, to Northern Ireland, to Galway, to Dingle, and more. I think we travelled some 2,000 miles exploring, and we made some of our favorite photos yet. Watch the video above for our highlights, and continue reading for more.
After getting confident enough to drive on the left side of the road, we drove north to the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is home to a unique landscape, and known for its naturally occurring hexagonal basalt columns. This spot is prime for making extraordinary photographs and videos (which we did) and you can even make some great portraits using the stones as steps.
Another stop we made was at the Dark Hedges, a collection of Beech trees that is famous to photographers and Game of Thrones fans alike. This road is featured in the series as “The King’s Road.” The challenge here is being patient enough to wait for the moment where there are no people walking through (or commercial photo shoots).
After exploring some backroads, the last stop for us on our first day took us out of Northern Ireland and into Donegal. Fanad Head Lighthouse, though not close by to anything, is perfectly perched up on a cliff by the ocean. We both made lots of shots using long exposure to blur the massive waves hitting the cliffs. After dinner, we made the long drive back to our hotel outside of Dublin.
The next morning, we were en route to Killarney. We made a stop in southern-central Ireland at the Rock of Cashel, or Cashel of the Kings, and Hors Abbey. The ruins are extensive and made for a nice afternoon stop to break up the drive.
When we got to Killarney, we spent some time exploring Killarney National Park. Paul experimented with his new Edelkrone Slider, a motion-control device for video production. We can now make even better timelapses!
We made our way to our sunset location - Gouganne Bara National Park. The roads here are the windiest farm roads I’ve ever had to drive on, but it was worth it. I don’t think you can see mossy trees like this anywhere else in Ireland, and with the right time of day, they “glow.” Even though it was raining during the entire shoot, the shots from here might be some of our best.
The coast on the Dingle Peninsula was our favorite part of the trip. “The Wild Atlantic Way” as it’s called, did not disappoint in the slightest. The coast was rocky, green, and beautiful.
With how rainy Ireland is, rainbows are a common sight.
As soothing to look at, as it may seem, this location was extremely difficult to shoot. The wind here was some of the most intense we’ve ever experienced, and Paul’s camera nearly fell off the cliff a few times. We physically had to restrain our tripods to hold everything still, and literally hold onto our hats. Not for the faint of heart on a windy day, but I think we accomplished our mission in making edgy sunset shots here. We will definitely take our students here on our photo tour in 2020.
Ireland is littered with ruins from another time - Castles, churches, and more. This is the Gallarus Oratory, a pre-Christian church built by monks in (estimated) the 12th century. It’s the only intact structure of its type.
Similar to the Gallarus Oratory, Poulnabrone dolmen, or “The Portal Tomb” is a mass grave site located in The Burren, a desolate limestone area. When you think of Ireland, you think “green” and “ocean",” but here, the land is gray, and more like an ocean of unforgiving stone. The portal tomb was originally built in 4200-2900 BC. In Ireland, there are 172 portal tombs.
We made a stop at the Cliffs of Moher - a must-see if you make it to Ireland. It’s a difficult place to photograph if the conditions are clear, but there are multiple perspectives you can take.
As if we didn’t already have our fill of ruins, we made a stop at Dunguaire Castle in the rain. I assume this landscape would be more interesting with some sun and spring flowers, but stormy weather can be good too.
At the point in the trip, we were staying in Galway on the coast. We got up early to make some dawn photos of the colored houses.
And I made a shot of the swans that live on the bay.
With wind being a constant factor, we didn’t get to fly our drone very much. We did make this shot in the countryside, as well as some clips featuring rolling hills and sheep!
Nearing the end our trip, we spent a day exploring the Connemara region. We made stops at Cong Abbey, Kylemore Abbey, and drove the entire Connemara loop.
Our hotel before spending our last day in Dublin was in Trim, and we were right next to Trim Castle. Good thing for us, it’s illuminated at night. Part of Braveheart was filmed here.
Our last day was spent exploring the streets of Dublin, eating in Irish pubs, and trying the Guinness! It sure does taste very different - and better - in Dublin.