Return From Ireland

From October 3rd through October 15th, I was traveling in Ireland, with my now fiancé (!), and I must say it well exceeded my expectations. We lucked out with the weather and had mostly sunny days and everywhere we went, a picture unfolded. I fully intended to blog in real time while I was in Ireland, but the internet was spotty, and there were too many adventures to be had. When I returned to the States, I had a business trip to LA, so alas, I am a few weeks late in posting, but I will try my best to recap the trip.

We landed in Dublin and spent our first two days in the city. The city’s streets seemed to be even more disorganized than DC’s, and it was much easier to navigate on foot, which was great for photos. I have to say that my favorite part of Dublin was Trinity College’s library. The lighting on the books was gorgeous, and I spoke with the bookkeeper there for some time about the history of the library and the books that come through. The rest of our escapades in Dublin centered mainly around pubs, so all I can say about that is that the people in Ireland, even in Dublin, are quite friendly.

We left Dublin, heading towards Cork, and made a stop at the Rock of Cashel. This was one of the most gorgeous days of our trip, and since the former-castle is high on a hill, you could see green countryside sharing blue skies for miles. I played around quite a bit with the 120 film camera here, as well as my 5D. Then we made our way on to Cork. I actually don’t think I took a single image of Cork on my DSLR, because we spent most of our time there socializing in speakeasies with the locals, who were the most friendly people we met on the entire trip!

We took the obligatory Blarney trip, but I was amazed at how beautiful the grounds at Blarney were. Cobh, is not far from Cork, and we decided to make a detour because I have a fascination with Titanic history. The roads in this area were quite treacherous and hilly, and there weren’t as many photo opportunities, but the smell of the Celtic Sea was exciting. We didn’t stick around too long, as we wanted to explore Gougane Barra Forest, a few hours away, off the road to Killarney. I don’t think all that many tourists stop by this forest, but it was my favorite place we visited. The trees and forest floor are covered in moss and shamrocks so the whole forest is green. Some locals in Cork told us that many Irish believe that Gougane Barra produces genuine magic and many people go here to be married or experience something significant. I can certainly understand why.

At Killarney, we visited Killarney National Park’s Muckross House and Torc Waterfall. Both offered beautiful photographs, but we were anxious to start driving, so we only spent a few hours there. The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular road trips for tourists, and it is no wonder. You might as well walk it because you will be stopping the car every 5 minutes to take a photo. The first leg of the ring, we had significant cloud coverage, with spotlights of sun. We made a few stops in small towns along the road, like Sneem, but the most scenic portion of the trip unfolded when we got to Caherdaniel and Waterville. We arrived just at the Golden hour, and we got several great images.

We stayed in Portmaghee that evening, after I tried my hand at driving manual, and failed. Portmaghee was probably my favorite town we stayed in, maybe because I was still high off a day of beautiful photos or because I’d forgotten how good the ocean smells. Portmaghee is the town where you can take a boat to the Skellig islands, which we ultimately did not do. Instead we headed to the Dingle Peninsula where we could see similar bee-hive huts.

On the way, we stopped at Inch Beach to touch the Atlantic Ocean from the “other side” and when we turned to go back to the car, we saw beautiful mirroring on the slick sand. The beehive huts were cool, and situated in a civilian’s backyard. I will say I found it interesting that, in Ireland, old or ancient sites are allowed to be in people’s back yards. We saw random ruins everywhere! We scooted on over to Adare for the night and talked with the bartender all evening about “Irish” football.

We spent the entire following day at the Cliffs of Moher. We arrived early, and my boyfriend proposed! We loved the views, but realized we weren’t going to get that classic shot of the cliffs unless we stayed until the golden hour, so we did. Since we stayed at Moher the whole day, we didn’t get a chance to explore the Burren, and instead drove straight to Galway. I found Galway to be more “my kind of city” than Cork or Dublin. Galway Bay is gorgeous, and the Connemara mountains aren’t far away. We chose to explore the Aran Islands instead of the mountains, however. We managed to go on an unusually sunny and blue day and we had an incredible time biking the island. If you’re going to go, I would highly recommend Michael Faherty’s tour, he was incredible!

We wrapped our trip exploring Galway’s markets and Meath’s archaeological sites like the Hill of Tara and Newgrange. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in Ireland, and I hope we can return in the future to explore more! I’ve added a gallery here of some of the places we explored on our trip. If you have any questions about where to go or what to see, please comment, and I will try to help. Hopefully, I will get the 120 prints back soon, and I will post when I do.