Why I Love Doing Coastal Photography in the West of Ireland
I recently spent four days on the Connemara coast in the West of Ireland.
It was partly a photography trip as I wanted to spend some time immersing myself in the beautiful coastal landscape that we find here.
There are already hundreds of photos taken along this western seaboard, taken with expensive photographic equipment, and used for tourism brochures, advertisements, exhibitions or for private sale.
I am not trying to reach anything near those standards.
My aim was to go down to the coast each day, at different times and regardless of weather conditions, and simply photograph what caught my eye, what drew my attention, what seemed to speak to me.
This is the type of photography that appeals to me.
I like all types of landscape photography but there is something about the coast and being by the sea that I love, and that is what makes coastal landscapes my favourite for photography.
Being by the sea really encourages me to observe, to explore, to connect with my environment and to take all kinds of photographs.
While I do take wide vistas at the coast occasionally, I am more drawn to intimate scenes – close-ups of rocks, sand patterns and the ebb and flow of the sea all hold an attraction for me.
Since I live on the eastern side of Ireland, where the sea is calm and quiet, I love to travel to the wild Atlantic coast whenever I can.
On this occasion I stayed in Barna, a coastal village situated close to Galway along the coast road heading west. The village acts as a gateway to the Irish speaking Connemara Gaeltacht.
Connemara is an area where modern meets traditional, where stone walls co-exist with contemporary buildings, where sheep graze on the roadside close to a village boasting an award-winning restaurant.
The pace of life is slow. Drivers are courteous even though the volume of traffic has increased considerably over the last few years.
These are some of the images I captured.
While not exclusive to a coastal area, it was the juxtaposition of traditional and modern that drew my attention to this ruined cottage.
It sits on the side of the road, sandwiched between modern apartments and a new housing development. It looks totally out of place today, yet it has a story to tell, a story of different times when life was simpler, if not easier, and of the people who lived out their lives under its thatched roof.
As I struggled to get a picture of the whole cottage from across the street, due to the endless stream of traffic blocking a clear view, I was transported to a bygone era.
I imagined the residents of the cottage over the years having no difficulty crossing the road, and wondered what the advent of cars meant for their lives. I’m sure they saw advantages and disadvantages in this modern development!
A visit to Kylemore Abbey
This is a slight diversion from the coastal landscape but while visiting Connemara we decided to take a trip inland to Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine Abbey founded in 1920 in the beautiful Kylemore Castle. The castle itself was built in 1868.
Kylemore Abbey is considered to be one of the most romantic castles in Ireland and there are many iconic images to be found on brochures and web pages.
I just had to get my own pictures of this fairytale castle!
After a return journey through the Connemara mountains it was back to the coast for my final images.
On our last day we were treated to the spectacle of an incoming Atlantic storm.
The sea went from relative calm to stormy in the space of a few minutes as the tide came roaring in.
I tried to capture some of the incoming waves as they splashed on the rocks, and at times I did manage to capture the sea spray.
While my images don’t do justice to what I saw, it was a great experience to watch as the waves jumped higher and higher before crashing on the rocks.
Sometimes just watching is also an important part of photography, and viewing my images at home transports me back to that place and allows me to re-live the experience.
Hopefully some of these images will give you an idea of why I love to photograph on the west coast of Ireland.
I am already looking forward to my return.