Ireland’s beautiful greenery (and Willing Drennan’s poem) are likely at the origin of the Emeralds Island’s nickname, which is well-deserved. Rainy and often challenging weather (especially fora photographer 😢 ) clearly contribute to it… and actually adds to the island’s beauty! There are also 30 000 castles and ruins on the island, like the beautiful Ross Castle in the Killarney National Park.
From the amazing history and beautiful countryside landscapes to the Dublin capital and its pubs (the oldest pub opened already in 900 A.D!), Ireland is a fantastic place to visit and a paradise for landscape photography.
As Halloween was invented by the Irish (from the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain), I thought it was the appropriate time of the year to say thank you to the Irish and highlight 5 great landmarks and areas out of many, as my little sample of the man-made and natural wonders of Ireland.
Rock of Cashel (St. Patrick’s)
Rock of Cashel is Ireland’s most visited heritage site, for good reason. The site, perched on a limestone rock, was the fortress of the Munster kings in the early Middle Ages. These medieval structures are amazing. At night, under a starry sky (with a bit of luck in terms of the weather), it really has a “Game of Thrones” feel and is an amazing experience!
The ancient graveyards with Celtic cross headstones at the Rock of Cashel are also amazing to see and photograph, especially under a stormy sky.
Cliffs of Moher
The wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal driving route in the world (2500km) and the cliffs of Moher are possibly the most famous part of it. These 120 meter-high cliffs and meadows of verdant green grass offer stunning views of the coastline and endless opportunities for travel photography
Cliff of Moher is one of the most visited attractions in the country. Among the trail, you’ll also enjoy superb views of the Aran Islands and amazing landscapes everywhere, so walking around is highly recommended!
Gurteen Beach and Dog’s Bay
These horseshoe-shaped Galway beaches are a must-see in Ireland. Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay are beautiful back-to-back beaches near Roundstone village, just off the road to Clifden.
The crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sands (made of tiny shells from sea creatures) make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean (when weather permits it 😊)! That spot offers amazing colors for photography prints.
Kylemore Abbey and the Connemara
This is a Victorian Benedictine monastery and walled gardens, funded on the grounds of the Kylemore Castle. Surrounded by the Connemara mountains, this is worth a visit (one hour from Galway City).
The Connemara park area (in and around the national park) offers endless possibilities and hikes. The coastline nearby is also beautiful near Clifden (referred to as “the Capital of Connemara”).
Murrisk Abbey ruins and harbor
The Murrisk Augustinian Friary is a very ancient 15th-century ruin in Clew Bay (County Mayo). There is mainly one central aisle of the church left today, but this makes these ruins special. As I believe it is a top spot for astrophotography, I wanted to mention this place even if it is obviously a more minor landmark of the Emerald Isle.
When you are there, have a look at the nearby fishing harbor for great picture opportunities there, regardless of how challenging the weather looks 😉.
Last but not least… Dublin
Dublin is worth a couple of days to visit and enjoy. The pub to people ratio in Dublin is reported to be around 1 for 100 so you’ll not be short of options for your evenings there 😎…
Here are a few highlights for Dublin, clearly not intended to be exhaustive.
Temple Bar area
To stay on the pub theme, the iconic pubs of the Dublin Temple Bar area are must-see. Out of many, Dame Tavern is an icon in the area, with the famous Irish Republic Constitution.
Have a look – and a drink – at the Oliver St. John Gogarty (Irish Poet) pub for some colorful pictures!
Crown Alley Street
In the Temple Bar district, Crown Alley and its surroundings are also a great place with many pubs, shops, art and culture, and a very vibrant nightlife. Good spot for travel photography as well.
Samuel Beckett Bridge and the riverfront
Of course, the harp-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge and walking around the riverfront should be part of your exploration of Dublin City.
Say hi to Molly!
A visit to Dublin is not complete without saying hello to the Molly Malone statue – if you’ve heard about the Cockles and Mussels song.
Obviously, my post just scratches the surface of the many natural and man-made wonders of Ireland. So, don’t be afraid of the rain, go and see the amazing Emerald Isle!