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Wednesday, 15 July 2009 00:00

Ireland 2009

We have just returned from a quick trip to Ireland to visit my father-in-law where he lives in Ballyhahill in Southern Ireland. Although the prime reason for the visit was for my wife to see her dad I hoped to be able to get some photography time so took my camera and a selection of lenses. Unfortunately the weather was dreadful almost every day with torrential rain and grey sky's making everything look dull and cold when in fact Ireland is anything but.


We flew from Gatwick to Shannon with Ryan Air but I think in all honesty this will be the last time we fly with them as the flight was truly awful with the only positive thing to say about it being that it was short. Not only do you get treated like cattle with Ryan Air you also get treated with what can only be described as contempt with the cabin crew wanting as little to do with you as possible and just want you to get on the plane, sit down and shut up so that they can try and sell you all sorts of rubbish every five minutes. Ryan Air make no bones about their 'low cost' airline but in all honesty the little they do charge for their flights is still too expensive for the 'service' they provide. Next time we'll pay a little bit more for a lot more comfort.

Upon arrival we picked up our hire car and our Tom Tom satellite navigation which we brought with us came into it's own as we were quickly and easily able to navigate the maze of winding country roads that cross the entire country yet have very few sign posts which, unless you know where you are going, makes navigation very hard.

The Sat Nav came into it's own again on the only day it didn't rain constantly and we were able to make a quick trip to Killarney without getting totally soaked. Killarney is one of Ireland's most popular tourist towns which was immediately evident by the large numbers of people and cars which came as quite a shock after a few days of staying in Ballyhahill where you might only see one car and two people a day. Our main reason for going to Killarney was to see Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey.

boatsOur first stop was at Ross Castle which was built in the 15th century by the O'Donoghue chieftains and was frequently redeveloped and rebuilt well into the 1800's. The castle itself was built on the banks of a large lake and this first photo was shot from the car park looking up a stream that feeds the lake where dozens of rowing boats are mored waiting to be hired.

Because the weather was so bad almost none of the photos I shot there work in colour and so I have processed many of my photos in Lightroom using the Silver Efex Pro plugin to convert them into Black & White which, I hope, makes them more interesting and helps to bring out the tones that were there and to give a bit more atmosphere.

ross_castleThe castle itself is mainly a tower with barracks that were later added and has stunning views across a large lake which also has an island called Innisfallen which houses a 7th century monastery and a 12th century oratory. According to legend the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, was educated at the monastery by the monks in the 9th century.

landscapeThis brief burst of sunshine lasted no more than 3 minutes before it started to rain again but gave me enough time to grab this shot across the lake at Ross Castle showing the mountains in the background.

abbeyA short drive from Ross Castle are the ruins of Muckross Abbey. The Abbey was built at the same time as Ross Castle in 1440 and in it's center is a Yew Tree which was planted at the same time. The Yew Tree is still standing making it not only over 560 years old but also the oldest living thing in Ireland. To put that into context, the tree was already 50 years old when Christopher Columbus discovered America. Surrounding this tree are these 'corridors' which are largely intact and very atmospheric. I really wished I had my tripod with me as the light levels were very low and I really wanted to capture the shadows that were being cast by the pillars and the branches of the Yew Tree. In the end I had to hand hold and just increase my ISO but as I was using my Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm getting a fast enough shutter speed wasn't too difficult. Again this shot is edited in Lightroom with the Silver Efex Pro plugin.

I would certainly like to make another trip to Ireland purely for photographic reasons as there is a lot to photograph. Next time though, I want better weather!

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