The Cliffs of Moher (Aillte an Mhothair) stand at the edge of the Burren in County Clare and tower between 390 and an impressive 702 feet above the sea; the rocks that make up these cliffs are over 300 million years old. I suppose then it’s understandable that it seems anyone who has ever picked up a camera and been to Ireland has taken a picture of the Cliffs. I took it as a challenge to take a shot that is hopefully somewhat memorable among so many others.
I’ve been here a number of times so I was able to shoot at a variety of times of day with different types of light. This particular picture was shot in my favorite type of light; clouds had covered the sun until the end of the day when it broke through from underneath as it headed towards sunset. This created some dramatic light that illuminated the cliffs and the ocean while the sky remained overcast. I won’t even mention how many shots I’ve taken of the cliffs over the years to get to this one; so I hope you find it memorable and worth publishing as well!
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
~The Wild Swans at Coole, W.B. Yeats
I will be returning to Ireland in a few weeks and I’m already trying to prepare myself for the emotional impact. Ireland will always be a place I inextricably link with my mother; not only because her, our, family is there but because of the sheer joy my mother felt being there.
She loved Ireland, loved the trips we took there and spoke often of visiting one more time, even when she knew it would no longer be possible. But even then, just talking about a dream of making the journey inevitably led to reminiscing about favorite places and things and retelling of stories that made her feel connected with her family and quite simply made her happy.
My mother’s recollections were often accompanied by a quote from Joyce or Yeats, and so then mine is as well.
This is the black sand beach at Vík í Mýrdal, the southernmost village in Iceland. I shot this picture last August and it was hard to believe it was summer; while in Reykjavik it was a balmy 68 degrees, at Vík í Mýrdal the wind was howling and the temperature couldn’t have been much above freezing.
Iceland is a beautiful place with a diversity of landscapes from frozen glaciers to erupted volcanoes (Eyafjallajökull; say that five times fast) to therapeutic hot springs as well as breathtaking beaches like this one. The sand on this beach is made up from volcanic rock and the columns in the background are called Reynisdrangar. Legend says that the stacks were created when three trolls attempted to drag a three-masted ship to land but they were caught by dawn and when daylight broke they became needles of rock.
I was in Iceland for a week but I could have happily stayed for much longer. I plan to return, in winter next time, and hope to capture the Northern Lights.
My hometown is part of a city, but it’s a peninsula and so it has remained a separate, quieter place with a real sense of neighborhood. Every Fourth of July there is a parade that most of us who were brought up here have marched in at one time or another. The year I walked with my sister and some friends we didn’t win any awards, but we did all receive a fifty cent coin and I remember thinking that was quite a reward!
After the parade is the cookout, a tradition that was started by my parents and has been continued by my sister who lives in the house we grew up in. Family, friends…friends of friends are all welcome. I can’t imagine a better holiday, or a better place to celebrate it.
This is the view of Ashmount, the family farm in Leenane, Connemara Co. Galway. This is where my family on my mother’s side, the Joyces, come from. One of my cousins created a family tree and I think he got back to the 1400’s and the Joyces were still right here in Connemara. This is a view from the look out rock on the mountain behind the farm. There is a clear view from the Killary and Leenane village all the way to Lough Corrib. It’s quite a climb, but the view more than makes up for the effort!
I head back to Ireland at least once a year and always end up spending a lot of time in Leenane. My mother’s cousin Vin still runs the farm and I’m sure he appreciates all the “help” I provide. One of these days I’ll head over to Leenane, find a nice cottage and just stay. It always feels like home.
My plan is to post a different photo once a week with a short summary about it. Feedback is welcome (or requests, if you have any favorite photos!)