On the last weekend of January, a gap emerged in our schedule that meant that I could get out and explore a little more of The West Coast. As usual, I’d been adding pins to a google map of places that I wanted to visit, and so drew a route between a few of them in Dingle, and set an alarm for early on Sunday morning. My plan was to be on Conor Pass as the sun rose. Being January in Western Ireland, I realised that I might not actually see that sunrise, but at least it gave me something to aim for…
Sure enough, rather than a sunrise, the day just turned a lighter grey, but there was some drama in the sky to add to the pictures. It’s a beautiful spot, but I imagine that the single track road over the pass is impossibly snarled up with the summer tourists.
I passed through Dingle town and headed for Dunmore Head, what the farmer charging €2 to walk his path calls ‘the westernmost point in ‘mainland’ Europe’. In the gale force winds, it felt like the end of the earth as I looked out at the bleak Blasket Islands across the crashing waves.
There’s a fascinating story about the last child living on the Blaskets before they were evacuated in the 1950s. A photojournalist did a story about how tough life was on the islands and how ‘the loneliest boy in the world‘ only had adults and seagulls for friends. The story did the ’50s equivalent of ‘going viral’ and offers to adopt the boy flooded in.
The view across to the Iveragh Peninsula and central Kerry.
The old harbour at Dunquin is incredible. A concrete paths drops steeply down the side of a cliff to a jetty protected from the worst of the sea conditions by two huge, pyramid shaped rocks. Again, having the luxury of being able to get to these places in a couple of hours means that I can visit before the summer crowds.
For me, the bleak weather and the fact that I saw almost no one the whole day, just add to the atmosphere of these places and the feeling that they’re fighting a timeless battle with the sea.
Long-exposures seemed to suit that feeling.
Before heading home, I stopped off at Minard Castle and it’s pretty beach. The southern coast of the Dingle Peninsula is well protected from the Atlantic and was much calmer. The view across to Iveragh and the high mountains was an ideal way to see out the last of the daylight and to start dreaming of the next trip to explore that area…
I shot the same views on film – you can see those in this blog post.