This post contains snaps taken on this (late-October, Bank Holiday) Monday, as I continue along my path to photo-rehab. I headed out with two cameras, a bag of film, and a Google map of holy sites in The Burren. The outing followed on from the previous day shooting the Quin Abbey.
The title of this post, and the sentiment of the last, reflects my attempt to think differently about taking pictures. In fact, to think less about taking pictures.
I don’t mean this in a Lomography sort of way – shoot any old crap on crappy cameras, with crappy film and make out its special*. I do mean spend less time worrying about narrative, gear choices and audience. Just go take some pictures and get back to what it should be about, and that’s enjoying my hobby.
*I get that people might look at my pictures and think they’re crappy.
I’d stumbled across a website that was devoted (sic) to recording the location and details of holy wells, blessed trees and religious rocks. Embedded into the site was a Google map that would provide my route for the day. I’m not at all religious, and this list could have been a group of novelty post boxes or particularly ugly roundabouts. What I needed were the dots that needed connecting. This way, it would take me to places that I wouldn’t see otherwise, and provide a photographic challenge in finding something decent to shoot.
One quote that I found helpful from the Burren Holy Wells site was this:
“The simplest definition of a holy well might be that if people thought it as such, and treated it as such, then it was a holy well”Bord, Janet. 2006
Individual wells are renowned for cures for ailments associated with body and mind including eyes, warts, back, infertility and mental illness, amongst many others. The wells ranged from a pile of stones around a hole in the ground, to permanent, well(!) maintained structures.
First stop was Crooked Moher (no really) and a well that was nothing more a hole in the Burren’s limestone pavement, with a ring of rocks casually scattered around it. Offerings had been left and old tea lights were stuck with wax around the rocks. A pair of glasses had been left – I can only assume that the wearer’s sight was cured here and they no longer had use for them.
Between the well and where I parked the car, an invisible to most passers-by, were two abandoned cars, slowly becoming strata, and being consumed by nature. Who can resist taking pictures of these?
Later in the day, I headed for St. Fachta’s well – another renowned for curing eye ailments, and in a spectacular setting in the heart of the Burren. Alongside the well and cairn is a ‘clootie’ or rag tree while pilgrims will tie offerings, often red cloth. These scraps of material and ex voto are weathered and aged by the harsh climate on the Burren, with strong winds and frequent heavy rain blowing in off the North Atlantic.
Holy trees are even more strange than puddles that can fix eyesight. This one near Corofin was planted by a famous priest in the mid-1800s. It wasn’t clear what powers the tree might have, but again, offerings had been left by people who had more more pious reasons for visiting than me.
As I mentioned at the top, the trip between these sites is the reason I visit and the places that I might find along the way. I’m very happy that I found this mast near Carran as I like the pictures that I made of it, especially the one at the top of the page.
To take the pictures of the mast, I pulled into a gateway and got out of the car. Here’s the gate, and if you scroll down a little, you’ll hear the sound that the gate was making as the wind blew in from the sea…
Tobar Colmcille, Glencolmcille South, Carran. The well water here was again believed to cure eye ailments. Visitors would rub their eyes with water or fill bottles with water and take them away. The water was also reputed to heal foot maladies.
One rain shower too many – time to head home…
So there we are. I shot three rolls of film, had a grand day out and came home with some pictures I like, having been to places that I’d never been to before. Win. Win. Win.
On the downside, I did remember what an absolute ball-ache scanning is. Oh well, all part of the path…
Pictures were taken on a Mamiya C330 twin lens reflex camera (the square ones), with Fuji and Ilford Film. The rectangular snaps were taken with a Canon EOS5 and Ilford HP5; a film that I’ve never much cared for, but I like these results. All the films were processed in our kitchen using Ilford DD-X and scanned at home too.