Just 20 miles off the western coast of Ireland lies a world unto itself—the Aran Islands. With soaring cliffs that sheer right out of the ocean, windswept fields stitched together with limestone rock walls, and where the ancient Gaelic language is heard as often as English, these islands are utterly captivating. Our resident photographer and photo editor, Brian McGilloway, recently traveled to Inishmore, the largest of the islands, on our Treasure of Ireland’s West Coast adventure. Though the island is only 12 square miles and home to less than 850 residents, the photo opportunities are endless. Here, he shares some of his favorite photos from his trip—and gives some photography tips along the way.
“Inishmore has always been a delightful challenge for me as a photo subject,” says Brian. “The landscapes reveal themselves momentarily and then hide behind fog, creating a serendipitous balance of being at the right place at the right time. It reminds me why I love the Emerald Isles so much.”
Photo tip: I used an off-camera flash to provide a bit more light. It skims across the face of this Celtic cross and mimics the dawn light, bringing out the detail in the pitted stone.
Photo tip: A graduated neutral density filter, clear on the bottom and gradually darker toward the top, allows me to “knock down” the exposure in the sky.
Inishmore is only 12 square miles, but is estimated to have nearly 1,000 miles of limestone walls! Photo Tip: I positioned the camera to catch the setting sun peeking through the stone. I used another graduated filter, this one “sunset” colored, and popped a small bit of warmed flash so the foreground was not completely silhouetted.
Horse traps are an easy way to traverse the island after a hike. There are fewer than 100 vehicles on Inishmore.
Our Trip Leader Con Moriarty stands on the cliffs above the Atlantic. He reminds us to mind a sudden off-shore gust of wind!
These shops are full of woolen goods—and the warmest sweaters you can own!
-Photos and text by resident photographer and photo editor, Brian McGilloway, Treasure of Ireland’s West Coast.