Exploring Inis Oirr

by Peter McCabe | April 4, 2014

© Peter McCabeThe Island is buzzing, tri-colors are flying, a TV crew has been spotted, and clinking champagne glasses can be heard in the local pub. Sadly, despite the six-minute flight from Connemara this isn’t all for me! The Irish president, affectionately known as Michael D. is paying a flying visit.

Despite the temptation of clinking glasses, I am off up a hill and down the meandering dry stone wall lined lanes to explore the Inis Óirr coastline.

Off the coast of County Galway, the Island is the smallest of the Aran Islands and is probably the most beautiful.

I was last here ten years ago. It’s coastline and the images I never captured back then have haunted me ever since. Why I haven’t been back is beyond me. This evening, with the wind blowing across it’s exposed rocky landscape; I am hoping to lay those ghosts to rest.

The light—the stuff photographers are rarely ever happy with—isn’t great; the image I had in mind isn’t going to happen. So with the aid of Big stopper, I’ve set up at the edge of a rock face, sheltered from the westerly wind, tripping the shutter. Minutes later, when the shutter finally closes, the image I captured is slightly mysterious and haunting.

Lighthouse in distance © Peter McCabe

Later that evening further back along the coast, the lighthouse is again the subject of my attention. With a tripod spread across the rocks, waiting for a wave. I am getting wet! The drama of the captured image makes the soaking worth it.

Waves splashing against rocks © Peter McCabe

The following morning, despite a night of song and dance in the local pub, I’m standing in the darkness waiting for dawn. In the distance the rusting hulk of “The Plassy”, stands shipwrecked on the furrowed limestone coastline. The moon hangs low in the morning sky, and the distant light of the lighthouse swings by like clockwork.

Old shipwreck in distance © Peter McCabe

Now a tourist attraction in its own right, the word is the Islanders are on the lookout for a replacement, due to the fact that it may not survive many more winter storms.

With the first rays of sunlight creeping across the Island, and with nothing for company but the sound of the ocean, the first of many exposures and compositions are captured.

Landscape with ocean in distance © Peter McCabe

It certainly won’t be another 10 years before I am back.

About the Author

Irish landscape photographer Peter McCabe is one of Ireland’s leading landscape photographers.

Self taught, he has been coined the custodian of the irish landscape—a title he is both honoured with and humbled by. His award-winning photography has documented and detailed some of the most pristine and untouched views of Ireland’s landscape. His distinctive imagery is a result of his passion for the Irish landscape, capturing it in all its beauty no matter what the prevailing conditions may be.

You can find Peter’s work in many of the world’s leading stock photography agencies including the Irish Image Collection, Getty, Design Pics & Axiom photographic, as well as numerous publications around the world.

He authors the popular photography masterclass series in Ireland's Outsider magazine and leads a number of photography workshops in Ireland, educating and coaching other photographers.

Visit his website and Facebook page for more.

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