Photographing Cobh's Deck of Cards, County Cork

Written by
County Cork - Cobh's Deck of Cards County Cork - Cobh's Deck of Cards

On a recent photography tour in Cobh, County Cork we stopped to photograph the town's best known features - the hilly seaside street with colourfully-painted houses known as the Deck of Cards, and the lofty Saint Colman's Cathedral.

It was my first time visiting the seaside town since before the lockdown began in March 2020 and within moments it became obvious that something had changed since I took my last image. The previously colourful street had lost much of its character with recent colour changes.

From yellow, orange and red - bright, bold colours that clash with the blue and turquoise just a few doors away - to grey, beige and some other indescribable colour; becoming almost identically non-descript.

It's almost as if the owners hate their homes being photographed so much that they have decided to paint them some horrible colour to discourage the camera-wielding tourists.

It doesn't seem to work, even Tourism Ireland are posting images of the Deck of Cards houses approximately once per month on their social media channels - of course using the older, more colourful versions. As we photographed here, more than 10 people arrived with cameras pointed in the direction of the houses and Saint Colman's; most unaware that their images won't turn out to be as bright and colourful as the tourist literature suggests.

I think it's a shame, if you're going to go to the bother of painting the whole front of your house, on a street of iconic houses, then why choose these colours.

At least the blue house painted their varnished door to a new shade of blue.

The Deck of Cards, 23 houses each built on their own level and painted different colours (albeit many of them now not very interesting or colourful) on a hill known as West View, were built in the 1850s and it is said they resemble cards set together in an upside down V, also that they would come tumbling down like a deck of cards if the bottom one fell.

So, would I go to photograph the Deck of Cards again? Yes, but only out of curiosity to see if bold colours have returned. Would I go out of my way to photograph the Deck of Cards? I'm not sure, I definitely would while passing but at the moment I don't think the colours visible from the viewing point are interesting. On a dark, grey day indeed these colours almost blend in to the general background atmosphere.

Think about how a rainbow stands out on a rainy day, the colours are bright, vibrant and clashing.

And would I go to Cobh to photograph? Absolutely, the people are amongst the friendliest you will find in Ireland and the town has a strong history, fine buildings and plenty of scenery around to make it a worthy visit.



Join me, to photograph the colourful, and not so colourful parts of Ireland on a Panoramic Ireland photography workshop or tour.

Colourful Deck of Cards in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

Colourful Deck of Cards in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

Not so-colourful Deck of Cards, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

Not so-colourful Deck of Cards, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
Last modified on Tuesday, 21 February 2023 23:53
Darren McLoughlin

Irishman and International travel photographer in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Echtra Echtra and Eonmusic

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about travel in Ireland or about photography in Ireland.


  • Comment Link Darren Tuesday, 22 February 2022 18:50 posted by Darren

    Thanks Kerry, despite the boring colours on the houses, I do think Cobh is a very scenic town to visit still. It has some of the friendliest people you will find in Ireland - truly they are genuinely genial. Cobh still has plenty of other colourful, scenic sights so I would still consider it as a place to visit. Hope that helps a bit and feel free to ask if you have any questions. Darren

  • Comment Link Kerry Friday, 18 February 2022 14:41 posted by Kerry

    You still managed to get a beautiful photograph. I've been planning a trip to Ireland and it included Cobh for this very shot. I've honestly been debating changing my itinerary because of it. And it's really a shame they are still advertising with old images.

Leave a comment

Contact Us
1000 characters left
Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.