Darren McLoughlin

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

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

Ireland has seen some weather in the past few weeks of summer 2021. A heatwave covered the island in a thick layer of warm air with temperatures regularly in the high 20s Celsius, even reaching 31.4C.

Then, the inevitable rainy weather where now, a week later, we are seeing rain and wind and unseasonably cold weather of 14 to 16 degrees Celsius.

Yet it's not all doom and gloom, the weather often gives landscape photographers a fine spectacle at sunset.

That's what we got tonight as a full day of rain cleared to give a cloudy sunset with spreading rays of orangey-red light across the sky. Quite an experience, initially we saw the rays of sunshine lighting up the landscape so turned to find the view obscured somewhat as we were photographing from behind a tall hedge; after spending some time and effort climbing through hawthorns and elder to get a clearer view of the final burst of colour in the sky and were not disappointed.

Join Panoramic Ireland, that's me, for a landscape photography adventure in the Irish countryside.

Summer in Ireland, it's a fine season - warm winds, long days and occasionally a heat that envelops everything. It isn't the first thing people think of when they think of Ireland; usually changeable conditions and rain is what comes to mind, not the 31C-plus temperatures that the island has seen in July 2021.

In most years there is a balance, warm days and mild nights; rain followed by sunshine and so on. This year we have had a cold and wet start to spring and summer, but the second half of July 2021 has made up for a lot of that with record breaking temperatures across the northern half of Ireland.

From a scenic drive through the Wicklow Mountains on a fine, summer's day.

The long and open road looks almost plonked down across the sloping, almost treeless landscape of the Irish countryside only 40 minutes from Dublin City.

This road, closed due to snow in winter and melting under scorching sun in the summer, is a fine example of the scenic drives in Ireland.

Join Panoramic Ireland for a photography tour/workshop/experience in the scenic Irish countryside in 2021, 2022 and beyond.

July 2021 has brought some interesting weather to the island of Ireland with a new record for Northern Ireland set in Armagh at 31.4 degrees Celsius. Unusually for summer, Ireland has had warmer temperatures than neighbouring Britain for much of the month and a 'Tropical Night' was recorded when night-time temperatures didn't drop below 20C.

So far the hottest place has been Armagh with a recorded temperature of 31.4 Celsius on July 22nd 2021.

Known as the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, with both the heads of the Catholic Church and Church of Ireland being based in the city founded by Saint Patrick in 444AD, Armagh sits in a drumlin belt (hills created by the movement of ice across the landscape) that stretches across Ireland from County Down on the Irish Sea to County Mayo on the Atlantic.

Here, overlooking the City of Saints and Scholars, both of Armagh's cathedrals dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland can be seen in the green landscape of the lush Irish summer countryside. In the distance the twin peaks of Sawel and Dart in the Sperrins - a mountain range running through Tyrone and Derry.

Ireland is currently (July 18th 2021) in the grip of a heatwave, one that has seen high temperatures all over the island including Northern Ireland's highest recorded temperature of 31.2C.

There are few breezes and little cloud or rain, the beaches are packed and tourist hotspots are literally that - hotspots, in more than one way.

So instead of photographing in the famous places it's time to head to the lesser known parts of the Irish countryside.

Here I found a small, lush and green woodland. Even in the dry heat of summer 2021 this place still holds on to moisture and the bright green colour associated with Ireland.

Perfect for landscape photography and for some forest bathing or shinrin-yoku.

To escape the crowds and experience the hidden places in Ireland, join Panoramic Ireland for a private photography tour in the Irish countryside.

The Enchanted Forest, lush woodland in summer in Ireland
The Enchanted Forest, lush woodland in summer in Ireland

As you may have already heard, July 19th will see a number of restrictions eased in regards to COVID / Coronavirus in Ireland.

The world's most restrictive lockdown will be no more, in time for the arrival of the Indian or Delta variant.

Travel into Ireland from overseas will be relaxed so if you are looking to find out more about travel to Ireland after Covid then look no further.

The Common Travel Area (Ireland and Britain) is separate to the EU Schengen rules, and travel from Britain will be eased to allow visitors to not have to go into quarantine. The hotels they use for mandatory hotel quarantine do little for the reputation of the country's tourism sector; no local would want to stay there and thankfully if you are visiting from Britain, the USA and Europe you won't have to from the middle of the month!

There's something about the smell of the coast - a fresh Atlantic Ocean breeze, sunshine and recently passed rain.

And it's the smell of nature after rain that will be very familiar to anyone who spends much time outdoors, even in the urban environment, indeed a typical Irish town will have that particular post pluviam odour caused by a mix of geosmin from gardens, parks and hedges and ozone from conrete and tarmac.

Of course the smell of the countryside, fields and forests the same.

And that smell has a name, Petrichor which comes from the Greek petros for stone and ichor which was the blood of the gods.

Today 28th of May 2021, the Irish Government announced the next phases of Ireland's reopening post-covid.

This includes the return of international travel on the 19th of July, which as Father Ted fans will know is also the day in history when Galway was liberated from the Indians, Marathon became Snickers and of course the ice age ended.

The 19th of July will see visitors from the EU able to return to Ireland which has had the most severe lockdown in Europe, and then at some point beyond that travellers from outside the region will be able to visit- from the USA, Canada etc. If fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 / Coronavirus or with a negative test then no quarantine will be necessary.

Panoramic Ireland's photography tours and workshops are bookable from now through all of 2021, so plan ahead and check availability for your visit to Dublin, Galway, Cork, Antrim Coast and anywhere else in Ireland.

Thursday, 27 May 2021 15:20

Southbound, Phil Lynott Statue, Dublin

A sunny day in Dublin and until recently I couldn't help but think of the place as a bit of a ghost town.

Usually a visit to the Phil Lynott statue in Dublin, just off Grafton Street, is busy no matter the time of day.

But over most of the past year since the first lockdown in March 2020 right through to May 2021, the statue of Ireland's greatest Rocker; bassist, singer and frontman of one of the most influential rock bands of all time - Thin Lizzy, has stood mostly alone.

Here a triptych from a recent visit and I couldn't help but think of the lyrics of one of their finest tracks:



The boom time it is over

A ghost town is all that's here

The gold rush it is over

And depression days draw near


So, tonight after sundown

I'm gonna pack my case

Without a word, without a sound

Disappear without a trace


Ohh oh, I'm going southbound

Ohh oh, I'm going southbound




I used to listen to this song on my long travels, pre-covid, around Ireland especially on my way south from the north but also on many occasions heading west - well it was kind of southwest.

Interestingly, Southbound was on their Live and Dangerous double live album in 1978 and, although denied after its release, it was later confirmed by producer Tony Visconti that the song was recorded during a soundcheck and the audience dubbed in afterwards.

Nevertheless, whether on the album Bad Reputation or Live and Dangerous it remains one of my favourite songs.

So thankfully, with the reopening that is currently happening, Phil's statue is not quite so lonely and Dublin not so much of a ghost town; that depression slowly receding.

And Panoramic Ireland's tours are also coming back so it's time to book for summer 2021 and beyond, find out more here for Dublin.

Go Mall / Slow - It kind of looks like travel is beginning to come back to a sort of normality in Ireland, from Monday 10th May 2021.

With an incredibly slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the world's longest lockdown, ranked also as the most strict in Europe, next week (from Monday 10th of May) sees Ireland allow nationwide travel.

For most of the past five months a five kilometre travel limit has been in place and most of the economy has been at a standstill.

I have written about castles before, namely my exploration of Barrymore Castle in Castlelyons, and Cahir Castle in County Tipperary that recently played host to Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer for the filming of Ridley Scott's The Last Duel.

Ireland is awash with castles but many are, unfortunately, barely more than a single stone.

This is a two part image, in the lower-middle incoming waves meld into bluey-green and white bands over the course of the exposure and to the bottom returning water ripples remain consistent, in the top half of the image slow-moving white and grey clouds barely move against the azure sky.

In long exposure photography we are looking to use movement in at least one part of the image, here that is in the bottom half more so than the top.

Join Panoramic Ireland to photograph in Ireland in 2021, 2022 and beyond.

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