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.

The razorbill is a native seabird to Ireland and to Scotland which is where this image is from, over on Mull just up the coast from my home county of Antrim right in the north east corner of Ireland.

Related to the puffin, the razorbill can often be seen nesting and breeding in colonies that include puffins, as well as fulmars along the Atlantic coasts of Ireland and Scotland.

Unlike the puffin, the razorbill is usually only seen as a plain black and white bird, with its distinctive line running from the bill back to its brown-iris eyes as seen in the image above.

But, when it opens its bill there is a flash of bright, almost golden yellow on the bird's palate.

This pair are engaging in mating behaviour but the bright yellow can also be useful for chicks being fed and razorbills often quarrel with each other with bills wide open in what is known as bill-gaping.

Each pair will only have one egg and both male and female feed the chick for approximately three weeks.

At around twenty days old the chicks follow the male into the ocean, leaping from the cliff and are fed by him until old enough to become self-sufficient.

Like fulmars, razorbills can live to forty years or more.

I have written about the fascinating fulmar before on Panoramic Ireland, here. The seabird is not native to Ireland nor Scotland, where I photographed this one.

Originally confined to a few islands in the Atlantic, off Iceland and Saint Kilda - a remote Scottish island the birds have now spread across Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Scotland is still home to 97% of the British population.

Young fulmars spend five years fully at sea, coming back to land to choose a colony after that but even then they won't breed for another few years. They can live for over forty years.

In this image you can see the tube-nose from which the tubenose family get their name, the birds possess a gland which helps to process, store then eject saline through the tube - salty water collected when diving for fish in the north Atlantic.

Fulmar comes from Norse, it means foul gull and relates to the stinking stomach oil that the bird regurgitates in order to deter threats. It matts the feathers of other birds and it covers other animals (humans too) with the stinky non-soluble fluid that can destroy clothes.

You've been warned - keep your distance! Enjoy these majestic fliers from afar.

The Irish summer is a strange thing, one day can be hot and sunny and then the next day is cloudy, cold and raining.

And of course we can get all of that in one day too. 

Here, a lush scene of Irish farmland ringed by mountains, a river runs through it. All under a cloudy sky.

It's a patchwork of 1,000 fields, trees line the river and tree-filled hedges mark the boundary between fields all helped by the long daylight hours in summer, plenty of rain and gentle heat.

May 2024 saw some of the finest displays of the aurora borealis or Northern Lights over Ireland and lower latitudes ever witnessed.

After a long and busy day photographing in Dublin, word was coming in from all sources of an amazing light show and even in the city I could see and photograph the stronger portions of the celestial display.

But it wasn't until I headed far from the city, into the Irish countryside that I was able to truly enjoy and photograph the unpredictable lightshow.

Still I didn't manage to make to some of my favourite locations over on the west coast of Ireland where the night sky is darker, thus more suited to astrophotography and night sky events.

It doesn't take much to see the difference, in Dublin and other large conurbations only the brightest stars are visible, in the countryside the sky can be so dark that it seems like you are staring into, literally, the vast reaches of the Milky Way and beyond.

I was reading recently of a ranking that lists the best locations for astrophotography in Europe and, interestingly, eight out the top ten sites were in Ireland!

Travel booking site, Omio analysed over 1,400 locations in Europe using factors such as clear views to the southern horizon, light pollution and the Bortle Scale that measures the astronomical observability of celestial objects.

Ballinskelligs in County Kerry ranks at number one, followed by Ashleam in County Mayo.

1 Ballinskelligs Beach Ireland
2 Ashleam Ireland
3 Tormore, Clare Island Ireland
4 Glosh Bay Ireland
5 Silver Strand Ireland
6 Robert Lloyd Praeger Centre Ireland
7 Saint Finian's Bay Ireland
8 Murray's Monument Scotland
9 ICAstronomy Spain
10 Ballycroy National Park Ireland


So what are you waiting for, now is the time to get to Ireland, use Omio to book your travel here and why not book a photography workshop with Panoramic Ireland when you're in Ireland.

The gable end of 12 Montague Street, Dublin as it faces onto Montague Lane is temporarily home to an artwork by Joe Caslin which aims to highlight the work of charity Samaritans.

The street artist, who is also a teacher, uses pencil drawings to highlight societal issues in contemporary Ireland, has unveiled his latest artwork in Dublin to bring attention to Dubliners of the work carried out by Samaritans.

Utilising the concept of the Japanese technique of Kintsugi in which broken pottery is repaired using gold, Caslin's artwork of a male figure with the Kintsugi gold holding his face together suggests the idea that people may appear whole now but might have been broken before.

Samaritans do amazing work for those who need help, operating a 24 hour helpline for free via this number: 116 123 from anywhere in Ireland - from Antrim to Wexford and it's free to call.

A few years ago I posted about the fine views on a sunny day from Antrim to the Scottish islands of Islay and Jura, as well as the Mull of Kintyre (out of sight on this particular post).

Recently, Michael Cory contacted me about the post and the image, to use it in his fortcoming talk on mapping.

He is giving a talk on the Ordnance Survey and its early 19th century baseline established on the shores of Lough Foyle which formed the basis for all measurements between places in Ireland, Britain and further afield for the best part of two centuries.

Above here, an intense double rainbow looking across Benone towards Magilligan and beyond, Inishowen in Donegal.

Michael is a land surveyor who has mapped many portions of the world's more exotic corners, his talk is in Dublin on the 13th of June 2024 at 18:30 in Phoenix Park entitled From Limelight to Satellite: The Importance of the Lough Foyle Baseline.

To reserve a free spot, attending what is sure to be an informative, enjoyable talk have a look at the eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/from-limelight-to-satellite-the-importance-of-the-lough-foyle-baseline-tickets-907599413277?aff=odcleoeventsincollection&keep_tld=1

Bruce Springsteen brought his 2024 World Tour with the E Street Band to Ireland, first off was Boucher Playing Fields in Belfast on 9th of May.

As a long time music photographer it was a pleasure to be able to photograph The Boss at the start of his visit to Ireland.

And in news just in Bruce Springsteen has had to postpone several concerts in his European tour with Marseille, Prague and Milan being axed as the 74-year old rock star has taken doctors' advice to protect his vocal talents.

I've been busy out on the road since, but expect more images soon.

Great Pollet Sea Arch is one of Ireland's finest coastal geographical features. Situated off the coast of County Donegal's Fanad Peninsula, the sea arch stands at 20 metres above the crashing waves along this rocky headland.

Known in Irish as Stua Mór Phollaide (Great Pollet Arch), the sea arch as seen here separated from the mainland on the left due to coastal erosion during the millions of years since these rocks were formed.

Here the rocks are quartzite having been formed during the late Precambrian, somewhere between 2.5 billion and 541 million years ago part of the Dalradian Supergroup that runs between the north of Ireland and central Scotland.

As throughout Ireland, much erosion has taken place in the intervening time and at some point, likely in the last 11,700 years which is known as the Holocene (since the end of the last Ice Age) this section of the headland became a bridge with a sea cave eroded through it and then subsequently it became detached from the mainland behind it.

Thus forming what we see today, an impressive sea arch which is Ireland's largest sea arch. Note that a sea stack, such as Dun Briste is different to a sea arch.

I will be leading a few small group photography workshops in Donegal during 2024 and 2025, to find out more contact me using the contact page or form.

Dublin is a good place for street photography, full of character in its people and its buildings. Often in the streetscape itself although some difficulty exists throughout much of the city centre with visual intrusions.

This scene is a good example, a classic image of a cobbled street filled with old buildings and the famous Guinness gatebeing passed by two locals wearing dark clothes who themselves look a little like a pint of Guinness on legs.

Join me, Panoramic Ireland, to photograph street photography, landscapes, seascapes and more in Dublin and throughout Ireland.

Tuesday, 23 April 2024 21:12

Beltany Stone Circle, Donegal

In Ireland's far north, one of its finest stone circles sits on a low hill with commanding views over the local countryside towards distant ridges.

Beltany stone circle comprises 64 upright stones organised in as close to a percect circle as a highly disturbed ancient bronze age site can be.

The stone circle is made up of larger than typical standing stones for an Irish site, some here are 2.5 metres in height.

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