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.

Wednesday, 20 March 2024 00:08

Judas Priest Visit Dublin - March 2024

Metal music legends Judas Priest brought the Invincible Shield to Dublin, Ireland a few days before Saint Patrick's Day.

I was there to photograph Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and the band, indeed you can see some of my images on their Facebook and Instagram.

The rest below in the gallery.

No need for a Panic Attack, if you can get to some select European and US cities in 2024 then you'll know that You've Got Another Thing Coming.

Enjoy the sound of fifty years of metal!

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Bands of colour from the Irish coast in spring.

As the days get longer here in Ireland (well, a day is still 24 hours but the proportion of daylight is now getting longer and will soon be more than the length of night), the opportunity to photograph for longer during the day is to be welcomed.

The coast of Ireland is varied and in places is sandy, rocky, cliffy or often a combination.

Here, a stormy afternoon brings fresh winds and plenty of waves to the golden sands of the shore.

Below, a blue hour image from the coast.

Blue Hour, Ireland's Coast
Blue Hour, Ireland's Coast

Join me to photograph in Ireland, on the coast or in the mountains.

January and February are months that see the beginning of colour in the Irish countryside, in gardens and in hedgerows but also in woodlands.

Here, a little patch of fresh green and white from snowdrops Galanthus nivalis known as Plúirín sneachta in Irish.

As I spent the first weeks of 2024 photographing Atlantic rainforest in the west of Ireland, natural woods covered in mosses, lichens, ferns and native trees - all under the influence of Ireland's relatively mild and wet climate, I encountered these random patches of fresh white bobbing in the wind.

The woodland floor is red and brown, ivy, moss and ferns providing green throughout the winter yet the standout of any woodland in January are these delicate-looking but very hardy plants. Especially in a winter and spring with little to no snow such as 2024. Don't forget that spring starts on Saint Brigid's Day (1st of February) in Ireland.

 

Snowdrops or pluirín sneachta in an Irish woodland in February.
Snowdrops or pluirín sneachta in an Irish woodland in February.

 

And there were already a few primroses coming through too. These little native flowers flower usually from February through to May, depending on location. The latin name Primula means first flower and the Irish name Sabhaircín comes from sabhairc which is the Irish word for fresh - little fresh or freshy in this case.

Primrose (Primula vulgaris) in a natural Irish woodland in February. Known as Sabhaircín in Irish.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) in a natural Irish woodland in February. Known as Sabhaircín in Irish.

 

I have written about snowdrops before of course.

More on the woodlands of the west of Ireland to follow.

To join me photographing in the woods of Ireland, including the temperate, Atlantic rainforest use the contact page to find out more.

Ireland’s Clew Bay is home to many islands, but definitely not the 365 that often gets quoted. These are drumlin islands, an extension of the ‘drumlin belt’ that stretches from County Down on the east coast of Ireland all the way to County Mayo here on the west.

Drumlins are small, rounded hills formed as ice moved across the landscape, and here in Clew Bay became surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic as sea levels rose following the end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago.

Among the many, remember there aren’t 365 islands in Clew Bay, are a few inhabited islands but the majority are uninhabited.

One of these islands, Dorinish, has a uniquely interesting story. In the 1871 census there were 15 people recorded as living on the two islands connected by a low bar of sand and gravel and measuring 19 acres, but that number dropped to zero by 1901. That remained the case until the late 1960s and early 1970s.

What makes Dorinish Island so interesting? Beatle John Lennon bought the island in 1967 with the intention of living his later years watching the Atlantic sunsets and the mists rolling over nearby Croagh Patrick from where the images in this article are taken.

He even took his Sergeant Pepper’s gypsy caravan out to Dorinish.

Outline of Dorinish or Beatle Island, once owned by John Lennon
Outline of Dorinish or Beatle Island, once owned by John Lennon

Lennon leased the land to Sid Rawle who intended to set up a permanent hippie commune on the island. This only lasted two years, the 30 or so inhabitants living in tents on the windswept island, a fire destroyed supplies and tents and in 1972 the commune on Dorinish disbanded.

Despite only returning once more to Dorinish, Lennon still planned to retire there with Yoko Ono, the plan was not realised due to his untimely death in 1980.

Yoko Ono sold Dorinish in 1984.

Clew Bay as seen from Croagh Patrick
Clew Bay as seen from Croagh Patrick

So the next time you’re in Westport, out on Clew Bay or climbing Croagh Patrick, have a look out for Dorinish, or Beatle Island.

 

Keith Cronin of Cork took victory in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship opener in Galway on the 3rd and 4th of February 2024 as the Galway International Rally, Ireland's oldest, took place east of Lough Corrib.

The two day event on twisty, bumpy and jumpy roads took place around Headford, north of Galway City and saw Keith Cronin take top spot in his Ford Fiesta after recording fastest times on seven of the event's thirteen stages sponsored by Corrib Oil.

Panoramic Ireland was there to photograph the competitors, see our gallery below.

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The floorboards creak and squeak underfoot and the room echoes to conversations about David Bowie and the images presented on the panels in an upstairs floor of Dublin's Rathfarnham Castle.

This is A Portrait in Flesh, a photographic exhibition by David Bowie's favourite photographer, Denis O'Regan. 

Denis photographed Bowie at more than 200 concerts but also captured many candid scenes on travels with the music legend.

After an extensive look at the various concert scenes and the behind the scenes in black and white and colour, I chat for a time with Denis.

He tells story after story and we chat about various topics photographic from camera bags to digital vs. film photography as well as anecdotes from his time touring with and photographing numerous rock bands including Thin Lizzy and Duran Duran.

A favourite of mine comes from Bangkok 1983 and it features Bowie brandishing a guitar, wearing a cyan blue suit, his left leg aloft and the top of the guitar out of frame. There's a whole load of empty space but his raised left foot and sock matches his guitar and right shirt cuff. We see enough of his face to know it's Bowie, an image full of energy.

But there's something special about the images of Bowie relaxing in boats, walking through a flooded Bangkok showcasing O'Regan's travel documentary style and the Bowie's innate ease in front of the camera.

The exhibition ends on the 11th of February so get a move on to see it or else why not pop into O'Regan's gallery in London at 271 King Street, W6 9QF where his images of many of the 20th century's (and 21st's) greatest musicians are on display from Phil Lynott, Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, The Who, Marillion etc. to Amy Winehouse and Beyoncé.

Thursday, 08 February 2024 16:22

Pine Island, Connemara or Somewhere Tropical?

It was a warm evening in the west of Ireland last summer when we stopped to photograph at the famous Pine Island in Connemara, the western part of Galway.

There wasn't much sunlight left as clouds rolled in for a wet and windy finish to the day but the calm conditions we encountered here made the day's photography more than worthwhile.

An almost perfect reflection, low cloud wisping across the mountains and colourful sunset skies created an image that many say remind them of other places, not so much Ireland.

Even from those who have been here, the scenery is more reminiscent of tropical locales such as the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Pine Island is a place I visit often, join me to improve your photography in Ireland this year - places available throughout 2024.

Pine Island, Connemara, Galway - Ireland
Pine Island, Connemara, Galway - Ireland

Peace descended over the west of Ireland at the end of yet another fine January day.

There was no direct sunset, instead a bank of cloud moved in and the sun slipped in and out of the grey band stretched across the sky, crepuscular rays emanating in many directions for 30 seconds or so at a time.

Ducks quacked, geese honked as the countryside began to darken before the long night, the time after sunset that we call the blue hour.

After many storms Ireland is experiencing an extended calm with respite from the incessant rain and wind of the last week of December which saw several storms including Gerrit, Pia, Geraldine and Henk.

I have been out photographing in the countryside and in Dublin this week and Panoramic Ireland's photography workshops and tours are open to book every day of the week throughout Ireland, subject to availability.

Join me to photograph in Ireland.

It's no secret that the West of Ireland is one of Panoramic Ireland's favourite places.

Join me in 2024 to photograph in the beautiful scenic surroundings of Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal.

Here, the first sunset of 2024 in the west as the sun heads for the horizon. 

We've had the solstice on December 22nd, 2023 and around now, early January we see the mornings getting brighter earlier here in Ireland.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and from then on the sunset gets a little later until the start of January when sunrises also become a little earlier. 

So, lots to look forward to even though January and February are the coldest months on average in Ireland.

The days continue to get longer.

Panoramic Ireland's photography workshops and tours are running right through the coldest months, the spring and the warmest months of the year in Ireland - all year round - Join me when you visit Ireland.

Storm Gerrit has raged across Ireland bringing stormy winds and rain in December 2023.

Here, a flooded landscape with water levels rising rapidly, covering ground passable just the day before as sunset approaches along with crepuscular rays in the colourful but ominous sky.

Storm Gerrit has brought severe winds, flooding and downed trees across Ireland as well as snow across parts of Scotland.

Storm Henk it seems will also be an incredibly windy event happening from Saturday December 30th bringing up to 100mph or 160km/h gusts of wind across the west of Ireland.

This will mark the third named storm, includig Pia, Gerrit and Henk to hit Ireland over Christmas and the New Year.

And expect more flooding.

From a photographic point of view, storms can provide opportunities to photograph amazing and incredible scenes but always with caution, particularly near the coast and watercourses.

Panoramic Ireland photographs in all weather, from the west of Ireland to inner city Dublin. Join me to learn more about landscape, street and architectural photography.

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