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.

Dublin’s once famous Ormond Hotel featured in the Sirens episode of James Joyce’s famous Ulysses.

Much changed during the 20th century after visits by James Joyce and his famous fictional character Leopold Bloom, the hotel became derelict in the early 21st century, over 100 years after Bloom made his journey across Dublin on 16th June 1904.

The hotel was built in the 1840s and became well-known, enough for Joyce to base part of Ulysses here. But the intervening years have not been kind or sympathetic to either the original layout or the hotel as it was when Joyce visited after it had been enlarged in 1910. Ulysses was published in 1920 although it was set in 1904.

Dublin's Ormond Hotel before it was demolished
Dublin's Ormond Hotel before it was demolished

There has, nevertheless, been a campaign to retain the buildings as they are and indeed one of the planning conditions are that the building, after construction must operate as a hotel and retain the name Ormond Hotel.

Numbers 7 to 11 are due to be removed but no. 7 on the right still remains, bedecked in ‘Do Not Remove’ graffiti, which is also referenced in this large piece of street art.

Do Not Remove - Graffiti on remaining portion of Ormond Hotel, Dublin
Do Not Remove - Graffiti on remaining portion of Ormond Hotel, Dublin

To the right, in this image you can see Number 6 which is a protected structure and dates to 1686 just a decade after Ormond Quay was reclaimed from the river and its marshy edges.

To the left, numbers 12 and 13 are protected structures dating from the early part of the 18th century and will form part of the hotel redevelopment but have to be incorporated into the new development.

There is no doubt that the Ormond Hotel was an important and historic part of Dublin’s old and modern fabric, but there is also no doubt that the building had become an eyesore in recent decades.

The best course of action to prevent urban decay, and there is a lot of decay and degeneration in Ireland, not just in Dublin, is to prevent key buildings such as the Ormond Hotel from becoming disused and dilapidated in the first place.

The redevelopment of the Ormond Hotel was due to be finished in 2020, but it is still nowhere near getting off the ground in what seems like an appropriately epic story.

 

I have posted about Dublin’s Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary before; it sits now beside modern buildings along the south quays on the city’s River Liffey.

Known as the Dockers’ Church it was built in 1863, opened in 1864 and became a parish church in 1908; its quayside position on the busy River Liffey meant that many of the dockworkers frequented the masses held there and today it has a strong congregation of old and new with many of the new arrivals working in Ireland’s tech sector now attending on a regular basis.

Those new buildings, including the one seen here just beside the church, a workplace for some of the new workers in Ireland’s services industry have contributed to some ill-feeling on account of size, shading and overshadowing the church.

As a result, due to local protests, in 2018 the developer of many of these buildings contributed over €3 million to a fund to repair and restore the church and its surroundings. The City Quay school (jigsaw building) received €1 million and the remainder went to the church.

After some works to the front, most of the €2 million has been transferred to the Archdiocese of Dublin; the Archbishop of Dublin is the parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Currently the interior of the church is in bad condition with damp, mould, decay and in much need of repair, but the parish can’t now use the funds it received from the developers.

The exterior view, seen here with reflections in the calm River Liffey at night, is much more pleasant than the peeling-paint interior.

It’s a story that will continue to provide interest, to someone at least.

Friday, 14 July 2023 23:30

Return to Dublin's Forty Foot

I took a return to Dublin's famous swimming location, the 40-Foot or Forty Foot on Dublin Bay recently.

Swimmers were braving the not-so-cold, but stormy waters of the Irish Sea south of Ireland's capital on Dublin Bay.

A beautiful place to swim, to visit and to photograph I'm sure you'll agree.

Here, one of my previous visits: https://panoramicireland.com/blog-ireland-guide/forty-40-foot-dublin-irish-sea-swimming

Tuesday, 04 July 2023 00:15

Ireland's Scenic Cliffs

Not as famous as the better known stretches of coastal cliffs, this seascape is still a worthy contender for one of Ireland's most scenic.

An empty quarter scenic, with no one to be seen at all, it was relaxing to sit and watch the calm Atlantic until sunset clicking the shutter on our cameras every so often.

Join me, Panoramic Ireland, to photograph Ireland's cliffs and scenic seascapes.

Thursday, 29 June 2023 16:19

Cows on the Hill, Wexford, Ireland

I have photographed many cows throughout Ireland over the years but rarely somewhere as scenic as this.

On top of a grassy hill in County Wexford, the south-eastiest part of Ireland's sunny south-east we came across a herd of grazing cattle enjoying the bright summer weather.

And here it was as we were photographing the bright pastoral scene that my clients, a Swiss couple, told me of EdelAlp - a scheme where you can sponsor a cow for the summer. 

The mountain pastures above Verbier in Switzerland, a good bit higher than the hill pictured here, are home to Herens cows which are a small breed perfectly suited to the slopes.

For the summer, you can go and visit your cow in her pasture and at the end of the season you get a 5kg wheel of cheese.

A smart idea and one that might also work in parts of Ireland, with Irish breeds of cow.

Now, which of these lovelies would you sponsor?

On we went to find more scenes to photograph.

To join me, Panoramic Ireland, to photograph in Ireland use the contact page to enquire about places and availability.

Friday, 09 June 2023 20:50

Path Through the Bluebells, Ireland

There is little more enjoyable in spring than walking through a woodland filled with bluebells.

Here, a path leading through the scene deeper into the forest.

Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta carpet hillsides and woodlands in April and May each year in Ireland.

And here on the photography workshop in the Irish countryside saw us photograph in ideal conditions with sidelighting that wasn't too strong, little wind and we moved on to some of the area's rivers afterwards.

Join me in Ireland to photograph scenes like this, bluebells are gone now for the year but Ireland has something of interest to photograph all year round.

Many of us will know the Swan Hellenic name but few will know that it has been given a rebirth, in 2020, with three new ships and varied itineraries that cover the globe.

The opportunity to learn, explore and in some cases contribute to knowledge is an important factor for many when choosing a holiday. Swan Hellenic have a long legacy of discovery tours, with their first cruise in 1954 organised for the Hellenic Travellers’ Club, which had been founded by Lord Byron in 1906. Head of Classics at London University, Francis Kinchin-Smith led the cruise and invited three guest lecturers for the 14-day cruise around the sites of ancient Greece.

SH Vega has just completed her inaugural circumnavigation of Ireland, stopping at Bantry, Dingle, Galway, Portrush and the Causeway Coast before heading to Skye in Scotland and down to Dublin allowing more people to see and experience Ireland's sights.

When I first see her from the Samuel Beckett Bridge looking down towards Dublin Port, she is moored at Cruise Berth 18 right beside the Thomas Clarke Bridge, more commonly known as the East Link and the Point / 3 Arena.

May is in my opinion the best month of the year in Ireland with fresh growth on trees and hedgerows, flowers in bloom including bluebells carpeting woodlands and hillsides all over Ireland just like in the image here.

May is also the month of the Bealtaine Festival, celebrating arts and creativity for older people, a program of thousands of events throughout Ireland for older people to engage with arts and crafts through learning and teaching.

This festival takes its name from the ancient Irish festival of Bealtaine, held at the start of May and which marked the start of summer in Ireland.

Running since 1996 it was indeed the first such festival in the world; previous years have seen the likes of Colm Tóibín talking about his novels and other works. 

Sidelighting, sunshine and shadow in the mountains from this week's visit to the wild landscapes of the West of Ireland.

We have had very fine weather this week in Ireland, with Sunday being the hottest day of 2023 so far.

I headed through the wide open spaces of Connemara to meet ES and JS who had arrived from the US, we met on location for an early morning photography workshop on photographing panoramic images.

And where better to photograph panoramas than here in the wide, wild west.

Both ES and JS are keen photographers although neither had made panoramas before. So for the morning here we made panorama after panorama.

First off the warm morning sidelighting and shadows on craggy mountains.

To learn how to photograph panoramas using your current camera including how to choose a location, camera settings and post-processing using multiple software contact me here at Panoramic Ireland.

A recent journey took me to north Tipperary and the town of Nenagh.

It's a fine, large town, though not the largest in Tipperary, that accolade goes to Clonmel in the south of the county.

Nenagh has a distinctive castle, or at least a tower - remains of the much larger original built around the year 1200 by the local Theobald FitzWalter, Baron Butler, whose descendents would become the Earls of Ormond and was constructed of limestone rubble.

It is tall, at around 25 metres, with additions built in the 1860s - the crenellations at the top.
Seen here on a bright spring day in this panorama with some of the walls of the original castle.
I discovered that Nenagh Castle is free to visit, and while visiting the town's tourist office I was informed that the local library, as well as the other libraries in Tipperary, also host free events and exhibitions throughout the year.
So I went for a coffee at the nearby Steeples cafe then headed to the library.

Irish jeweller and designer / maker Christina Keogh has an exhibition on in the library of beautiful silversmithing, gold and gemstones as well as traditional goldsmithing tools and will give a talk on Tuesday 18th of April in Nenagh Library.

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