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Seclusion

Seclusion

A beautiful rowboat used to ply the waters surrounding Ireland’s Ross Castle

Although I had enjoyed our time in Ireland immensely up to this point, the last four days were the highlight of the trip for me. We had extended our trip on the front- and back-end to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and a “milestone” birthday for Pamela. Let’s just say that she has had multiple celebrations of her 30th birthday.

For the last four days we could wander wherever we wanted to and explore at our leisure. Leaving Ennis, our first destination was the famed Ring of Kerry. Ireland has many peninsulas that jut out into the Atlantic along her eastern shore. The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula were two that we had researched and were looking forward to experiencing.

The first stop that we made on the Ring of Kerry was Ross Castle. I had seen some awesome photography from there and envisioned a specific shot of the castle taken at night with a beautiful reflection in the still lake surrounding it. Alas, the day we visited was raw and windy. Plus, I could tell that on Ireland’s roads, the easy drive I had envisioned to return to Ross Castle that evening simply wasn’t going to happen. So, I made do with a quick walk around a castle that looked very similar to several others that we had already visited.

To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed and downcast. But, we had many, many other stops to make and I would certainly have other photo opportunities. Then – as is often the case – I found a shot that hadn’t even anticipated. There were several small row boats anchored in a small branch of the lake. I suppose these boats would be rented out on calmer days. On this day, no one was going for quite row on the choppy waters. So, the boats were tied up in a sheltered cove.

I maneuvered around a bit until I was able to isolate one of the boats. I love the way that the brilliant blues contrast with the lush green landscape and stone bridge in the background. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Ennis Doorway

Ennis Doorway

A beautiful, weathered door in Ennis, Ireland

Whenever I travel to a beautiful place whether for work or for pleasure, I like to get up early in the morning and roam the area I’m staying in at sunrise. Oftentimes, there are very few people on the streets and the light can be wonderful. Such was the case while we were staying in Ennis. I got up both mornings very early and just walked the streets seeing what I could see.

As you have probably deduced if you’ve been following this blog for long, I love to take shots of architecture. I don’t know what it is about doors, windows, steeples, building facades, etc. but architecture simply catches my eye. On this beautiful summer morning in western Ireland, I had the town to myself. When I saw this old weathered door on an equally worn, weathered building I simply had to capture it. The ivy, fading and peeling blue paint, and rotting trim all combine to make a beautiful image to my eye. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Alexander Knox and Co.

Alexander Knox and Co.

A wonderful pub in Ennis, Ireland featuring traditional Irish music

I mentioned earlier that we were based in Ennis, County Clare for two nights while we were in Ireland. Although we weren’t in Ennis for most of the daylight hours, we were there in the evenings. Of course we were looking for a place to eat and – since we were in Ireland – a good place to listen to traditional Irish music. Knox’s turned out to be just the place we were looking for in Ennis. Traditional pub food, locals hanging out, and traditional Irish music just inside the front door. We spent a couple of enchanting evenings just hanging out with friends and being immersed in a bit of Irish culture.

The exterior of Knox’s is actually red and black, but I like the way this black and white image turned out as well. It adds a bit of timeless beauty to the scene, at least in my mind. Enjoy.

Quin Abbey

Quin Abbey

One of hundreds of ruined abbeys scattered across the Irish countryside

After we left Dublin our next stop was Ennis in County Clare in the west of Ireland. Ennis is a pretty little village with some great pubs and conveniently located for day trips. Due to some last-minute changes in our itinerary we wound up with a free day in Ennis. Some of our group headed out to the Cliffs of Moher and to the Connemara region. Since we would be visiting both areas later in our trip, we decided to make an afternoon excursion to some nearby sights.

It became apparent fairly quickly that the local bus system was not our best option. Fortunately, we asked around and found a taxi that could take us to a couple of local destinations of interest. Well, they were of interest to us at least. Neither abbey that we visited was exactly a tourist mecca. At Quin Abbey we saw one other group of three while we were there. At Clare Abbey near Ennis we scared off a group of teenage boys who were engaged in something nefarious enough that they scattered as soon as they saw us approaching. Other than that we had the abbeys to ourselves.

The crazy thing is that these abbeys were built in 1195 and 1402. Think about that. No European – other than some Vikings potentially, but that’s another story – would even set foot in the New World until ninety years after the “new” abbey had begun construction. Yet, these beautiful old structures are just scattered around the countryside with cows sometimes wandering within their walls. In America they would all be visitor attractions with paid admissions and endowments to cover their maintenance costs. Don’t get me wrong. I think the Irish cherish these structures. There are just so many of them that you can’t love them all equally.

It certainly helps that the Irish built these abbeys out of stone and not out of wood. The structures have certainly stood the test of time. Wood buildings just don’t have much of a chance to last for close to a thousand years without some painstaking care and maintenance.

Although it had been rainy or threatening rain for much of the day, the skies broke open a bit while we were at Quin Abbey. I spent a delightful twenty minutes or so composing a shot and waiting for the right combination of blue sky, cloud formations, and direct sunlight on Quin Abbey. I love the lush colors of green in the field and trees as a contrast to the blue sky, white clouds, and wonderful brown gray of the local stone. I think it makes for a beautiful scene. I hope you do as well. Enjoy.

Red Door in Dublin

Red Door in Dublin

One of a seemingly endless stream of beautiful doors in Dublin, Ireland

Although I captured many elegant Georgian doors while strolling through Dublin, this simple red one is my favorite. I was actually just crossing from one neighborhood to another and in a bit of a rough area when I stumbled across this door. It isn’t fancy or surrounded by stately architecture, but it is beautiful. The vibrant red paint contrasts beautifully with the brick that has been painted and worn down over the decades. Enjoy.

Mount Street Bicycle and Doors

Mount Street Bicycle and Doors

A street scene from Mount Street near Dublin’s Merrion Square

While wandering around near Merrion Square I spent most of my time taking pictures of doors. I have a project in mind that I’ve toyed with and hopefully will be able to post soon. To give you just a bit of a taste of the look and feel of the area I’ve selected this image. These doors are fairly typical of the architecture in the area as are the casings and the ironwork. The bicycle just adds a bit of local flavor to the image. Enjoy.

Looking Toward St. Stephen’s Church

Looking Toward St. Stephen's Church

Dublin’s Mount Street Upper looking toward St. Stephen’s Church

Pamela and I enjoy checking off the most-visited sites in a location as much as anyone, but we also enjoy just wandering around. Once we had hit the highlights that we had noted for our Dublin visit, we spent an afternoon just wandering around the neighborhood around Merrion Square.

We were motivated to explore the area by a series of posters that we saw in gift shops that displayed doors in Dublin. The doors were mostly Georgian style but had been painted bright colors and were surrounded by some beautiful carvings and iron work. I can’t remember exactly how, but we determined that many of those doors were likely in the area around Merrion Square.

As it turned out, our deductive powers were on target and we found ourselves immersed in a row of gorgeous town homes or row homes that had been constructed in the Georgian style. It seemed that we had been transported back 250 years to an era where King George ruled in Ireland and in America. Fortunately, Dubliners take great pride in these architectural masterpieces and they are well-preserved even today.

As we walked down Mount Street Upper Pamela noted the absence of cars and how it felt as if we were on a movie set. Now, here is a good place to point out that many of my best images were really spotted by my beautiful bride. She spots the shot. I carry the camera. Shot is taken. Voilà! Nice image (sometimes) emerges. In this case, it *did* look like we were on a movie set. *And* there was a lovely moody sky overhead. I don’t know if I knew it just then for certain, but this shot was destined to be presented in black and white.

I don’t process a lot images in black and white, but occasionally an image lends itself to that look and feel. This is a good example of that. The texture of the street, the lines of the architecture, the symmetry of the buildings, and the lovely cottony sky all contribute to this image’s look and feel. I’ll continue on with our journey through Ireland. But, for now, enjoy this scene.

Street Musician in Temple Bar

Street Musician in Temple Bar

A street musician pauses for a cigarette break in Dublin’s Temple Bar district

As we wandered through Temple Bar, we heard plenty from the local music scene both in the pubs and in the streets. I have to say that the quality of the music was quite good everywhere we went in Ireland. The lone exception was the buskers covering Ed Sheeran *while Ed Sheeran was in town playing Croke Park*! It’s hard enough to cover current popular music. Everyone knows the words, the melody, and the intonations. You can’t mess up without being compared to the original. I understand why you would want to cover Ed Sheehan’s music. It’s beautiful. But don’t do it in his hometown where you are being compared to the concert he played last night or will play tonight! Okay, rant off.

So, this artist wasn’t covering Ed. He wasn’t covering anyone. In fact, I never heard him play. He was taking a break on a side street in Temple Bar. But, he looked cool. And the image was just too good to pass up. So, I captured him in his element in front of the wonderful old architecture of Temple Bar. I hope you enjoy the image. And go listen to some Ed Sheeran to give yourself the proper context.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar

A sign outside the Temple Bar in Dublin’s Temple Bar district

So, I’ll admit that this post may be a bit confusing. I’ve posted images related to the Temple Bar located in the Temple Bar district of Dublin. And there isn’t a temple involved in anything that I’m going to discuss. However, there are two bars. Confused? Good. Let’s get on with the post, then.

The history of origin of the name for the district is a bit in question. There is no doubt that Sir William Temple was the provost of Trinity College in the 1600s and that his family owned a home and gardens in the area. However, there is also a district of the same name in London and it is equally likely the name was borrowed from its more famous cousin. To add to the confusion, there is a profusion of bars in the Temple Bar district including the aptly if non-creatively named Temple Bar.

No matter how the name was derived Temple Bar is a lively tourist district with cobbled streets, street performers, and the aforementioned abundance of bars, pubs, and nightclubs. It’s a lively place that can drift toward rowdy on a weekend summers night.

As it so happens, we were in town and in Temple Bar on one of those fair summer nights. It also happened to be one of the nights when Ed Sheeran was performing in his native Dublin in a sold-out Croke Park entertaining 80,000 or so fans. I think most of those concert goers were in Temple Bar before and certainly after the concert. It made for some interesting people watching to be sure.

I’ve posted a couple of images. Both were taken at one of the many bars in the district, The Temple Bar. The first is a macro shot of a plaque hanging on the exterior wall adjacent to the entrance. The plaque signifies excellence in dining or spirits. I just don’t recall which one at the moment. The second shot is of the bar itself or at least its exterior. It’s a pretty typical illustration of the bar in Irish life. Pubs and bars are not just places to drink but places to see, be seen, and socialize.

And in almost every pub we visited there was great live local music. I honestly don’t know how there are enough musicians in such a small country to fill all the pubs that advertise live music. But, there are and the evidence is to be heard as you walk through every town that we visited in Ireland. I’d love to chill out tonight by a warm fire and listen to some Irish folk music tonight. Alas, I’ll have to make do with a fire in my own fireplace and a playlist from iTunes. I’ll get by.

The Temple Bar

Located in the Temple Bar district of Dublin, the Temple Bar is one of many watering holes found there

The Fleet at Howth

The Fleet at Howth

The fishing fleet at Howth, a harbor near Dublin

While we were in Dublin we took a day trip out to the harbor at Howth. Dublin City is set back just a bit from the coast and Howth serves as a port for the greater Dublin area. The excursion that we were on was to take a quick trip off the coast to give a bit of perspective of Ireland’s east coast. The cruise was entertaining but I had a much better time just poking around the harbor and capturing some images of the fishing fleet.

I suppose fleet is a bit of an overstatement for the fishing boats at Howth. The boats there are very similar to the ones found up and down the east coast of America. They are for the most part rugged, weathered boats that show the signs of wear and tear incurred while fishing in the Atlantic. I especially fell for the boat I’ve shown below. She was a very humble example of a fishing boat. Yet, here peeling paint and striking colors really caught my eye. Hopefully these images give some sense of the rugged beauty of Howth harbor. Enjoy.

Pride of the Fleet

A weathered but functioning fishing boat in the fleet at Howth, Ireland