A famous row of trees

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More from Ireland…. bear with me as I get my fix from home 🙂

The image above is of a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight. Many people photograph this scene, and although it certainly does look pretty cool in this photo, seeing it in person is far more impressive. If looking for directions on how to get to this place for yourself, check out a post I made from a while back. Just one of the many remarkable sights to be found back home in Northern Ireland.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

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In the footsteps of a giant

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I can remember visiting the Giant’s Causeway as a kid and being fascinated by the shapes and patterns in the famous rock formations there. One year our family summer holiday took us to the Antrim coast and Dunseverick for two weeks, and from there it is only a couple of miles to this remarkable place.

From Wikipedia: The Giant’s Causeway (known as Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFĂłmharach in Irish and the Giant’s Causey in Ulster-Scots) is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.

I remember my dad telling us all about the legend of Finn McCool and how the causeway came to be, and of course I believed every word of his tall tale… who wouldn’t? This is still one of the most unique and magical places I have ever seen, and one that I would love to return to again one day with camera in hand. Surprise, surprise… a grey and rainy sky welcomed me on the day this photograph was made, so it seems only right to process it as a black and white.

From Wikipedia again: Legend has it that the Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. One version of the legend tells that Fionn fell asleep before he got to Scotland. When he did not arrive, the much larger Benandonner crossed the bridge looking for him. To protect Fionn, his wife Oonagh laid a blanket over him so he could pretend that he was actually their baby son. In a variation, Fionn fled after seeing Benandonner’s great bulk, and asked his wife to disguise him as the baby. In both versions, when Benandonner saw the size of the ‘infant’, he assumed the alleged father, Fionn, must be gigantic indeed. Therefore, Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway in case he was followed by Fionn.

How to get to The Dark Hedges

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I check the stats for my blog every now and then, and when I do, I invariably find that certain posts are more popular than others when it comes to search terms. A post about a famous stretch of road in Northern Ireland from September 10, 2009 which I titled Dark Hedges is one such post. Other than three of my posts which were “freshly pressed” on the front page of WordPress.com generating views in the thousands, this has been my most viewed blog post. There isn’t a day that goes by where it hasn’t received at least a handful of views, and since I figured people must be looking for information on how to get there for themselves, why not share the location.

If this were a fragile ecosystem where sharing the specific location and encouraging additional foot traffic might endanger the local environment, I might be more reluctant to share specifics, but since it is a public road that just happens to be pretty remarkable, I don’t see any harm in helping others see it for themselves. This is a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy in County Antrim that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create an impressive sight. I have only visited this place one time, and on that occasion the light and atmosphere were not especially dramatic. For those of you planning on photographing this scene for yourselves… here’s hoping that the conditions come together perfectly for you, and that you come away with a special image that you are proud of 🙂

Directions: From Belfast, take the M2 north out of the city and look for the A26 just north of the town of Antrim. Take the A26 north toward and around Ballymena, and about 7 miles past Ballymena look for where the road forks with an option to take the A44 (Drones Road) toward Armoy and Ballycastle. Stay on the A44 for another 7 miles or so, and before reaching the village of Armoy, make a left onto the Bregagh Road. After about a mile you will cross over the B15 (Gracehill Road), and stay straight for another mile until you cross over the Ballykenver Road… turn the bend and prepare to say “Wow”.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

Portbradden

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This is the last one from the archives before we land in Ireland! Sam and I are at about 35,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic as this post is being published, and needless to say we are VERY excited to be spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. I will be updating the blog with stories and photographs from our trip as we go, depending of course on Internet access. Though we only have a week here, we are trying to pack as much as possible into this trip, so stay tuned…

This is a view of Portbradden, a tiny but picturesque fishing village (consisting of maybe two buildings), at one end of White Park Bay on the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. White Park Bay is one of the most spectacular beaches I have ever seen, and it is an example of the quintessential windswept Irish bay. Meaning “port of the salmon”, this remote part of the cove is home to a small salmon fishery, and it really is quite pretty. We had walked along the spectacular cliff path from nearby Dunseverick to get here, and I can recall several hairy moments as we navigated a trail that in places hugged the steep cliffs quite closely. When I say hairy… I mean just for me… the one with acrophobia!

A typical Irish summer day

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The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable to say the least, and although we did see a couple of days of sun and warmer temperatures on our last visit, the photograph above kind of sums up what it was like most of the time. Every now and then the sun would peek out from behind the clouds, but the rain and cooler temperatures were never far away… even in August.

This is a view looking east and out toward the Irish Sea into Murlough Bay from the area around Torr Head on the Antrim coast. I loved seeing the sheep down below on the hillside enjoying those lush greens, and even from way up here we could hear the waves crashing onshore. The classic and impressive stone wall in the foreground was what initially drew me to stop here to make a photograph, and I have a feeling we’ll see a few more walls like this on our upcoming visit.

Devenish Island

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From an older post on my blog… this location is on the shores of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. After graduating from college, I spent two wonderful years teaching close by here in Enniskillen, though during my time there I unfortunately did not take full advantage of the scenery around me.

Any time I return home to Ireland though, I try to rectify this by exploring what is an amazingly beautiful landscape. Looking across the waters of the lough you can see the island of Devenish, home to the ruins of a monastic settlement that dates back to the 6th century, and a 100 ft tall round tower that dates back to the 12th century. Over the centuries, many cultures have visited and touched this island, leaving behind evidence of what were often thriving and vital communities.

I got lucky when I stumbled on this boat on the shoreline… it made for a really nice foreground element on what was a beautiful summer evening.

Beaghmore Stone Circles

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It has been raining here in Maine for what seems like an eternity, leaving the landscape covered in dirty – but thankfully receding – snow. With little desire to take the camera out in these conditions, and in anticipation of my trip to Ireland next week, here are a couple of images from the last time I was across the pond.

The Beaghmore Stone Circles are located just outside Cookstown, in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. They were first discovered in the 1940’s as peat was being cut from the local bog land. On the afternoon we were there, it was a gray and windswept landscape, and I can distinctly remember experiencing an eerie feeling… a feeling that other people had been here long before us, and that this place was special.

According to Wikipedia,

“The stone circles and cairn are attributed to the earlier part of the Bronze Age c. 2,000-1,200 BC. It is possible that the full extent of the complex has not yet been revealed and further stones and cairns may still lie hidden in the adjacent peat.”

There are a total of seven circles, each consisting of many small rocks arranged in often imperfect, but definitely circular, shapes. There are also twelve cairns and ten stone rows, with experts determining that some of the stones may have been arranged and aligned in relation to the movements of the sun and moon. Cremated human remains have been found in some of the cairns, and even though the structures visible today might seem old, flint tools that have been carbon-dated to somewhere between 2600-2900BC have also been found in the area.

Sam and I are both excited to delve into the rich and ancient history of Ireland on this trip, and can’t wait to explore the countryside. I would love to return to this amazing site, especially at either sunrise or sunset with nicer light. Perhaps we should add the Beaghmore Stone Circles to our itinerary?