Ireland’s green landscapes have earned it the title, Emerald Isle. That one name hides the variety of green and its juxtapositions with the varying colors of the Atlantic, the greys of rock formations and stone castles, and the colors of farm animals and homes. For so small a place, it is one of uncommon allure.
My wife and I, along with my younger brother and his wife, toured Ireland in early fall. My brother and his wife still work, but Barbara and I were able to adjust our schedules to theirs. Today we’ll share photos of the landscapes we saw.
We traveled counterclockwise by auto from Dublin around the island. We spent twelve days. We would love to return, and its scenery now pops up regularly in our dreams.
To see the photos below, click on the first one—the sheep. The blog will take you into a gallery where you can read the caption at the bottom of the photo and click near the right side to advance one photo at a time.
Sheep roam the pastures and add a sense of peace.
The Giant’s Causeway, a scenic area of the northern coast of Northern Ireland, was formed from lava flows millions of years ago. Now it offers dramatic cliffs and large basalt rock formations.
More of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Common yet distinctive features of Ireland’s landscapes are old ruins: churches, as here, as well as castles and homes. This scene shows that although the church is abandoned and slowly deteriorating against the weather, the cemetery around the church is active. A fresh grave occupies the foreground of the photo. Community life and death continue even if local people no longer afford the maintenance on old churches.
Another look at the church.
Ashford Castle is one of the landmarks of Ireland, located on the northern shore of Lough Corrib. A castle was first built on the site in 1228, and then changed hands and expanded through the centuries. Once owned by the Guinness family, it is now a 5-star hotel, recently refurbished, and owned by Red Carnation Hotels.
A view from the grounds at the front of Ashford Castle.
Besides green, Ireland is noted for rocks and rock walls. As you drive around Ireland and see such walls almost as often as people and homes, you must wonder about the months and years of labor embodied in every wall.
The Burren, in County Clare, is a region of limestone formations that prevent most ordinary commercial uses. Much of it is in a National Park. The entire Burren is noted for wildflowers and green grass juxtaposed against grey. In some places, the grass seems to dominate, but here, the grey rock asserts itself.
Looking south at the Cliffs of Moher, perhaps Ireland’s most dramatic land-seascape. They rise nearly 400 feet above the Atlantic in County Clare. A trail at the top allows visitors to walk to the very edge and beyond, if one is careless. Unpredictable winds and rain add to the peril.
O’Brien’s Tower sits at the highest point on the Cliffs of Moher. It was built in 1835 as an observation tower for tourists.
Looking north at O’Brien’s Tower and the Cliffs.
Cattle graze near the Cliffs of Moher, separated from the danger by a rock wall.
Doonagore’s Castle near Doolin, north of the Cliffs of Moher. It is now a private holiday home not open to the public.
Franciscan Friary in Quinn, which was constructed gradually over several decades in the 1300s. A Franciscan Friary was established at the site in 1433, and it was last inhabited by a lone Fr. John Hogan of Drim, who died at the Friary in at age 80 in 1820. Today it is a State-run site with one firm, rule-oriented State Official guarding against any excesses of occasional tourists.
Staigue Fort, in County Kerry. is a circular stone fort built around 300 AD without mortar. It was built before Christianity reached Ireland and was probably a defensive fort owned by a local lord. It’s about 18 feet high, 90 feet in diameter, and the walls are about 13 feet thick at the base. It is one of the best preserved circular forts in Ireland.
Visitors can reach the top of the fort by a series of layered stairs that form parts of the interior walls.
Farmland near the Atlantic Ocean in County Kerry.
Coastline along the Kerry Peninsula, near Valentia Island.
The moods of Ireland.
Rainbow in County Kerry.
Farmland on the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry.
Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone. Once kissed, the stone confers a gift of gab, so the story goes.
Visitors in line to kiss the Blarney Stone—they climb about five stories to reach the stone.
I hope you enjoyed the landscapes. Soon I’ll post photos of some of Ireland’s people and the things they do.