It is said that you can capture a great photo anywhere. While that may be true, there are certain places in Ireland that sure make it a lot easier to do.
In this post, I want to share with you a few of the places to do that along Ireland’s west coast. I have listed these places in order from south to north: from the southernmost tip at Mizen Head up to the Connemara region to the northwest part of Ireland. That way you can be on the lookout as you travel the Wild Atlantic Way up Ireland’s western coast.
These are iconic photos you may have seen before. Needless to say, we’ll be visiting all of these places on my Ireland tours. But we’ll be headed to a lot of other cool spots as well. These are just the iconic shots that you don’t want to miss along the way. Enjoy!
At the very tip of the Mizen Peninsula in the extreme southwest of Ireland, lies the Mizen Head Signal Station. The station itself is rather unremarkable, but it serves as a draw for tourists. It does have concrete pathways running around the property though, that allow you to get a lot of different views of the coast.
For photographers, probably the best view is this one, facing north. The view isn’t visible from the walkways you will be on, so you will have to look for it. Here is how you get there. After you cross the bridge there are some stairs that go up to your right. Take them up and you’ll reach a platform that overlooks this scene.
To get the shot, use a wide angle lens to capture the scene, working to keep out as much of the grass in the foreground as possible. I recommend slowing down your shutter speed as much as possible. That way the water moves through the frame during your shot, creating the sort of effect you see in my shot above.
All throughout the mountainous southwestern part of Ireland, you’ll encounter mountain passes or gaps, which are just roads through the mountains. One of them is the Healy Pass, which cuts across the Beara Peninsula. It is a windy, twisty little road that is a lot of fun to drive (if you aren’t in a hurry) and there are many places you will want to pull over and photograph.
At the top, there is a roadside pull-off and a small gift shop, from which you can capture pictures looking down. The road is very narrow and this is really the only place to stop, so it is hard to miss.
The twisty road really adds some interest and perspective to the shot. This particular shot was done with a drone, but I have seen many others taken from cameras while standing at the pull-off. Use a wide angle lens and get up high.
If you are fortunate enough to visit Skellig Michael, a small island off the coast of County Kerry, it will surely be a highlight of the trip, and perhaps one of the more memorable travel adventures you will ever take. If the seas aren’t too rough, you will take a boat out to the island and get off at a small concrete pier. From there, you will walk around the island and walk up stone steps constructed over a thousand years ago by monks. You’ll climb to the top, where there are beehive huts and other ruins. You truly feel like you are at the end of the world.
From there, you can photograph the ruins and the various views. One of the best spots is this one, which is very near the top.
Slea Head (Dingle Peninsula)
At the tip of the Dingle Peninsula is one of the most scenic areas in all of Ireland. It is called Slea Head, and there is an area to park, and you can walk around and photograph. You can hike to the top of the headland and take in spectacular views. You can walk down to a beach and enjoy the surf, tide pools, and rocks. You could spend all day here. One shot you will surely want to take is the view looking out along the rocks.
Cliffs of Moher
Moving north into County Clare, we come next to the mighty Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are the most highly touristed area in all of western Ireland, and for good reason. The cliffs are some of the most dramatic – not just in Ireland – but in all of Europe. At the core of the cliffs, there is a large visitors center and parking lot. While most of Ireland will feel remote and undeveloped, you will suddenly be in the middle of tourist throngs. There will be sidewalks and fences. But that is where you will find the iconic view of the cliffs. Panoramas work great here.
Diamond Hill (Connemara National Park)
Skipping north into Connemara, we next venture into Connemara National Park. This park is always open, which is nice for capturing sunrises and sunsets, and includes a few different hikes. The longest (and best) one is the hike to the top of Diamond Hill. Once you reach the top, you have awesome views into the heart of the 12 Bens. On the way up, you have views of the Connemara coastline.
While you are in Connemara, you should stop by Kylemore Abbey, just a few miles up the road from the park. It is right on the N59 and you will see it from the road. The shot you see here is actually the shot you take from the parking lot. While you can visit the abbey and its grounds and spend a few hours here, you can also do a quick drive-by and capture the shot from the parking lot without going in.
There's a Lot More to See
This is just a sampling of the wonderful photography spots on the west coast of Ireland. If you want to see more or get more information, check out the website for the Wild Atlantic Way. You might also check out my podcasts on Ireland to get more info on several of these spots. Of course, if you would like to see these places for yourself, check out one of my upcoming tours to Ireland.