A Sense of Place - The Burren

   Before 2007, the closest I'd come to visiting Ireland was flying over it on my way to someplace else. I'd always thought of Ireland as being just a wee bit "touristy" for my tastes.  How wrong I was. You don't have to look too hard to find those sort of "over the top" tourists places but if you head to the West coast, you will discover a place that is a mecca for poets, writers, and photographers...especially Contemplative Photographers!.
   For those who have confined their Irish experience to Dublin and the heavily tourist-ed places in the South, The Burren is a revelation. Far less crowded and inextricably linked to its ancient past, in the Burren you can feel the pull of the land most profoundly.  It is a gorgeous landscape to be sure but it is also a deeply spiritual place. Its haunting limestone covered hills hide secrets and captivating micro-climates where wild flowers bloom and old tales are carried in the wind. Honestly, one can almost believe in fairies there, it's such a magical place. 
    Blue skies or grey, everyday offers wonderful opportunities for the contemplative photographer.  Just sitting in the hills can inspire you in so many ways.  My series, The Fertile Rock, came about in just such a way.
    My home-base during my time in the Burren was the charming village of Ballyvaughan on the edge of Galway Bay.  An easy ride North from Shannon Airport, it is central to all you would want to see in this amazing landscape.

   I would recommend that you read some of the late John O'Donohue's writing to get the feeling for the ancient Celtic culture that permeates the landscape. I was very privileged to have met John while I was in Ballyvaughan after corresponding with him over the previous few months. Shortly before his death in 2008, he created a video called "A Celtic Pilgrimage".  There is no better introduction to this sublime location. John's description of the Burren says it all.

A Celtic Pilgrimage with John O'Donohue   Here is a link where you can view a trailer of John's wonderful video.

For more information on the unique geology of the Burren, visit the link below. The Burren BeoTrust is an organization that is trying to preserve this amazing but threatened landscape.