Trip Leader: Gareth McCormack
Locations: Counties Antrim, Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Clare
Start & Finish: Dublin
Maximum Group Size: 5
Exertion: Low to moderate
Cost: €3,400, including 8 nights of accommodation. Single supplement €500.
Availability: Only 2 places left
Booking: A deposit of €500 secures your place. Remaining balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.
Explore the rugged and remote northwest corner of Ireland surrounded by the beautiful colours of autumn. Shoot dramatic Atlantic headlands and beaches, iconic lighthouses, historic castles and rugged mountains. Gareth has spent his career shooting the best of this region, and will share his intimate knowledge of the area’s landscape and coastline with you.
This photography tour includes eight nights of accommodation. We stay in a range of three and four-star hotels and guesthouses, each carefully selected for its character and location. Every night is spent beside the sea, and we endeavor to provide rooms with sea views wherever possible.
Rooms can be booked on either a double or single basis, though a single supplement does apply.
Breakfast is included as part of the tour, but no other meals are provided. We’ll stop as appropriate each day to eat together in local cafés and restaurants, with each participant covering the cost of their own meals.
This photography holiday has an exertion rating of low to moderate. Photo locations are all easily accessible by car, with short walks along paths or across open ground to reach our initial vantage points. This may involve some steps, steep gradients or uneven ground. If you have any questions about the physical demands of the trip, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss the locations in more detail.
Photographers of all proficiency levels are welcome to join this tour. Whatever your ability, Gareth will help you develop your skills as the trip progresses.
The north west of Ireland is the country’s most remote corner. Characterised by wild Atlantic coastline, untamed mountains and isolated villages, this is the Irish landscape at its most primeval. On this trip, the atmosphere and scenery is heightened by the season. In October the tourists are gone, the trees display autumn colours, and the first big ocean swells are staring to pummel the shore. This is the west coast at its most dramatic, with crashing Atlantic waves balanced by cosy pub fires in the evening.
The aim of the tour is to explore the best photo locations the north west has to offer. Travelling together in one large vehicle, we follow the coast from Antrim to Clare. The main subjects are landscapes and coastline, though there’ll be elements of architecture and culture too. In October sunrise and sunset fall at hospitable times, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity for dawn and dusk outings whenever conditions are favourable.
As we explore each location, we’ll experiment with different shooting techniques and approaches to composition. During quiet spells in the hotel, we’ll analyse the shots we’ve taken, and there’ll be a chance to extend your image processing skills for anyone who’s interested. The overall aim is to introduce you to Ireland’s most beautiful photo locations, then share Gareth’s professional experience in any way possible to help you produce more striking images.
Days 1 & 2: After collecting you from a location of your choice in Dublin, we head to our first destination – County Antrim, in Northern Ireland. We spend the first couple of days exploring the unique scenery of the Causeway Coast. The twisted trees of the Dark Hedges, the tiny harbour at Portbradden, and the mouldering cliff-top remains of Dunluce Castle all make prime photo spots. Our base, the Causeway Hotel, occupies a protected building dating from 1836, and is located right beside the sea. It allows easy walking access to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway, facilitating sunset shoots from these unique rock formations.
Days 3 & 4: We now head west, to Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast. The next two nights are spent on the Rosguill Peninsula in County Donegal, a remote northern headland that feels miles from anywhere. Photo opportunities centre around the dramatic lighthouse at Fanad Head, fabulous Boyeeghter Strand, and the mountains of north Donegal. Overnight we’ll relax in the Rosapenna Hotel, a 4-star hotel with private access to a sandy bay in the small village of Downings.
Days 5 & 6: The next two days are spent exploring the landscapes of County Mayo. Our base is the small, family-run Bervie Guesthouse, which occupies a restored coastguard station beside a 3km-long beach on Achill Island. Achill is Ireland’s largest Atlantic island, and an incredible place for photography. Highlights include the fabulous view from the top of the Menawn Cliffs, the secluded cove of Keem, and the evocative remains of a deserted village.
Day 7: Today we travel through beautiful Connemara, in Country Galway. This immensely scenic region is densely packed with mountains and lakes, as well as a stunning coastline. We’ll pass Ireland’s only fjord at Killary Harbour, photograph the gothic turrets of Kylemore Abbey, and explore the best views across the Twelve Ben and Maumturk Mountains. This evening we stay in The Hardiman, a 4-star hotel offering grand Victorian style beside Eyre Square, in the heart of Galway city. Wandering past the characterful pubs and buildings of nearby Shop Street is the cultural highlight of this vibrant city.
Day 8: Our final west-coast destination is County Clare, famous for the unique limestone formations of The Burren. Top photo locations include Dunguaire Castle, Poulnabrone Dolmen and the celebrated Cliffs of Moher. Sunset is prime shooting time for the cliffs, after which we retire to the nearby Ballinalacken Castle Hotel. This antique-filled, 4-star hotel is set beside a 15th century castle, just a couple of kilometers from the traditional Irish music venues of Doolin village.
Day 9: After one last morning of shooting on the west coast, we make our way back towards Dublin. The tour finishes on the afternoon of Thursday 14th October, when we drop you off at at a location of your choice in Dublin city.
Payment: The price of this tour is €3,400 is per person, based on two people sharing a room. A supplement of €500 applies for single-occupancy rooms. An initial, non-refundable deposit of €500 per person is required to secure your place, with the remaining balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.
Cancellation: If you book a place on the tour and have to cancel for any reason, we’ll be happy to refund the full amount, minus your booking deposit, up to 60 days before departure. Cancellations made 30-60 days prior to departure will forfeit 50% of the tour, while cancellations made 15-30 days before departure forfeit 75% of the total. No refund will be given for cancellations made less than 15 days before departure.
COVID-19: In the event of government restrictions around COVID-19 meaning the workshop is no longer possible, we’ll let you know as soon as we can. We’ll endeavor to reschedule the tour for a later date, but if this isn’t possible, full refunds will be given.
Insurance: Please note that it’s the responsibility of the customer to ensure you have adequate personal and equipment insurance cover for this trip.
Camera Equipment: Bring all your camera equipment, including any lenses, tripods and filters. Remember cables for downloading images, and if you use a laptop for processing, bring that too. Some off-road walking may be required to reach photo locations, so we recommend that you pack your equipment in a small rucksack to facilitate moving around. Make sure your camera bag offers enough protection in the event of being caught in rain.
Clothing: Ireland’s climate can be notoriously changeable. Bring good, waterproof footwear, and warm, waterproof and windproof clothing to protect yourself in all weather conditions. Bring sunscreen too, because you never know! We discourage the use of plastic wherever possible, so also recommend bringing a resuable water bottle.
We keep our group sizes small so the exact format of each tour can be tailored to the needs of individuals. You may be quite happy with your photography level, and see Gareth simply as your personal guide to Ireland’s best locations. Alternatively you may want to extend your skills, and in this case there’ll be plenty of opportunity to ask technical questions and further your understanding of camera operation. Gareth can help you get out of auto settings for the first time, or provide constructive critique on composition and aesthetic decisions that might expand your creative repertoire. Topics that often come up include:
Q: I’m a complete beginner – will your workshop be suitable for me?
A: Yes. Our workshops and tours have small group sizes, so much of the tuition is on a one-to-one basis. We encourage a friendly and collegiate atmosphere, and more experienced photographers generally help by offering their own advice and encouragement. After all, we were all beginners at one point ourselves, and can empathise with how mystifying the technicalities of photography can appear. A key point for beginners is to relax – with a few pointers, taking great images is often much easier than you realise.
Q: I don’t have a tripod / expensive camera / any filters. Is this a problem?
A: Tripods are essential for good landscape photography and long exposure techniques. Having said that you can come on a weekend workshop without one, as Gareth normally carries a spare tripod you can try out. However this isn’t encouraged for longer tours. If you’re unsure about buying one, we’d encourage you to at least borrow or rent one if you can. Please don’t buy a cheap plastic or lightweight ‘traveller’ tripod. They’re too flimsy for serious work and will cause you enormous frustration. Investing in a good tripod is one of the most overlooked aspects of purchasing photography equipment.
Most of our workshop clients use digital DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, but these range from Hasselblads to basic starter cameras. We also have people who still shoot film or black and white only. You could come on a workshop with just your phone and still benefit – in fact we had one weekend where the best images came from somebody doing just that. If you don’t have any filters but are interested in learning to use them, Gareth will have some on hand to try out. You’ll then be a better position to decide what you want to invest in afterwards.
Q: How physically demanding are the locations to reach?
A: Most of our photo locations are easy to reach, and accessible within a couple of minutes walk from the car. However the ground underfoot may be uneven, slippery or wet. We avoid long or arduous hikes, but to reach more adventurous shooting positions – which are entirely optional – you may need to cross loose rocks or steep slopes. If you have any concerns about your fitness for this trip, please get in touch and Gareth will be happy to discuss the individual locations with you.
Q: Workshop or tour – what’s the difference?
A: Our workshops are short, typically two or three days long, and based within a defined area. The emphasis is on education and assistance from Gareth, but we also visit plenty of good photo locations, hopefully in good light. We’ll also have at least one formal seminar on post processing during the weekend. Tours are longer trips that visit several geographical areas, with the emphasis on exploring the best locations in the best light. Of course instruction and assistance from Gareth is still part of the package, but the theory and processing sessions are less formal. Instead we use bad weather as an opportunity for image review, with one-to-one or small group sessions on post processing workflow happening in a more organic way.
Q: How long is a typical day?
A: There’s no schedule set in advance for any of our workshops or tours. In order to match our locations with the best light, we stay as flexible as possible. Typically we’ll shoot at sunrise if conditions allow, returning to the hotel afterwards for breakfast. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of early starts – sunrise shoots are always optional. We’ll certainly shoot during the day, prioritising locations that best suit the weather conditions. Even if it’s a travel day, we’ll stop at one or two interesting places along the way. Evening and sunset shoots are also a staple whenever conditions allow.
Poor weather can be useful too. On weekend workshops, we’ll take the opportunity to look at post processing. On longer tours we generally use poor weather to relax and recover, review our images, and perhaps think about post processing if people are keen. When conditions are favorable for several days in a row, regular dawn and dusk shoots can quickly become exhausting, so we do factor in the need for downtime during the day. Nothing kills creativity quicker than fatigue! If at any time you need to slow down and skip a shoot, that’s fine too.
Q: Can I bring my spouse/partner even if they’re not interested in photography?
A: Yes, absolutely. We visit beautiful and interesting locations, so there’s much to enjoy even if you aren’t interested in taking more than snapshots. We often stay in the same hotel for two or more nights, so non-photographers are free to take time out from the field trips and do their own thing. There’s often plenty to see and do within walking distance of our accommodation, and sometimes leisure facilities at the hotel too. Just ask if you want more details about this particular trip.
There are only two places remaining on the North West Ireland tour, so we recommend you book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. If you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch: