Trip Leaders: Gareth McCormack and Tim Mannakee
Locations: Counties Clare, Kerry and Cork
Start & Finish: Shannon Airport
Maximum Group Size: 8
Exertion: Low to moderate
Cost: €3,100, including 7 nights of accommodation. Single supplement €650.
Availability: 8 places left
Booking: A deposit of €800 secures your place. Remaining balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.
South west Ireland is a region of superlatives, its magnificent scenery attracting more visitors than any other part of the county. Its appeal is obvious: craggy peninsulas thrust into the Atlantic, harbouring colourful villages, ancient castles, shattered coastline and shapely mountains. On this photography tour we explore the best wild scenery of Cork and Kerry, with the famous coastal escarpment of the Cliffs of Moher thrown in for good measure.
For this trip, Gareth is joined by long-time professional photographer Tim Mannakee, so you’ll benefit from the experience of two experienced mentors. The small group size and quality accommodation ensures a personal approach throughout.
This photography holiday includes seven nights of accommodation. We stay in a range of four and five-star hotels and guesthouses, each carefully selected for its character and location. We also endeavor to provide superior or sea-view rooms 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.
The magnificent scenery of south west Ireland makes this the country’s most celebrated region in terms of natural beauty. The coastline is splintered into a succession of five large peninsulas, each with a character all of its own. Varied and fragmented shorelines are backed by shapely mountains, and the summits here are the highest in Ireland.
Though it’s a region that can be busy with tourism in peak summer, by October the crowds are gone. The hills are coloured purple by blooming heather, and classic viewpoints have become wild and atmospheric once more. Dawn and dusk fall at hospitable times too, a boon for photographers who love the enchantment of magic hour light.
The aim of this tour is to explore the best landscape photography locations the south west can offer. Travelling together in two large cars, we follow the coast from Clare to Cork. Landscape and coastline are the most common themes, though there’s historic castles, archaeological monuments and cultural centres too. As we explore each area, we’ll experiment with different compositions and shooting techniques. With both Gareth and Tim to guide you, and a maximum client ratio of 1:4, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to develop your camera skills and capture striking images of each location.
Days 1 & 2: We begin by collecting you from a location of your choice near Shannon Airport. This meeting point is just a short drive from our first area of exploration, so we can get started on the photography straight away.
County Clare is home to a host of classic photo locations, with the unique limestone hills of the Burren and the 14km rock face of the Cliffs of Moher prime amongst them. Yet there are other spots here too, like the picturesque harbour of Kinvara with its traditional Galway Hooker boats, and Polnabrone Dolmen, a massive portal tomb dating from Neolithic times. Overnight we stay in Drumcreehy House, a four-star guesthouse close to the village of Ballyvaughan.
Days 3, 4 & 5: After Clare, we head south towards Kerry. Known as ‘The Kingdom’, this magnificent county will be our base for the remainder of the tour.
We begin by heading to beautiful Dingle Peninsula, formed by a spine of mountains reaching out into the Atlantic. Our base for three nights is Pax House, a four-star boutique guesthouse located just outside Dingle town, where incredible sea views come as standard. Dingle itself is a vibrant Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) town, with a wide variety of bistros, pubs and traditional music to keep us entertained in the evening.
Photo locations here include spots like Minard Castle and Connor Pass, though much of our focus is likely to be around the tip of the peninsula, the most westerly point in Ireland. This is a stunning coastline, from the jagged rock fins of Slea Head, past the sandy coves of Coomeenoole and Clogher, to the twisted descent to Dunquin Harbour. Offshore, the windswept Blasket Islands provide a perfect backdrop for the setting sun to sink behind.
Days 6,7 & 8: We now leave Dingle and head east across the heart of Kerry. We spend our final two nights in the Sheen Falls Lodge, beside the colourful town of Kenmare. This five-star hotel has a wonderful location beside a tumbling waterfall, while Kenmare is pretty and vibrant enough to be both a photo location and an evening attraction.
From Kenmare, we’re well placed to reach the best photo locations on both the Iveragh and Beara Peninsulas. Highlights include views across the famous lakes of Killarney, and the secluded Black Valley, which nestles deep beneath the wild peaks of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains. Heading west into Beara, the patchwork fields and rugged coastline are interspersed by colourful villages such as Eyeries and Allihies.
The tour finishes on the afternoon of Friday 8th October, when we drop you back to your base near Shannon Airport.
Payment: The price of this tour is €3,100 is per person, based on two people sharing a room. A supplement of €650 applies for single-occupancy rooms. An initial, non-refundable deposit of €800 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 tour is no longer possible, we’ll let you know as soon as we can. We’ll endeavor to reschedule the trip 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.
As there are only eight places available on this tour, we recommend you book soon to avoid disappointment. If you have any further queries about joining us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: