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Panoramic Ireland by Ciaran McHugh

We’re not a big island. Ireland is roughly 81,000 square kms; about the size of the American State of Indiana, and just bit bigger than Scotland.

So how is it that our landscapes are big business, and known for an epic vastness of changing skies, rolling hills and distant peaks? One answer would be Ciaran McHugh‘s work. He employs wide-angle panorama photography to capture that ‘WOW’ feeling as you strain your neck and eyes to take in a scene. This means stitching together several shots, sometimes up to eight, to form a single, eye-candy panorama. Naturally, we asked him to share his favourites.

Second Beach, Rosses Point, County Sligo

It was growing up in the West of Ireland that inspired me to work in photography, especially the panoramic work I enjoy most. This format gives me the tools to capture vast places like Benbulben, Knocknarea, Connemara, Lough Corrib or the Atlantic coastline.

Nearly everywhere you look in the West, you can bet on a sweeping vista mountains tumbling down to the lakes and the ocean, to take your breath away. Sligo is particularly spoilt in this regard. The photograph above of Rosses Point’s Blue Flag beach with Benbulben mountain in the distance is one of my personal favourites.

Storm clearing at Doo Lough, County Mayo

The challenge I set myself as a photographer is to take original photographs that capture the essence of the landscape and help to renew our sense of wonderment at the natural beauty of our surroundings. After waiting through a day of sleet and rain at the Doo Lough Pass in County Mayo, the weather broke to reveal bright sunshine and this scene. This photo was composed from six separate shots.

Dusk at Strandhill beach, County Sligo

This photograph of surfers catching the last waves of the day was taken shortly after sunset on a wet evening at Strandhill beach, County Sligo. Strandhill is considered one of the major European surf hotspots, as well as being this photogenic.

Markree Castle, County Sligo

This panoramic shot of Markree Castle was taken from the bank of the Unsin River, which flows though the castle’s 800-acre estate. The castle has been painstakingly restored by the current owner Charles Cooper, who is the 10th generation of his family to live at Markree Castle.

Ashford Castle, County Mayo

This photograph of the famous Ashford Castle, in County Mayo was taken during the severe winter of 2009. I waited hours in the freezing cold for the right light, and once I got it I headed straight to the castle for another of photographer’s vital tools; coffee and scones.

The Long Walk from the Claddagh, County Galway

This panorama of The Long Walk in Galway City was taken after sunset at the mouth of the river Corrib at the edge of the Claddagh. The Claddagh area of Galway is most associated with the ring that bares its name, the Claddagh Ring, which was first created in the 17th century.

Derrynane Beach, County Kerry

This photo was taken in the late afternoon while I was on holiday near the stunning beach at Derrynane, County Kerry. The sheltered sandy beach in the natural harbour of Derrynane Bay could be mistaken for a Caribbean island. Its crystal clear waters are a brilliant turquoise blue even on the dullest days.

Ross Errilly Abbey, County Galway

Another technique I use is infrared photography, which gave the hauntingly atmospheric feel to my Ireland’s Abandoned Ruins collection. It focuses on timeworn subjects that are in the process of being lost to the ages and reclaimed by nature. The Franciscan Abbey of Ross Errilly was founded in 1349 on the banks on Black River on the Galway-Mayo border. It is among the best-preserved medieval monastic sites in the country.

We know what you’re thinking – you want that Lough Doo photo on your wall, don’t you? Don’t worry, Ciaran has thought of that. You can get canvas prints on his photography gallery.

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