I’ve been lucky enough to visit one of the islands off the west coast recently and work with some great people. The second week in April was one of those times. The brief was to shoot some people in action in the landscape, and to promote Clare island in it’s entirety.
The group included a group of journalists from the UK and Ireland. There was Teena Gates from Outsider magazine, Kathryn Mack from Coast magazine, Neill O’ Neill from The Mayo News in Westport and Damian and Kelvin O’Neill from fun.ie. We were all in the capable hands of Ian Moore and his team at Clare Island Adventures.
On Friday evening, we caught the 6.30 ferry from Roonagh pier to the island. It’s a short 20-minute hop and there’s a definite sense of getting away from it all when the boat gets out onto the ocean.
Once you arrive, there’s a short ten-minute walk to the Go Explore Hostel. It could have been less, but we stopped occasionally to watch a pod of dolphins make their way along the coast.
It been a few years since I stayed in a hostel and to tell the truth, this was an activity that I thought I had left in the past. However, I wasn’t prepared for this experience. Carl and his team have re-defined the hostel experience with their attention to quality and comfort. The rooms, which accommodated 6/8 in bunk beds were clean, modern, and warm. That evening, we enjoyed the excellent food and welcome in Sailors Bar and Restaurant.
Saturday morning dawned and after a hearty breakfast we set off coasteering. This involves rock-scrambling with cliff jumping and adventure swimming. It was perfect weather for this, and for me shooting the activities.
Joe, the driver of the rib I was shooting from proved a great pilot. Despite being a non-swimmer, I felt completely safe at all times. Luckily, I had bought a camera rain cover and it proved vital. After a few hours of this, we returned to the hostel for lunch. The ocean breeze builds up an appetite.
In the afternoon, Ian drove us all up to The Crag – a range of high cliffs looking out on the Atlantic ocean. The views on this part of the island are stunning and I have no doubt, if these cliffs were on the mainland, there would be an interpretive centre and busloads of tourists visiting.
On second thoughts, it’s probably best out here, where it is protected and managed in a more sustainable way.
To shoot them, you really have to include people in your photos, in order to give a sense of scale – it’s big – very big! I spent a few hours here photographing all the participants before we had to rush back to the hostel, pick up our things and catch the last ferry back to Roonagh.
If you’re into adventure sport, this would be a very enjoyable and memorable weekend away.
For photographers, Clare island is a must see! I spend 24 hours out there but only got to see the coasteering and the Crag.
There is so much more I want to shoot and that is why I will be returning.