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My Return To Ireland

Four years ago my husband and I did our first big trip and traveled off to Ireland. Having great grandparents that were from Ireland was my first major draw to travel there but there was also the sights, people, and beer that made it even more important for us to go. At that point in my life I had been taking pictures for quite a while but was still discovering my style and camera. With my tax return money I bought a Canon 60D (yah I know, I smartened up and switched to team Nikon a few years later) and set out to learn the new buttons so I could document the moments.

In total we were in Ireland for three weeks and I feel like we did a great job of seeing frequently visited sights and not so frequently visited spots. A few times we got lost and found some amazing sights; like a lamp post and an amazing waterfall that was very reminiscent of one of my favourite childhood books with a wardrobe and a tricky little Faun. At the time I was happy with my pictures, don’t get me wrong I did get some good ones, but there was always that thought that they could be better.

A few weeks ago one of my good friends was talking about their trip to Scotland and Ireland. All I could think of was how I wanted to go back and remedy the sub par photos that I had taken. Now I am not sure if the Universe heard my plea and took pity on me or if it was just chance, but an opportunity presented itself. So I did what any good friend would do, I graciously jumped in on a childhood friends family trip to Dublin and Belfast.

A week later I was on a plane armed with my trusty and much beloved Nikon D750 (I blame the Canon for my poor performance in Ireland last time J). We landed in Dublin in the evening, got our car, found our hotel, and headed out for a wee pint and some food. I would like to say that I had forgotten how good Guinness is in Ireland vs Canada, but I didn’t. When you have tasted perfection you never forget. What I did forget about Ireland was the atmosphere and feel. I love Dublin for its “feel”. If you ever wander down to Temple Bar area you can feel it. There are pubs everywhere you turn, like most of Ireland, and music coming from 90% of them. Each bar is a photographers dream as far as I am concerned. Rustic spiral staircases, live music, people chatting, and many beers on tap. Each pub feels like its own small town; there is the perception that everyone knows each other, is having a pint, and a chat. Needless to say, my first night in Dublin I took over 200 photos and I regret nothing!

The next few days in Dublin were comprised of sight seeing and pit stop pints. I got to visit many of the places I had already been but it was interesting to look at them from a different angle or with a new creative eye. Unlike before, I was observing how the light hit objects and how I could use the crowd as an asset rather than cursing every person who dared to wander into my picture frame.

After a few days we said goodbye to Dublin and started in on the drive to Belfast. Now Belfast is one of my favourite places in the world. Don’t get me wrong, Dublin is great and it is right behind Belfast for deep seeded love, but their is something about Belfast that I find fascinating. I think it is the feel of it. It has the feel of a place where “much has happened” and you can walk around and sense it. The events that have occurred there are both tangible in the monuments, flags, and pride and intangible in the feeling of the air. Now I do not claim to understand the events and inner workings of Belfast, as I am outsider, but I was surprised to find how different Belfast felt after four years. My first trip I felt like I could taste the tension in the air. It was as if all the prejudice was there but no one wanted to make the wrong move and toss the city into turmoil again. Now, it felt slightly more relaxed; like you could almost forget that there is a major rift dividing the people of this magnificent city. If you ever get the chance to go see Belfast, do it. The sights, history, landscape, and people could captivate you for long enough to get thousands of photos.

I was lucky on this trip as I was traveling with locals, so I was lucky enough to meet so many people, be part of their family, and see things from a different angle. It is interesting to see how you can travel to so many places in the world and if you strip away the different vernacular and traditions, people are just people with similar issues and desires.

What was really fun on this trip was the chance to attend an Irish wedding. Like most weddings, you have very similar ceremonies. The differences lay in a different word here, a change in the order of events, or the different “token dances” that are part of the festivity. For example, here in Canada you rarely get through a wedding without partaking in the “Chicken Dance.” There, “rock the boat” started playing and everyone started cheering and ran out on to the dance floor. They then proceeded to sit down in long lines creating a trains. Once on the floor they began to dance, waving their hands, clapping, and tapping the floor. It looked like a lot of fun! I excluded myself so I could document this monumental experience. All in all, the wedding was amazing fun! I greatly appreciate that the Bride and Groom allowed me to share in on their wedding day and that everyone was so welcoming and friendly towards me.

So, heres what I learned from my trip to Ireland:

1.If you meet Irish family, hug them don't shake their hand!

2.Ireland is still one of my favourite places on this Earth.

3.Traveling can be risky for your heart. People talk about how you will meet amazing people and see amazing places. What they don't mention is that you will meet amazing people that can rapidly become great friends and then you leave knowing that you may never see them again. I have friends in various places in the world that I care very deeply for and it is hard leaving them knowing I will either never see them in person again or very rarely. At least with technology we can chat frequently but it’s hard missing out on events and their lives.

4.Your photography will always get better so keep taking pictures as much as you can. Take pictures everyday! Look at new angles, try new things, and observe how light hits things. When you get to places that you want to take pictures at, take a look around first. Don't just stop, rattle off a couple pictures, and leave. Walk around, look at the light, the back drop, the angles, and then take your pictures. Trust me, it will look better if you do. I knew this going into this trip but didn't back when I went the first time. I took pictures of the same monuments but I think the second time around I improved just a wee bit.

5.Two visits to Ireland was not enough. I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Life is an adventure; depart from the mundane

Genna @ Departure Photography

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