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#TravelPorn: 10 photos our readers reacted to most in 2015

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The Aurora Borealis on the morning of June 23, 2015 over O'Brien's Castle on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands. Photo: Cormac Coyne

The Aurora Borealis on the morning of June 23, 2015 over O'Brien's Castle on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands. Photo: Cormac Coyne

Photo: Cormac Coyne

Hiker on Trolltunga. Photo: Deposit

Hiker on Trolltunga. Photo: Deposit

Ben Bulben in Sligo on a winter's day. Photo: Bill Costello

Ben Bulben in Sligo on a winter's day. Photo: Bill Costello

Bill Costello

Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big game fishing. Photo: Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big game fishing. Photo: Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Photo and caption by Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Snorkelling

Snorkelling

Taken in Loher, Co. Kerry, Eilís Murphy's photo shows her father (84) counting his cows and sheep. She left Ireland in 1996, and now lives in Boston. "We don't appreciate this beauty until you leave and return to Ireland. I have so many friends ask me why did I leave such a beautiful country."

Taken in Loher, Co. Kerry, Eilís Murphy's photo shows her father (84) counting his cows and sheep. She left Ireland in 1996, and now lives in Boston. "We don't appreciate this beauty until you leave and return to Ireland. I have so many friends ask me why did I leave such a beautiful country."

The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill

The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill

Finbarr O'Neill

Pictured in London launching Ryanair Car Hire powered by Car Trawler, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael O’Leary, CarTrawler’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike McGearty and cabin crew Dorota Sokolowska and Alexandra Onel.  Ryanair, Europe's favourite airline, today (25 Aug) announced that Ryanair Car Hire powered by CarTrawler will launch on Ryanair.com on 1st Sept.”

Pictured in London launching Ryanair Car Hire powered by Car Trawler, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael O’Leary, CarTrawler’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike McGearty and cabin crew Dorota Sokolowska and Alexandra Onel. Ryanair, Europe's favourite airline, today (25 Aug) announced that Ryanair Car Hire powered by CarTrawler will launch on Ryanair.com on 1st Sept.”

Eagle's Rock, Co. Leitrim: "On a recent hike with Northwest Adventure Tours, we come across this mound; it looked like a glacial slide had pushed it down and left a nice viewing point to stand upon." Photo: Colin Gillen/Framelight.ie

Eagle's Rock, Co. Leitrim: "On a recent hike with Northwest Adventure Tours, we come across this mound; it looked like a glacial slide had pushed it down and left a nice viewing point to stand upon." Photo: Colin Gillen/Framelight.ie

Colin Gillen/framelight.ie

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The Aurora Borealis on the morning of June 23, 2015 over O'Brien's Castle on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands. Photo: Cormac Coyne

A photo speaks a thousands words, but in travel that goes even more so. We LOVE photos. And here are 10 reasons why.

Throughout the year, inspiring images came streaming through.

We had an epic gallery from National Geographic's 2015 Travel Photo contest, including the winning shot of divers swimming near a humpback whale off the western coast of Mexico, taken by Anuar Patjane Floriuk.

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Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big game fishing. Photo: Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big game fishing. Photo: Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Photo and caption by Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big game fishing. Photo: Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest


Photo: Anuar Patjane Floriuk / National Geographic Travel

But we also had awesome amateur shots taken much closer to home - such as schoolteacher Cormac Coyne's snap of a solar storm off Inis Óirr (top).

The 'Aran Islands Aurora' was our most shared travel photo on Facebook.

Or remember that guy with the cheetah?

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Photo: Mickey McCaldin

"Everyone has their 15 minutes but I think I have it for the wrong reason. Did you see my face?" Mickey McCaldin told independent.ie.

The Fermanagh man was travelling with his wife and sister to visit friends in Kenya when the group went out on safari.

Talk about close encounters...

In September, we ran a readers' travel photography competition, Ireland's Best View, that only confirmed what we already know.

Our readers are as adept at shooting photos as sharing them.

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Ben Bulben in Sligo on a winter's day. Photo: Bill Costello

Ben Bulben in Sligo on a winter's day. Photo: Bill Costello

Bill Costello

Ben Bulben in Sligo on a winter's day. Photo: Bill Costello


Photo: Bill Costello

Bill Costello's photo of Ben Bulben took first prize, but Eilís Murphy's photo of her father (below) counting his livestock in Kerry got a huge reaction too.

"We don't appreciate this beauty until you leave and return to Ireland," she said. "I have so many friends ask me why did I leave such a beautiful country."

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Taken in Loher, Co. Kerry, Eilís Murphy's photo shows her father (84) counting his cows and sheep. She left Ireland in 1996, and now lives in Boston. "We don't appreciate this beauty until you leave and return to Ireland. I have so many friends ask me why did I leave such a beautiful country."

Taken in Loher, Co. Kerry, Eilís Murphy's photo shows her father (84) counting his cows and sheep. She left Ireland in 1996, and now lives in Boston. "We don't appreciate this beauty until you leave and return to Ireland. I have so many friends ask me why did I leave such a beautiful country."

Taken in Loher, Co. Kerry, Eilís Murphy's photo shows her father (84) counting his cows and sheep. She left Ireland in 1996, and now lives in Boston. "We don't appreciate this beauty until you leave and return to Ireland. I have so many friends ask me why did I leave such a beautiful country."

 

Of course, armchair travel is dear to all of us here, and destination coverage was front and central in our most shared photography of 2015.

Iceland is far and away one of your favourites - the news of WOW Air's direct flights from Dublin to Reykjavik was huge, but we love the purity of this photo by Elli Thor Magnusson, which accompanied Yvonne's Gordon's winter in Iceland feature.

It shows a snorkeller in the Silfra Fissure, the gap between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates on the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

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Snorkelling

Snorkelling

Snorkelling


Iceland. Photo: Elli Thor Magnusson

Sadly, tragedy propelled some destinations into the spotlight, too.

Visitors to Trolltunga (or 'troll’s tongue') in Norway often pose for dramatic photos standing close to the edge or dangling their feet over the drop.

The Huffington Post has called it "The Scariest Instagram Spot on Earth."

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Hiker on Trolltunga. Photo: Deposit

Hiker on Trolltunga. Photo: Deposit

Hiker on Trolltunga. Photo: Deposit


Photo: Deposit

It hit the headlines in September, howover, when a student fell to her death from the famous (and now infamous) rock formation.

As luxury rail trips made a comeback, we also noticed a huge interest among trainspotters - not least for the Thomas the Tank Engine doppelganger that was the Emerald Isle Explorer.

Finbarr O'Neill's photo accompanied our story in February.

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The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill

The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill

Finbarr O'Neill

The Emerald Isle Explorer. Steam Dreams is offering a week-long tour of Ireland by steam train this June. Photo: Finbarr O'Neill

 

Then there was Ryanair.

Ironically, when the PR image (below) promoting the airline's new partnership with CarTrawer.com popped into our files in August, I had been preparing a piece on Michael O'Leary's perceived withdrawal from the public eye.

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Pictured in London launching Ryanair Car Hire powered by Car Trawler, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael O’Leary, CarTrawler’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike McGearty and cabin crew Dorota Sokolowska and Alexandra Onel.  Ryanair, Europe's favourite airline, today (25 Aug) announced that Ryanair Car Hire powered by CarTrawler will launch on Ryanair.com on 1st Sept.”

Pictured in London launching Ryanair Car Hire powered by Car Trawler, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael O’Leary, CarTrawler’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike McGearty and cabin crew Dorota Sokolowska and Alexandra Onel. Ryanair, Europe's favourite airline, today (25 Aug) announced that Ryanair Car Hire powered by CarTrawler will launch on Ryanair.com on 1st Sept.”

Pictured in London launching Ryanair Car Hire powered by Car Trawler, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael O’Leary, CarTrawler’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike McGearty and cabin crew Dorota Sokolowska and Alexandra Onel. Ryanair, Europe's favourite airline, today (25 Aug) announced that Ryanair Car Hire powered by CarTrawler will launch on Ryanair.com on 1st Sept.”

 

That piece was promptly spiked.

We ran several Irish photography galleries during the year, among them Colin Gillen's 17 photos of Yeats Country, including this brilliant landscape.

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Eagle's Rock, Co. Leitrim: "On a recent hike with Northwest Adventure Tours, we come across this mound; it looked like a glacial slide had pushed it down and left a nice viewing point to stand upon." Photo: Colin Gillen/Framelight.ie

Eagle's Rock, Co. Leitrim: "On a recent hike with Northwest Adventure Tours, we come across this mound; it looked like a glacial slide had pushed it down and left a nice viewing point to stand upon." Photo: Colin Gillen/Framelight.ie

Colin Gillen/framelight.ie

Eagle's Rock, Co. Leitrim: "On a recent hike with Northwest Adventure Tours, we come across this mound; it looked like a glacial slide had pushed it down and left a nice viewing point to stand upon." Photo: Colin Gillen/Framelight.ie

 

"On a recent hike with Northwest Adventure Tours, we come across this mound," as Colin of framelight.ie explained."It looked like a glacial slide had pushed it down and left a nice viewing point to stand upon."

Sweet, simple, spectacular. Here's to more of the same in 2016!

Got any travel photos to share? Email travel@independent.ie, post on Facebook here or tweet us at @indo_travel_.

Online Editors