Strike a pose: 10 of the most photogenic places in the west of Ireland
With an incredible coastline and unique natural beauty, the west of Ireland is the perfect place to get some insta-worthy snaps.
The Volkswagen Snapshot Competition is returning for a third year so it seemed like the perfect time to pick out some of Ireland’s best places to perfect your photography skills. Anyone in Ireland who is over the age of 16 can enter the competition on Instagram.
The overall winner will win an all-expenses paid trip to Iceland, which has more than its fair share of natural beauty spots, and there are lots of great prizes for category winners as well. There is also a chance to have your photo featured in a calendar that will raise funds for Temple Street Hospital.
If you’re looking for some “Instagrammic” places to take an amazing photo, here are 10 of the most stunning west of Ireland locations - no filters required!
1. Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare
The Cliffs of Moher are the original Instagram darling! With one million visitors every year, everyone must take at least one spectacular photo standing on top of these terrifying cliffs. Soaring 702ft above the Atlantic Ocean, Condé Nast Traveller even ranked the Cliffs as the best ‘cliff-view’ on the planet.
For best results: Try to take a photo at Hag’s Head, close to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, where you can find a quiet spot along the cliffs without any buzzing tourists in the background.
2. The Ring of Kerry, Co Kerry
With rolling hills, interesting islands, beautiful beaches and majestic mountains, the Ring of Kerry is one of the most picturesque places in the west of Ireland. The 152km scenic route stretches around the county, so there are many places to strike a pose. The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range are a spectacular place for pictures, as is Ireland’s tallest mountain, Carrauntoohil.
For best results: The annual Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle takes place in July. Cycling around the route allows you to take in the scenery, charming villages and dramatic landscapes more easily (and healthily) than in a car, so take a good camera to mark this moment.
3. Ben Bulben, Co Sligo
One of the most distinctive landmarks in Yeats Country, this magnificent mountain is truly a formidable sight. Commonly referred to by locals as 'Table Mountain', Yeats famously referenced the mountain in his poem ‘Under Ben Bulben’. Well-known in Irish mythology, the mountain is said to be the final resting place for legendary lovers, Diarmuid and Gráinne.
For best results: For a real photo opportunity, walk along the Ben Bulben Loop Walk, a 4km route of easy terrain.
4. Torc Waterfall, Co Kerry
The Torc Waterfall is part of the Killarney National Park, approximately 7km from Killarney Town, and situated at the base of Torc Mountain. 20m high and 110m long, the waterfall is an impressive sight and, like most waterfalls, it’s best seen after a heavy rainfall.
For best results: For the best viewing point of the lakes surrounding the waterfall, climb the 100-odd steps to get some excellent images.
5. The Worm Hole, Inis Mór, Co Galway
When looking for the perfect picture, the Aran Islands are a photographer’s dream. Their most unusual location is the Worm Hole, a naturally-occurring, rectangular pool cut from the limestone at the bottom of the cliffs on Inis Mór. The water from the sea ebbs and flows into the pool so the Worm Hole fills up, overflows, and then drains to its original level. In order to reach the Worm Hole, walk along the high cliffs from the second century fort of Dún Aonghasa and past the village of Gort na gCapall.
For best results: The Worm Hole is a famous diving spot so if you have lots of adrenaline (and good swimmer friends with you for safety), one of your buddies could snap the moment you take that dive.
6. Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Co Galway
This Benedictine monastery dates back to 1868 and is overflowing with history and romance, so it’s no wonder it gets half a million visitors a year. The Benedictine nuns arrived in 1920 after their abbey in Belgium was destroyed in World War I. They restored the abbey, gothic church and Victorian walled garden, which are all part of the location’s beauty and majesty.
For best results: The Victorian walled garden was one of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian era in Ireland. The six-acre garden is divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream, with the Connemara mountains as a picture-perfect backdrop.
7. Glencar Lough, Co Leitrim
The stunning Glencar Lough and waterfall were referred to by Yeats in his poem 'The Stolen Child' and this quaint, charming freshwater lake is famed for fishing and its spectacular waterfall. The surrounding countryside and ancient island dwellings around the lake are best captured by walking up the trail north of the valley.
For best results: The Glencar Waterfall is impressive after rain and especially nearing sunset. There’s nothing as romantic as a waterfall, so take your loved one on a relaxing walk in the woods and snap a fairy-tale selfie.
8. Ballymastocker Bay, Co Donegal
Heading into summer, there’s no better photo than one of you lying on the beach! Once voted second best beach in the world by Observer Magazine, Ballymastocker Bay sits on the Fanad Peninsula, on the western side of Lough Swilly. This Blue Flag beach is a beautiful stretch of secluded, golden sand with a striking shoreline and awe-inspiring views of the Inishowen Peninsula.
For best results: The beach stretches all the way from Portsalon to the Knockalla Hills. It’s from these hills that you can get the best view of the beach.
9. Mizen Head, Co Cork
Located at the high point of the Mizen Peninsula, Mizen Head is Ireland’s most southerly point. Mizen Head is noted for its dramatic cliffs, coastal rock formations and sensational views of the ocean. Standing on a windy cliff face, staring at the rocky abyss, it is a photographer’s dream!
For best results: The reconstructed 50m foot bridge spans across a sea gorge to connect the island of Cloghán with the mainland so it’s a perfect place for pics. Steep, ocean-straddling views are gold for your photo collection. Just try not to look down!
10. King John’s Castle, Co Limerick
Immerse yourself in Ireland’s medieval past at King John’s Castle, the 13th-century castle on King's Island on the River Shannon. Discover a medieval campaign tent, a blacksmith’s forge and pose with one of the costumed actors in a costume of your own. Swoosh around a sword or take a photo in the spooky undercroft (crypt of the church).
For best results: Take a kayaking trip on the River Shannon and wade past the Castle to get the best views in the city.
The Volkswagen Snapshot competition encourages people to upload their best snaps to Instagram and enter a choice of six categories. This year's overall winner will win an all-expenses paid weekend to Iceland, the photography enthusiast’s dream destination!
There are also individual prizes for each category winner, including innovative drones, a design tablet, and a Samsung Gear 360!
What's more, 12 entries will be chosen to be featured in the 2020 Volkswagen Snapshot calendar which will be on sale online for €10. Funds raised for Temple Street Hospital help to ensure that sick children continue to have access to the very best paediatric equipment, facilities and supports when they need it most.
For more details on how to enter Volkswagen Snapshot 2019, check out the website.