The 10 Most Beautiful Places in Ireland

November 05, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The 10 Most Beautiful Places in Ireland

By Jay Ben Adlersberg


If photography is about light and color, then Ireland is a prism between the sun and the Irish Sea. The North Atlantic Drift from the Gulf Stream brings warm air to meet a variable jet stream and the result is four seasons of weather in one Irish day. Want flat light? You’ve got it. Want a golden sunset? That, too. Rain and fog over slieve and glen? Bring a slicker. When I arrived to photograph the country, I discovered an incredible richness and depth of color on the land—greens interspersed with a rainbow of crops, plants, and flowers. I saw hundreds of beautiful sights on the Emerald Isle upon my first visit and hundreds more upon my inevitable return. To cut them down to only ten was an exquisite chore.

  1. To begin, I’m choosing Dunmore Head, the western most point of Europe. Plowed fields cover a round mountainside that slopes down to black cliffs with scalloped beaches below. As you round a bend in the road, this entire landscape fills your vision. It’s breathtaking, so much so that we used a wide shot of it as the dust jacket photo for the book.
  2. The Cloghereen Nature Trail in Killarney National Park in Kerry is one of several places that conveys the magic and mystical features of Ireland. The waterfall there isn’t high, but it rushes and bubbles over a gradual decline of black rocks. The contrast of the foam and the stones is part of the magic. The mystical is a direct result of the spraying water, creating constant humidity. It spawns moss, which blankets the tree trunks in thick green velvet. Your hair will stand on end—if not, check for a pulse.
  3. Cliffs surround Ireland, but the ones I found most beautiful were not the Cliffs of Mohr, but the chalky White Cliffs of Antrim. Where there’s not white, there’s green flora, making the high rises softer, more human and accessible. You might not think they’re very high, until you look down at the walking path near the shore and see specks moving on it. People specks.
  4. The town of Portrush in the North is a seaside holiday town with restaurants, pubs and amusement rides. As you drive in on the narrow highway, stop where a green field rolls down toward a wide view of the town in the distance. Between the field and the town is one of the handful of links golf courses in the country. It’s a spectacular panorama of fields, links, town and ocean.
  5. This one is a tourist stop, but for good reason—Slieve Mish in County Kerry. I was wowed at the expanse of sinuous fields and fences and of a mountain that seemed to grow out of a valley and empty down into the sea. When the tour buses left, I set up shop. This photo from the book looks exactly like what you’ll see when you go there.
  6. Come inside now to the Long Room of the library at Trinity College. It was completed in the first half of the 18th century on a campus that hails from the 1500’s. It’s hallowed ground for philosophers and writers and there’s a grandeur that forces you to talk in hushed tones as you inspect the two floors of tombs along opposite walls. Light streams in from long high windows as if you are in a cathedral of learning. Busts of scholars surround it in marbleized reveries.
  7. What would an island be without a beach or two? One of the most dramatic can be found in Inch along the southern side of the Dingle Peninsula. It goes on for a couple of kilometers between two mountains and opens onto relatively calm waters at this point in the Atlantic. There’s a sense of infinite space as you stand between the water and the scrub brush behind it, looking from side to side along the deep expanse of sand. Don’t skip a drive up the mountain either—the view from there is mesmerizing.
  8. Moonwalk through the Burren in County Clare, a vast dump of glacial stone grinding down to the sea. Its stark beauty stands in contrast to all the greenery which surrounds it. You step from boulder to boulder and occasionally confront a five feet high mass of craggy limestone that you almost want to say hello to. There’s a solitary lighthouse sitting bravely on the shore, looking back to the rocks and westward towards the sea.
  9. Fore! This is one of the magnificent golf links on the island, found at the Portmarnock Club outside of Dublin. Links are courses by the sea, where the fairways and green have been carved through the dunes, leaving them untouched and covered with blowing dune grass. Don’t slice into this rough unless you have a transponder on the ball.
  10. This last one is the mother of all landscapes, the Three Sisters range of peaks on the Dingle Peninsula. Breathtaking is not the word. Bring oxygen. The range of sloping crags goes on for miles and if you stop at just the right place and clamber over a fence and jump a ditch, you can see almost 180 degrees of one of the most unusual shorelines in the world.

I have pictures of these 10 places in "Ireland in Word and Image" will I will post here after the book signing event.

About Jay Ben Adlersberg: Jay Ben Adlersberg is a contributing artist to Getty Images. His clients include Microsoft, Saatchi and Saatchi, Macmillan, and the New York Times. He brings a journalist's eye to his images of countries and their people. He was inspired by his daughter, an editorial and portrait photographer in New York City, to pursue photography more seriously. Jay has been voted one of the Best Doctors in New York. For the past thirty years, he has reported nightly on medical news for WABC-TV, and—together with other ABC NEWS staff—won a Peabody Award for coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He has just released his first book of photography Ireland in Word and Image, published by Welcome Books.
He lives in New York City. To view Jay's work, visit


Photo credit: From Ireland: In Word and Image. Photographs © 2013 Jay Adlersberg.


No comments posted.

January February March April May June July (2) August (20) September (6) October (7) November (10) December (8)
January (5) February (5) March (3) April (7) May (5) June (5) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December