Carrigaphooca Castle

We have some of the best names in Ireland. Carrigaphooca Castle is among the best. The Irish name for the castle you pass on the road from Cork to Macroom is Caisleán Carraig a' Phúca. It translates into English as Castle on the Rock of the Fairy (or Ghost, depending on which interpretation of púca you fancy). A pretty remarkable name. Even Game of Thrones can't top that. I've driven past the castle many times. For the longest time, I kept promising myself that, one day, I'd pull over and take a photograph of it. "One day" never seemed to come. I was always hurrying one way or another to something more important. Next time, I would tell myself. Repeatedly. On a crisp January morning, I sailed past it again. I gave it my customary cursory glance. Next t... "What the bloody hell am I doing?!" The weather was perfect. A dusting of clouds in the sky. Frost coating the ground and the castle walls. I swung the car round and pulled into the road that leads up to the castle.

Rules 1 to 4 of landscape photography

Rule 1 of landscape photography in Ireland is to ask for permission. Rule 2 is to ask for forgiveness. On this occasion, I brought Rule 1 to bear and knocked at the nearest farm house. Permission was granted and I set off up to the castle. Rule 3 of landscape photography states, "Don't walk on pristine frost before you've taken the photograph. Walk on it afterwards, so the scene is ruined for any photographers who visit the location after you." Rule 3 is closely associated with Rule 4, which is about snow and writing your name. I carefully scouted around the castle and settled on the composition you can see above. Strong lines, giving the ruin a powerful presence in the landscape. May I give you a piece of advice? That thing you keep putting off because you think it's not as important as other things? More grown-up things? It is important. It is exactly the kind of thing that makes life worth living. I have never regretted pulling over that January morning.

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