A good photograph is knowing where to stand - Ansel Adams

Minard Castle, County Kerry
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 21:13

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Minard Castle, County Kerry

Quite regularly I'll lay siege to a castle armed with camera and tripod, only to discover that Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army has beaten me to it by a matter of centuries. Minard Castle, on the coast of County Kerry, is certainly no exception; their second visit in 1641 leading as it did to the destruction of the castle and the deaths of all inside.

Minard Castle today stands overlooking a small bay on the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry. It is in a poor state of repair, and repeated signs warn of the dangers of entering the castle itself. In my view this is not such a great loss as you might think; photographically, it is much better to step back and view the castle in the context of it's dramatic surroundings. And Minard Castle is a dramatic place indeed, it's crumbling walls bear witness to the powder charges that were used to bring down one wall of the castle. What remains is undoubtedly in ruin, however three walls still stand to an impressive height. The huge breach faces the sea, and therefore the castle presents it's most photogenic aspect to the nearby beach.

The steep and rocky 'storm beach' that the walls overlook testify to tempests of a different kind, consisting as it does of large rounded boulders thrown up by the action of the waves. I saw little evidence of crashing waves on my visit, but undoubtedly the sea can get pretty wild here from time to time. A small path provides easier access to the water line, should you have any qualms about clambering over the boulders, especially with rough waters to contend with.

The relative proximity of this path to the castle itself means that you will likely need an extreme wide angle lens to capture much of the surroundings from this viewpoint. I was lucky enough to have my 10-22mm zoom with me (not that I often leave home without it) though the bulk of the shots I took were towards the 22mm end. Certainly users of 50mm primes will have to scramble to the far end of the beach, especially on a cropped-sensor camera such as my 50D.

Photographically, your biggest enemy will be the notoriously drizzly Irish weather. Be prepared to wait for a break in the weather if need be, but even so this is a location that will photograph well with a moody (but not completely overcast) sky. You may also have to make quite a close approach to the water if you want those waves in your foreground, so be prepared to potentially get your feet a little wet. I generally pack a rain cover I got some time back from www.thephotobuddy.com to keep the rain and salt spray away in situations like this.

Access to the castle is easy enough, free, and has road-side parking facilities for a small number of cars. I don't believe that this is a location that gets terribly busy, so wouldn't expect parking to be an issue. Finding your way might be slightly problematic, as you'll have to negotiate some narrow country roads and signage is somewhat lacking. Driving in from the west, you'll see tantalising glimpses of the castle, but without a map it's easy to lose your way somewhat as you get closer; one seemingly direct route will lead you straight to a dead end. Leaving the N86 at Anascaul and approaching from the east is much simpler.

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I am on a constant lookout for new and interesting locations. If you know of a potentially photogenic location you'd like to see included in the guide, please let me know.