Dead Man’s Beach

As I type, it is the last day of February 2021. So far this year we have had two separate days of snow on the west coast, one in January and one in February. While a decent amount of snow fell in Galway in February (see my previous post), in January the snow was predicted to fall the heaviest further north.

Under normal circumstances I would have headed north to take advantage of the conditions, but 2021 is not a normal year and we are all stuck to within 5km of our homes. In light of this, I decided to stay put and hope that we’d get a reasonable amount of snow in Galway.

What we did get was a few piles of slush. I hate to miss an opportunity, especially snow as it is so rare, and to learn that there was a decent powdering seemingly everywhere outside my 5km only served to make me feel worse.

So I went for a walk to try and take my mind off it. I headed to the east side of the city, in the direction of Ballyloughane Beach which I’d never visited. When I got to Lough Atalia I followed the shore and eventually found myself on a beach, which according to Google Maps was called Dead Man’s Beach.

From there I could see Mutton Island. There was a wonderful light falling on the island and the lighthouse. Beyond that you could clearly see in the vicinity of Black Head in Clare, the highest points of which were dusted in snow. I didn’t have my camera with me so carried on walking.

As I continued I saw Leverets lighthouse. I’d spotted this on a previous occasion from Nimmo’s Pier but couldn’t quite work out where it was, so it was good to finally work out its location.

That evening I thought about getting up early the next day to try and capture the Mutton Island scene I’d seen that day. However, the forecast was for a totally overcast morning, meaning the golden light that had made it so appealing would not be present. So I decided to leave it, since I had work that day. I could also see from the forecast that several days of rain was promised which would wash away the snow, meaning I wouldn’t get another chance any time soon.

The dawn broke the following day as I was walking to work and it wasn’t overcast. In fact, it was one of the most spectacular dawns I’ve witnessed in a long time. But by the time I realised what was happening it was too late to do anything about it. It was obvious now that I should have taken a chance with the conditions as now I’d be unable to try again until probably January 2022.

I felt pretty wretched and tried to console myself with the fact that I had learnt a valuable lesson. And while I wasn’t going to get the Mutton Island shot, I could maybe still capture Leverets Lighthouse.

So one overcast morning I headed back to Dead Man’s Beach and stood in low tide trying to photograph the lighthouse. Alas, the lighthouse is just too far from the shore (there is a nearby island which could offer an advantageous vantage point but I’d need a boat to get out to it), and with the incoming tide coupled with a few technical difficulties, I had to call it quits.

The morning after the day of snow in February I returned to Dead Man’s Beach in the hope that I’d get that snowy Black Head backdrop to Mutton Island, but after getting out of bed and driving over I didn’t even get out of the car as I could see that the visibility wasn’t good enough.

But still I kept thinking about Dead Man’s Beach. And one Sunday morning I decided to just head down there and try to get a shot of Mutton Island, if only to exorcise the demon in my head. Before I had even parked the car I could see that a huge boat was moored alongside the island. I decided to continue on despite this. I set up beside a boulder on the shore and waited for the light. In the event what I did capture was pretty mundane, and I felt satisfied that even with a snowy backdrop it wouldn’t have been much better. So at least now I could stop thinking about it.

It was a pleasant morning with a nice light so rather than head straight home I walked around the beach with the camera hand held, taking shots of these strange concrete cylindrical things scattered around the place. I have no idea what they were originally intended for but have decided to post two of the more interesting ones here.