The Atlantic Coast of Ireland – Photography by Jonathan Hession. Text by John Grenham – A review.

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It was the photography of Jonathan Hession which attracted me to this book but on reading it I was delighted by the text of John Grenham.

The photographs and text cover the west coast of Ireland, the Atlantic coast, from Donegal in the north-west to Cork in the south-west, illustrating the terrain of mountains, sea and seashore with John Grenham’s text giving wonderful historical background as well as insightful comment on the present day.

The Atlantic coast of Ireland is a place of extraordinary beauty and a place which is simply awe-inspiring. A paragraph in the introduction sums it up so very well, “All landscapes reflect and embody the natural and human powers that created them. If you want to experience the historical depth of the natural processes of geology and weather, to feel the sheer scale of the unending change they generate, this shoreline is one of the best places on the planet to do it. Th effects of deep time echo here as vividly as possible, in storm-clouds and waves, in mountain-peaks and limestone caves. “

A caption of a photograph of The Twelve Pins in Connemara, “This range offers wonderful views of Connemara on the occasional clear day” echoes a feeling I had while I read the book that it was a pity the sun didn’t shine more often in the photographs.  It reminds me of a comment of a work colleague who, when I remarked she must have wonderful views from her new home overlooking the Co. Waterford coastline, told me that it was beautiful in summer but that in winter she looked out her window each day and saw grey. Many of the photographs are muted but, I suppose, many days on the west coast are “soft days” and we must accept that the photographs reflect the reality of the Atlantic coast.

Paddy Tobin

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