Ireland is a place full of magnificent scenery and an abundance of folklore. To be completely honest, it was never on my top list of places to travel to. But funny how life has a way of taking you where you least expect. Last summer, circumstances took me to the Emerald Isle for two weeks. I was there to co-lead a group of high school students on a National Geographic Student Expedition trip, where we travelled all over the mainland and to the Aran Islands, located just off the western coast. We explored photographic techniques and practices while immersing ourselves in the culture and history of the place. The variety of landscape and scenery from the metropolitan cities of Dublin and Galway, to the more quaint idyllic towns of the Aran Islands, provided plenty of photographic opportunities for both myself and the students.
Experiencing a place so full of history and tradition, so raw and natural, grounded me in a way I didn’t expect. Remnants of stone forts from days gone by held stories only the ocean could hear; crumbling stone walls dotted the countryside, while the craggy cliffs dove steeply into the expansive sea; locals welcomed us with an openness only your grandmother knows – It was enough to heal any ailment in one’s soul.
Between the rich culture and history, the expansive landscapes, and the kindness and generosity of the people, I think it’s safe to say, Ireland and all its Emerald wonder left its imprint on us all.
Rebecca Stumpf is an editorial and commercial photographer who specializes in travel, food, and lifestyle, and is based in Colorado, USA. She shoots for clients such as The Wall Street Journal, Sunset Magazine, Food & Wine and others. She teaches every summer for National Geographic Student Expeditions, where she loves to share her passion for photography with students, while exploring new places!