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“An Unchanged Rhythm on Inishkea Island”


Offshore Belmullet Peninsula, County Mayo, Ireland


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Offshore Belmullet Peninsula, County Mayo, Ireland

There are many moments that I miss by mere seconds. Then there are moments like this! Which I never expected but managed to capture in the few valuable seconds before the scene dispersed, potentially never to be repeated due to times moving forward. On arrival to this rural island whilst still on the boat, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw all these rainbow coloured sheep getting herded through the abandoned village straight out onto this sandy shore before me ? What a welcome to this Island ?

The descendent farmers now from the mainland still graze their flocks of sheep on Inishkea. On this very day it was the islands annual sheep shearing day. They worked together with sheep dogs & herd their flocks down to the harbour where their wool was clipped, bagged & shipped back to mainland for sale. They worked non-stop for 8 solid hours without a single break to shear all the wool in time for their last sailing of the day back home. This is an unchanged rhythm for thousands of years, in which I was honoured to witness & capture this rare annual tradition to share with you.

A few miles offshore western Mayo lies this stunning forgotten island. Sadly it is now uninhabited due to the final 10 male islanders drowning during a freak storm in 1927. The women & children held on for a while but due to harsh times & the loss of their husbands they were forced to re-home on the mainland in 1934 just to survive. The earliest evidence of settlement on ‘Inishkea’ goes back at least 5,000 years and the island has numerous archaeological sites from the Neolithic and several Early Christian Monastic sites.

Inishkea is relatively low lying and everywhere is covered in fine pure white sand, often blown into drifts by the strong winds where it fills the houses of this seafront abandoned village. The ocean surrounding this island is crystal clear which reflects the most stunning shades of emerald & topaz your mind could ever visualise. Some of the clearest waters I have ever set eyes on.

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