This is Fan and Songtao, a lovely couple from China who have spent the past few years studying and working in Ireland. Having met here in Ireland, love blossomed and they got engaged. Yay! They are friends with Qingyue, who’s wedding I photographed during the summer. She gave them my number, and they called asking for some engagement photos.
So we met for coffee, and discussed some plans. Usually my engagement shoots are fairly simple, with a walk somewhere nice, and plenty of chats and photos as we wander. However being so far from home, Fan & Songtao wanted to show off the country they have lived in for the past few years. Was there a cute little church, and maybe a castle I could think of? Gouganne Barra immediately sprang to mind for the church, but with such a wide array of castles dotted around our green island, I needed to know what they had in mind. A small ruin, like you see in fields around the place? An impressive ruin, like Ross Castle in Killarney? A big monastic site, like the Rock of Cashel? Or somewhere to spend the night? Yep, that was it – somewhere to spend the night! So we landed on Ashford Castle, outside the beautiful village of Cong in county Mayo. Yippee! Now that’s a fair aul spin from Gouganne Barra – we would have to do this over two days. Road trip! A bit of organisation, and we were off. Yay!
Day 1 started in UCC, where Fan had studied and worked. Fan’s makeup was by the brilliant Linda Collins. A change of clothes, a wander around. And hoping that the fine mist wouldn’t turn into a full on pelt! This was December, the month of little light, and in 2015, many storms! After a coffee and a pleasant walk in UCC, we hoped in the cars and headed west. Next stop – Gouganne Barra! And a brief one in Inchigeelagh, outside a barn like bike shop that I am fond of ..
Having never been there before, Songtao & Fan adored Gouganne Barra, and I enjoyed playing tour guide too. We wandered around, into the church, out the back, and of course took the classic shot across the lake with the church in the background. The fine mist had gotten a little heavier, and the light was dropping fast, but the mist added a lovely bit of mystery to the place, and being December it was deserted. Lovely!
Around 4pm we called it quits, and set off for the rather long drive to Ashford Castle.
Day 2 saw us in Ashford, and after a few spells of rain, the sun came out briefly and provided some magical golden light. We photographed indoors when it was raining, and wandered round the grounds when it stopped. The river was really high, and there was a lake where there shouldn’t have been, but it was stunning. Anybody getting married in Ashford Castle? I’d love to photograph a full wedding there!
We stopped for a most delicious lunch, and I suggested that we head out into the Connemara wilds. It really was wild now, with the wind up and the clouds down, but it was beautiful in the way that only an Irish December can be. I also suggested that they might be as well back in their normal clothes rather than formal attire, all the better for stomping round the Connemara landscape. Fan & Songtao were game, and I reverted into my photographer come tourist guide role, enjoying the road trip and showing off our beautiful country. A long but lovely two days!
Here it is in photographs!