Wild Atlantic Light – the West Cork Winter Edition

We are a maritime county and that affects our weather. It means that clouds are plentiful at all times of the year and that the weather can be highly variable and unpredictable. But the ocean, and the Gulf Stream it carries all the way from the Gulf of Mexico, also means that we have a slightly milder climate than the rest of Ireland. Beside the sea, the air is full of negative ions. That’s a good thing. Negative ions stimulate our senses and lead to a heightened sense of wellbeing.

Sure, we can have rainy days and bitter winds in the winter, but there are lots of sunny days too. When the sun shines in the winter, it is filtered through those drifting clouds to produce those marvellous effects of light and shade that lend such drama to the landscape.

In winter too, the colours are highly contrasting – the green of the fields change abruptly to the blondes and golds of the higher mountains. The bracken turns the colour of amber and the fionán grasses provide an expansive sea of rippling heath on higher ground. Snow caps the highest ridges, although it rarely descends to us mortals in the valleys.

Under a blue sky the sea in West Cork turns the colour of the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. They tell me that has to do with having a sandy bottom and I am sure there are other scientific explanations, but really, you have to see it yourself to believe it.

Our underlying geology provides the ruggedness, the exposed sandstone ridges, and the deep coastal indentations that characterise the landscape.

The end result of it all – the sunshine, the clouds, the mountains, the sea, the contours and colours of the land – is the kind of light that artists dream of. The sheer clarity of it is startling – you can see from one end of the peninsula to the other in a way that city dwellers have forgotten it’s possible to do. That clarity brings out every hue and allows all the colours to sparkle against each other.

The photographs in this post were all taken in the first three months of 2017 – from the depths of winter to the first glimmerings of spring. We think you’ll agree that our Wild Atlantic Light is pretty special.

Even in the evening…

And especially when there’s a chunk of archaeology from our deep past in the landscape.

23 thoughts

  1. You are so right! Wonderful part of the world, how lucky we are to live on this island! Your photos are beautiful, Fionola… yes, the light is fantastic, but the quality of those pictures lies in no small part with the talented individual who has the eye, and the skill to preserve it in an image. It’s not an easy thing to do, to capture a wide panorama in a photo and do it justice. 😊


  2. Even when it’s dismal, dark and drear there’s a wondrous, ephemeral light that can break through, and disappear, in the blink of an eye! Always something in Ireland to look heavenward for … love this post!


  3. Southwest Ireland is one of the most beautiful parts of the world and one of my favorite places on earth although the Inner and Outer Scottish Hebrides are right up at the top as well. My own island rates at the top for 9 months of the year, but with summer coming on we’ll be overrun and overwhelmed by hedge funders and the like. In June we start to greet friends with “Pray for September.!” I digress. Gorgeous photos, gorgeous scenery — thanks!


    • Hi Jinny – Glad you likes this post. It was such a joy to do. I’ve never been to your own island, but it must be a wonderful place to live out of tourist season.


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