Hounds, Horses and Gray Days

Photography in Ireland is Often "Operation Rain"


The Irish countryside is certainly the loveliest this side of heaven (at least an Irish correspondent can claim it to be). The weather of Ireland - ah, that's a different story. And for photographers from America, may the sunshine leprechauns be with you. For there's many a long gray day to give you all of the worst of it - unless you have an eye and a light meter to weather any of it.

There are so many things to photograph. The women and the children are fairly fabulous as unconscious and unconcerned models. The mountains and lakes, the emerald green of the Emerald Isle; the beautiful bays and coves that surround the entire island; the surprising palm trees, bamboo and cactus in a few of the semi-tropical spots. And hundreds of other aspects of nature in this ever-surprising land.

But nothing is more famous in Ireland than her horses and dogs. Irish Setters, Kerry Blues, and the most regal dog in the world, the Irish Wolfhound.

When I arrived at Ballykelly Kennels in the vale of Avoca, it was raining. Sheelagh Seale, who owns and operates the kennels, brought the dogs out and I started taking pictures. Most of the shooting was as at random - as was the weather. There would be short fitful squalls of rain, a few quick minutes of sunshine, and then a return of the overall gray that was a constant problem. The clouds that assemble and disappear so swiftly add charm to any picture taken. So a K2 filter for the black and white shots never left the lens of the camera.

CHAMPION Brannigan and owner
Sheelah Seale photographed in the
Ballykelly Kennels doorway. The
contrast of interior darkness and
doorway and soft lighting heighten
the impact of dog and owner.

Below: Along a Waterford road
two farm horses - a white and
dapple gray - discuss things with
a young American visitor as her
father snaps them on a gray Irish

Irish horses

These dogs are magnificent models. Champion Brannigan, winner of the height prize at the Dublin show is 36" at the shoulder. His father weighed 224 lbs. At birth, the dogs weigh about 1 1/2 lbs. As they grow, they develop into wonderful companions, exceptionally good with children.

Posing the dogs was no problem. Shooting with a twin-lens Rollei, the shots were all informal. The dogs are so photogenic it would be hard not to get good pictures - even with the weather in a contrary mood. Composition almost took care of itself. Getting good close-ups meant getting these huge animals in the lens, in focus and shooting. A good head shot of a wolfhound can be a very striking picture.

Champions Brannigan, Boreen and An Tostal of Ballykelly, three of the finest wolfhounds in the world at the Dublin
Dog Show. This portrait of Miss Sheelah Seale's trio was made by a photographer for the Irish Independent Newspapers Ltd.

Article from U.S. Camera publication, date unknown.