Tollymore Forest Park / by Geoff McGrath


A few weeks ago it dawned on me that although I thought I had been busy, I had actually just been a mouse on a wheel, lots of activity but not accomplishing very much recently.  I needed to get back out there and start taking some of the photographs that I had tasked my self with doing before the end of the year.  I also needed to work on completing my set of images for consideration for my associate panel.  I felt something was missing and then the Autumn came and I told myself how I needed to get out and capture it. Over the past couple of weeks therefore I've been back out "in the field" as it were.  In my last blog I've shared some new images from the Glens of Antrim.  Such a beautiful area and what a wonderful experience getting back out into the solitude of a location shoot.  Another place which I had been planning on visiting was Tollymore Forest Park. Tollymore Forest Park is an absolutely stunning location.  Especially in the Autumn (Fall).  The closest thing I have experienced to it was Pennsylvania in the Fall.  Not only that, but its become a very popular location to shoot for both movies and television shows.  Game of Thrones (2011-present) Dracula Untold (2014), Robot Overlords (2013) Your Highness (2011) have all shot in this historic woodland.  In fact the very first scene of Game of Thrones was shot here.... when a member of the Night's Watch sees a family of Wildlings dead on the snow and then encounters a White Walker. Also, this is where Ned Stark and his sons find the direwolf pups and the dead stag.

As has been my luck of late it was ablsolutely pouring with rain when I arrived at Tollymore.  (I'd actually driven around and past the area a couple of times and missed it!)  All I can say is "FOLLOW THE SIGNS!"   The struggles of a landscape photographer eh?  I waited for almost an hour but it appeared that the rain was not going to ease off.   Then I remembered how, despite the awful weather, I had been rewarded with some lovely shots at the Glens of Antrim.  So I decided to just go for it.  I got my gear and headed into the Forest.  Again I found myself alone in a solitary and beautiful place. Within a few minutes I found myself at the edge of the Shimna River.  I could not believe my luck.  The view was stunning.


Tollymore Forest Park in the Rain - Irish Landscapes by Geoff McGrath

But I had seen nothing yet, because as I walked downstream in the distance, I could see Foley's Bridge.  This was the goal of my quest that day.  More than anything I wanted to make sure that I got to this location.

Foley's Bridge, Tollymore - 2- Irish Landscapes by Geoff McGrath

I spend a lot of my time reading articles on landscape photographers. Many of them are astonishing photographers and each of them will talk about the perfect locations, lighting or conditions. I am sure that the conditions I found myself in that day would not have been classed as ideal.  But as I have always done, I take on board what I learn but I really shoot for my own pleasure, not for anyone else.  It's a very humbling experience that have others enjoy my work, but if I don't do this for me first, then I wouldn't have anything worth sharing with others.


Foley's Bridge, Tollymore - Irish Landscapes by Geoff McGrath


I would have to say that this final image is one of my all time favourites. Taken on a day when I got completely drenched. Again. This seems to be a habit, or is that a pattern for success?! Despite the rain, I Sat and drank in the splendour of this epic location, this beautiful Tollymore.


It would appear that finally I have 20 images which form a cohesive panel of work. It was fitting that this location, one which I have wanted to photograph for so long, would be the final piece in the jigsaw.