Essential Ireland

Springtime on the Emerald Isle

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Ireland is a land of art, renowned for its music and literature.  Artistic inspiration is easily found in the Emerald Isle’s mystical landscapes and wild seascapes.  It is said that an Irish landscape presents forty shades of green—but that is an understatement!  Swirling mists cloak verdant pastures, frothy green waves pound the rocky coasts and towering cliffs shelter nesting gulls and seabirds.  Add rugged mountains, shimmering lakes and Medieval architecture to your compositions and you cannot help but find new inspiration every day—every time you lift your camera.

Though Ireland is green year-round, spring is a time of birth and regeneration.  Spring means adorable lambs frolicking in lush fields everywhere.  It is also the season when flowers emerge from their winter doldrums, bursting out from hedgerows, crevices, and roadsides.  From the vibrant pinks of Sea Thrift quivering in the breezes that freshen the seaside to the brilliant yellow of coconut-scented Gorse as it lines the country roads, the wildflowers add a palette of color to Ireland’s panoramic canvass.
Mild temperatures and fresh skies are typical of this time of year, but even when it rains, the moody skies make for landscapes that tell a story of this timeless land.  The human history of Ireland is long and filled with a complex blending of cultures.  When we think of the Irish, however, it is often their language, folklore, religion, art, music, and pub life that fill our minds.  To complete a visual story of Ireland, we must incorporate some of these elements into our travels.

Meandering from Giant’s Causeway to the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry, our journey offers layer upon layer of photographic riches—verdant valleys, vast panoramas, soaring cliffs and the Medieval structures at the Rock of Cashel

During the trip, our route brings us into the Republic of Ireland where we follow the Wild Atlantic Way to its southern terminus.  Here we focus on the natural beauty of the land and plan our days to avoid tourist crowds.  Prepare for cloud-streaked skies, tall grasses bowing before the breeze, and heavy waves crashing hard onto limestone cliffs and unforgiving columns of basalt.  Then turn your back to the ocean and compose pastoral images of livestock against a backdrop of luxuriant green hills and ancient ruins. 

The Killarney area is worth a bit more time.  Here we explore the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula where our small group investigates secluded coves, photographs pristine beaches, and captures panoramas from high above the ocean.  We hone our skills using a variety of shutter speeds to capture the explosive surge of a wave or slow the flow of Torc Waterfall to a milky smoothness.

Springtime in Ireland inspires spectacular images, from menacing coastlines and towering cliffs to lush pastoral landscapes.  And if you love a landscape steeped in history, a dash of Ireland’s storied past lurks in every image. Ireland, justifiably, has inspired artists for centuries.  Join our Essential Ireland tour and let it inspire you, too!


For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home on overnight flights.
Day 2 (May 15, 2023)
Arrive Dublin, Ireland. Following a scheduled airport pickup our group travels by our private bus to Belfast, Northern Ireland. This evening we gather for a welcome dinner and orientation. (D)
Day 3
Our photo tour begins in Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland. Avoiding the hustle and bustle of this historic city, we head north along the Irish Sea and the Causeway Coastal Route, stopping for photographs as the weather and light inspires us. The Coastal Route offers easy access to charming villages, expansive seascapes, and frame-filling views of regal medieval castles. At picturesque locations we invite you to leave the vehicle and take a stroll along beaches, cliffs, and walkways to better capture the scenes that fall away before you. (BLD)
Day 4
Today we visit some of the most famous locations in Northern Ireland. We start our day with an early morning shoot at Giant’s Causeway. This UNESCO World Heritage site features 40,000 columns of basalt—battered by the ocean but still reaching for the sky. These geometric wonders offer patterns and textures found in few other locations and lend themselves to imaginative compositions. Later in the day, we look for new perspectives with a visit to Carrrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, a 70’ crossing to a rocky outcropping that provides panoramic views of Rathlin Island with the broken coastline stretching out into the distance.
Our day is completed with visits to picturesque fishing villages and castles. Ballintoy is a quaint village replete with charming churches, shops, and a gorgeous harbor. Strolling the streets of this traditional little town, you have time to photograph everyday life in the countryside. A visit to Dunluce Castle gives us a window back to medieval time when lords and ladies governed the land. The ruins sit perched dramatically above basaltic cliffs and early evening light lends a glow that brings the structure to life. (BLD)
Day 5
Our journey takes us from Ballycastle to Donegal. Visit the Dark Hedges (featured in Game of Thrones). We travel over the Northern Causeway Route, via Binevenagh Mountain and the walled city of Derry, finishing up on the Wild Atlantic Way in the Republic of Ireland. Viewpoints along the road offer outstanding photo opportunities of the Inishowen Peninsula, including six miles of cliffs stretching out from Binevenagh Mountain. We photograph the teetering Mussenden Temple. (BLD)
Day 6
Today the bus is parked to allow for a 24-hour legally required driver rest day. We explore Donegal town and environs, and we may have time for a 75-minute guided tour of Donegal Bay in a local tour boat. National Geographic has declared Donegal the “number one coolest destination of 2017.” There is lots to do here on foot! (BLD)
Day 7
We follow the famous Wild Atlantic Way. As we spend time capturing panoramas along our route, we also make time to visit the ancient structure of Creevykeel. Dating from the Neolithic period, 4000–2500 BC, Creevykeel is a long, trapezoid shaped cairn enclosing an oval court and burial chamber. It is thought to be the largest court cairn in Ireland and its main chamber accommodates 100 people! (BLD)
Day 8
We continue south along the Wild Atlantic Way to the Cliffs of Moher. The adventurous amongst us may walk the entire 5-mile path, which offers endless panoramas along the cliffs and looks out across the Atlantic. For the less adventurous, we park at the Cliffs of Moher visitor center where well-constructed paved paths provide numerous views north and south along the cliffs. There is a small tower to climb that provides additional perspectives. Away from the cliffs, we photograph Poulnabrone Dolmen, a massive portal tomb and one of Ireland’s iconic commemorative structures. (BLD)
Days 9–10
We have two full days to photograph the extraordinary landscapes at the southern end of the Emerald Island. One day is dedicated to navigating the Ring of Kerry, a scenic 100-mile drive around Iveragh Peninsula. While the Ring is easily driven in a couple of hours, we use the entire day to capture all the vistas before nightfall. Valentia Island is an important stop, as are the stone fort of Cahergalbuilt and the nearby ruins of Ballycarbery Castle. Along the route there are numerous picturesque fishing villages and beaches while Torc waterfall offers a chance to practice fast and slow shutter speed techniques.
Our second day is devoted to capturing wild seascapes and lush landscapes of the Dingle Peninsula. We follow the Slea Head Loop through Dunquin and Ballyferriter then slowly work our way back to Killarney via Tralee town (BLD)
Day 11
We start early today to capture the views at Blarney Castle, photograph around the estate’s gardens and impressive grounds. For those who would like, perhaps kiss the famous Blarney Stone (though not recommended due to Coronavirus). We also stop at the Rock of Cashel, a gorgeous clutch of Medieval buildings that perch atop a limestone outcropping.
We arrive in the Republic’s capital city of Dublin in time for a farewell dinner and a short stroll through the old town. (BLD)
Day 12 (May 25)
Depart Dublin at any time today. (B)
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Essential Ireland

May 14, 2023 - May 25, 2023


A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposit only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft or other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics and outbreaks, or other causes.  All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Essential Ireland: Moderate Activity Level

Bus transportation.  Photography from near the vehicle parking area as well as hiking for up to a mile on worn trails, sandy beaches and occasionally across uneven ground.  An optional hike of five miles along the rocky coast may be possible.  Midday lunch breaks at restaurants, pubs, and country inns.

Trip Details
May 14 - May 25, 2023
Fee: $10,995 from Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Deposit: $1,000
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate
  • Designed as a photogenic dream trip of the very best of Irish landscapes, charming villages, and ancient ruins
  • Visit the "Emerald Isle" in its greenest season
  • Photograph the world-famous Giant’s Causeway in Northern Island
  • Shoot crashing waves on a spectacular cliff-edged coastline
  • Enjoy local pub culture
  • Explore medieval castles and rock dolmans
  • Includes all meals, lodging, ground transportation, entrance fees, photo guide and instruction

Tour Leaders
Mike Byrne

Mike Byrne

And local guide