July 04, 2016

Ireland XXIII (Ross Errilly Friary, Ireland)

The Ross Errilly Friary (Irish: Mainistir Ros Oirialaigh, often anglicised in 18th & 19th century sources as Rosserelly) is a medieval Franciscan friary in County Galway, Ireland. It is among the best-preserved medieval monastic sites in the country. Though usually referred to by locals as "Ross Abbey," this is not technically correct as the community never had an abbot.

Angie and I had visited the friary in 2014, and it was one of my favorite spaces in Ireland (second only to Kilcooley Abbey); isolated and only approachable from one direction, it was high on my list of places to work with Ingrid. It also has some areas with cover from the weather, so when this day dawned wet, with a forecast for continued rain, we headed off to Ross Errilly, with optimistic weather hopes, but plans for the worst.

Sadly, the forecast proved to be accurate, and while it was intermittent, the drizzle was always present. With this in mind, the first set of images focused on Ingrid within a wall alcove...she was out of the rain, though I was not.

Fortunately, with the rain came some lovely light - the heavily overcast sky provided beautiful even light from above, which was a joy to work with. and within minutes of starting, I made the above portrait. While I don't know for sure what will be in the final portfolio, this is the first image during the trip which jumped out at me before I even saw it on a computer.

After we finished with the alcove, Ingrid assured me some images in light drizzle wouldn't kill her, so we moved out in to the open parts of the friary, and I made some images of her looking through the sight-lines created by the pillars and tombs; the wet stone and gravel was really interesting to work with, and when combined with the infrared camera, it creates some really lovely contrast to set Ingrid's figure against.
As much as Ingrid's optimism saw us working out in the weather briefly, reality set in, and after a short warm-up with a blanket and socks, we resumed photographing, but kept carefully out of the weather for the most part. A constant theme with the ancient ruins around Ireland was the low doorways, and Ross Errilly was no exception, including this narrow doorway, which was an absolute pleasure to work with - Ingrid came up with numerous poses that made the most of the narrow aperture.
I'd thought that much of my time at Ross Errilly with Ingrid would be spent working with the cloisters - I'd photographed them extensively in 2014, and expected to build on that work with Ingrid. The reality, however, was quite different; with the drizzle, there were numerous puddles, and while parts of the cloisters were dry, the mix between the dry and wet stone was distracting. Fortunately, there were lots of ways to work with the archways that didn't involve with of the puddles or wet/dry mix. The close of the session saw Ingrid posing within a couple of parts of the cloisters, exploring the potential of the century old spaces.

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