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Finavarra Under the Night Sky by Gavin Sheehan

West and north coast celebrated in prestigious photography competition

STUNNING photos of North and West Clare’s coastal and marine environment have been recognised in a highly prestigious national competition.
The Love Your Coast initiative is part of the long-running Clean Coasts Programme, and aims to celebrate Ireland’s unique coastline through the medium of photography.
This year sees the 12th anniversary of the scheme and three of the images that impressed the judges most feature this county.
Clare photographer Mike Orth took second place in the Wildlife and Underwater category for a picture entitled ‘Compass by Cave Light’.
The skilful shot features a compass jellyfish and Mike captured the image at the entrance to Donegal Point Cave in Kilkee.
A keen diver, Mike, encountered the jellyfish while diving at Kilkee. “I asked my club mates if I could enter the cave at Donegal Point first, to set up and photograph them as they entered the cave from the east side.
“I set up just inside the entrance just under the surface to take advantage of the light and waited,” he explained.
“One by one, they all followed Ger Haugh into the depths of the cave – into the darkest place. – with no hope of lighting them up.
“I noticed this large compass jelly in the perfect spot and framed the shot against the cave wall instead.”
Compass jellyfish are distinctive for their pale colouring, reddish brown markings and large round shape.
They are found in large numbers off the South West coast from July to September, and can deliver a painful sting.
Meanwhile, judges were also impressed by a photo by Gavin Sheehan, ‘Finavarra Under the Night Sky’ which was shortlisted in the top ten pictures in the Coastal Heritage category.
The image features Finavarra Tower, which is one of a number of coastal fortresses built during the Napoleonic wars. In the early 1880s, its role was to protect Ballyvaughan Bay and New Quay harbour from a possible attack from France.
Piotr Machowczyk also made the top ten in the Coastal Landscape section, with his picture, ‘Mighty Cliffs of Moher’. The photo captures the Milky Way in the night sky over the cliffs with the sun still setting.
The three Clare scenes were chosen from almost 1,300 entries to the competition.
The prize fund, which totals €5,000, was awarded at a virtual ceremony last Friday night (November 12) on Clean Coast’s social channels.
Director of the Environmental Education Unit of Clean Coasts, Michael John O’Mahony, paid tribute to everyone who entered the competition.
“This is the 12th year of the competition and it has been very successful and very well received and we have seen some of the most amazing photographs of our coast over the last number of years,” he said.
“This is more than just a photography competition: we are an island nation and our coast and marine environment are incredibly important to us.
“Clean Coasts has almost 2,000 volunteer groups who are doing amazing work when it comes to managing and protecting our marine environment, so these photographs are a way for everybody to appreciate and celebrate our coast and be inspired to get involved too.”
Clean Coasts counts on the work of nearly 2,000 volunteer groups nationwide to help protect our coastline, waterways, seas, ocean, and marine life.
Mike Orth’s ‘Compass by Cave Light’ can be viewed on Cleancoasts.exposure.co.
The judging panel included representatives of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Fáilte Ireland and Lahinch-based filmmaker Ken O’Sullivan.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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