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The Cliffs of Moher under the Milky Way. Photo by: Damien Stenson

IrishCentral’s top 10 stunning photos of Ireland

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The Cliffs of Moher under the Milky Way. Photo by: Damien Stenson

One thing I think we can all agree on is that Ireland, as a country, is a visual masterpiece. We’ve compiled a list – from across many decades, landscapes, cities and countrysides – of the most breathtaking glimpses of Ireland that have been featured on IrishCentral, each with its own special aesthetic and story.

1. Is this perhaps the most perfect picture of Ireland ever taken?

Astrophotographer Damien Stenson took this otherworldly photograph of the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare. With a perfect shot of the Milky Way glittering above the cliffs, and the lovely mixtures of blues, purples and yellows, the scene looks almost extraterrestrial. Check out more of Damien’s work in this gallery and on his Facebook page, which features many images of Ireland’s night sky.

2. Carlow man's photos from Ireland in the 60s are an Internet sensation

The daughter of 92-year-old Carlow man William Muldowney published his photographs of 1960s Ireland and it became a quick internet sensation. This photograph is of a horse and trap crossing Bridge Street in Graiguecullen, Co. Carlow. Most of the images are nostalgic stills of towns and villages in and around Carlow, Kildare and Laois from Muldowney’s childhood. He was absolutely astonished at all the attention the page Carlow Memories has received – “I think we are lonely for a world that is gone,” he said.

3. 130 years of Irish life summed up in photos

The Rare Irish Stuff Facebook page contains tons of old Irish photographs, videos and advertisements from the last 130 years of Ireland's strange and beautiful history. Pictured above are three characteristic Irish boys in front of ‘The Irish House’ in 1962. Lovely colors and expressions. The page is hilarious and there are many gems from concerts and more, including a rare photo of John Lennon at a rally in Ireland. Just this morning I listened to an interview with Jim Morrison about what his Irish heritage has done for his sense of humor.

4. Irish photographer's unearthly snap of Northern Lights and Milky Way

Rónán McLaughlin of Donegal produced another unearthly photograph of Ireland’s night sky aglow with the Nothern Lights. Also pictured are the Milky Way, a lighthouse on Inishtrahull Island at Malin Head where the photographer’s great-great-grandmother was born, Rónán and his son Oisin. The Aurora Borealis is visible in Ireland in the wintertime, particularly around northern Donegal. To see more of Rónán McLaughlin’s lovely photos of Ireland, check out his website.

5. Stunning photos capture 'Ireland - in a new light'

This photograph is from series called ‘Ireland – in a new light,’ shot and compiled by two best friends Chris Hill and Colin McCadden over a span of 2.5 years. They traveled the entire country in a camper-van and a helicopter was commissioned for their aerial shots. Aside from the terrific photography, there’s a running commentary to provide background, new light, and anecdotes to the photographs. The photos have been compiled in an iBook made especially for the iPad.

6. Travel back with these amazing shots of Ireland in the 70s and 80s 

This stunning selection of photographs – my personal favorite of the collection – is from Eric Luke’s archive of negatives from 1970s and 80s Ireland. He’s captured very special flashbacks from many historical concerts (Queen, David Bowie) and some very intriguing characters doing any number of things. He currently works for the Irish Times and uses the hashtag #myoldnegatives for publishing the photographs on Twitter. You have to check them out.

7. Cloudless sky offers perfect view of Ireland from space

American astronaut Reid Wiseman took advantage of the rare cloudless, beautiful weather in June to snap a perfect picture of Ireland from space. “Hello Ireland, been waiting to see you,” Wiseman tweeted with the incredibly clear photograph.

8. Portraits of Irish emigrants before and after leaving

Though these photos aren’t exactly of the country itself, photographer David Monahan’s concept is an incredibly intimate and thought-provoking look into the lives of Irish emigrants. The original 2010 series was called "Leaving Dublin" and here he’s taken “after” pictures of the emigrants to America, Canada, Australia and more to photograph their current status in their new homes.

9. Stunning aerial images make Ireland come alive 

Photographer Alan Magner takes his skill to the sky in this collection with breathtaking aerial views of Ireland. Photographed are the first rays of light in Coumshingaun Lough in the Comeragh Mountains, which are in the famously gorgeous co. Waterford. He’s captured the magic of visual Ireland combining drone shots with aerial videography. View his gallery here.

10. A picture of Michael Collins just hours before his death is discovered 

This photo is also not exactly of Irish landscapes, but an important find – a snapshot of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins just hours before his death taken by Agnes Hurley. The then 18-year-old’s collection of images from August 1922 was uncovered recently in an attic. Another photograph from the collection shows the scene of Béal na Bláth, Co. Cork, where Collins was killed.

There you have all of your favorites and ours. From crazy 80s concerts to space shuttle snapshots, there’s no denying Ireland’s beauty.

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