Claire Loader : Photography

Portal to the Otherworld

What was your big “Yes! This is my calling!” moment? Where were you and what were you photographing?

I always loved taking photographs as a hobby, but it wasn’t until I moved to Ireland that it became a passion. There wasn’t exactly a ‘Yes!’ moment but there was certainly an initial ‘Wow!’ moment, and many more to follow.

I remember the first one well - Ballykine Castle, just slinking out of the trees, almost like a hidden spectre. I was taking a walk in Clonbur woods, in County Mayo, when what I thought was a shadow, suddenly became stone and then looming before me was this castle, hundreds of years old – a secret amidst the branches.

I soon came to discover Ireland was brimming with such hidden treasures, and I’ve spent the last nine years trying to find them.

Door of the Navigator

Of all you’ve photographed, what has been your favorite location?

I don’t think there is a more difficult question when it comes to Ireland. You can hardly go a mile without stumbling across a castle or an old abbey, a ringfort or a manor house. There are so many ridiculously beautiful locations and most of the time you have them all to yourself. But one that definitely stands out are the ruins of Castlegrove House, in County Galway. Walking up to the silent remains hidden in the green underbelly of the woods, you feel almost like an intruder - a tiny trespasser amidst the towering memories of the past. The walls snaking with ivy, alone but for the footsteps of history, echoing in the leaves.

Do you have any rituals or routines in place before you begin shooting or do you just dive right in?

I don’t really have any rituals per se, although I tend to give bulls a very wide berth and get very excited if there are crows about. There is nothing more deliciously gothic and romantic than having an entire ruined abbey to yourself but for the circling crows.

Chapel of Grass

What inspires you?

Ireland! Beyond the shamrocks and whiskey, there is a hidden magic to this place that is irresistible.

A writer and photographer, Claire Loader was born in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway, Ireland. Recently published in Crannóg, Dodging The Rain and Pendora, she spends her days seeking enchantment in ruins. You can find her work here:


© 2018 by Azia Archer

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