Ballybay is a picturesque little town in the heart of Co. Monaghan, which sits on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The town is surrounded by the rolling drumlins for which Monaghan is famous, as well as many lakes both large and small, which are pretty much the sole drivers of tourism to Ballybay, in the form of the odd group of fishermen. As you might imagine, Ballybay isn’t the most exciting place to live, not a whole lot significant happens from one end of the year to another, but its natural beauty is undeniable, which is something that I’ve grown to appreciate more as I’ve tired of life in big cities. Especially, once I started taking landscape photographs.
I hope you enjoy this selection of my photos from the area. They all celebrate the local heritage of the area and I hope that they might convince a curious stranger perusing this post, to perhaps take a look for themselves someday. There are old estates with fascinating ruins throughout the county; there are ancient ringforts; neolithic rock art; old remnants of the the Great Northern Railway line, the Ulster Canal, lots of native wildlife, and much more besides. If you ever do decide to stop by for a spell, you won’t be short of intriguing sights, activities, and hidden histories to explore.
This sea of green under grey is fairly typical of the area, as is the little railway bridge in the distance. Another reminder of the steam trains that traversed this landscape back in the day.
There are lots of swans hanging about the lakes of Ballybay, which make photogenic subjects, especially when the family is expanding in the summer.
It’s worth getting up at dawn sometimes just to witness the amazing spectacle of this smokey effect, caused by the heat of the sunrise making the cold water of the lake evaporate. Science, eh.
I like how the elegant arch of the old railway bridge frames this typical rural landscape.
A large family of swans traversing the river on a serene summers evening.
This is a reminder of times gone by, when little beauties like this train would have traversed the entire county. Now everybody needs a car to get anywhere, the roads are atrocious, and petrol fumes are destroying the environment. That’s progress for you.
I’m often struck by moonrises like this, when the moon hangs low in the sky and seems to expand in size relative to the landscape.
An imposing relic of a bygone age that really sticks out amongst the monotony of rolling drumlins.
A beautifully constructed bridge spanning the Dromore River system, one of many along the railway line. It’s a pity that civil engineering projects no longer employ craftspeople like they used to, so that there might be more ornate and functional structures like this around the place.
A shot of a lake I’ve spent a lot of time fishing and photographing. This shot was taken just after dawn in the summer. I particularly enjoy the vivid yellow of the fields almost completely cloaked in buttercups.
An old dilapidated building on the banks of a river in the middle of a field. A picturesque reminded of the old industries that were abandoned in these parts a long time ago and were never really replaced with anything new.
A view of the lake shore with some fishermen silhouetted against the fading light of the day.
There are lots of abandoned houses like this all around Ireland, but there seems to be more than usual dotted around County Monaghan. Often they’re really impressive looking buildings and it seems a shame that so many are left to ruin, They do provide interesting subjects for photography though, much more so than modern houses do.
This a shot of the Castleblayney road leading our from Ballybay with my old school, and the old railway station visible. The railway is just one of many imposing relics of a bygone era that are dispersed throughout the environs of Ballybay and beyond.
This is a familiar site around Ballybay when there’s a lot of rain. The lakes burst beyond their banks and leave a lot of the surrounding landscape underwater for much of the year.
This is another huge body of water called White Lake, which is a great place to take a boat trip. Floating down the river can take you as far as the River Shannon if you’ve got the stamina.
This is a shot from the balcony at my house, which provides a great viewpoint for sunset whatever the season, but particularly in the winter, the low sun sets in just the right position to capture some colourful reflections.
A tree on the lakeshore that has lent itself to a lot of my photographs over the years, under a spectacular sunset.
This is another one of my favourite places to take a few shots- the Ballybay Wetlands Center. This floating bridge provides some nice lines to add some interest to the quaint rural surroundings.
A striking sunset over the Drumlins of Ballybay, beside the Dromore River
A bridge dating from the early 1800’s spanning a small river, which I’ve found quite good for catching Perch.