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Photographer Michael pays homage to island that captured his heart in 1969

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From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Photographer Michael pays homage to island that captured his heart in 1969 Photographer Michael pays homage to island that captured his heart in 1969

“It’s an island you get a grá for or you don’t, says photographer Michael O’Flanagan about Inis Oírr. He felt that grá the first time he ever visited as a 12-year-old back in 1969 and has been going there every year since, fitting in at least a fortnight’s stay in addition to shorter trips.

Michael is also a regular visitor to Inis Meáin and Inis Mór and in total, has an archive of more than 20,000 photos of the three Aran Islands.

But the smallest island, Inis Oírr, is the one that stole his heart and it’s the one he has focused on for his new publication, Inis Oírr: The Jewel of the Aran Islands, published by Mercier Press. In its 275 pages, he has captured many aspects of life on the island and the changes that have taken place there through the decades.

A professional photographer who is based in Ennis, County Clare, Michael specialises in landscape and seascape photography as well as of people and events.

He had a clear vision for this publication from the get-go and laughs as he says the biggest problem he had was deciding what to omit.

He wanted the reader to first get an overview of Inis Oírr via a series of aerial shots, going in anti-clockwise directions. Then he wanted to show views of the island from the sea, coming from Clare and Galway, then, finally, life on the ground.

For that, he photographed the many archaeological and historical sites, and these images are interspersed with shots of people and events. He shows people going about their daily work and also gives an insight into leisure activities – sport, music art, and the art of building the famous stone walls.

Throughout, he captures the changes on Inis Oírr between the 1970s and today; from the importance of traditional fishing to the growth of tourism – from the days when donkeys were the main mode of transport to the arrival of tractors and, more recently, electric vehicles.

Pictured: Michael captures men at work during the annual Féile na gCloch (dry stone wall building festival) 2011.

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