Street Photography in Carlingford Village

While doing some research on migratory birds in Ireland, Rosie and I learned that Carlingford Lough is an area of vital importance to wading birds. Each year large numbers of migrating waders from the arctic regions overwinter on the lough with parts of the lough being designated as special protection areas. It was that information that initially drew our curiosity towards the village of Carlingford in Ireland.
colourful surf boards stacked on the beach at Carlingford
Carlingford Lough shore with Rostrevor Mountains in N Ireland 'smoking' in the background

Being serious bird photographers we knew that in order for us to successfully photograph the wintering birds of Carlingford Lough, it would require many visits over the winter into early spring. We had heaps of planning and information gathering ahead of us and still do at the time of writing this post.

While researching the lough, images of the colourful town houses kept popping up on our computer screens… intriguing us. So it was decided that for our first big adventure down south, we would do some street photography in Carlingford village. Then we would explore the lough and its surrounds on later visits. 

The appointed day to cross the border arrived. Rosie had prepared our food and the chilly bin was filled to the brim with all manner of goodies and enough coffee to fuel a mini bus. Gone are the days when I was single that I would roll out of bed, make a flask of coffee, throw a few slices of bread suffocated in peanut butter into my camera bag and perhaps a banana to keep them company and job done.

With the car loaded, off we went with me taking care of the driving duties and Rosie taking the responsibility of scolding me every time I exceeded the speed limit, which was often. Not easy when we change from miles to km once over the border and km is in tiny numerals on the car dash speedometer.

Being ideally situated, Rosie and I live on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Access onto the main arterial route for the length of the Island of Ireland is only a few minutes from our doorstep. 

We had left home moderately early and arrived in Carlingford 20 minutes later with Rosie's speed warnings still bouncing around in my head. Being kind of early in the morning we had no problems securing a car park on the waterfront, front and centre...

Time and tide wait for no man

Carlingford in County Louth was once a prosperous and influential seaport during the14th, 15th and early 16th centuries being strategically, situated on Carlingford Lough. However due to ever changing circumstances Carlingford eventually lost its prominence in the 17th century. There were hard times ahead for the seaside village, but it got through those hard years but never regained its former glory.

Nowadays, however the future is bright and the small coastal village of Carlingford is back on the map, flourishing and attracting people from around the globe. The people of Carlingford have achieved this by way of a model medieval-style village. The village has preserved the old medieval architecture of its past while blending all the facilities needed to meet our modern day needs without robbing the other.

Carlingford village is immaculately presented, consisting of a  mixture of colourfully painted townhouses and small business premises and historical castles, churches and and other buildings from centuries past.

Heritage centre, priory and the church at Carlingford

A word on the Irish weather

Our weather for the day was to be a mixture of heavy dark overcast conditions, interrupted with moments of lighter overcast conditions creating a perfect colour pallet for photographing a medieval village.

Ireland is famous for its weather. This means Ireland is subjected to heavy cloud cover most often accompanied by rain for 366 days of the year. Lol…and don’t forget your coat! My thinking is the constant grim weather is counter balanced emotionally by the cheerful bright colour schemes that permeate the village. 

Street photography in Carlingford village

King John's castle with a fisherman's wharf jutting out from its foundations was the first scene that gripped our imagination.

King John’s Castle in Carlingford Lough, Ireland
King John’s Castle started its existence in the late 12th century, which made it the oldest building I have ever laid eyes on thus far. After a look around the castle, we headed into the village proper.

King John's castle Carlingford

With tightly packed, narrow streets, Carlingford proved to be a real challenge to photograph.
Even at 16 mm it was impossible to compose a well-balanced image without distortion. Everything was so close to the lens elements. Even narrower lanes restricted my options to mostly only shooting down the way.

A collage of two lovely houses in Carlingford with cabbage palm trees
Cabbage trees imported originally from New Zealand thrive in Ireland just like back in their native land!

Gatehouse at Carlingford village
The old town gate once guarded the entrance into the village. I'm not sure Rosie would make a suitable guard though, as I know she is prone to bribes in the form of chocolate.

Lots of colourful contrasts and kerb appeal in the streets

One cute little house in particular, grabbed our attention when we researched the village on the web. We named it the "little red house". The stop sign seemed to have a double purpose to us, one for the vehicles and another for foot traffic. Stop, look around, take in all the colours, shapes and textures before moving on.
Carlingford village
The little red house is a favourite with Instagrammers.

There seems to have been quite a population of short people around back in the day.
I'm guessing that this yellow house was purpose built for a family of short people and not for those that grew up with fertiliser in their boots.

bright eye catching colourful houses in Carlingford, Co Louth in Ireland
Bright eye catching colours

Ma Bakers colourful exterior in Carlingford, Ireland
There is no such thing as a boring building in Carlingford. The longer and closer you look the more you see. Ma bakers had windows and walls packed with interesting things to ponder about.

pram and bike along with other interesting features on the wall at Ma Bakers pub in Carlingford

McKevitts village hotel in Carlingford, Ireland
Window boxes complement the vibrant colours of the village.

colourful window boxes in summer in carlingford, Ireland
Pretty in pink with the pelargoniums

an old tractor driving through the colourful streets of Carlingford in Ireland
boldly coloured exteriors

brightly coloured houses in Carlingford, Co Louth Ireland

Finally it seems to us that Carlingford is a place of great extremes …
Carlingford house with very small black front door
The village folk were either dwarfs

a giants chair at Carlingford, Ireland

Or great big giants!


  1. Most interesting read given I will never get to visit. Love the flower baskets on the buildings but wondered how one would reach some of them to te s them. What about that high up bike! Fascinating colourful town. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Sorry about the late reply.
      This is a new system to me as I normally use wordpress.
      We missed your comment.
      Thank you for your kind comments and yes how you get to ride the bike is a mystery to us lol

  2. Loved all the images great place. Was there no people around?

    1. There were plenty of people in town which made it a challenge to photograph the buildings.
      Down at the harbour was a different story.
      There were passing showers and we more or less had the place to ourselves.
      Thank you for reading our blog.


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