A view I’d love to see for myself

More evidence the world is getting smaller.

The FiveThirtyEight blog has an interesting post about Geograph, which has collected photographic images of nearly all the 244,034 one-kilometer squares of Great Britain and 41 percent of the 87,933 grid squares on the island of Ireland (Republic and Northern Ireland).

“Geograph was started by geography enthusiasts, sponsored by the government, rescued from a chaotic collapse by its devoted contributors and populated with millions of photos from thousands of people around the island nations it covers,” Carl Bialik writes in the post.

Naturally, I went to the site to look for familiar sights from my ancestral homeland of north Kerry. One in particular caught my eye.


The 2010 image by Graham Horn (copyrighted but licensed for reuse) is taken from the Loop Head Peninsula of southwest County Clare. The view is looking east toward Kerry and Ballybunion on the far side of the Shannon estuary. The peak in the background over the top of the lookout tower is Knockanore Hill, where my grandfather was born.

I’ve made numerous visits to the Ballybunion strand and the 880-foot top of Knockanore, where I’ve looked across the Shannon estuary at the distant shore of Loop Head. But I’ve never been to the Clare peninsula to look back at the north Kerry coast, as in this image.

It remains a view I’d still like to see for myself someday.

In his post, Bialik also discusses Google’s Street View and raises the question of whether Geograph could ever go global. Satellites and digital technology have made such near total photographic coverage of the earth possible. But it isn’t a new idea.

Early in the 20th century French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn dispatched teams of photographers with bulky Authochrome cameras. His project, called “Archives of the Plant,” featured images from more than 50 countries, including what are still believed to be the first color photos of Ireland in 1913.