INSPIRE: Photographer reconnects with the coast
How did you spend the first year of the pandemic?" That may well become a popular question asked by people in years to come as they reflect on an extraordinary time in history; the time of the plague.
Photographer Brid O'Neill will be able to reply that she spent it productively - and she has the evidence to prove it. The Laytown-based photographer has just brought out a new book of shots she took from March 2020 to March 2021.
The book is called 'Reconnect' and includes a series of images captured in a wide sweep of territory in east Meath that took in Julianstown, Laytown, Bettystown, Mornington and other areas besides.
"During the lockdown I was searching for something to keep my mind active. Like many people my business had been impacted as I could no longer take family and portrait photos. Parties, christenings etc were all gone," she said.
"My main genre of photography is landscapes and seascapes so thankfully I was still able to get out and about in the locality and always took my camera when out for a walk. And how lucky are we are here on east coast of the county. The beach in our backyard. So each day I got out and about and got some images."
Looking back on the collection of photos in January she had the idea of picking out the best of them and putting them into a book. After all it's not every other decade that a pandemic breaks out.
"It was too major of an event not to record it in some form. Life as we knew it had changed and it would be some time before normal service resumed," she adds.
A central theme of the photographs was the positive way people reacted to an unprecedented event, at least in modern times. One of these ways was the use - and greater appreciation - of the wonderful beaches and landscapes nature had bountifully provided.
"We've always had visitors coming and going but now the locals had started to really appreciate what's on their doorstep. From dog walkers to fishermen, joggers and swimmers. It was lovely seeing everyone going back to basics, back to nature."
O'Neill's book contains many seascapes scenes as well as shots of the local landscape. "As Ireland is now hopefully starting to open up again I thought it was a good time to release this book as we begin to reconnect again," she added.
There is another dimension to 'Reconnect.' Local business outlets also feature. Some were closed during lockdown others stayed open and battled on, and provided an invaluable service to the local community.
"I am grateful to them for participating in this venture with me and hope they receive the support they deserve - and for each business featured in the book there are many others. 'Shop local' has never been more important than now !!!
'Reconnect' can be acquired directly form Brid O'Neill on her social media outlets - Facebook or Instagram - on BON Photography or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and some local business outlets also that will be outlined on her various platforms. The cost of the book is €25.