Upper Lake, Killarney, Ireland by Sarah Stepanik

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Picture Story

This photo was one of the last photos out of hundreds taken on a day trip around the Ring of Kerry. We took the trip in November, which meant the popular tourist area was pretty quiet, but it also meant it was very cold and windy. It was a gorgeous day, but a very long one -- but I couldn't resist this last shot. As we came down the country lane towards Upper Lake, the sun was just starting to set and I begged my friend to pull over for "one last photo stop, I promise!" Even from the road, the view of the lake and the surrounding mountains was breathtaking. What had been an incredibly windy day had suddenly calmed to little more than a whisper.

The lake had turned to glass, reflecting the world back at me, almost as if two worlds had meshed into one. The purples of the sunset perfectly offset the golden-brown foliage on the landscape. I had taken many photos that day of rolling green hillsides throughout the Kerry region, but none compared to the dream-like purple vision that appeared before me now. In those magical few moments I couldn’t help but think about Irish folktales of the Fae traveling to our world through portals like this lake – where two worlds were perfectly joined. Leprechauns, Fairies, Giants, and Banshees. Of course, they were real! How could someone in the days of old wander through a place so wild as the Kerry countryside and think anything differently? How could you look at a landscape so filled with mystery and beauty and believe that magic wasn’t real? And I knew that, at least in that moment, it certainly was.

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