Fairy Tree by Barry Hendrickson

Finding Fairy Trees

These lone hawthorn trees sprinkled throughout the Irish countryside are thought to be a sacred home for fairies. While we were traveling on the West side of Ireland, we kept finding these lone fairy trees. We were drawn to them.


What we learned that trees were worshipped in Ireland for centuries and most were believed to have magical or healing properties. For example Fairy trees, typically a Hawthorne, are found all over the countryside. Certain Hawthorne’s are considered sacred in Ireland. Stories are told that these trees are a favorite gathering place for fairies. Irish beliefs say never to disturb the home of the fairies or it will bring you bad luck.


When we Irish look at our history, our literature and poetry, our music and art, we find trees as part of our identity and expression.  Certain Hawthorne’s are considered sacred in Ireland. This respect for trees is a connection to when people lived and worked closer with the land, and a direct link to Ireland’s ancient Celtic beliefs.


Even today, these fairy trees are both feared and respected. As recently as 1999 in the town of Latoon, in County Clare a very expensive highway construction project was diverted, so it wouldn’t uproot a lone Hawthorne tree. It was believed if the tree was disturbed then everyone who drove on that road would have bad luck.


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Fairy Tree

County Galway, Ireland
Barry Thomas Hendrickson, Printed by Nancy Wojack Hendrickson

© Hendrickson Fine Art Photography
Prints available in three sizes here >

St Benens Church Hendrickson Fine Art Photo

Desert in the Sea

It is an adventure to journey to the Aran Islands. These rugged islands are found in Western Ireland, in County Galway. Having heard stories of these islands, Barry and I couldn’t wait to visit. We took the ferry from Rossaveal to visit Inishmore, the largest of the three islands. We were prepared to leave our car behind. When exploring this island sprinkled with ancient stone sites, it is necessary to bike, hike or take a pony and trap.


Our trip on Inishmore was in October, often a cold and windy time of year. But we had lots of sun, glorious sun. Barry however, was frustrated by photographing in all of that super bright sun. It was reflecting off the limestone landscape was making for bright and over exposed shots. I remember a local Irish guide in a lilting accent saying, “You are the only person on this whole island, who is cursing the sun!”


We had stayed in Kilronan, near the port. One day we took to exploring the southern part by bicycle. We soon discovered St. Benen’s Church, sitting atop a limestone hill. It cuts a striking silhouette against the skyline.


Although I have to say, calling this building ‘church’ didn’t seem to fit, as it is really small — measuring about 7 x 11 feet in size. It is an intimate place, almost like your own personal chapel. These medieval walls are almost perfectly preserved and are built from large limestone blocks.


Just below the hill, you can see the remains of the Early Christian monastic village started by St. Enda. I find the history of early Christianity fascinating. How believers like St. Edna sought out these remote places — these “deserts in the sea” — to seek solitude, prayer and live an austere life. During three hundred years from about 500 to 800, Inishmore and the sister islands were a famous center for sanctity and learning. This place attracted believers from all parts of Ireland to study the science of the saints in this remote school of the West. 


This photograph brings me back to that remote and rugged landscape, and our adventure in that sacred and austere place.



St. Benen’s Church (Teampall Bheanáin) Shown Above
 Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland
Barry Thomas Hendrickson
© Hendrickson Fine Art Photography


Limited Edition Fine Art Photos of St. Benen’s Church are available in three sizes here. >



Traveling to Aran Islands?
 I’d recommend the hospitality of the Flaherty’s found at the Aran Islands Hotel. They also have a great map of the island Inishmore on their website.


Stone Fence fine art photo

Stone Fence

Weaving their way across Ireland

Visiting Ireland for the first time, or third or the tenth time…. it is easy to notice the miles of stone fences that criss-cross over the countryside. My husband Barry and I saw many of them when traveling in County Galway in western Ireland.
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It made me wonder. How did these stone fences come to be? These structures are said to be hundreds of years old. Some of them are even documented as being thousands of years old in County Mayo. It is hard to imagine all of the hard labor in pulling stones and piling them up, to make way and clear the land for farming. It seems like a practical solution to make  some walls and property borders from all those rocks. The most stone fences are in western and southern Ireland, where the soil is poor and stone plentiful.

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I have always like this image. It is one of my favorites. The rugged piles of stones draw your eye up and into the forlorn, windswept tree. That tree still standing through years of strong weather, resilient, yet shaped and curved by the wind. This image tells the story of Ireland. [eltdf_separator class_name=”” type=”transparent” position=”center” thickness=”25px” ] 

Stone Fence, Co. Galway
Barry Thomas Hendrickson
© Hendrickson Fine Art Photography

Limited edition prints available in three sizes. See our shop link here >.

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What is it about Ireland?

Have you ever heard about a place, a country, a land for years? Something that sounds so wonderful, the anticipation to travel there is so great?

That place for me has been Ireland. Ever since I can remember the fact that I was Irish was a good thing, a special source of pride. My mom’s side of the family is very passionate about their Irish heritage. This love of Ireland shows up around holidays, family gatherings, wedding and funerals. Traditional Irish songs, and wearing of the green are common and expected. St Patrick’s Day is a reason to take off work and get together with our very large clan of relatives.


I am asked when I am showing my fine art photos, “Why are your photos only of Ireland?” This is the reason.


This love of this unknown land was ingrained in me at an early age. So of course, I wanted to visit the my ancestors country for many years. When others were able to travel there it was exciting news, with stories and pictures to share.


My mother Elaine was able to take her trip to Ireland in 1989. She was made the voyage with one of her sisters and some friends. They returned with photos, stories and mementos. My mother remembers visiting Kylemore Abbey on one of well-known rainy Irish days. She loved being able to tour inside of this Victorian castle, a place of rich history and beauty.


Decades later, I finally got to follow in her footsteps, and travelled to Ireland with my husband Barry. I got to experience the kind Irish people, and to touch upon a sense of my past relations. I went to see Kylemore Abbey,  a Victorian Castle nestled against the woods, in the heart of the Connemara Mountains. To see the beauty of the Abbey reflected in the lake and have it captured in a photograph, it was with a remembrance and a sense of gratitude that I was able to make it here as well. To see this beloved land for myself.




Kylemore Abbey

County Galway, Ireland


A new release by Nancy Wojack Hendrickson from the photo archives of the late Barry Hendrickson. Limited edition fine art photographs available in three sizes.

$246 | $163 | $65 Purchase your own fine art photograph>

To plan your own trip to Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian Gardens visit their website.>