Studying German to A-Level at school, required me to read “Irisches Tagebuch” (Irish Journal) by Heinrich Böll. It recounted a period in the 50s and 60s, when the German author moved his family to County Mayo in the west of Ireland, in search of a different and perhaps more fulfilling way of life. This was the time of the “Wirtschaftswunder” in Germany, while Ireland was struggling with a falling population and comparative poverty, so the contrast must have been stark. Then as now, the attraction was the landscape, the peace and tranquility, and the slower rhythm of life.

These attractions could apply to many of the parts of Ireland I have visited in the past, but last week was my first visit to Mayo. I was there to photograph a couple of houses on the coast for Interior Designer, Philippa Devas. Her clients’ much extended Georgian property is surrounded by water on one of the many inlets that line the Mayo coast. The interiors are classically decorated with vibrant old fashioned colours such as coral pink in the drawing room and bottle green in the library.


The hall and the dining room opt for lighter shades of yellow and eau de Nil. While there are many things to love about this house, the piece de resistance has to be the shell encrusted chandelier over the dining table.

Unlike Heinrich Böll and his family, my stay was all too brief, but the same things that drew him there fifty years ago, will pull me back there soon, to be sure.

If you are interested in Heinrich Böll’s book, there is a website, alas only in German! Alternatively you can find out more about him on Wikipedia.