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Sli na Boirne

If you know any thoroughbred Irish folk, you may have heard before, "Why celebrate St. Patrick's Day when I'm Irish every day of the year?" Green beer and plastic hats are, after all, really something of an American institution. But today is not only an excuse to drink whiskey and wear green; it's also a day to recognize the patron saint of Ireland, and the mystic culture of the Emerald Isle.

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Shane Lavalette is a recognizable name in the world of contemporary photography. He has a highly trafficked photoblog, as well as a new publication, Lay Flat, which we recently mentioned. He's finishing up a degree in fine art photography and spent some time on the western coast of Ireland at the Burren College of Art in County Clare.

Sli na Boirne (The Burren Way) is a 27-mile stretch through the landscape of Ireland's Burren, where this series was taken. Ireland declared the area a National Park and Special Area of Conservation, and it's a top tourist destination, known largely for the majestic Cliffs of Moher.

"Though the threat of the overgrowth, which would eventually turn the Burren into a forest-like landscape, is an important aspect of this body of work," writes Lavalette, "my photographs hope ultimately to expose the meaning in the landscape, the poetry of the place and its people." Lavalette has the tendency to capture beautifully the quiet modesty of everyday life, and this series is no exception.

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Erin Go Bragh.

Images (c) Shane Lavalette, 2008.