A Storm in Lahinch - the story behind those iconic pictures

By Conor Hallahan

Clare-based 'wild ocean' photographer George Karbus has been in the eye of the storm this week after an incredible photograph went viral over the weekend.

George captured the iconic shot of Lahinch promenade being battered by a storm surge on Friday night last, and since posting it to his Facebook page on Saturday morning has himself been under a deluge of interest from all over the world.

(Lahinch promenade, Friday January 3, 2013. Picture: George Karbus)

"It's been mad," he told breakingnews.ie.

"I have hundreds of messages on my Facebook page, dozens of emails and phone enquiries - it's all been a little overwhelming, to be honest.

"My web hosting company even had to take my website offline on Sunday because the traffic was crashing their servers."

Evidently taken aback by the interest his picture has generated, George says that to him, it was "just a shot that anybody could get".

"I suppose the difference is in composition and quality of equipment," said the award-winning snapper.

"I used a Nikon D4 to capture the shot which excels in low light levels. I think this adds to the image as the combination of the waves and the streetlights is what helps to make the shot.

"It was almost pitch dark when I took the picture - even five years ago I would not have been able to get the shot in these light conditions, but in daylight I don't think the image is as strong."

As the storm surge returned to Ireland's western seaboard this morning, Lahinch took another battering - and George was back on his grassy knoll overlooking the promenade, trusty Nikon in hand.

"I got there at 7.15am (this morning) and it was already on," he said. "It only took me about 15 minutes to get the pic I wanted.

"If anything this, morning was even gnarlier than Friday."

(Dawn breaks over Lahinch, 7.30am this morning. Picture: George Karbus)

Having lived on the west coast of Ireland for almost 10 years and making a living as a 'wild ocean' photographer, George explains that it was the pull of the sea which brought him to the west.

"The first time I saw images of the western Irish coast I fell in love with it," he said.

"My girlfriend and I were living in Spain at the time and we decided to come here to live - we spent the first two years in Galway and came down to Lahinch every weekend," said the keen surfer.

"Eventually we made the move and have never looked back."

('In the Living Room' by George Karbus, winning shot of the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013. )

Today, while George and family travel regularly to far-flung corners of the world, it is Clare that always draws them home.

"Sometime after a few weeks of winter storms in Clare you can feel like you would want to be somewhere else, but always there is some magic that comes to you and makes you feel that there is nowhere better in the world," he laughs.

"Maybe that's what they call the luck of the Irish."

- You can view more of George's pictures on his Facebook page and website

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