Ireland’s only camera obscura opens to the public in the Ards Peninsula

The Gunpowder Store at Donaghadee Motte now holds the only accessible camera obscura in Ireland.

Camera obscura means “dark room” in Latin. The only camera obscura on the island of Ireland has opened to the public at Donaghadee Motte on the Ards Peninsula.

This comes after the 12th-century heritage site, the former Gunpowder Store, was restored by the lottery and local council.

Donaghadee Motte in County Down has reopened to the public on weekends from May until September following the €350,000 (£300,000) restoration of the former Gunpowder Store.

The Gunpowder Store – originally constructed by Anglo-Normans in the 12th-century

Ireland's only camera obscura opens to the public in the Ards Peninsula.
Credit: Facebook / Ards and North Down Borough Council

The Gunpowder Store in Donaghadee, County Down, was originally constructed by the Anglo-Normans in the late 12th-century.

It was then in the early 19th-century that a beautiful castle was built on top of the Motte and was used as a gunpowder store to house explosives.

This very Gunpowder Store is now home to Ireland’s only camera obscura. It’s the only accessible camera obscura on the island of Ireland.

The camera obscura that sits in the old Gunpowder Store is fixed to the lower roof. So, it projects an image from the daylight through a 400mm wide upstand onto a table located inside.

Camera obscura – what is it?

The camera obscura dates as far back as 1604.

Camera obscura means “dark room” in Latin. So, it is essentially a darkened room with a lens or small hole on one side. In turn, an image projects onto a wall or table opposite the hole.

People would use the camera obscura to study eclipses. This was to avoid the risk of damaging eyes by looking directly into the sun. They would also use them in the latter half of the 16th-century as popular aids for painting and drawing.

The term came about through German mathematician and natural philosopher Johannes Kepler in 1604.

The camera obscura is the predecessor of the modern photographic camera. The concept has existed for centuries and has been explored by everyone from Aristotle to Leonardo Da Vinci.

Donaghadee Motte – open to the public every weekend

Admission to Ireland's only camera obscura is free.
Credit: Facebook / Ards and North Down Borough Council

The public can delight in Ireland’s only camera obscura every weekend from 10 am to 4 pm at Donaghadee Motte in the Ards Peninsula. Admission is free to this great attraction in Northern Ireland for both locals and tourists.

It is an intimate and unique experience as only six people can experience it at one time. The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Mark Brooks, said a few words about the new attraction.

“We are really excited to have reopened Donaghadee Motte,” the Mayor of Ards and North Down remarked on a great turnout on its opening weekend. Also, he commented on the Motte’s history and how it reflects the culture and heritage of the town.

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