by Saverio Mommo

As an Italian, taking a quick look at Tina Claffey’s book, Portal: Otherworldly Wonders of Ireland’s Bogs, Wetlands and Eskers was enough to truly capture my attention. Bogs and wetlands are places that I have never heard about before. Italy is best known for its delicious food, high mountains and clear seas, so the reason this immediately captivated me is simply because I’ve never seen anything like this in my home country.

Even though Portal might look like a simple photography book, I’ve actually learned a lot from it. In fact, I believe that this book showcases the power of imagery, as not only do these photographs capture important moments in time, but they actually inspire the mind. What an image from this book can do is quite outstanding, the colours of the bogs and the animals give life to that unique feeling that pushes us forward all day every day: curiosity.

Here are five stunning images from Portal by award-winning photographer Tina Claffey.



This female Raft spider observed me cautiously as she carried her silk sac containing hundreds of her eggs. She will carry this under her body for about three weeks until she finds a suitable nest amongst the vegetation. There she Will construct a nursery web, and guard her young until they emerge and disperse into the surroundings. She was so tolerant of my presence inches from her, waiting calmly for me to take the photo. I thanked her, and she went on her way.


What’s amazing about this picture in my opinion is the way that it conveys the emotions this insect may or may not be feeling in this moment. You could easily understand how much under pressure this little spider is under and the reason why you can understand this feeling, is that you can empathise and feel these same emotions if your life or the lives of your children were in danger. This is the true beauty of nature.



The exquisite Birch shieldbug. You can tell how it gets its name as its back resembles the shape of a knight’s shield. The morning dew caught on its back made it look like a very regal shield encrusted with jewels. He posed so patiently for me. I thanked him as I do all that allow me to take their portrait, and as soon as I did, he turned towards me, like an acknowledgement, and ambled away. A magical moment that warmed my heart.


If you had any doubts about the limits of nature, this wave of colour will sweep away any insecurity. The way nature can grasp our attention is simply incredible.



I was amazed to find this bee fast asleep on a dandelion. It had been a warm morning and the afternoon had become chilly. The change in temperature had made the bee sleepy, and it seemed he was snoozing while at work!



Without transformation nature would cease to exist. The world we live in is unique because it is ever changing, becoming more beautiful and strong every hour, every minute and every second. To ensure that we can still long enjoy its splendour, we must return to the natural world and appreciate that we must eradicate the bad habits of the last century that is leading to the destruction of our climate and our planet.



It is so good for the soul to spend time within the bog at this magical time of the year. Especially at golden hour, among the blooming heather. A mystical sea of purple awaits. If you look closely, the individual tiny blooms are just exquisite.



If you’re unsure that our unhealthy behaviour is really causing damage to nature, this picture is a friendly reminder that we must open our eyes in order to continue living the lives we desire.


A sphagnum moss joined together by a single dew drop.



This very last photo shows us that no fruit, vegetable or animal is identical to another. This uniqueness, this uniformity has an even greater meaning when it comes to main society: no two individuals will ever be identical, but we are all equal in nature.





Portal is available to purchase on our website and in all good book shops around the country!