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UPDATE: Irish Photographer Mistaken for Gunman

Some of you may have seen my recent article about the Irish photographer who was mistaken for a gunman while carrying a tripod on a beach to do astrophotography. Here's an update, straight from the source.

I received an email from Mícheál Howard, the photographer in Ireland who was the subject of a police manhunt a couple of weeks ago. A passerby mistook him for a sniper, and havoc ensued. Here's the story straight from the horse's mouth, and the photo above is one that he took that evening.

My name is Mícheál Howard

I am the amateur photographer that was mistaken for the sniper in Ireland.

I am just reading your article and am still laughing at the whole situation.

It all happened two weeks ago. Myself and my fiancée and our dog went on a weekend car camping trip to Kerry. In west Kerry they have one of 3 internationally recognized Gold Tier dark sky reserves in the world.

This was our second night on the trip. We had spent the day touring around and sightseeing. Then we went to Derrynane beach and had planned to stay the night to shoot some astro photos. Derrynane bach is part of an estate owned by the Government, similar enough to a national park, just with a big old Victorian house in the middle.

We parked up in the main car park for the beach and I went out to take some sunset photos and my fiancée stayed at the car to read and to put on dinner with the dog. I generally carry my old, big ass, heavy Giottos tripod on my shoulder. I walked around the beach and took a few photos here and there. Here is one of the photos I took, . There were maybe 10 -15 other people on the beach going about their own business.

So while I was doing all this, someone, who I can only assume spent the whole day binge watching Homeland or 24, spotted me with the tripod on my shoulder and completely panicked. They called the Estate  security and also called the Gardaí (Irish police force).

I went back to the car and had dinner with my fiancée. While we were having dinner the Estate security approached us and asked us what we were doing. We told them I was out taking photos of the sunset and that we were hanging around to do some astro photography. They told us about the strange phone call they had received about a man on the beach with a rifle. They were very nice and presumed it was all a hoax but were just out doing their due diligence. They saw the tripod and put two and two together and got a laugh out of the situation and went back to their station. We thought it was crazy as well but saw the funny side to it. We thought that was the end of it all, neither us nor the Estate security knew that the person who called in the sniper scare had also notified the Gardaí.

It was starting to get dark at this stage and we were the only people left in the car park and in the area, we didn't see anyone out on the beach. We were sitting in the car having tea and listening to the radio and laughing about the whole story, when  a squad car pulled up behind our car and four Gardaí, from the Armed Guards Response Unit, got out, two went around on side and two went around the other side of the car. The Gardaí in Ireland are fairly calm in Ireland and they saw the surf boards on the roof and two of us in the car so they didn't bother with the weapons.

We got out and they asked us were we aware of the situation. We told them the Estate security had been over to us and told us about the "sniper" and we told them that we assumed that that was me with the tripod. They asked us a few questions and I showed them the tripod and walked around with it on my shoulder to give them a demonstration. Then I showed them the photos and the time stamps, which matched the time of the "sniper" sighting. They all got a good laugh about it and the ridiculousness of the situation. Unfortunately by the time they had left the clouds had rolled in and any plans for astro photography were gone.

It's only afterwards reading about it in the papers 2 weeks later that we found out about the full scale of the man hunt. They had closed down the whole area and had spent nearly 2 hours searching for the "sniper" and an Emergency Response Unit was called out from Cork City, but they were stood down when they found me.

Overall it is an hilarious situation, we got a great kick out of it, and its even funnier watching it blow up on the national news papers, reddit and now seeing it on Fstoppers.

For more of Mícheál's work, visit his website or Instagram.

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Deleted Account's picture

Still no word on who reported it? Some of us think it must have been an American and others, an Irishman. Enquiring minds want to know! :-)

user 65983's picture


Deleted Account's picture

Of course it doesn't matter. In every interaction, you choose what your goal is. I try to opt for friendship and humor over education. But that's just me and I often fail.

Anonymous's picture

Just to put it in context, Sam was referring to a funny exchange from an earlier article about whether or not the person who called the police was American.

Daniel Haußmann's picture

So the terrorism-scare works. People are no longer afraid of actual statistically relevant dangers - but of something that over the years has messed with their minds.Each drive on a rural road at night in Ireland or somewhere else in the world is magnitudes more deadly than the chance of a sniper/terrorist/criminal killing you. It's unbelievable.

Robert Wilson's picture

Thaaankkk-you Daniel. "People are no longer afraid of actual statistically relevant dangers" is the most succinct explanation of a truly fightening trend. New levels of ignorance, meanwhile back on the road 85% of drivers think they're better than average.

Deleted Account's picture

Is this actually an april foolish but you just wrote it 5 days later? hahaha

Lee Stirling's picture

One helluva story. Talk about an overreaction! This guy is lucky it was in Ireland where the police are more chill. In the U.S. he could very well have gotten shot. I have been on Derrynane Beach before, all too briefly, and after seeing this photographer's posts on Instagram, I desperately want to go back. Hopefully they don't mistake me for a sniper!

Henry Louey's picture

If that had happened in America. We would be reading Michael's obituary not getting a 1st hand account of the night