Continuing with some of the places that feature in my new novel, ‘Irish Inheritance', today we’re visiting Connemara.
Connemara, on the west coast of Ireland, is a beautiful, unspoilt part of County Galway. Its name comes from Conmhacne Mara, meaning “descendants of Con Mhac of the Sea”. It is a broad peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean, and stretching from Killary Harbour in the north to Kilkieran Bay in the south. Connemara is renowned for its inspiring scenery, ranging from the Twelve Bens to Roundstone Bog. The coastline is broken by many small inlets and narrow peninsulas, and there are numerous small islands off the coast.
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins is a range of sharp peaked mountains, none of them higher than about 3,400 feet, but still stark and dramatic. Hundreds of streams run down the steep mountain sides, joining up with other streams to form larger streams in the valley.
Roundstone Bog, in the south of Connemara, is a wilderness area with dozens of small lakes.
Killary Harbour, almost 16 km long, forms the natural boundary between County Galway and County Mayo. It’s said to be Ireland’s only true fiord, with the mountains rising up on both sides.
One can’t mention Connemara without mentioning Kylemore Abbey, built in the 19th century by a wealthy Manchester manufacturer. In 1920 it was bought by the Irish Benedictine nuns, who opened an international boarding school for girls, which only closed a few years ago. The Abbey and its large estate, including a Victorian walled garden, have been open to the public since the 1970s.
Last but not least, remember ‘The Quiet Man’, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara?. Much of that was filmed in Connemara or at least nearby. Here’s the bridge which was used in the film.
And here’s the excerpt from ‘Irish Inheritance’ when Dan, the lawyer, is driving Guy and Jenna through Connemara to Clifden:
“We’ll be on an ordinary road between Galway and Clifden, so I won’t be able to drive as fast,” Dan said. “Quite apart from which, I’m sure you’ll want to admire the scenery.”
Not long afterwards, Guy let out a low whistle. “Hey, you’re right. It’s as if we’ve crossed an invisible line into a completely different landscape.”
Jenna agreed. After the gentle green fields of central Ireland, they were now driving through the wild open countryside of Connemara, uninhabited apart from sheep and lambs. New vistas appeared at every twist and turn of the road—clusters of bright yellow broom, small brooks rippling over stones, breeze-whipped lakes at the one side of the road, low green hills with rocky outcrops on the other, and the occasional ruins of stone cottages. A range of sharp peaked, green-grey mountains dominated the view ahead of them.
“What are those?” she asked Dan.
“Na Beanna Beola, the Twelve Bens. Ben means mountain here, the same as in Scotland. None of them higher than two and a half thousand feet, but they’re quite dramatic, aren’t they?”
Guy nodded. “They sure are. It’s an awesome view.”