Connemara “A Savage Beauty”

As Oscar Wilde put it ” Wild mountainous country, magnificent in every way”.

I’m sure Ive been here before!  7 years old, or 10?  Either way,  most likely paying very little attention to the magic scenery!   It’s valleys are lonely and desolate places, with untouched landscape as far as the eye can see.  There was a hue of rust coloured heather and a brisk temperature reminding me that summer wasnt as close as I had hoped!

Connemara Galway
Connemara Galway

We stayed a night at the beautiful Ballynahinch Castle in Recess, Co Galway.   Sitting in the backyard of the Tweleve Bens mountain range, it’s  the prefect retreat.   The castle itself is very homely, with small nooks and crannies to sit and relax.   Sitting by the fireplace we felt as if we were home.  The grounds are quite large and well worth a stroll around.

Ballynahinch Castle Grounds Connemara
Reflections at Ballynahinch Castle Grounds Connemara
Ballynahinch castle Lake
For some reason when April comes around in this country there is an urgency to try and trick your body into thinking it’s summer so it can begin to come out of hibernation.  Mainly that is why you will see people swimming in the sea without wetsuits, wearing t-shirts when it’s ready to snow and generally just mis-dressing.  It’s all for THE WANT of summer.  Surely if we believe it enough, it will happen right?  Well, no, not really.  The water in the lake was positively freezing, so we managed about 2 seconds without full body numbness….much to the amusement of the American couple sitting on the far side of the lake! Ballynahinch castle Lake
Ballynahinch Castle Grounds

Breakfast must be mentioned as the best part of the day in Ballynahinch!   If you are up early enough you will be delighted to be ushered to a window seat, with the most idealic view of the lake.  As for the breakfast, well, where do I start. Their own home made muesli and home made breakfast muffins  were delicious.  But dont start filling up there! Mistake!  The breakfast menu itself was anything from a full Irish, to pancakes or salmon.     The entire meal probably took an hour and a half, while relaxing and surveying our land out the window!  Wonderful stuff.

Derryclare lake was one of my favourite places on the road to Clifden.  You stumble across it suddenly, if you are heading west, towards Clifden.   If you are lucky enough to catch it on a calm evening it’s like a glass reflection, not a ripple in the water , just a perfect stillness.  I could have stayed for hours!  Note to self – this is the first time I have ever considered camping as a possibility.

Derryclare Lough, Lake, Connemara
Derryclare Lake, Connemara

Connemara National Park was also on our list while visiting the region.  We had seen photos of the famous Diamond hill walk.  So after some discussion, map reading and general guessing, we decided to climb the blue trail (3km) and onto the red trail (3.7km) to the top. I remember thinking, 6 odd kilometers…. sure that wont take long.  Ekk, I was very wrong.

Diamond hill Connemara
Diamond hill, half way up the blue trail.

As we got further up the hill, it started to get windy. Just like my Instagram post about it… “Beware of the steepness, the wind, the cold and the narrowness…. otherwise go for it”.  It does get quite steep in parts and if the wind is howling it can be tricky to stay grounded.  You were warned.

Diamond Hill View
Diamond Hill View – beginning to get steep.

Needless to say the view from the top is spectacular.  You can clearly see Kylemoore Abbey, directly west and of course the beautiful 12 Bens mountain range.

The summit of Diamond Hill
The summit of Diamond Hill
Diamond Hill descent
Descent minus wind = better

Only in Ireland could you have an Island that is only accessible during low tide.  How?  By driving across the beach to get to it, of course!  Yup, you just follow the direction poles in the sand  when the tide is low.   Full tide? Forget it.  For that reason, Omey is a really untouched spot.  The beaches toward the end are scattered with tanned coloured boulders which looked great up against the white sandy beach.  Not something Ive seen on any other beaches in Ireland!   Beware the road on the island is only wide enough for one car and there are ZERO laybys, so you may want to leave the car behind if you go mid summer!

Omey Island
The road to Omey Island…. Yes it’s beach!

It has been a long time since I paid attention in Connemera.  But now that I have my eyes wide open it’s easy to say I’ll be back!


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5 thoughts on “Connemara “A Savage Beauty””

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