Connemara is a region in West Ireland under County Galway. It’s a vast expanse of wild, desolate but STUNNING landscape of lakes, bogs, mountains, and raw coastline. It’s untouched nature at its best, home to flocks of sheep that meander and graze all day in a seemingly endless pasture. The roads are narrow, as they all are in Ireland, and have no shoulders at all . You can’t just stop the car as there are always blind curves and cars go flying by so a lot of my pictures were taken through the windshield while the car is running. There are a few turn offs where you can pull over but not many.
We barely scratched the surface of Connemara and surely the best way to see the true beauty of Ireland is to drive it’s country roads. Apparently we were not even on the most scenic roads of Connemara but that’s ok, we can save that for the next time.
Country roads in Ireland are lined with either thick hedges or stonewalls. Here in County Galway moreso, it seems they love the stonewalls even more. We always gasp whenever a bus comes the opposite way specially on those blind curves! And we even have a tiny car. Make sure you rent a small car if you are driving in Ireland. And get car insurance, I feel like our side mirrors will scrape those hedges or stone walls anytime.
West Ireland’s climate is not suitable for agriculture farming so farmers mostly raise sheep as they are a pretty hardy animal. Flocks of sheep dot the hillsides and moorlands all over Connemara, and occasionally you’d even find them right next to the road. We noticed they are painted with bright colors – I googled why and found that farmers do that to distinguish their sheep versus the other neighboring farmers. Imagine trying to figure out where all of your sheep had gone and had started mixing with the other farm’s sheep!
Our first stop in Connemara was the Kylemore Abbey, not counting random stops at some castle ruins or some other cute village to take photos.
Kylemore Abbey was a castle and was a gift from Mitchell Henry to his wife, Margaret. It eventually became a Benedictine Abbey. The estate has beautiful grounds, with a walled Victorian garden featuring Victorian plants and flowers, kitchen’s garden, and walking paths lined with ferns. A short walk from the abbey is also a neo-gothic chapel, and the mausoleum where both Mitchell and Margaret were buried. As it was drizzling on and off, we took the shuttle from the castle into the Victorian garden. It would have been a pleasant walk through a wooded road if there wasn’t a constant threat of rain.
Our next stop was the fishing village of Roundstone. It rained off and on the entire day but we were lucky enough to get some breaks from the rain to walk around the village. The village is pretty small and a lot of businesses are either about to close for the winter or have already closed for the season. I can see this is a place for a lovely weekend getaway. We had some coffee and muffins at a cafe overlooking the water and saw a rainbow right outside of our window. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a rainbow. I guess there’s an upside to rainy days, I’ve never seen so many rainbows in a day!
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