You visit some places in your life—and enjoy them while you’re there—but barely give them a second thought afterwards. Other places leave an indelible mark, like an ink stain on your brain. They take up residence there and become a new room you can visit, whenever you feel like it. For me, Connemara, in the North West of Ireland, has not just become a room in my mind, but an entire house.
We only had two days to meander along the roads that weave across Connemara’s beauteous, nature-dominated, semi-wilderness, last August. Steered toward Clifden by a dear Irish friend, we drove along the inland road from Galway, stopping to check out the Tower at Aughnanure Castle.
We took a significant detour to visit Kylemore Castle, a wonderfully Victorian construction which sits above its reflection on a lake. Nestled into the mountains, and complete with a series of gorgeous Victorian walled gardens, and a chapel, it is well worth a visit— despite the crowds and tour buses. Wear comfortable shoes, as there’s a nice long walk from the Castle to the gardens and back to the parking lot.
From Kylemore we drove for quite a long time, taking in the Twelve Bens, and doing a quick turn around Clifden itself, before spending the night at Cashel House on the Wild Atlantic Bay.
Cashel House is built around a grand old Victorian home and situated a stone’s throw from the coast. Cashel Bay to be precise. Its gardens are elaborate and lush, and we would have really enjoyed our exploration around the dark, jungle-like greenery had Monkey not been stung by a bee.
Sitting by the fireplace, fueled by peat logs, (yes it was August), sipping on a little of what you fancy, is certainly a fine way to end the day. The food was fine, but nothing to write home about. But being in this place, surrounded by hunting prints of yesteryear, and enjoying the kind and friendly service, is definitely something to write home about.
This coastline is one of the most stunning I’ve ever encountered. Still, glassy water. Bright yellow seaweed piled up along the craggy, rock shoreline. Pale golden sand. And a mist which shrouds all of it, to create a sense of magical mystery. It’s a great place to ruminate, meditate and even do a little yoga.
I have shared this journey mostly in pictures so you can see for yourself, just how jaw-droppingly gorgeous this area is. Suffice to say, if you have the opportunity, go! Pack hiking boots and expect to regret leaving.
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