Connemara or Conamara (as Gaeilge) is a relatively isolated region on the west coast of Ireland, making up a large portion of the county of Galway on the very edge of Europe. The loose boundaries of this area are defined by the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west, Killary Harbour, (Ireland’s only fjord) to the north and Lough Corrib in the east marks the fringe of this territory. Clifden town itself, located in west Connemara is often referred to as ’the Capital of Connemara’ and lies on the opposite end of the country to Dublin, the nation’s capital.
The Connemara landscape is famed for its wild natural beauty and has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Visitors are struck by the curious way the light interacts with the landscape and this, combined with the ever-changing wet maritime climate ensures that no scene ever remains the same. The mountains, like the inclement weather are an ever present feature of life for the people who live here. The sea, like the mountains is inescapable with no part of Connemara being too far from the coast. The combination of mountains, coastline, boglands and the relentless unpredictable Atlantic weather makes this sparsely populated area internationally unique.
The geographic isolation of the Connemara has been a natural buffer to the many social, economic and political factors that have changed Ireland over the centuries. As a result, today, many Irish traditions including traditional Irish music, song and dance have survived and thrived here. The Irish language itself (Gaeilge) is still spoken daily in large parts of the area and Connemara has one of the last pockets of native Irish speakers in Ireland. There are many pilgrimages, festivals and events throughout the year in Connemara to celebrate what’s culturally unique to the area.
Connemara is a hugely popular tourist destination and has been for over 200 years. Major highlights of Connemara include Kylemore Abbey, Connemara National Park, Connemara’s highly indented coastline, its blanket bogs (peatlands), the Twelve Bens (Beanna Beola) mountain range, its history (ancient and more recent) and its many islands to name just a few of the attractions. The following images offer just a taster of the incomparable beauty that surrounds this relatively young Irish town within an ancient landscape.