There are fifty shades of green, and none of them are jaded. Welcome to Ireland! It’s said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney delivered treasure to be kept for a lifetime. The Western Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country’s history is almost tangible with ruins standing the test of time and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity as their warmth and humor will make all feel welcome.
My dear friend Daragh and I set out for an adventurous experience second to none along the Connemara Loop which is situated in breathtaking North West Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Following the Loop, we were taken on a journey through an ever changing landscape of craggy mountain peaks, spectacular expansive sandy beaches, the wild North Atlantic, mist covered lakes, pre-historic bogs and shady glens. All exemplify the peaceful solitude and rugged beauty of the West of Ireland. A landscape peppered with quaint but lively villages where all the convenience of the modern day is available alongside an opportunity to step back in time to a more relaxed and friendly era. Though the roads are rather narrow for this West Texas driver there was no getting lost although the wandering sheep may be inclined to cause a traffic-jam here and there. I must admit, too, to closing my eyes the first few times I drove past a tour bus leaving Daragh convinced he would not reach his 40th birthday, which we were there to celebrate.
One can easily get lost forgetting the trials of the world while rejuvenating the soul and centering the mind in this small area of the universe. Connemara is an area comprising of a broad peninsula between Killary Harbour and Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway or south west Connacht. From the rugged Twelve Bens mountain range in the north through lake-rich Roundstone Bog to the golden beaches reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll know you’re in Connemara by the light that constantly changes the mood and tone of the landscape and the incredible reflections on the almost still lakes. Connemara has long been regarded as the real emerald of Ireland and I must concur this was a feast for this photographer’s eyes. The natural terrain and unspoiled environment offers a wonderland of sights and experiences. The people are warm, friendly and extend a hospitality which is the essence of Ireland as were greeted with a smile, a gentle hello on the street or the single finger “Mayo Wave” while driving. It is difficult to not feel as if you’re right at home in this land far from home.
As William Thackery quoted in 1842: “one of the most wild and beautiful districts these wild mountains over which the clouds as they pass or the sunshine as it comes and goes casts such a variety of tint, light and shadow.” I would venture to say not much has changed since the time of Thackery’s quote but this traveler appreciates a slower pace where the days still pass quickly though the abundant green Irish landscape whispered in my ear to take a deep breath and let go of the pressures of the city.