Perfectly still lakes, mirroring stony mountains, clouds that are so low it seems you could touch them, Connemara, a region on the West coast of Ireland, and the place my husband spent his childhood, is a must-visit for anyone planning a trip to Ireland. For me, Connemara is Ireland.
Every visit we make to Ireland includes at least one trip from our home base in Galway to Connemara, whether it be for a hike, a whiskey in Ballynahinch Castle, or getting engaged on a beach in Ballyconneely.
About an hour’s drive from Galway city, Connemara is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery I have ever encountered, from it’s rugged coast and pristine beaches to the many hills and mountains, ideal for hikers, bicyclists, photographers, and picnickers alike.
Connemara is the perfect place to spend a Sunday with family, and as my father in law grew up in this part of the country, there is no better tour guide. This past Sunday, my mother in law packed up sandwiches and wine, and a bunch of us drove West, our destination on this particular day, Connemara National Park in Letterfrack, to climb a mountain called Diamond Hill.
We were greeted by some goats in the brush.
And the ominous mountain we were about to climb.
The best part about Diamond Hill was that for most of the hike, the path was made of gravel, large stone steps, or wooden boardwalk, protecting the very wet, marshy bogland from hikers and vice versa.
My photos don’t do any justice for the views as we headed up the mountain. The air was in the low 40’s, and as I have mentioned in past posts, slightly misty and as clean as can be. Breathing out here is entirely different, and the year round humidity in the air makes for a climate that is perfect for skin. My heat-dried skin just drank up the mist and felt wonderful for our entire trip.
The hike that we did was about 3 miles altogether, and while the path was nice, it got steep and scary at times. Imagine a path at the edge of a 75 foot drop, with wind blowing at you and tired, wobbly legs. Don’t look down!
As we neared the pointy top of the mountain, it got colder and foggier. There were several times when we thought we had arrived at the summit, only to come over the top and see higher ground.
Eventually our tired legs and frozen ears made it to the top, where we celebrated with silly photos and high fives.
That’s me with the husband and my sister in law’s boyfriend, Dave.
Me, looking nerdy, as I rest on the rocky summit.
The way up was slightly difficult, but the initial way down was way worse. There is nothing scarier than walking down slippery rocks on a steep incline and looking at the valley below. Things evened out after awhile, though, and we ended up running part of the downhill. The views on the other side of the hill were gorgeous, and this side was shielded from the wind.
The Connemara landscape is dotted with gorse, a rough and thorny plant that is a hindrance to farmers, but when in full bloom, provides a wash of yellow across the West.
When we got close to the bottom of the mountain, we encountered this faerie ring. I didn’t spy any faeries, but I am certain they were there.
Along the way, we also spotted plenty of lichen which only grows in places with almost perfectly unpolluted air.
At the base of the mountain, we enjoyed a picnic of sandwiches, chips, and wine; my mother in law packs a wonderful picnic, and it was exactly what we needed after such a climb.
Our drive home was full of yawns; such fresh air does a number on you! It also included dozens of beautiful views of Connemara. The sunsets in Ireland last for hours so it seems, and there is no place I would rather be at this time of day.
I hope you haven’t tired of my Ireland posts yet; there are plenty more to come! We got an extra day here, thanks to an airline strike, and I don’t want to leave the green grass and warm-ish weather!
What are your favorite vacation activities? Are you like me, always looking to do something, or are you more content to sit back on a beach somewhere and relax?