Connemara is a lovely part of Ireland. Its landscape contrasts the Burren's limestone in that it is built on a foundation of granite. Our tour guide, Gordon Darcy, claims "Connemara is a landscape painter's paradise." As a painter who is influenced by the beauty of nature, I fully support his claim!
Through our tour of Connemara, Gordon pointed out the plots of land where potatoes are grown. They form a corduroy pattern on the hillside where farmers have cut out sections and stuffed them with seaweed. This area of Ireland gets about 2 meters of rain a year (twice the amount of the Burren), so a proper drainage system is necessary to prevent flooding.
Potatoes are a well-established and historically important crop here. During the famine period, men ate an average of 50 potatoes a day and women ate 35. They led laborious lifestyles and had little access to other forms of nourishment even though there was plenty of food production in the country.
After a couple hours of driving, we arrived at Kylemore Abbey--a mansion built during the famine period. It includes 33 bedrooms and was constructed using nearly only local labour. It cost $1.25 million pounds, which was an astronomical amount at the time. Eventually, the mansion was abandoned and used as a girls' Catholic boarding school for a while, but it is now a big tourist stop.
We stopped for lunch in Clifden: the capital of Connemara with a population of about 2600. There was an art festival going on in the town, and we were able to pop into a couple of galleries in our free time. Clifden is a very charming spot....I particularly loved the bike decorations and sculptures scattered throughout the town.
Our final stop in Connemara was at Dog's Bay. This gorgeous beach ended our day with a peaceful walk and great photo opportunities. The beach is in the shape of a horseshoe with beautiful, soft white sand. It is surrounded by sand dunes covered by a thin layer of grass. The lighting was just beautiful!
If you make it over to Ireland, I would definitely suggest checking out Connemara. It's gorgeous views, quaint towns, and rich history are guaranteed (in some aspect) to please everyone.