Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Connemara a place of beauty, serenity

Posted July 18, 2014

Most of us could use a little more Connemara in our lives.

It is a place of rare and rugged beauty – windswept mountains, dramatic coastal vistas and sunlight dancing in and out of clouds onto the emerald earth below.

If there is one thing we could fix about our vacation in Ireland, it would be to build more relaxation into the 10 days. A week at a cottage in Connemara would have certainly been nice.

Instead, we hopscotched from inn to inn afraid we would miss something spectacular – afraid we might never pass this way again.

At the airport in Dublin I overheard a professor from Chicago declare that a week on the coast of Connemara was the best family vacation he could remember. He said there wasn’t much to do and yet there was so much to do – like fishing, reading, meditating and listening to the wind.

We settled into a bed & breakfast perfectly described as eclectic elegance. The Quay House in Clifden offered a charming harbor view, delicious breakfast and whimsical décor. Hosts Paddy and Julia couldn’t have been any nicer.

A trip to Connemara National Park was a highlight of the trip. The steep hike up Diamond Hill gave us the good workout we wanted. Diamond Hill also gave us multiple photo opportunities with its wide angle view on the edge of Europe.

I loved our visit to Kylemore Abbey. It is a community of nuns from the Benedictine Order. Nuns took refuge here in 1920 after their abbey was destroyed in Belgium during World War I. The nuns restored the abbey, a Gothic church and Victorian gardens.

They also established a renowned boarding school for girls. I would love to return here in the fall and watch the hardwoods explode into red, orange and yellow hues.

My musical mentor Brian Dunning who spent the day with us in Dublin during the early part of our trip says Connemara is the most beautiful place in Ireland.

He vacationed here as a child. Poet Oscar Wilde described Connemara as “wild mountainous country” and a place of “savage beauty.”

Today it is still all of that but it is also a place of warm hospitality, a slower pace and a healing aura.


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