Despite the lack of sun, the day began temperate and continued that way. The sky was washed with grey clouds but instead of dulling the natural beauty of Connemara, it enhanced it. We took a pit-stop near a lake so we could try and capture some of the beauty.
Now, Connemara is not a county but rather a cultural region in County Galway. It is predominantly Gaeltacht (an area where the primary language spoken is Irish Gaelic).
From there, we drove to Kylemore Abbey. This picturesque castle was built in 1868 as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London. He and his wife Margret moved to Ireland after traveling here on their honeymoon in the mid 1840s. Margret fell in love with the land and the culture of Ireland, so he promptly built her the acropolis.
For the remainder of the 1800’s, the Castle was used as a primary home for the Henry family. It was then sold to the Duke of Manchester at the turn of the century. It was purchased by the Irish Benedict Nuns in 1920, and then used as an all girls school until 2010. It is now used as a museum and picture destination.
fter exploring the grounds and enjoying a treat at the cafe, we drove out into the hillside to visit our final stop for the day: Dan O’Hara’s Homestead. The cottage here is a rebuilt replica of the original which was a pre-famine farm destroyed by an angry landlord.
Martin, the groundskeeper/owner of the homestead, drove us in his tractor up the hill to the cottage and told us about the history of the region in great detail. We discussed technology, emigration and language and it was enthralling. Before entering the cottage he demonstrated the art of cutting turf using a slean (pronounced “Schlong”), which is a traditional tool. Conner, John, Sophie, and Aiden B, all tried it and did very well! Inside the cottage, Martin told us what life would have been like for Dan and his family.
Before saying our final goodbye’s, we took turns holding a baby goat. He was not too pleased with us passing him around!