Jetsetting

Connemara National Park | Discovering Ireland

Visiting Connemara in County Galway along the westside of Ireland was balancing scale of emotions for me. It was joy of being out in a magnificent natural landscape, and sadness from its history of famine and loss. Many people come to Connemara for photography, outdoor recreation, or a relaxing getaway for a few days. There is another side to this area with stories of the Great Famine in the 19th century, massive crop failures, landlord cruelty, and death from hunger.

Connemara opened as a national park in 1980, with 2,000 hectares of bogs, grasslands, forests, mountains, and lakes. It is popular with campers and nature enthusiasts, as the park has many hiking and nature trails, plus a variety of water activities. Connemara is one of Ireland’s popular destinations for both locals and tourists alike.

Prior to Connemara becoming a National Park the area was an agricultural and livestock area, having thousands of years of human habitation. There is a 4,000 year old megalithic court tomb, Knockbrack, that housed bones of ancestral dead. It was also thought to be a place for seasonal gatherings or sacrifice.

Old Cemetery

During the 19th century, many Irish paupers lived in Connemara in harsh conditions as farmers, working for their often British landlords. The area had experienced decades of crop failures including the Great Hunger (Irish Potato Famine) from 1845-1852; and forward up to 1880, when continual rain pour washed out what little nutrients were left in the soil. Agriculture economy had halted, which meant no crops and no money. Evictions were prevalent when the Irish peasant farmers could not pay rent for their small parcels of land. Due to the crop failures and wide spread famine, the landlords of the area were on the brink of ruin.

Famine Home

Famine also ran rampant in Connemara, which led to thousands of deaths, and more than one million throughout Ireland. Another four million Irish emigrated to the Americas during the 19th and 20th centuries, due to the Great Hunger and poor living conditions.

Since Connemara was heavily struck during the famines, there are many dismal remnants of the time including “famine houses”. These little stone houses, some without roofs, are scattered throughout the hillsides. They are abandoned reminders of the pauper families, who suffered through the Great Famine centuries ago.

Famine Wall

Looking up along the green hills of Connemara there are long stone “famine walls” that seem to go nowhere, and for no reason. These stone walls were built as a way to provide employment to the locals by the landlords, who were mostly British. The landlords had the Irish paupers, who were already struggling from hunger, build walls and roads as a means of payment. In their eyes, the Irish should not be able to get anything (food and drink) for nothing, so they built useless walls that still run along the hills of Connemara.

Today, the lands of Connemara have healed, and there is no more famine and suffering. There is life, recreation, and many tourist who come to camp and explore the areas natural beauty.

There are also a couple of special things to see while in the area- the Connemara Pony and Kylemore Abbey.

Horses are one of my favorite animals, as I feel a connection with them. So when I got to meet a sweet Connemara Pony named Joey and feed him carrots, I was overjoyed. The Connemara Ponies are a type of large pony-sport horse that are distinct to Connemara. Due to the natural harsh environment and landscape of the area, the ponies were bread into hardy strong animals, as well as adorable!

Kylemore Abbey

A trip to Connemara, Ireland is not complete with out a visit to the Kylemore Abbey. When I had visited the abbey, it was a wonderful addition to exploring one of Ireland’s loveliest natural landscapes. The abbey has a fascinating history, it was originally built as “Kylemore Castle”, a private home in 1868 for an affluent doctor’s family from London, Mitchell Henry. Due to love, loss, and a change of hands the castle was purchased by Benedictine Nuns, who now live on property and serve the community.

For Kylemore Abbey information – Kylemore Abbey in Connemara | Discovering Ireland

For park in formation, please visit – Connemara National Park

__________

Travel far enough, you meet yourself…

– David Mitchell
Yours Truly in Ireland

๐ŸŒŽ Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

๐Ÿ“ธ All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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