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by Cliodhna Prendergast







Resting on the quiet shores of Ballinakill Bay, and beautifully secluded within 30 acres of its own private woodland, Rosleague Manor in Connemara is one of Ireland’s finest regency hotels. Member of Ireland’s Blue Book Awarded No.9 in Top 25 Small Hotels in Ireland on TripAdvisor CALL OR VISIT OUR WEBSITE TO BOOK AND EXPERIENCE IRELAND TODAY.

info @

(+353) 095-41101

Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland

of clifden

We are a lifestyle store in the heart of Connemara stocking traditional and contemporary fashions, footwear, and knitwear. Our brands are handpicked by us and exclusive to the region. We pride ourselves in our commitment to a personal shopping experience with you, the shopper, leaving us with a smile and happy memories.

M A R K E T S T R E E T, C L I F D E N , C O . G A LW AY

(095) 21282

A B E AU T I F U L 1,000 ďšş AC R E ES TAT E

6-Acre Victorian Walled Garden Restored Rooms in the Abbey Gothic Church History Talks and Guided Tours * Woodland and Lakeshore Walks Award-Winning CafĂŠ and Garden Tea House Craft and Design Shop


history talks are available year-round; garden tours are available during the summer months.

+353 95 52001

CONTENTS TRAVELLING THE WEST The Great Fishing Houses of Ireland 28 Máthair Conamara 48 Connemara’s Walking Trails 68

EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES Connemara Calendar of Events 2018–2019 54

THE CRAFT OF TRADITION Bellissimo!—The Beauty of a Wig 8 See the Wood from the Trees 18


HISTORY AND EDUCATION Cleggan Is Steeped in Beauty and History 14 Restoration of the Ballynahinch Grounds 34 Cashel House Hotel Celebrates Fifty Years 40 Overheard in a Connemara Pub 44

A TASTE OF THE EMERALD ISLE Connemara Sands: A Taste of Luxury at Erriseask 24 From Field to Fork 37



TYING THE KNOT Wendy Inglis and Greg Bent 56 Stacey Maxwell and Mike McNamara 60 Tracey O’Malley and Nigel Smyth 64

ON THE COVER This photo of choppy water was captured on a July evening at Dunloughan Bay, Ballyconneely. Contrary to its appearance, this is one of Connemara’s surfing hotspots. A short distance to the left of this shot is a deep inlet that leads to a beautiful and wide sandy beach—a much safer finishing point for anyone riding the waves. On this evening, there were plenty of hardy surfers in the water doing just that. It appeared they were having great fun, but I was just as happy to be on dry land soaking up the scene before me.

—Mark Furniss







Printed by W.G. Baird


The Grain Store, Suite 1, Clifden, Co. Galway theideaboutique


Contact us at (85) 158-9879 All contents herein are Copyright © 2015 The Idea Boutique, Ltd. (the Publisher). All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without written permission from the Publisher. Connemara Life is a travel and tourism magazine and is published one time annually. The opinions herein are not necessarily those of the Publisher. The Publisher and its advertisers will not be held responsible for any errors found in this publication. The Publisher is not liable for the accuracy of statements made by its advertisers. Ads that appear in this publication are not intended as offers where prohibited by law. The Publisher is not responsible for photography or artwork submitted by freelance or outside contributors. The Publisher reserves the right to publish any letter addressed to the editor or the Publisher.





AN ADVENTURE IN LANDSCAPE, HISTORY, AND FOLKLORE I am honoured to introduce you to this our fourth edition of Connemara Life. Connemara Life is a luxury travel publication that showcases the beauty and mystery of Ireland’s adventurous west coast. Regardless of whether you are a regular visitor or a first-time guest, have only read about Connemara, or have your home in the area, I believe you will agree that, by its very nature, it is a Sharon Duane spiritual place. Connemara is home to a barren wilderness with an untamed countryside laden with mountain ranges, walking trails for hikers of varying abilities, and salmon- and trout-filled lakes. No matter what the season, pounding rain or glorious sunshine, Connemara is the most remarkable place in the world. There is so much to see and do in this small section of paradise that we call home—taste the beautiful food that the area has to offer, see unparalleled views around every corner, feel the ambience, and enjoy the experience that is Connemara. If you haven’t already visited here, give us a chance to take you on a voyage of Connemara through our stories, images, and advertising partners. We expect you will be motivated to make a trip out west to experience the genuine Connemara for yourself. Tim Robinson summed up Connemara as follows: “In its landscape, history, and folklore, Connemara is a singular region: ill-defined geographically, and yet unmistakably a place apart from the rest of Ireland.” A different perspective of Pine Island, Derryclare Lough—one of Connemara’s most iconic landmarks


Photo by Mark Furniss Photography

Sharon Duane Office Director





THE BEAUTY OF A WIG By Sa llie W. Boyles Photog raphy cou r tesy of Bellissimo Ga lway

K nown for her candid interviews, journalist Barbara Walters once asked Dolly Parton how long it took to create her larger-than-life, signature hairdos. The country music artist and actress replied, ‘I don’t know—’cause I’m never there!’ Ah, the beauty of a wig! Over the ages, women and men have donned wigs and hairpieces for two fundamental reasons: appearance and convenience. To keep cool and wellcoiffed during the oppressively hot summers, the ancient Egyptians shaved their heads and then covered up their baldness (deemed unsightly) with human hair, palm leaf fibres, wool, or silver. Ever since, many cultures have

found clever uses for wigs, including everyday wear, costuming, rituals, and disguises. During much of the last century, most women favoured more natural, unstructured hairstyles. Prominent personalities like Dolly Parton were the typical wig-wearing exceptions. In recent years, however, the reappearance of wigs in haute couture has inspired many to explore the countless cuts, textures, and colours that would be impossible or impractical to achieve with their own hair. Additionally, material and manufacturing innovations have generated lifelike creations that are easier to wear and maintain. Besides, like any great hairstyle and make-up, a fabulous wig or hairpiece can transform how someone looks and, ultimately, feels.



nspired by a woman who radiated glamour, Bellissimo Hair Health and Beauty Complex devotes significant resources to providing expert wig consultations for the premium products they sell. Operating two ‘supersalons’, one in Galway and the other in Limerick, Bellissimo does fashion work (i.e. hair and makeup for photo shoots) for Connemara Life and other publications in the area. The luxury salons also offer spa treatments. Mike O’Connor, who mastered the art of hairstyling before launching Bellissimo twenty years ago (his mother was the glam lady), says, ‘Over the years, we have become known as a one-stop shop for everything hair and beauty related, and, naturally, wigs and hairpieces have become a huge part of this.’ As regards Wigs at ... Bellissimo, as the salon’s wig division is called, Mike says, ‘This area of Bellissimo has developed into a full showroom with a private fitting studio. We have clients who are necessity wearers due to treatments that they may be undergoing and, of course, we have the accessory wearers, who just like to have a piece that can be popped on when they need to look perfect instantly for an early morning meeting or change of look. It truly is incredible how a hairpiece can totally change your look or tidy you up in a nanosecond.’ 10


Some premium synthetics will withstand heat, allowing the stylist to apply a curler or straightener based on the manufacturer’s guidelines. Nevertheless, a wig made of human hair still offers the most styling flexibility, as well as more movement and a softer texture.

A hairdresser by profession and the director of Bellissimo’s wig department, Linda Geraghty says, ‘Wig training is vital for consultancy. Learning the make-up and qualities of wigs is essential; however, personality is equally important.’ She believes the latter is why her international clientele travel far distances to the salon. ‘Empathy, listening skills, and compassion are the three most important qualities a wig consultant must have. ‘The initial consultation takes one hour.’ Linda continues, ‘We begin by listening to our clients’ expectations and concerns regarding losing their hair or changing their hairstyle.’ For the fitting, she says, ‘We explain the different types of wigs, wig bases, hair types, styles, and colours. Face shape, contours, and tones are prioritised in the selection.’ Bellissimo stocks a wide selection of wigs that customers may purchase and wear immediately, although the salon personalises each piece as desired. Likewise, a regular item ordered in a chosen colour usually arrives within two days. ‘Custom pieces are popular for the client who has permanent hair loss,’ Linda says, noting that the consultant takes an exact template of the individual’s head. The production lead time could extend to fourteen weeks, but a precise fit makes the wait worthwhile. Also, texture and colour samples are selected ‘to get that next-to-perfect match’.

Customers are often surprised by the quality of today’s synthetic wigs. ‘Synthetic or fibre hair is the most popular option for several reasons,’ Linda informs. ‘The pieces come ready to wear with just some personalising to be done. They are easy to care for with no styling whatsoever.’ For most synthetics, she says, ‘No blowdrying or heat of any kind can be used, so they simply fall back into style when shampooed. Caring for hairpieces has never been easier.’ Some premium synthetics will withstand heat, allowing the stylist to apply a curler or straightener based on the manufacturer’s guidelines. Nevertheless, a wig made of human hair still offers the most styling flexibility, as well as more movement and a softer texture. ‘It can be coloured (darker colours only) and behaves just like your natural hair.’ The disadvantage, Linda points out, is the need to style the wig each time it’s washed. The type of cap most influences the wig’s cost. ‘Fully machine-wefted wigs are manufactured by machining the synthetic hair onto the base cap,’ Linda says. ‘This is the quickest and cheapest way to produce a wig. On close inspection, you will see the machine work protrude to the scalp side, which has a visual impact on the wig.’ A more pleasing and popular option is a wig that’s machined on the sides and back, but hand-sewn on the top. ‘This’, Linda says, ‘leaves a much more natural-looking scalp.’ The most expensive and realistic, whether the hair is human or synthetic, are the fully hand-sewn caps with a lace front. With so many different products on the market, investing wisely in a wig begins with choosing a trusted source.

Opening photo and left: The Ignium wig styles created by stylists from Bellissimo Galway represent the vibrancy and fire both in the salon’s “tribe” members and the fiery colors they used in the collection. Opposite top: As wigs and hair wefts become more popular choices for all genders and ages for both health and fashion uses, Bellissimo has expanded its offering of styles and personalization for clients. Opposite bottom: Kylie Jenner attends the 2017 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala in New York City sporting a platinum blonde wig. Photo by Sky Cinema/Shutterstock



Right: This intricately braided style from the Ignium collection shows just how versatile and realistic a high-quality wig can be. Opposite: Bellissimo tribe members work with clients at their chic two-story salon and spa location in Galway, Ireland.

igs and hairpieces can be purchased in wig shops and hair studios in every corner of the world,’ says Mike. ‘However, particular brands have stood the test of time. It’s such a huge industry but it is not regulated worldwide, so it can be a little hit-and-miss with the supply of quality hairpieces. We highly recommend a professional consultation and a personalised fitting of your piece, and we advise that no one buy directly from the internet, as this can lead to a badly fitted, wrong colour wig and simply the wrong style for the client.’



Hairstylists from Bellissimo, led by Louise Jordan, the salon’s artistic director, have also collaborated to introduce their own collections. Known as Team Tribe, they amplify their creative shapes, forms, and textures with vibrant colour, as shown in their current collection, Ignium (Latin for ignite or fire). Using blonde and brown human hairpieces obtained from their suppliers, they have created what Louise describes as ‘a mahogany-red-based colour palette, ranging in varying depths and intensity, using revised colour techniques’ for a modern effect.

Bold hues are trending. Louise also references ‘icy blondes’ and ‘a rainbow spectrum of playful, creative colours’. Since stylists and fashion designers don’t have free rein to cut and colour the hair of professional models, such dazzling wigs find plenty of commercial work, but they’re made for all spontaneous souls who love bursts of drama in their lives, not a lasting commitment. Whether a passing fancy or a profound reflection of the individual’s true essence, a wig possesses an uncanny ability to ignite a chain reaction of positive changes. When done right, the effect is beautiful—bellissimo—and liberating.

BELLISSIMO.IE Sallie W. Boyles works as a freelance journalist, ghostwriter, copywriter, and editor through Write Lady Inc., her company based in Atlanta, Georgia. With an MBA in marketing, she marvels at the power of words, particularly in business and politics, but loves nothing more than relaying extraordinary personal stories that are believable only because they are true.




By Marie Feeney, author of The Cleggan Bay Disaster Photography courtesy of Carmel Lydon

If you travel along the bog road towards Cleggan on a fresh, clear morning any time of the year and get that first view of the village and the bay sheltered by Cleggan headland to the north, the beauty of the scenery grips you.

An impressive looking pier, which was built by Alexander Nimmo in 1822 and extended in 1908 and 2007, is the main feature. It boasts four bars, one shop, a fishing equipment supplier, and a takeaway. There are many bed and breakfasts and an excellent selection of self-catering accommodations in the surrounding areas. The Irish name for Cleggan is An Cloigeann, which means head or skull, so naturally, the name seems to come from the dominant headland. But local folklore has a different and much more enticing explanation: Saint Ceannanach from the Aran Islands is supposed to have been beheaded in the area. There are many things to do and see in Cleggan and the surrounding areas, such as horse riding, fishing, walking along an abundance of beaches, and much, much more. It has been said that the area is an incredibly rich archaeological landscape; just ask locally. For an exciting adventure, travel to the island of Inishbofin; the ferry leaves up to three times a day in the summertime and at least once a day in other seasons. The trip takes about forty minutes, and there are a number of bars and restaurants, two hotels, a hostel, some self-catering holiday rentals, and many bed and breakfasts on the island. This island is also steeped in history and legends. In Irish, the island is called Inis Bó Finne, meaning the Island of the White Cow. Legend says that the island was once a magical place of mist and mystery and continuously covered by cloud. Two fishermen came across it when they were out fishing and got lost in the thick fog. They soon became hungry and lit a fire on the boat to cook a fish; the fire dissolved the mist and the island became visible. The first thing they say was a white-haired woman chasing a white cow, hence the name ‘Island of the White Cow’. From Inishbofin Harbour, you can see the remains of a castle built by Grace O’Malley, who fortified the island for her large fleet of ships in Elizabethan times. In 1652, it became a garrison post and then a prison island for priests and troublesome enemies of Cromwell.

Irish coastline or the Wild Atlantic Way. You don’t need to catch a ferry to get to Omey; the island can be reached by crossing the strand at low tide. It has been said it’s like the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea as the tide opens daily for several hours, making the island accessible by foot or by car. Please check with locals or tide tables for the times. There are numerous activities to partake in on the strand beach and along the shoreline of Omey. However, while on the Island respect should be shown to the landowners as the lands on Omey Island are on private property. There is a holy well and the ruins of a medieval church, both named for Saint Feichin. It is recorded that Saint Feichin came to Omey shortly after his ordination around ad 610. The old graveyard on the island is called Saint Brendan’s Altar (Ula Bhreandáin). This cemetery is where some of the fishermen who were drowned in an unfortunate fishing disaster are buried. The Cleggan Bay Disaster,

Below: Marie Feeney with her children— Ronan, Diarmuid, and Michaela.

Another island near Cleggan is Omey Island, where you’ll find one of the most interesting and beautiful beaches along the whole of the



Another island near Cleggan is Omey Island, where you’ll find one of the most interesting and beautiful beaches along the whole of the Irish coastline or the Wild Atlantic Way. which occurred on 28 October 1927, is known nationally and all over the world. It is a story of one fateful night in the life of two neighbouring communities in Cleggan and Inishbofin. Sixteen men were lost from a village in Cleggan called Rossadilisk and nine from the island of Inishbofin; twenty others from two communities in County Mayo also perished. It was a night that changed the course of local history. Although it is the story of one specific maritime tragedy in the west of Ireland, it is one that strikes familiar chords in small fishing communities, not only around the coast of Ireland but anywhere that people pit their wits against the weather and the ocean. It will evoke particular memories in the inhabitants of Inishkea and Lacken Bay in County Mayo, for whom the night was also one of horror and tragedy.


C E L E B R AT I N G 5 0 Y E A R S This Charming Classic Country House retreat tucked away in its own glorious gardens near the Atlantic coastline, otherwise known as the Wild Atlantic Way, offers stylish bedrooms overlooking spectacular gardens. Experience halcyon days spent relaxing by real turf and log fires, elegant décor and furnishings beautifully maintained, the luxury and thrill of activities such as horse riding, and holidays that will generate many wonderful memories to take away with you. Outstanding local scenery with lots of history, undulating hills and mountains to climb if you feel energetic, and exceptional cuisine from fresh local produce await! With special midweek rates, full-service catering for weddings, and a magical Christmas and New Year programme, anytime is a good time to stay in Cashel House—a truly unforgettable vacation experience. PH: 00353 95 31001 | E-MAIL: SALES@CASHELHOUSE.IE | CASHELHOUSE.IE

As the granddaughter of Festy Feeney, the only survivor of the crew that came from Cleggan that night, I published a book in 2001 called The Cleggan Bay Disaster, which contains the full story regarding this freak storm that came all the way across the coastal area now known as the Wild Atlantic Way. In 2017, on the ninetieth anniversary, many of the relatives of the disaster victims revisited the area for the weekend where there were different events, Masses, and ceremonies in remembrance of the fishermen. Remembrance masses and ceremonies were held in County Mayo, Inishbofin, and Cleggan which were organised with the assistance of the local community councils. Over five hundred people attended and participated. My book, The Cleggan Bay Disaster, contains the history of the incident and beautiful photos of the time, including the area and the children of the fishermen who were drowned.

Visit to purchase a copy of The Cleggan Bay Disaster or look for it at local Connemara shops and bookshops.


THE QUAY HOUSE, BUILT IN 1818, IS ONE OF CLIFDEN’S OLDEST BUILDINGS. The Foyle family have been innkeepers in Connemara for a hundred years, and the house boasts a wonderful collection of Georgian furniture and interesting artwork. Come see why The Quay House is a two-time winner of the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Award and a winner of the Georgina Campbell Guesthouse of the Year. Spacious, attractive, quirky and comfortable, The Quay House overlooks Clifden Harbour and is just a short walk from the town centre. Throw a pebble into the Atlantic from your bedroom balcony.

(+353) 95-21369

Beach Road, Clifden, Co. Galway Member of Hidden Ireland

NEW! Visit the Blue Quay Bed and Breakfast just two minutes away.



By Mary Ruddy Photography courtesy of Artisan House

I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to, and welcome, this important publication which so evocatively captures the importance of trees to our world, and their power to create lasting and enduring connections in so many ways. —President Michael D. Higgins, from the foreword to See the Wood from the Trees by Marion McGarry and Dermot O’Donovan, Artisan House




torms in late 2013 and early 2014 brought down some of Ireland’s oldest trees. Amongst the trees that succumbed to the high winds were oak, beech, and ash in the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin and the Phoenix Park, some of them as old as 250 years. What makes the loss more painful is not just the maturity of these fallen trees but their importance to the surrounding historical landscape over which they stood watch during periods of significant change and turmoil in Irish history. But the foresight of President Michael D. Higgins salvaged from the devastation the kernel for a creative and educational venture based on their relationship with GMIT Letterfrack. President Higgins gifted the storm-felled trees to GMIT Letterfrack to be used by students for study and doing projects. The story of the felled and subsequently gifted trees is told in a beautiful new publication, See the Wood from the Trees, by Marion McGarry and Dermot O’Donovan and published by Artisan House, Letterfrack. Using the inspired but straightforward gesture of President Higgins as the backbone of the book, the authors

Right: Tabletop of oak wood with pewter inlay by Shane Collins



Letterfrack graduate John Lee designed the Presidential Inauguration Chair used in my inauguration in 2011, and the lecterns in Áras an Uachtaráin were designed and made by students and staff’. outline the chequered history of trees in Ireland, the story of Áras an Uachtaráin and the plantations in its grounds, and the remarkable story of the transformation of Letterfrack Industrial School into the prestigious GMIT campus in Letterfrack. The book also provides information on the drying and conversion processes used to enable the creation of beautiful wooden artefacts and furniture by staff and students. The authors, Marion McGarry and Dermot O’Donovan, are staff members of the National Centre of Excellence for Furniture Design and Wood Technology, GMIT Letterfrack. Doctor McGarry is an art historian and lecturer, and Mr O’Donovan is head of centre in Letterfrack. In a thoughtful foreword, President Higgins speaks of the connection between Áras an Uachtaráin and Letterfrack as ‘one founded on innovation and artistic vision’ and recalls that ‘beautifully designed pieces of furniture, created by students and graduates of GMIT Letterfrack, are now an integral part of the Áras. Letterfrack graduate John Lee designed the Presidential Inauguration Chair used in my inauguration in 2011, and the lecterns in Áras an Uachtaráin were designed and made by students and staff ’. GMIT Letterfrack lecturer Paul Leamy crafted the presentation boxes for artist Vivienne Roche’s ‘climate bells’, which President Higgins presented to a number of heads of state, including Pope Francis and Prince 20


Charles. The president has long supported developments in Letterfrack; it was, of course, a part of his constituency when he was TD for Galway West. The book also touches on the importance of trees in mitigating climate change and countering the severity of weather extremes that we are now experiencing. Architect and broadcaster Duncan Stewart highlights in his introduction to the book the threat to the survival of our planet: ‘Over the past five decades, as the human population doubled, the populations of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have plummeted. We have lost up to twothirds of wildlife populations. Extinctions of species are accelerating, and it is projected that by 2050 we could witness the extinction of up to 50 per cent of all the diverse species with which we share earth’s biosphere.’

Opposite top left: Keepsake box by Matthew Howard Opposite top right: Interactive Zone seating project on the GMIT grounds Opposite bottom: President Michael D. Higgins and GMIT Letterfrack lecturer Sean Garvey Left: John Lee with the presidential inauguration chair Below: Rocking seat by Michael Harris

Sounding a more hopeful note, Duncan goes on to say, ‘For me, the outstanding element of this book is its potential to act as an exemplar for forms of synergy, symbiosis, and collaboration that could be replicated across Ireland, across Europe, across the globe. We urgently need to wake up to the reality of climate change, loss of biodiversity, widespread pollution, and unprecedented waste. This needs to happen in every community, whether rural or urban, in a coordinated, collaborative, and effective manner. The story told in this book gives us a model of how one community embraced the opportunity to create an imaginative educational experience and enhance the appreciation of students, staff, and the wider community to the amazing potential of wood.’ See the Wood from the Trees by Marion McGarry and Dermot O’Donovan will be treasured and will hold a special place on any bookshelf. It is informative and complemented by its excellent expressive visuals and by the inclusion of poems entitled ‘The Farmleigh Tree Alphabet’, written by Theo Dorgan during his time as writer-in-residence at Farmleigh. It is appropriate that this beautifully designed book is published by Artisan House, Letterfrack, whose commitment to high production values and design echoes the vision of GMIT Letterfrack for the creation of beautiful objects. Announcing the imminent release of this unique and prestigious publication, Mary Ruddy of Artisan House stated, ‘We are very proud to be associated with this title. We are



neighbours with the GMIT Letterfrack campus and are very familiar with the beautiful work that is created there. To have the opportunity to work with President Higgins and with Áras an Uachtaráin is indeed a privilege.’ The hardback book is richly illustrated and beautifully designed by the creative director of Artisan House, Vincent Murphy. It will be available in June 2018 in regular, special limited, and deluxe limited editions.

For information on the purchase of See the Wood from the Trees, please contact Mary Ruddy Editorial Director, Artisan House Telephone: 087 333 4627 Email:




Photography courtesy of Connemara Sands Beach Hotel & Spa



Connemara Sands Beach Hotel & Spa is a four-star family owned and operated beachfront resort set on the stunning shores of Mannin Bay in Ballyconneely. The resort is entering its fourth year of operations in its current incarnation. The hotel is ideally positioned at the entrance to Mannin peninsula, home to some of the world’s most pristine waters, beaches, and secluded coves. The coastal setting is perfect for walking or cycling, and the peninsula also offers seal watching only a short distance from the hotel. The seals can be seen lounging on the rocks and happily sunning themselves. The hotel offers both self-catering and bed-and-breakfast accommodation and is also currently renovating six new duplex rooms that, when completed in May, promise to be like no other in Connemara. The hotel has a certified organic seaweed spa with two baths, three treatment rooms, and a relaxation room. For the more adventurous there is kayaking, standup paddleboarding, coasteering, and snorkelling. It is the hotel’s mission to help connect visitors with the environment for a truly authentic Connemara experience. This is done through the spa and the seaweed, through the beach and the water activities, and through the cuisine. The hotel has two food outlets, Sands Bar and Erriseask Restaurant, and one food concept that is Connemara on a Plate. Easy to say but not easy to execute—if not for the incredibly talented team of Stefan Matz and Sinead Quinn.

Head chef Sinéad Quinn with restaurant manager James O’Toole on the pass in Erriseaskk Opposite: Executive chef Stefan Matz

Executive Head Chef Stefan Matz is a true legend of the industry, having acquired a Michelin star while co-owner of Erriseask House Hotel with his brother back in 2001. Seventeen years and many accolades later, including a twelve-year stint as executive head chef at Ashford Castle, Stefan is happy to be back in Ballyconneely where he has lived for almost thirty years. Head Chef Sinead Quinn has worked alongside Stefan for almost ten years. A graduate of GMIT, Sinead has a passion for the West of Ireland and

the amazing ingredients it offers from both land and sea. An outstanding chef and leader in her own right, Sinead is on her own journey to culinary greatness. As a team performing in the theatre-style kitchen at Erriseask, Stefan and Sinead have an intangible synergy and almost seamless interaction while creating dishes that celebrate the landscape and the environment. Erriseask and Connemara on a Plate offer a unique dining experience. The chefs are on show, and that adds something to the experience. It also offers transparency and a little insight for those that are interested. Don’t expect flying pans or any expletives—it is surprisingly calm, at least on the outside. It’s also about having a bit of fun. While the food is taken very seriously, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Stefan Matz and Sinead Quinn are the perfect team to execute the Connemara on a Plate concept. Erriseask Restaurant at Connemara Sands Hotel offers the ideal platform from which to showcase the best of modern Irish cuisine.




BUTTER SEARED SCALLOPS on Creamed Carrots Air-Dried Pork and Golden Raisins SERVES FOUR

INGREDIENTS 12 large shelled scallops, trimmed and roe removed 20 grams cooking olive oil 30 grams butter 4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped 50 grams butter 20 grams fresh cream 10 grams honey Salt and pepper 40 grams air-dried Connemara pork, thinly sliced 12 golden raisins 50 grams extra virgin olive oil 20 grams white wine vinegar 10 grams honey Salt and pepper

METHOD Combine extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add raisins and allow to soak for a minimum of 3 hours. 26


Place thin slices of air-dried pork on an oven tray lined with parchment paper. Dry pork slices at 120°C for about 60 minutes, turning pork slices after 30 minutes. Remove from oven when dry and allow to cool thoroughly. Blend in a food processor to a crumbly texture; store covered. Place chopped carrots with butter, cream, honey, and spices in a Ziploc bag (or vacuum pack, if possible). Place bag in boiling water and boil for 60 minutes. Remove bag from water and add all ingredients from the bag, including liquids, in blender and process until very smooth. Adjust seasoning to liking; keep the mixture hot. Season scallops with salt and freshly ground pepper. Preheat a large pan over moderate heat and add cooking olive oil. Sear scallops from both sides, giving each side a lovely golden, brown colour. Add butter to the pan and finish scallops by searing the scallops from all sides in the butter with reduced heat—don’t allow the butter to brown too much. Cook scallops to a medium finish or to preferred temperature. Remove from pan and keep hot. Spread creamed carrot on a plate and arrange scallops over the carrot. Place soaked raisins over the scallops and dress with micro cresses. Serve with lemon-scented stumpy carrots and butter-glazed baby carrots. Sprinkle air-dried pork dust over the dish and enjoy!

Connemara Sands Beach Hotel & Spa is a four star family owned and operated boutique hotel set on the magnificent, Un-spoilt Mannin Bay peninsula in the heart of Connemara and the wild atlantic way. Experience “Connemara on a Plate� with chefs Stefan Matz and Sinead Quinn in Erriseask Restaurant complete with theatre style kitchen and spectacular views over Mannin Bay.

CONTACT US 095-23030 | | Mannin Bay, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway

Owenmore River winding its way through Ballynahinch Estate



Ireland offers some of the best and most affordable fishing for Atlantic salmon, sea trout, and native brown trout in the world. Blessed with a vast system of pollution-free rivers and loughs (lakes), prolific aquatic insect hatches, healthy runs of salmon and sea trout, and a rich cultural history of sport fishing, Ireland’s many angling opportunities attract visitors from all over Europe and North America.

T H E GREAT F I S H I NG H OU S E S OF I R EL AN D By Harry Campbell

There are few outdoor experiences that rival fishing from a traditional Irish lough boat or along the bank of a famous salmon river with an experienced Irish ghillie at your side. Fortunately, the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland, a premier group of the ten finest fishing lodges, hotels, and resorts in Ireland, makes it easy to research and plan an exquisite angling holiday. Every member of the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland must meet the most stringent standards of service, offer superior accommodation, and have the highest quality premises, facilities, and fishing to provide guests with the finest experience possible. Each establishment is run by people with keen, personal interests in sport fishing, or they have passionate fishing specialists on their staff who understand their fisheries and what it takes to have an enjoyable fishing day on their waters. Helpful advice is



Above: Delphi Lodge on Fin Lough Opposite: Lough Inagh at the foot of the Twelve Bens Below: Mount Falcon Estate by night

Fortunately, the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland, a premier group of the ten finest fishing lodges, hotels, and resorts in Ireland, makes it easy to research and plan an exquisite angling holiday.

Fishing tackle and related equipment are available for hire at every member’s house, and salmon flies, trout flies, and fishing licenses (required for salmon and sea trout) are sold on-site. Most of the houses also offer rod rooms, drying rooms, freezers, and, in some cases, smokeries.

always available from both house employees and ghillies—and from the other angling guests staying there too.

While all of the members cater to anglers, unlike many other fishing resorts and lodges, the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland also offer an array of additional activities, including hill walking, cycling, horseback riding, golf, tennis, falconry demonstrations, shopping in nearby villages and towns, touring the Irish countryside, visiting Neolithic and other historic sites, and afternoon tea—or merely relaxing in incomparably beautiful surroundings. On-premise amenities often include comfortable sitting rooms with open fireplaces, flower gardens and hiking paths, outdoor tables and chairs, fitness centres, indoor pools, and health spas.

All of the member houses offer access to private fisheries, from exclusive salmon beats on the fabled River Moy and Munster Blackwater to beats on the Owenmore, Dawros, Cong, Delphi Bundorragha, Inagh, and Owenduff rivers. Lough fishing opportunities include the world-famous Corrib as well as Connemara’s Inagh, Derryclare, Ballynahinch, and Screebe loughs. All of the houses have expert fisheries’ managers and seasoned ghillies on their staffs, and many offer fly-casting tutoring and on-stream fishing instruction.

All of the houses serve traditional Irish breakfasts, with most offering award-winning fine dining in elegant surroundings with locally sourced beef, lamb, and seafood. Many have cosy, full-service, wood-panelled pubs in addition to their dining facilities, and all offer picnic lunches for angling and non-angling guests. The Great Fishing Houses of Ireland works closely with Inland Fisheries Ireland at both the local and the national levels to enhance trout and salmon populations through maintaining and improving habitat, monitoring water quality, keeping accurate catch records, and encouraging catch and release among all of 30


their guests. The Great Fishing Houses also works cooperatively with Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, and Tourism Ireland, responsible for marketing the island of Ireland as a holiday destination, to present their unique Irish angling destinations. Accommodations range from comfortable guest houses to historic sporting hotels, gracious country houses, and luxurious four- and five-star resorts—so there is a Great Fishing House for every budget. Every house is unique with its own distinctive decor and ambience, surrounded by a wide choice of awe-inspiring Irish scenery. In the north of County Mayo, you can choose between the magnificent Mount Falcon Country House Hotel, a four-star Victorian Gothic manor house on a 100-acre estate in the legendary Moy river valley, and the elegant Rock House, an early nineteenth-century sporting lodge on the rugged Atlantic coast and a stone’s throw from the Ballycroy National Park, Europe’s last true wilderness.

Farther south in County Mayo you’ll find the majestic five-star Ashford Castle, once the ancestral summer home of the Guinness family, which overlooks Lough Corrib at the mouth of the Cong River, and the famous Delphi Lodge, tucked in the heart of the remote and beautiful Delphi Valley. This historic nineteenth-century fishing lodge was built for the Second Marquess of Sligo. In the heart of County Galway’s Connemara, you’ll discover the charming Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel, a boutique nineteenth-century fishing lodge overlooking a wilderness lough and surrounded by Connemara’s tallest peaks; the handsome Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, a four-star luxury hotel set in a private 700-acre estate of woodland with a magnificent salmon river flowing outside your hotel room’s window; the cozy Camillaun Lodge, a comfortable, contemporary fishing lodge located on the outskirts of Oughterard, which is the unofficial fly-fishing capital of Ireland; the elegant Screebe House, a seaside Victorian-era hunting and fishing lodge with luxury accommodations, 40,000 acres of hunting, and exclusive fishing on twenty lakes and rivers; and the four-star Renvyle House Hotel and Resort, an architecturally important Arts and Crafts style country house with a sea view on 150 acres of woodlands and gardens with a private lake and ocean beach. Farther south in the lush Blackwater Valley of County Cork, there’s the stately Longueville House, a spectacular Georgian mansion (c.1720) on



Left: A salmon drift on Lough Inagh Below: Rock House Estate, County Mayo, in full bloom

a 500-acre wooded estate overlooking the valley, and the award-winning Ballyvolane House, a luxurious, 500-year-old country house surrounded by beautiful gardens, woodland paths, and pastures filled with grazing cattle. A trip to Ireland should be on every serious angler’s bucket list, and the Great Fishing Houses ofIreland’s website will provide everything a travelling angler needs to know when researching and planning a visit—including an introduction to each member’s facility and fishery—with links to each member’s website along with detailed descriptions of over thirty of the very best rivers and loughs in Ireland. So, whether you are an experienced hardcore fly fisherman seeking a new trout or salmon angling adventure or someone who would like to try the sport for the first time, choosing one of the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland is sure to provide a superb, all-inclusive angling experience.

To learn more, log into their website,



A Marketing & Publishing Boutique Brand Curators Creative Influencers Boutique Publishing House Design Studio

Clifden, Co. Galway, Ireland (85) 158-9879 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida +001 (850) 231-3087


By PA T R I C K O ’ F L A H E R T Y 34


he Georgians and Victorians had a profound sense of legacy; they had an almost obsessive preoccupation with the need to be remembered, to make their mark and ensure that each generation added to the entity that was their family. Nowhere was this more apparent than in their country estates. In their attempts to shape and control the land, they fashioned some of the most remarkable homes, gardens, and landscapes. Many of these are still in family ownership, many fell to the ravages of the War of Independence, and even more are public property held by the state or, in Northern Ireland, the National Trust. Typically, this was the practice of the wealthy estates of Munster and Leinster but was much less evident in Connacht where the land was poor and the landscape either hard and unyielding or infertile bog. The Ballynahinch Estate, when given by the Crown to the Martin family in the early part of the eighteenth century, extended to a quarter of a million acres. Much of it was, however, rock, bog, and lake and did not lend itself to the grand designs that were so much the fashion of the time. Nonetheless, as you walk the grounds of Ballynahinch Castle today, you can still see the

influence of this period, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the trees. Majestic beeches, oaks, and Scots pines, some of which are 250 years old, still grace the avenue adjacent to the hotel and are a reminder of the attempt made to put order and grandeur on a disorderly and ragged landscape. Little had been done since the 1930s to maintain this tradition, and little or no planting had been carried out. Rhododendrons introduced from the Himalayas for their colour and game cover grew wild and rampant, choking the woodland. About eighteen years ago, the team at Ballynahinch started to tackle the grounds. Inch by inch the invasive rhododendrons were cut back, releasing some of the magnificent trees from their strangling hold and restoring elegance to the avenue. Over the past two years, under the supervision of the estate team, more painstaking work was begun. The hedges are being removed to reveal the young oak woodland planted about twenty years ago. The lawns have been extended and beautiful Victorian-design iron paddock fencing has been installed, defining the lawn from field and forest.

Opposite: Ballynahinch Castle Hotel and Estate, Connemara, County Galway. Above: A section of the avenue, once choked by rhododendrons. Photos courtesy of Ballynahinch Castle Hotel & Estate Bottom left: Patrick O’Flaherty has guided Ballynahinch Castle as general manager for twenty-one years. Bottom right: Simon Ashe, estate manager and project leader. Photos by Doreen Kilfeather



The new greenhouse where seedlings and plants incubate. Photo by Joanne Murphy

With beautiful trees, shrubs, and hedges settling in, we can at last see what this beautiful garden will offer. The jewel in the crown, however, is the walled garden. Built in the 1870s by the Berridge family, this hectare of garden once provided nearly all the produce the house required, but it was largely abandoned in the 1960s and left to grass over. The revival of this unique feature has been a labour of love for the owners and estate team. The stone walls were entirely taken down, and local artisans reassembled and repaired them. The soil had to be replaced, the drainage renewed, and the pathways rebuilt; the entire area had to be nourished and made fertile once more. Finally, after two years of labour, the planting has begun, the greenhouse has been built, and the potting of seedlings is in full swing. With beautiful trees, shrubs, and hedges settling in, we can at last see what this beautiful garden will offer. Nobody is more excited than head chef Pete Durkan as he and head gardener Cian Cunniffe plan the kitchen garden that will provide seasonal produce to grace the tables of the restaurant. 36


John O’Sullivan, Connemara stonemason. Photo by Doreen Kilfeather


Field to Fork Story and photography by

Cliodhna Prendergast

As you enter the wild countryside of Connemara, you are greeted by the Twelve Bens—the mountain range that reigns majestically over Connemara—the beautiful gleaming rivers, and the still, reflective lakes that define this spectacular landscape. You can sense, beneath the surface of these lakes and rivers, the prized wild salmon and trout that draw fishermen from around the world to this region.




llusive and wily, they do not fall easily to the angler’s fly, which is why a fisherman comes here as much to simply relax in nature as to catch a fish. This is not a numbers game.

As you explore further west, you hit the sea at the end of almost every road and discover the many beautiful white sandy beaches. On days when the light hits the shallow water over white sand, the colour is an incredible turquoise hue, more akin to far-off Caribbean seas, but without the heat. Visiting the small fishing village of Roundstone you will see the fishing boats coming in from their day at sea with velvet crab, shrimp, and lobster. Cleggan village is another coastal community; here, ferries that cross to the island of Inishbofin sit alongside serious-looking fishing boats. Fishermen in bright yellow overalls rush to unload their catches, which are then taken across the country and exported abroad. Necklaces of ropes for natural mussel farming are strung along the deep Killary fjord where the water is pure and the mussels thrive on the ropes, hanging in the strong tidal currents. Scenes such as these represent the way of life for the modern hunter-gatherer and are reminders of how important the sea remains in the life and culture of Connemara’s coastal villages. But the first example a visitor to Connemara will get of the local farming activity and the larder of Connemara comes before the coast. First-time visitors are amazed to discover dayglo-coloured sheep wandering unattended along the roads and on the hillsides. With pinks and blues more reminiscent of punks on the King’s Road in 1970s London, the sheep must look bizarre to the visitor. The colours are, of course, brands to help identify the ownership of the free-roaming sheep that give rise to the most prized of Connemara’s food industry: our lamb. Grazing on hillsides and bogs that are often commonage land (vast tracts of land owned by a group of farmers who have communal grazing rights), the sheep have a diet that is pure and unique, which gives rise to a unique variety of lamb. So unique, in fact, that it is



now recognised and protected within the EU and has been granted status as a product with protected geographical indication or PGI. In the same way as Parma Ham is from Parma and Champagne can only be sold as such if made in the Champagne region, Connemara Hill Lamb is so unique that use of the name is now protected by law.

on sorrel, bog myrtle, thyme, heathers, and mountain grasses on the hills right down to the sea in many cases, where I have watched them eat seaweed. They are then brought down to be fattened on sweet summer grasses in the greener fields—or gardens, as they are traditionally called—before killing, which will not happen in most cases until July or August.

In this part of the country, we are not blessed with good land, and crops do not grow happily for the most part. Much of the area is either rock or bog land bordering an unbelievable amount of water. Roundstone bog boasts a lake for every day of the year, and when you stand high up on top of one of the Twelve Bens, it is only then you see the vast amounts of water and bog many have built their lives and livelihoods on. Because of this, the sea and the grazing sheep are of the utmost importance.

True Connemara lamb, due to its hill grazing, will never get as big as those fattened in other parts of the country with more fertile land; however, they will be free from chemicals, fertilisers, and manufactured feed for the most part. They are smaller lambs but much less fatty and have an incredibly sweet flavour, seasoned from the inside out by their wild foraging.

Here, where the sheep live on the mountains for most of the year, lambing season is more common in late April and May, when the weather is warmer. These lambs are feeding

This dish of seaweed-encrusted rack of lamb is a celebration of the sea and the land of Connemara. I collected lots of nori seaweed, also known as laver, on the nearby beach for this. Pepper dillisk works brilliantly with it, as does any other tender seaweed. The seaweed lends an almost mushroom-like flavour to the juices.

Seaweed Encrusted Lamb Serves 2

Place a pan on a medium to high heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and when the pan is hot, sear the lamb all over, which will take about 8 minutes. Remove the lamb from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Remove most of the fat from the pan with a spoon by tilting the pan to the side to keep the juices in while the fat gathers on top.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the half head of garlic; allow it to brown slightly and remove to a roasting tray. Add the red wine, reduce by half, and then add the lamb stock followed by the teaspoon of seaweed powder. Allow the stock to simmer gently and reduce by half.

Meanwhile, cover the fatty side of the lamb with the breadcrumb mix, packing it on firmly. Place the lamb alongside the garlic on the roasting tray.

Place in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until quite firm to the touch for medium rare, or 20 minutes if you prefer it more well done. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Return the garlic to the pan with the lamb stock and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes. When the lamb is well rested, pour any juices into the stock, slice the rack, and serve with the seaweed lamb juices.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C

Ingredients 10 grams (or a large handful) dried nori seaweed or other dried tender seaweed 50 grams breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon lovage or parsley, chopped roughly 50 grams salted butter, melted 1 rack of lamb (550 grams), trimmed 200 millilitres lamb stock 1/2 small head of garlic, cut across the middle, use the bottom half 50 millilitres red wine Salt and pepper

Method •

In a food processor, chop almost all of the seaweed until it is a coarse powder. Remove a teaspoon of the powder and reserve for the lamb juices. Then add the breadcrumbs and the lovage or parsley and pulse for a moment until everything is mixed thoroughly. Next add the melted butter, pouring it in as the food processor is running. This will form the crust for the lamb.




50 Y E A R S

P H OTO G R A P H Y  C O U R T E S Y  O F  C A S H E L  H O U S E  H OT E L



ashel House Hotel, one of Connemara’s most famous hotels, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. Dermot and Kay McEvilly fulfilled their dream and took the big step of opening Cashel House as a hotel back in 1968 when the economy wasn’t exactly flying. When they first saw Cashel House nestled in its extensive and spectacular gardens, they were entranced with it and realised its potential. It took a lot of hard work and every penny they made for the first few years to bring it up to the standard they wanted to achieve. Since that time Cashel House has gone from strength to strength, and the McEvilly family have continually invested to ensure the highest of standards for their guests. The hotel has given a lot back to the local community with employment of local staff. Many of the same dedicated staff still fly the flag with the McEvilly family; the second generation of the McEvilly family is now involved with the hotel. Along with their manager, Ray Dooley, they have given many happy memories to guests.



Few hotels, if any, can boast of the spectacular scenery and local archaeology that surround Cashel House. It is nestled in one of the most peaceful places along the Wild Atlantic Way, about eight miles from the buzzy village of Roundstone.

Above: Overlooking Cashel Bay in a nineteenth-century country home, this chic, old-world hotel is set on fifty acres of landscaped gardens, 12.4 km from Roundstone village centre. Right: Withdrawn and quietly secluded, the gardens are a delight with their enchanting cultivations of exotic and exquisite flowering shrubs— many imported from Tibet.

Cashel House Hotel is a classic country retreat that has stood the test of time well. It has won many accolades and awards over the years for their cuisine and style, but it is their outstanding hospitality that has garnered them the most awards. Every guest is treated as special, and many of them return year after year to a hotel where they know they will be welcomed and cosseted during their stay. From the relaxing drawing room with its turf fires to the stunning dining room, which is located in a conservatory surrounded by beautiful gardens, Cashel House epitomises the best of what Ireland has to offer both local guests and overseas visitors. Its location is beyond compare. Few hotels, if any, can boast of the spectacular scenery and local archaeology that surround Cashel House. It is nestled in one of the most peaceful places along the Wild Atlantic Way, about eight miles from the buzzy village of Roundstone. There are plenty of walks around the nearby hills and mountains for the more active to enjoy.



We all know that classics never go out of fashion, and Cashel House will continue to stand out as one of the finest hotels in Ireland. There can be no doubt that this classic country house retreat will still be a jewel on Connemara’s crown for the next fifty years.

Visit to learn more or to book your stay.

PADDY COYNES PUB Tu l l y c r o s s , Re nv yle, Con n emar a, Co. Galway

Paddy Coynes Pub is located in the beautiful village of Tullycross, the heart of Connemara and the Wild Atlantic Way. Dating back to 1811, the pub is a hive of local history and artefacts, a treasure trove of discovery. We are in the perfect location on Renvyle Peninsula for you to enjoy many of the beaches, walks, and attractions of the Wild Atlantic Way. Stay with one of the many local accommodation suppliers and enjoy a relaxing home cooked meal with us. We pride ourselves on our food, using local produce and the freshest of seafood. We are the home of the Connemara Mussel Festival, which takes place in the village each May Bank Holiday. Call in for a pint of the black stuff, relax by the fire, and stay for the craic! Winner of Galway Pub of the Year at the Connaught Regional Irish Restaurant Awards 2017



Connemara Pub A sneak preview of a new book, not yet published.



By Gerard Coyne



THE DAY OF 18 NOVEMBER 1811 IS ONE THAT WILL BE FOREVER IMMORTALISED IN HISTORY IN THE CONNEMARA AREA. IT WAS THE DAY THAT PADDY COYNE’S PUB OPENED FOR BUSINESS. OLD CURLEY, WITH ALL THE OPPORTUNISM AND GUILE OF A MODERN-DAY ENTREPRENEUR, SET IN PLACE A HAVEN FOR THE MEN OF THE AREA TO QUENCH THEIR THIRSTS AND DISCUSS PENAL LAWS, THE PEELERS, RELIGION, WOMEN, AND WORK. Over time, the pub has been handed down through the generations, becoming an undertaker, a grocery store, a builders providers, a petrol station, an animal feed and farm supplies provider, a fish merchant, and, at times, a banker. In the early 1900s, Paddy Coyne’s sold tickets for the ill-fated Titanic—it is a shame and a tragedy that all those lives were lost, but it is another piece of Coyne’s history. The following stories, overheard in this traditional pub, are told here by Gerard Coyne, the proprietor today.



Two friends were sitting in the bar one evening. Looking out the window, one says, ‘Oh damn! Here comes my wife and my mistress.’ ‘Oh s***!’ said the other. ‘Mine as well.’


It was said one night: ‘Isn’t it tough luck on Eddie. He missed two maintenance payments and the wife repossessed him.’


A local girl put an ad in the local paper: ‘Pretty, nice, honest girl is looking for a husband.’ She got fifty-two replies—all from women offering theirs.

ON WOMEN: A. When God made man, The whole world rested.

During a busy summer evening, a woman from Dublin asks a local, ‘Do you know if they serve children here?’ He calmly replies, ‘I’m not sure, but I think you may have to bring your own.’

When God made woman, Neither God nor man rested. B. Women have many faults; Men have only two: Everything they say And everything they do!



Derryclare Lough looking out towards the Glencoaghan Horseshoe Photo by Mark Furniss Photography




Hill to bog and rolling fog, This savage beauty breathes Her past—a storybook, a tome, History writ in lakes and trees. Upon her breast, her children rest, They’re raised with heart and hale To care for her as she has cared, Learned from mountain, wood, and vale. Rivers bring the fiercest blush, Bens watching over all As Mother Connemara awaits, Each soul who comes to call. Hearths and hearts so warm and kind, The mother’s love shines through In rain and cloud or rarest light— Children all, she welcomes you.

Each year, Connemara Life celebrates the spirit and beauty of what’s known as the Wild Atlantic Way, the western region of Ireland along the coast and inland, where hills, lakes, and woods create an idyllic scene for all those who behold her. Connemara has inspired poets, painters, musicians, photographers, and other creative artists. She has also touched the hearts of countless people who have visited and felt awed by her natural landscapes, her history, and her happy locals and their lifestyle. Join us in this photo journey as we raise a figurative glass—or grab a whiskey or Guinness and raise a real one—to our love, Mother Connemara.





Top left: Cottoncarpeted hills of the bog overlooking Moyard Photo by Mark Furniss Photography Top right: Roundstone Harbour Photo by Ruurd Corpel Bottom right: Glassilaun Beach at Dusk Photo by Mark Furniss Photography Bottom left: Wild gorse flowers photographed near Clifden as the sun was setting Photo by Cathy Gill

Right: A lone wind-battered tree; Athry, Recess Opposite: Errislannan shoreline at sunset Photos by Mark Furniss Photography Below: Donkeys hanging out in the countryside Photo by Ruurd Corpel






2018 JUNE Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival 8 THROUGH 10 JUNE

Three days of the best local, national, and international folk and bluegrass music in the unique surroundings of Westport, County Mayo. WWW.WESTPORTFOLKBLUEGRASS.COM

Clifden Lifeboat 10K 10 JUNE

The inaugural Clifden Lifeboat 10K Race took place on 14 September 2008 to raise funds for the RNLI and the Clifden Lifeboat. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response, it was decided to make this into a yearly fixture. The race is open to all athletes, as well as leisure runners and walkers, and can be entered into individually or as a team. WWW.CLIFDEN10K.COM

Gaelforce West 23 JUNE

Still the original and the best. The magnificent Connemara landscape frames this unique event that includes trail and mountain running or walking, cycling, and kayaking. Every turn is as breathtaking as the challenge itself. A sixty-seven-kilometre course spanning two counties takes you from Glassilaun Beach in County Galway to the heritage town of Westport, County Mayo. The terrain includes mountain scree, bogland, trails, sealed roads, and the majestic waters of Killary Fjord. Connemara, Killary Fjord, Croagh Patrick, and Westport— these are only some of the highlights of a route that provides a combination of fundamental challenges and breathtaking views that will test and delight you, regardless of your fitness level or your focus. WWW.GAELFORCEEVENTS.COM

Inishbofin Yoga Event 2018 26 JUNE THROUGH 1 JULY

With a great sense of fun and adventure, the three seasoned teachers have multiple years of experience in yoga and are all returning to the island for the fourth year of the festival. Workshops are planned for the week, as are organized trips and walks and outdoor yoga, weather permitting. Expect long sunny days, blue skies, white sandy beaches, and a wonderful community of like-minded yogis gathering together on one of Ireland’s most picturesque islands. WWW.INISHBOFIN.COM

Galway International Arts Festival 16 THROUGH 29 JULY

This is one of Europe’s most innovative, vibrant, and colourful events. The festival, a truly international celebration of the performing and visual arts, takes place in and around Galway City each July. WWW.GIAF.IE

Omey Races 29 JULY

Often referred to as ‘the other Galway Races’, the Omey Races take place annually on the beach at Omey Strand, near Claddaghduff in Connemara. Re-established as a tradition in 2001, these annual summer races have been attracting greater numbers every year for a beautiful day of sun, sand, sea, and, of course, horse racing. With up to nine races on the card, there are opportunities for young up-and-coming jockeys to hone their skills while providing a great day out for spectators. WWW.CONNEMARAIRELAND.COM/EVENTS/OMEYRACES

Reek Sunday – Croagh Patrick 29 JULY

Croagh Patrick, which overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over five thousand years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in AD 441. On Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July, some twenty-five thousand pilgrims visit the Reek. At the top, there is a modern chapel where Mass is celebrated and confessions are heard. Croagh Patrick is five miles from the picturesque town of Westport, and its conical shape soars majestically above the surrounding countryside. WWW.CROAGH-PATRICK.COM

Galway Races Summer Festival 30 JULY THROUGH 5 AUGUST

Ireland’s premier horse-racing festival takes place at Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit, Galway. Adrenalin-pumping action, heart-stopping finishes, and breathtaking fashion are all part of the Galway Races. Situated on the outskirts of Galway City in the West of Ireland, the Galway Race Festivals are renowned worldwide. WWW.GALWAYRACES.COM

AUGUST Roundstone All Ireland Dog Show 6 AUGUST


The Roundstone All Ireland Dog Show, held in August, has become a top-rated event. This event brings dogs and handlers from all over Ireland. The idea of the dog show is to select an All Ireland Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion.

Connemara Rugby Sevens Tournament



The tournament will start Friday evening and run all day Saturday, with the finals on Sunday. The match intends to provide some fast-paced rugby and a fun-filled weekend in Clifden, the ‘Capital of Connemara’. Refreshments will be available at the pitch and lively entertainment will be provided in the festival marquee over the weekend. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/CONNEMARASEVENS

Roundstone Connemara Pony, Dog, and Sheep Show 8 JULY

The Roundstone Pony Show is held annually on the second Sunday in July. WWW.CONNEMARAIRELAND.COM



Connemara 100 11 THROUGH 12 AUGUST

Are you ready to be amazed? The Connemara 100 on the West Coast of Ireland is run over a measured and certified 100-mile course. It takes participants from Clifden through Letterfrack, Lettergesh, the Inagh Valley, Maam Cross, Leenane, and the Inagh Valley again, then on to Roundstone, Ballyconneely, and back to Clifden to complete 100 miles. WWW.CONNEMARA100.COM

Glassilaun Watersports Day 12 AUGUST

A family fun day out at Glassilaun Beach, Renvyle. Water-based activities include boat rides, scuba diving, and kayaking. There are lots of onshore activities to be enjoyed as well. Connemara Pony Show and Festival 15 THROUGH 17 AUGUST

The Connemara Pony Festival celebrates the world-renowned Connemara pony and is built around the long-running Connemara Pony Show, which takes place each summer in Clifden. WWW.CPBS.IE

Oughterard Agricultural & Horticultural Show


Connemara International Marathon 14 APRIL WWW.CONNEMARATHON.COM


The programme of events includes classes in ponies, horses, cattle, sheep, donkeys, dogs, cats, pets, poultry, and vintage display.



Connemara Mussel Festival


Originally established to promote the excellence of the mussels of Killary Harbour, the festival has grown to become a celebration of local people, food, culture, and heritage, and it is recognised as the premier food event for Connemara, attracting visitors from near and far. One of the first festivals each year on the Wild Atlantic Way, it showcases the very best Connemara has to offer. A true feast for the senses: taste and smell beautifully cooked local produce; see unparalleled views of the Connemara land and seascape; hear the sounds of music, dancing, talks, and theatre; feel the ambience; and above all, enjoy the experience. This is a weekend packed full of activities to look forward to on the May Bank Holiday weekend; there’s something to suit everyone..


Galway Races September Festival 17 THROUGH 18 SEPTEMBER

Ireland’s premier horse-racing festival takes place at Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit, Galway. Adrenalin-pumping action, heart-stopping finishes, and breathtaking fashion are all part of the Galway Races. Situated on the outskirts of Galway City in the West of Ireland, the Galway Race Festivals are renowned worldwide. WWW.GALWAYRACES.COM

Clifden Arts Festival 12 THROUGH 23 SEPTEMBER

Clifden Arts Festival, the longest-running community arts festival in Ireland, is proudly celebrating its forty-first year. This year’s programme promises yet again to have something for everyone. WWW.CLIFDENARTSFESTIVAL.IE

OCTOBER The Great Fjord Swim 6 OCTOBER

Swim Ireland’s only fjord in the deep, clean waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Choose from three distances—750 metres, 2 kilometres, or 3.9 kilometres.


Inishbofin Arts Festival DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED

This year’s Arts Festival will be a fantastic showcase of the best island-based artists and craftspeople, along with a thoroughly enjoyable contingent of visiting performers. There will be music flowing from every corner, theatre to entertain the dramatically inclined, film screenings, photographic exhibitions, 1916 archival displays, circus workshops, and more! WWW.INISHBOFIN.COM


Conamara Sea Week

Conamara Bog Week is a celebration of all that is magical about the Connemara landscape. The festival celebrated its thirtieth birthday in 2014 and has grown to be an unusual and unique festival with something to interest all age groups.




The annual Conamara Sea Week takes place in the Quaker village of Letterfrack in north-west Connemara. It is a celebration of the wonderful marine heritage of Connemara. WWW.CEECC.ORG


Turf Warrior is an extremely fun bog-crawling, wall-leaping, rope-swinging, and bone-chilling event. WWW.GAELFORCEVENTS.COM



Wendy Inglis & Greg Bent 20 July 2017



p aUl D Uane p hotoGRaphY

‘I am a huge U2 fan,’ says Wendy Inglis. ‘I had previously seen them back in 1987 during the Joshua Tree Tour. Having gotten engaged and realising that U2 were playing in Dublin in the summer of 2017, my now husband, Greg Bent, began exploring the idea of having our wedding in Ireland on the way to Dublin to see U2 in concert.’ And so began Greg’s romance-meets-reality journey with just him and Wendy travelling to Ireland for the wedding. ‘A vast amount of planning was involved in organising a wedding overseas from our hometown in upstate New York,’ Wendy continues. Having entertained the notion of getting wed in a fairy-tale castle in Ireland, Greg’s search happened upon an idyllic location. The four-star Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is truly a fairy-tale escape tucked away in the rugged yet enchanting wilderness of Connemara. A host of on-site and nearby activities include hiking, walking, biking, fly fishing, tennis, clay and woodcock shooting, horseback riding, and boat trips. ‘All the staff at Ballynahinch were instrumental in the smooth running of the wedding celebrations,’ Wendy reflects. ‘The ceremony took place on a Thursday in the garden sprinkled with light summer showers Connemara-style with just Paul Duane, our photographer, and Jane Casey, a hotel employee, acting as our two witnesses. Celebrant Dara Molloy, a Celtic monk from Inishmore, was a dream to work with.’








n the morning of the wedding celebrations, Wendy needed to go to the nearby town of Clifden for hair and make-up but refused to drive on the narrow country roads. ‘The long-standing tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other on the day of their wedding went out the window,’ Wendy continues. The sun was shining, and Greg was afforded some quiet time to sit in the town square where he took a moment to reflect and compose his wedding vows. ‘But, we didn’t break one important local tradition: in Connemara, custom has it that the bride serves her groom his first pint of Guinness, and we are not ones to break with tradition,’ adds Greg. ‘Who knew that Wendy could bartend and pull a pint of the black stuff !’

Special thankS

to :

Hairstyle: Joanna at The Hair Gallery, Clifden Make-Up: The Beauty Clinic, Clifden Groom’s Suit: Corless Formalwear, Galway Celebrant (Celtic Monk): Dara Molloy, Inishmore ( Flowers: Alice’s Market Flowers, Ballyconneely ( Music: Roseanna Brehony ( Photographer: Paul Duane Photography (



Stacey & Mike

McNamara 22 October 2016

u Rosleague Manor House Hotel, Letterfrack Photography by Owen Courtney








rom the moment they were engaged, Stacey Maxwell and Mike McNamara had their hearts set on a Connemara wedding, but with Stacey being from Ennis and Mike from Cratloe, neither had a connection to Connemara. Both are avid foodies, so they began their search for wedding venues by evaluating establishments with customer reviews that raved about the food. They soon discovered Rosleague Manor House Hotel, which boasted nothing but five-star reviews regarding their menu and dining experience. Rosleague Manor is a lovingly converted Georgian house situated on thirty acres of secluded majestic Connemara woodlands along the shores of Letterfrack’s Ballinakill Bay. Set atop a stately hill, the main house overlooks a large grassy lawn with a commanding view of the bay and the nearby towering hills of Diamond and Tully. The beautiful setting, friendly service, and elegant cuisine have elevated Rosleague as a favourite respite for Connemara travellers year after year.

The cuisine at Rosleague is based on the freshest and finest of ingredients, with local seafood, Connemara Lamb, and herbs from the hotel’s private garden being specialities. ‘The hotel caters for small weddings of 80 to 100 people, which perfectly suited us,’ said Mike, who journeyed with Stacey to the wilds of Connemara in December to view the hotel. ‘The weather was wet and wild but we were immediately smitten by the panoramic sights along the drive out, notwithstanding the breathtaking views from the Rosleague grounds,’ continued Mike. The hotel was closed for the winter season but upon meeting the owner, Mark Foyle, and stepping inside the hotel doors, they imagined their wedding. ‘I envisioned it all warm and welcoming with sparkling lights, crackling fires, and cheerful laughter. We knew there was no better wedding venue than Rosleague,’ exclaimed Stacey. ‘From the outset, Mark was a pleasure to deal with,’ Mike continued. ‘He felt like a friend, and we had our full trust in any suggestions he made towards the wedding celebrations. The entire staff at the hotel were extremely helpful while still allowing privacy.’ Stacey added, ‘The atmosphere of the manor house, the stunning grounds, and the lovely food were every little girl’s dream for her big day. My only wish is that we could celebrate the day all over again—and at Rosleague, of course!’

Special Thanks Wedding Dress: Tracy Bridal & Evening Wear, Galway ( Hair: Fiona Boyle, Ennis Make-Up: Bride Groom’s Outfit: Tom Murphy Formal and Menswear, Cork Flowers: Connemara Florist, Clifden ( Cake: Fairy Queen, Shannon Music: 4 Men & a Bass, Galway Transport: Hollywood Film Cars – Sean Hall ( Lodging: Rosleague Manor House Hotel ( French Bulldog: Chopper (beloved pet of the bride and groom – may he rest in peace)



Tracey O’Malley Nigel el Smyth Smyt 1 September 2018 Connemara Sands Hotel P HOTOGRAPHY










hen Nigel and Tracey started organising their wedding celebrations, they chose the wonderful Connemara Sands Hotel to host the occasion. Tracey’s family hails from Connemara, with her father from Mannin and her mum from Sky Road, Clifden. Nigel is from Greystones in County Wicklow, so his friends and family travelled west to participate in the gathering. Connemara Sands is a family-run hotel located on the shores of Mannin Bay. The wedding ceremony took place on the beach adjoining the property, and the reception was held on the hotel’s grounds in a tepee supplied by MagnaKata. The proprietors of the hotel, Dean and Kathy, alongside the events manager, Bridget, were exceptionally professional and caring, and ensured that Nigel and Tracey’s vision became a reality. Their attention to detail and commitment to excellence were apparent throughout the entire event.



Several features of the wedding celebration included involvement from the couple’s family members. Flowers for the bridal party were provided by the bride’s mum (Margaret O’Malley), and a ceremony arch was made by the bride’s father and brother (Martin and Martin Jr). Tracey and her mum decorated the cake themselves, as well as provided an assortment of homemade desserts. The rings were made from the ring of Nigel’s late father, by his brother, Jason MacGabhann. The family involvement added charm and made the event truly special. The excitement went on well into the night, and fireworks finished off a wonderful day of celebration with family and friends on the shores of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Special Thanks Celebrant: Patrick Mangan, Galway Wedding Rings: Jason MacGabhann (groom’s brother) of Casúr Óir, Greystones ( Hairstyle: Hedz Salon, Clifden

Fire Pits: Eoghan Smyth (groom’s brother) of Bushy Park Ironworks, Dublin Pig and Lamb Spit:, Drogheda Pre-Reception Band: The Light Runners, Cork

Make-Up: Bride

Ceremony Music: The Carey’s & Friends (bride’s cousins), Clifden

Cake: Bride and her mother

After-Dinner Band: Mullarkey’s House Band, Clifden

Decorations: Bride with help from family and friends

Fireworks: Jason MacGabhann and Eoghan Smyth

Bar Set Up: All Bar None Events, Dublin

Bridesmaid: Lorna O’Malley

Video and Photos: Ball and Wolf, Belfast

Best Man: Geoff Nordell

DJ and Photographer: Aidan Kelly, Dublin

Tepee: MagnaKata



ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER CONNEMARA’S WALKING TRAILS Story and photography by Rosaleen Ní Shuilleabháin, Rural Recreation Officer, Co. Galway



My work is about developing and promoting outdoor recreation throughout Galway. It can consist of anything from liaising with landowners on trail development to encouraging people to try snorkelling. I’m employed by FORUM Connemara CLG, based in Clifden, but my outdoor office covers Connemara (Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht), East Galway, and the islands. y background as a Mountain Leader Award holder and sailing and kayaking instructor gives me the perspective from that of a recreation user. Because of the diversity in the county, the fact that I grew up in Rosmuc and am a fluent Irish speaker are huge advantages, as is my appreciation for small-scale farming. Farmers have an appreciation for responsible recreational users. It’s only the odd person who can upset things, and that’s generally because of a lack of awareness that all land is individually owned, whether it’s private or commonage. Dogs are a huge issue for landowners as there are so many sheep grazing here. What many don’t realise is that sheep are easily scared, regardless of whether the dog sees them or not. Respecting signage is vital; if a trail is designated as non-dog, please don’t bring your dog on that trail. We are currently developing dog-friendly trails that will welcome responsible pet owners and their animals. Leave No Trace is embedded in my work. There is still a need to get the message across to those who are new to the outdoors, and this is more evident on our beaches. We need to encourage that sense of personal responsibility in everybody. Maintaining a balance is the most challenging part of my job and also the most rewarding; being constantly objective and taking everybody’s perspective into account are very important. Establishing a good working relationship with a landowner can often be more satisfying than opening a new trail. It is crucial to maintaining a balance between developing outdoor recreation facilities and still preserving a sense of untouched wilderness.



onnemara encapsulates that sense of wilderness, and for those of you looking for ways to connect with our beautiful countryside, here are a few trails to get you started. These trails were developed through the cooperation of local community groups and some state agencies and in conjunction with the local landowners.


Opening photo: Lúibín Garumna, An Trá Bháin Below: Bog bridge in Lettershanbally, Kylemore

The Western Way—a long-distance walking trail that starts in Oughterard and finishes in north Mayo on the Sligo border—is the spin that links these two looped trails. These trails are nestled in the Coillte forest with views of the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens, an area of significant beauty. The new loops include a short circuit (Tullyconor) of 1.3 kilometres starting at Glencroft, approximately five kilometres from Leenane Village. A longer loop (Lettershanbally) of eight kilometres begins in the Inagh Valley with parking in the new parking area off the road near Kylemore.

LÚIBÍN GARUMNA This is a nine-kilometre loop of easy to moderate grade, running on coastal paths and quiet country roadways. It is located on Gorumna Island in Connemara Gaeltacht. Gorumna Island is situated in Ceantar na nOileán—the Islands Region of South Connemara—and it is connected to Leitir Móir and the mainland via Carraig a’Logáin Bridge. This is one of the many causeways connecting the islands to the mainland. This exceptional and very alluring trail offers stunning views of the Maamturk and Twelve Bens Mountains, the Aran Islands, varying seascapes, and the unique surrounding countryside, such as coral beaches and rocky fields. It is marked with blue arrows on a white background.

LÚIBÍN MHAORAIS A stunning four-kilometre coastal trail in Carna, this trailhead is at the Moyrus beach and cemetery. It is a superb coastal walk which offers spectacular coastal views and enjoyable walking. The trail travels along a mix of quiet roads, beaches, and coastal shoreline. The terrain is moderately rough in places but easily walked. The path is marked with purple arrows.

It is a superb coastal walk which offers spectacular coastal views and enjoyable walking. The trail travels along a mix of quiet roads, beaches, and coastal shoreline. The Lúibín Garumna and Lúibín Mhaorais locations are renowned for their wild and natural beauty and their rich bond with the Irish language and culture.

INISHNEE LOOP WALK This loop is a six-kilometre, low-level trail. It follows quiet, minor tarred roads, a section of grassy lane/roadway, and an old granite stone laneway. The trail is well marked with black posts and purple arrows, and the map board can be found at the bridge. The path offers excellent views of Roundstone, the offshore islands, and the Twelve Bens, making it a very popular trail.

For further information, visit, and for printable maps and other trails, visit 70


Great F ishing Houses of Ireland M embers Ashford Castle Ballynahinch Castle H otel & Estate Ballyvolane H ouse & F ishery Camillaun Lodge D elphi Lodge & F ishery Longueville H ouse Lough Inagh Lodge H otel & F ishery M ount F alcon Estate Renvyle H ouse H otel Rock H ouse Estate Screebe H ouse

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel & Estate is set on 700 acres in the heart of Connemara with 48 bedrooms and suites. Enjoy lunch in the Fisherman’s Pub, dinner in the elegant Owenmore Restaurant or at the weekend treat yourself to Afternoon Tea overlooking the river prepared by Pete Durkan and his team. On-site activities include walking trails, cycling, fly-fishing, hiking, and locally a boat trip from Roundstone to Inishlacken, a deserted island in Roundstone Bay. Voted of the top ten hotels in the UK & Ireland by CondÊ Nast.

Tel: + 353 95 31006 | Email: WWW.BALLYNAHINCHCASTLE.COM

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Connemara Life 2018