Connemara is the name given to the land in the northwest portion of County Galway, which lies between Lough Corrib and the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the wildest and most beautiful areas in all of Ireland. A geographical region and a mythologized one, framed by the sea on three sides.
This is the heart of the Gaeltacht, home to thousands of native Irish speakers.
It is famous for its desolate landscape of bogs and mountains and extensive veins of green marble, which were traded in Neolithic times both locally and nationally.
Renowned Irish dramatist and wit Oscar Wilde called Connemara a place of ‘savage beauty’ and could hardly be a more fitting description of the striking scenery of Connemara.
The geological history of Connemara is complex. The oldest rocks are those exposed in central Connemara, for example in the Maamturk Mountains, the Twelve Pins, and westward to Clifden.
These rocks are made up largely of quartzites and schists. They began their existence as sediment deposited on an ancient continental shelf consisting of layers of mud and sand. These sediments became buried, changed into rock, and eventually were subjected to strong compressive forces and heat during a mountain-building episode. As a result, the sands were converted to quartzites and the mud to schist, a lustrous rock now containing large quantities of shiny mica.
A layer of limestone was converted in this process into the famous Connemara marble. The quartzites form fine, black mountains such as the Twelve Pins due partly to their resistance to weathering. Whilst their original age is unknown it is probable that the sediment was first laid down over 600 million years ago.
At about 600 million years ago, a major granite body was introduced into these rocks from deeper levels in the earth’s crust. The granite is now known as Galway granite and occupies the southern parts of Connemara. It is well exposed along the coast from Galway to Carna. Large pink crystals of feldspar can be seen in the rock of many localities showing that it has crystallized slowly form a molten magma. The granite underlies the unique low-lying rocky landscapes of south Connemara with its poor acid soil and ubiquitous field walls.
At one time Connemara was a byword for cultural backwardness and even prehistoric communities were thought to have shunned its terrain. In the last few decades, a wealth of Neolithic and Bronze Age sites has been discovered, complimenting the rediscovery of Connemara as a place of escape from the metropolitan world.
Connemara is world-famous for its fishery. In Lough Corrib, Irelands largest freshwater lake, salmon, trout, some pike, and perch abound, and the lough is truly a magnificent island-studded lake.
Connemara is also famous for its sturdy and intelligent breed of Connemara pony. Raised in its tiny fields and limestone pastures for generations, the Connemara pony is an internationally renowned breed of pony that is uniquely Irish and the largest of all pony breeds. Its international reputation and popularity form the basis of important export business.