Connemara

This is the real Ireland: rough and wild, sheep running around everywhere. Wherever you look, there are fields of grass, neatly separated by little walls made of natural stones (the only thing that is plentiful in this part of the country).

When in the 17th century Oliver Cromwell confiscated huge parts of the island for English settlers, he drove the native Irish to this infertile part of the country. Cromwell's generals actually described Connemara as follows:

"There is not enough wood to hang a man, not enough water to drown him, and not enough ground to bury him."

Although it was forbidden, Connemara people secretly kept on speaking the Irish language. Now this area is called the Gaeltacht which means theat Irish is still spoken in this part of the country. Of course, Irish is an official language in the Republic of Ireland, but most Irish people speak English at home. Though Irish is a compulsory subject at school, it is usually taught like a foreign language. In the Gaeltacht, however, everybody speaks Irish fluently. Therfore many Irish families from the rest of the Republic send their children on language courses to Connemara in summer.

Picture of Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore was built as a castle for the Henry family in 1868. When his wife died during a visit to Egypt in 1874, Mr. Henry had the abbey built in memory of her. Today it is a convent for Benedictine nuns and an international boarding school for Catholic girls. But it is also open to visitors: Kylemore houses a museum and a souvenir shop, and you can also go for a walk in the wonderful park.

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