Over 4 hours it took as I navigated through the small towns of Ireland, from the county of Wexford all the way north-west to the rugged shores of Galway facing the Atlantic Sea. The west of Ireland is not something that I have seen extensively despite travelling a large number of international countries. The day that was in it brought me to catch up with two New Zealand friends whom were due to get married in the mid-town Dominican church of "Claddagh".
The west of Ireland is real Ireland, there is no denying that. I always urge people to get out of Dublin and head that direction when they pop over visit. The routes to Galway, if you avoid the motorways, will see you through some quintessential Irish towns, the winding hilly streets, the dividing meandering village river, the small boutique stores and the local castle & ruins, the local churches and no doubt you will spot the locals on the way, kids holding a hurley stick and farmers standing belly out with dirty wellies on a pavement corner. Once you hit the Connemara region of Galway on the south, things begin to change. The green hills start to roll and is dotted with trees, marsh vegetation and dappled with grey rock outcrop. The land is divided with carefully laid rustic stone walls incasing the herds of dairy cows and roaming white...."grey" Connemara ponies within! This part of Ireland has a ruggedness like no other, an almost depressing harsh-like quality, coupled with the weather, murky ground and grey rocks it is divided boldly and held afar with the fluorescent green of the countryside and the merging pastel colours of the aesthetically pleasing turbulent skies, plentiful lakes, loughs and streams.
I have spent some time in New Zealand and while the comparisons are obvious, I spent a day car journey deciphering the differences. New Zealand is magnified, the sky is bluer, the mountains are taller and the lakes are bigger, but... and its hard to put into words... the landscape of Ireland contains detail, it has been lived in, it has been worked and has embedded history. The land is beautiful but at the same time, tough and harsh. The terrain has so many bumps and twists in all places, hugging lakes puddles trees, weeds, flowers with signs of historical settlements, stone walls, graveyards, timber railing, ruins you name it. There is a real human presence hear, the lands, the weather, the struggle and well... the charm, always the charm!
Come on have a drive with me! This is a taster of what its like to drive around the west of Ireland
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