My four Irish novels are all set in the beautiful area of Connemara in the west of Ireland.
On my first ever visit to Connemara about ten years ago, I was fortunate that it was a beautiful autumn day, and I fell in love with the wild open countryside, the dozens of small lakes (known as loughs and pronounced like the ‘lochs’ in Scotland), and the Twelve Bens, a range of steep-sided bare mountains.
Connemara is an area of about 12 square miles in the western part of County Galway, bordered on the east by Lough Corrib, on the north by Killary Harbour, on the south by Galway Bay, and on the west by the Atlantic.
Although I’ve been to many other areas of Ireland in the past ten years, Connemara was the place that captured my heart, and I’ve visited it several times. Most times I’ve been very lucky with the weather, but even under low cloud, Connemara is still beautiful.
The Twelve Bens (Na Beanna Beola in Irish) is a mountain range of sharp-peaked mountains. The highest one is only 2,392 feet, but they can be seen from many parts of the area and provide a dramatic backdrop to small fishing villages like Roundstone in the south of Connemara.
On my first visit (and on subsequent visits, too), we went along Sky Road, near Clifden. This is a scenic drive along (and up!) a narrow peninsula which skirts Clifden Bay and rises to a viewpoint overlooking several small islands and beyond them the wide expanse of the Atlantic stretching into the distance. I’ve used the views from Sky Road several times in my novels because I love it and my (imaginary) Mist Na Mara house overlooks Clifden Bay.
South of Clifden is an area known as the Gaeltacht, which means a primarily Irish-speaking area. It is estimated that over two-thirds of Connemara’s 32,000 population are Irish speakers, mainly in the southern part of Connemara. This area has hundreds of small lakes, peat bogs, and also some beautiful bays, large and small.
I’ve only given you a small taste here of this stunning area, but you can find out more at http://www.connemara.net/welcome-to-connemara/