Connemara National Park, Ireland
If you are planning a trip to Ireland and are looking through travel guides I can assure that the picturesque views you will see will include Connemara National Park. Set within the rolling hills of Galway, this park is home to the Connemara horses that love to wander its landscape. The website for the park, included here for you, tells us the present park lands had been formed by part of the Kylemore Abbey Estate and the Letterfrack Industrial School. Much of the remainder of the land was from private individuals. The park site goes on to say that, “The southern part of the Park was at one time owned by Richard (Humanity Dick) Martin who helped to form the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals during the early 19th century. The Park lands are now wholly owned by the State and managed solely for National Park purposes.” [Accessed February 23, 2015]
When you first arrive you must talk a walk through the Visitor Centre not just to grab your pamphlet but also to go through the history of the park and the significance of the bog lands here that supported the people that lived here centuries ago. As Americans we forget that our history is but a blip in the history books as compared to much of Europe.
“Many remains of human presence can be seen in the Park. The oldest are megalithic court tombs some 4,000 years old.There is also an early 19th century graveyard about which little is known. Also of that period is Tobar Mweelin, a well which was tapped to supply water to Kylemore Castle around 1870 and is still in use today. Stretches of the old Galway road, in use over a century ago, may still be seen in the northern sections of the Park, but other stretches are obscured by vegetation. Ruined houses, a disused lime kiln, old sheep pens, an ice house, drainage systems and old walls in various parts of the Park, are all evidence of a greater population and more extensive use of these lands in the past.” – Connemara National Park [Accessed February 23, 2015]
Ben and I took a lot of photos in this park, some of which can be seen in the photo gallery at the bottom of this page. The pictures only capture a glimpse into the beauty of the park. There is a quiet peacefulness about this place that is unlike any other we visited in Ireland. The paths are well traveled but still have all of their untouched charm. The horses are said to be all over the park. We saw a mare and her foal right near the main gate as we first headed up the shorter of the two trails. These ponies are ones that were rescued by the park and are here permanently.
On our hike we took the lower diamond hill walk which was roughly 3.7 km long. Each of the trails begins at the Visitor Centre and are on a continuous out and back loop making it easy for a hiker to not get lost. We took our time hiking here but even that did not seem to scratch the surface. I could have easily spent hours exploring the park, it was just that beautiful.