Connemara in County Galway, is one of the most scenic areas of Ireland, in a wild and lonely way. As with most of Galway, Connemara's history goes back thousands of years. Local archaeologist, Michael Gibbons describes finding a Bann spearhead in Streamstown dating 7,000 years old. It was a rare and wonderful find as the people of that era were known to be nomadic hunter gatherers. Other sites found in the area suggest the change over from the nomadic lifestyle to that of farming communities.
Connemara - a sparce and lonely beauty
Connemara's coast is very convoluted and it has a wealth of lovely beaches, little islands and harbours. The area around Clifden, the main town in Connemara, is rich with megalithic tombs. The famous green/white Connemara Marble was a trade treasure used by the inhabitants of the time and it continues to be of great value today. There is a link on the place links page which will bring you to a great site showing and telling you all about Connemara Marble.
Ballynahinch Castle in Recess has to be one of my favourite spots on this earth. It nestles quietly in the heart of Connemara, protected by mountains and surrounded by lakes and rivers. Its surroundings are beauty beyond compare and the spectacular views for the visitor as they roam around the estate are just magnificent. This house boasts some fine fishing waters and nearby, in Ballyconeely, is a magnificent 18 hole links course. This place is surely a little piece of heaven on earth.
.The history of Ballynahinch Castle goes back over 700 years. It was the home of 'The Ferocious O'Flahertys" and one of its most famous residents was Grace O'Malley from Mayo who married Donal O'Flaherty in 1546.
The Beautiful Surrounds of Ballynahinch Castle
The lands of the O'Flaherty clan stretched to within 15 miles of Galway city on the east and into County Mayo to the north-west. The clan leaders were the Lords of Connaught and Masters of the castles of Ballynahinch, Aughanure, Doon, Moycullen, Bunowen and Renvyle
Grace O'Malley-O'Flaherty is well known for her meeting with another famous queen - Elizabeth I - in 1593. Grace was 63 years old at the time and an awesome and formidable lady. She certainly stood proud and erect next to the English Monarch. Although Irish was her native tongue, Grace conversed comfortably with her equal in Latin. The English court of the day wrote:
"In the wild grandeur of her mien erect and high before an English Queen she dauntless stood"
Grace was unconventional to say the least, allowing neither social nor political convention to stand in the way of her ambitions. Her exploits as a pirate are well documented in history. It was on one of her voyages that she took a lover, divorced her husband and gave birth to a son at sea. She took over the role of head of the O'Flaherty family when her husband was murdered by a rival clan and it is said that she was 'a better man than her husband'. She died in 1603 at the age of 70 years, the same year as the death of Elizabeth I. A suite of music was composed in her honour in the 1980's called the 'Granuaile Suite' and historian Anne Chambers has received two films offers for the rights of her book on 'The Pirate Queen'.
(Extracts of the history of Grace O'Malley courtesy of The Irish Times and with the kind permission of Des Lally, management staff Ballynahinch Castle and author of 'The History of Ballynahinch Castle'.)
This place has changed hands many times since and its decline as the noble home of the O'Flahertys began towards the end of the 16th. century.
One other famous resident was 'Humanity Dick', founder of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). His ancestors took over the house in 1590.
The present house was built by Richard Martin's father in the early 1700's as an inn and so history repeats itself. The house is now one of the finest hotels in Galway renowned for its warm hospitality, good food, lovely ambiance and spectacular surroundings.
Travelling eastwards from Ballynahinch we come to another spot of breathtaking beauty - Kylemore Abbey. Much younger in age than Ballynahinch and dating back to the middle of the 19th. century, it was built by Mitchell Henry and finished in 1865. He was a successful English financier and his young wife fell in love with the area while on their honeymoon. Sadly she died while on a cruise on the river Nile and only four years after moving into the house.
Eventually the house was bought by the Benedictine Sisters of Ypres after their own Belgian convent was destroyed in the first world war - they have been here since 1920. It is now one of Ireland's most exclusive girls' boarding schools, catering for Irish as well as international pupils. Many of the daughters of diplomats and ambassadors have gone through its academic programme.
.As with Ballynahinch, the setting for this beautiful house is magnificent. Although not clear in the picture, there is a large statue of Christ, with arms outstretched, on the upper slopes of the mountain in the background, very similar to that of the one on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
The little Gothic Chapel, down one of the wooded laneways, has recently been refurbished to its original condition by the Sisters so there is plenty for the visitor to see as they roam around this lovely estate.
The Sisters run a pottery workshop, a gift shop and a restaurant to supplement their incomes, along with that derived from school fees. Making a visit to this place is well worth while, both for the beauty of the spot and also some of the really good home-baking.
And so, this part of our journey concludes, links to the rest of the journey are just below our newsletter subscription.
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the Rest of the Journey
For those who have just joined me on this page why not go to the beginning of our travels and see some of the places in The Start of Our Journey through the West of Ireland.
My Place Amongst the Stones gives the history of my company name, Moytura - a celtic heritage going back thousands of years.
We journey to my own parish of Lackagh - a small village just 12 miles from Galway with a mighty big history. Learn all about the Battle of Knockdoe - one of Ireland's bloodiest of conflicts in the 16th century.
We then move on to take a quick jaunt around Galway City. From there we journey south into County Clare and see The Burren - a place that has lain undisturbed since the Ice-age and of immense botanical, ecological and archaeological importance.
Visit Ireland's finest early monastic heritage centre in Clonmacnoise, County Offaly; and to my favourite of all the early Christian Church locations - Clonfert, South County Galway, with its beautiful tiny 12th century Cathedral of Saint Brendan. Come with me around the grounds and see the Bishop's Palace and the 1000 year old Yew Walk.
While on the Clonfert pages, you can learn a potted history of Saint Brendan the Navigator, possibly the first European to set foot in North America in the 6th. century. And join me in the celebrations when this tiny cathedral was listed in the World Monuments Watch 2000 most endangered monuments.
Come with me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in Westport, and moves to Sligo, my Dad's County and the departure port for many of the 'Coffin Ships'. This part of my journey ends in Grosse-Île on a tiny island east of Quebec City.
On this page you will learn some of the history of our Famine Refugees and find the final resting place of over 6,000 of my country folk who died within sight of their first freedom in over 300 years. This is where many of the Irish roots in North America started.
Our Journey moves on to other places on that visit to Canada where we see Quebec City and some of Ontario's lovely places and then to two of Canada's famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré and to Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
Finally, join me on my pilgrimage to a peaceful haven in a war-torn country in Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovinia. The other areas of my Web site can be found in the drop-down box below.
If you are interested in Irish history or anything to do with Ireland why not visit our new additions where you will find a large selection of genuine Irish goods as well as Irish reading, music & viewing material!:
I have added links pages of other places related to the places we visit, links to leisure activities in Ireland i.e. golf, fishing, horse riding, sailing in Ireland, festivals, entertainment etc. and some of my friends' home pages.
Go raith míle maith agat - thanks a million
Beannacht Dé Ort - bain taitneamh as do thuras.
God Bless and Enjoy Your 'Journey'
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For those of you who are interested in tracing you family ancestry these pages might help, just hit the banners to go directly to each site or check out our Trace Your Ancestry pages first where you can see some of the vast numbers of data base lists and try out an on-line search for yourself.
Every now and then people send me stories, poems, or URLs to other Home Pages that I find very touching or uplifting, they can be found at the links below. Some will make you smile, maybe even laugh, some may make you cry or a little sad - but all will leave a little bit of a mark, if only for the few minutes you spend reading or listening to them. Enjoy - I call this section:
CIRCLE THE WORLD WITH PRAYER
Could you DONATE just 10 minutes of your time a day?? If Yes then- GIVE IT TO GOD! Great rewards and long-term benefits! Invitation open to ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANY RELIGION & NONE!!
Check out the WHY, WHERE, WHEN & HOW here: Circle of Prayer Then ask yourself the question - WHY NOT?!?!
Celtic Women International
Celtic Women International is a young and vibrant organisation founded by Jean Bills, a woman with Irish roots living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is now in growth phase and expanding membership throughout the whole world for ANYONE (yes, even the guys!) with Celtic roots. It's purpose is to honour, celebrate and promote our Celtic Heritage. In the near future we hope to be a resource for all things Celtic with databases of other Celtic Organisations, Support Bodies, Music & the Arts etc. Membership, for only $25!!, incorporates a quarterly newsletter with the finest of articles related all things Celtic.
Our annual conference brings together some of the best advocates of Celtic Traditions as well as musicians and artists representing the recognised Celtic Nations of Ireland, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia and Asturia in Spain. 2002 sees the conference on the move and will be held in New Orleans, 2003 in Toronto, 2004 in Pheonix and 2005 in GALWAY, IRELAND! Please help us to grow this wonderful organisation by joining us as a member. All are very welcome and your presence can only enrich us. Learn all about us at:
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Are You Drawing Up Your Family Tree?
Moytura now has a brand new Irish shopping site online, so why not go and have a mooch by hitting the logo! Here you will find a vast selection of Irish products in the following categories: Ancestry, Art, Books, Collectors items, Crafts, Crystal, Dancing, Fashion, Foodhall, Fragrances, Gifts, Heraldry, Houseware, Jewellery, Maps, Music, Names, Sportswear, Travel and Videos. All our goods are from genuine Irish suppliers.
Moytura Graphic Design has expanded enormously since it's humble beginnings just a few years ago and has taken a new business venture which can be operated from home on a full or part-time basis. You can learn about this work-from-home opportunity here.
The telecommunications industry goes from strength to strength world wide, especially with de-regulation opening up most countries to healthy and cost-cutting competition. The company, for which we are Independent Consultants, has been so successful since its European start-up in 1998 that it has now expanded from the UK to Ireland Belgium, and the Netherlands, with the USA opening in Feb 2002. It plans to expand even further in the very near future - to:
If you, or anyone you know, living in any of these countries would like to start a home-based business, the opportunities are enormous as this company is only just beginning and, as Independent Consultants, everyone will be in at the very ground level. E-MAIL for details or check out the WEBPAGE.
Contact Mary Mullins, Moytura Graphic Design, Cregmore, Claregalway, Co. Galway, Ireland. Ph: +353 91 798407
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