Yeats’s Terrible Beauty
Connemara is difficult to pinpoint: it is not a town or a valley, but a ruggedly poetic area of Galway, a part of Ireland known for its romantic landscape. Making up the western third of County Galway, Connemara was once part of the biggest private estate in Ireland.
Wild, lonely, and for the most part uninhabited, its peat bogs and rocky coasts conjure up Yeats’s vision of “a terrible beauty,” and are a main reason why so many artists and poets are drawn to this country (and this county).
The immensely scenic Sky Road is one of Western Ireland’s most delightful (and less- trafficked) drives, a steep and narrow one-lane corniche that twists and turns along the coastline to offer glimpses of the Twelve Bens, a dozen sharp—often mist-enshrouded—gray peaks, culminating at 2,388 feet. This is the untamed heart of the Connemara National Park, 3,800 acres of heaths, grasslands, and some of Ireland’s best hiking trails. Herds of red deer and Connemara ponies, the only horse breed native to Ireland, can sometimes be glimpsed roaming the park.
Within sight of the Twelve Bens and near the entrance to the park is Rosleague Manor, a wonderful supplement to the Connemara experience. Owned and run by the brother-and-sister team of Paddy and Anne Foyle, the two-story Regency home draws anglers who come for the excellent salmon, trout, and sea fishing. Everyone else comes for the comfortable country-house living and Paddy’s renowned dinners of seafood and home-grown vegetables that epitomize the spirit of Connemara.