Essential Architecture-  Ireland

Connemara

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Ireland > County Galway

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  A wooded waterfall in Connemara.
 Conamara (anglicised Connemara), which derives from Conmhaicne Mara (meaning: descendants of Con Mhac, of the sea), is a district in the west of Ireland comprising of a broad peninsula between Killary Harbour and Cuan Chill Chiaráin / Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway or south west Connacht. The Conmhaicne Mara were a branch of the Conmhaicne, an early tribal grouping that had a number of branches located in different parts of Connacht. As this branch of Conmhaicne were located by the sea they became known as the Conmhaicne Mara i.e. of the sea. Conamara lies in the territory of Iar Connacht "West Connacht", which is the portion of County Galway west of Lough Corrib and the portion of County Mayo in the barony of Ross. Conamara was traditionally divided into North Conamara and South Conamara. The mountains of Na Beanna Beola / the Twelve Bens and the Owenglin river, which flows into the sea at An Clochán / Clifden, marked the boundary between the two parts. Conamara is bounded on the west, south and north by the Atlantic. Conamara's land boundary with the rest of County Galway is marked by the Invermore River (which flows into the north of Cill Chiaráin Bay), Loch Oorid, (which lies a few miles west of An Teach Dóite, and the western spine of the Maumturks mountains in the north of which the boundary meets the sea at the Killary a few miles west of Leenaun.

Loch Derryclare.
The term Conamara is now commonly used (although incorrectly) to describe all of County Galway west of Lough Corrib. Conamara is often used to describe the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking areas) of western County Galway, however this is inaccurate as some of these areas are outside of the traditional boundary of Conamara. Another misconception is that Conamara's eastern boundary ends around Indreabhán and An Teach Dóite.

Conamara is composed of the Catholic parishes of Carna, Clifden (Omey and Ballindoon), Ballynakill, Roundstone and Inishbofin. The territory contains the civil parishes of Moyrus, Ballynakill, Omey, Ballindoon and Inishbofin (the last parish was for a time part of the territory of the Clann Uí Mháille / O Malleys of the territory of Umhall, County Mayo.

Beann Ghuaire / Diamond Hill in Connemara.The Ó Cadhla / Kealy clan were the rulers of Conamara up until the 13th century when they were displaced them from this position by the O Flahertys who fled into Iar Connacht from Maigh Seola during the English invasion of Connacht in the early 1200s. The Mac Conghaile / Conneely clan were like the Ó Cadhla clan also a branch of the Conmhaicne Mara.

The coast of Conamara consists of a number of peninsulas. The peninsula of Iorras Ainbhtheach (sometimes corrupted to Iorras Aithneach) in the south is the largest and contains the villages of Carna and Cill Chiaráin The peninsula of Errismore consists of the area west of the village of Ballyconneely. Errisbeg peninsula lies to the south of the village of Roundstone. The Errislannan peninsula lies just south of the town of An Clochán / Clifden. The peninsulas of Aughris, Cleggan and Rinville (or Renvyle) are found in the north-west of Connemara. There are numerous islands found off the coast of Conamara of which Inishbofin is the largest, other islands include Omey, Inishark, High Island, Friars Island, Feenish and Mweenish.

The main town of Connemara is An Clochán / Clifden. The area around the town is rich with megalithic tombs. The famous green/white Conamara Marble was a trade treasure used by the inhabitants of the time and continues to be of great value today.

Notable towns and villages in Conamara
(Clockwise from Galway city)

An Clochán / Clifden
Carna
Cloch na Rón / Roundstone
Baile Mhic Chonghaile / Ballyconneely
Claddaghduff (for Omey Island)
An Cloigean / Cleggan (for Inishbofin).
Leitir Fraic / Letterfrack
Cill Chiaráin

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