Bog, mountain and sky in Connemara

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Connemara - land of bog, mountain and sky Connemara - land of bog, mountain and sky ┬ęDarren McLoughlin 2013

Connemara or Conamara

The western part of County Galway, situated west of Lough Corrib, is known as Connemara.

It's a land of bog, mountains, sea and sky. This image is taken from a single track bog road on the way to the edge of Ireland, the edge of Europe on the Atlantic Coast.

As I made my way across the bog towards the small lake pictured in this image, I was shadowed by the vertical flight of the skylark hovering in the clouds above me, warbling its distinctive call.

This one is early in the day but it was quite hazy given the recent heatwave we've been having. The trek across the bog was somewhat easier than on recent visits to Connemara bogs. Dry weather has dried out the vegetation and created a kind of crusty top to the bog, slightly disconcerting when one is miles into the middle, a careful path picked out on what seems like solid ground but it means nothing because in the bog with one false step it is easy to sink into oblivion.

As well as many species of rare birds, bogland supports an array of lifeforms, but while it's a scenic place to visit it is harsh. During my trek I saw and heard damselflies and dragonflies, skylarks, water lilies and while I wasn't bitten by midgies as on a recent visit to Connemara, I was bitten by a horsefly or cleg, it was a pleasure that I haven't had for some years since spending a lot of time on the Moss or bogland cut as turf for winter fuel. This particular horsefly latched on to my ring finger and with its considerable biting power gave me something to shout about. Unlike a mosquito or midge bite the horsefly bite is quite unique. Expect it to be very sharp initially, followed by some swelling with some itchiness. There are some remedies but swatting the insect as soon as possible is the best form of defence.

I often talk about how great it is to live in Ireland, and there are some negatives, however, a dozen horsefly bites followed by a swarm of midgies still wouldn't put me off the few great days that I've had in Connemara this week researching photography workshops and tours.

It was a tough day in the boglands of Connemara but my destination, the golden-sandy beaches on the Atlantic Coast, made the journey worthwhile and where I was able to bathe my bites, relax and reflect on the long day's photography.

In the words of Wordsworth - To a Sky-Lark:

What though my course be rugged and uneven,

To prickly moors and dusty ways confined.

Yet, hearing thee, or others of thy kind,

As full of gladness and as free of heaven,

I on the earth will go plodding on,

By myself, cheerfully, till the day is done.

Would I be in a hurry to come back to such a place, to an Irish bog in the summer with all these biting insects?  Yes, absolutely; with an insect repellent and some vigilence it is easy to enjoy a short visit to this unique landscape. Relax and enjoy the view, you aren't going to get this anywhere else.

Bogland is on the surface a seemingly empty landscape but is teeming with many forms of life and often contains the most majestic landscapes in Ireland.

Stop, look and listen might be a good phrase to use for the traveller in Ireland.

Darren McLoughlin

Irishman and International travel photographer in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Echtra Echtra and Eonmusic

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about travel in Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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