Connemara : Michelin's recommendations
More than any other region of Ireland, Connemara has resisted invaders and colonisation. For centuries the ferocious O'Flaherty clan held sway, until dislodged by Cromwell whose men exercised a brutal rule from their stronghold on Inishbofin. Despite the Famine, its Irish-speaking, peasant culture has survived and continues to exercise great fascination on Gaelic revivalists and on nationalists like Patrick Pearse. The region is also famed for its handicrafts. The centre of Connemara is composed of the Twelve Bens or Pins which culminate in Benbaun (728m). The Bens are drained by mountain streams and ringed by a chain of lakes where trout are plentiful. Between the mountains and the southern coastline extends the level Connemara Bog, dotted with tiny lakes. On a bright day the stretches of water act like mirrors reflecting the sun; in the rain, the whole environment seems to be made of water. Its remoteness, unyielding soils and harsh climate mean that most of the inhabitants of Connemara lived in settlements clinging to the coastline. In the years before the Famine, the population was however more numerous than now. This sparsely populated region has benefited from the efforts of individualists such as John D'Arcy, who developed the town of Clifden in the early 19C and obtained funds to build roads like the Galway road opened in the 1820s. The unspoilt, magnificent scenery in the north and south invariably delight all who venture this far: Sky Road, Lough Corrib and Lough Naffoey, Joyce Country, and the National Park all enchant the senses.