Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Yesterday, a more or less overcast day, I drove to Connemara. I have read a good deal about the scenic beauty of Connemara, its mountains, lakes and sea inlets I have seen many beautiful paintings and excellent photographs depicting its landscapes but the landscapes I witnessed around me yesterday as I pootled along generally empty roads, exceeded in scenic beauty every preconceived idea I had ever held of the place. Not only did every turn of the road bring forth a stunning new landscape, views were also subject to continual and infinite changes of light that filtered through varying thicknesses of wind-driven cloud and squally showers of rain. Connemara is a stunningly beautiful place to be; exhilaratingly so.
I could but reflect, however, as I drove through this earthly paradise in the comfort of my well appointed four-wheeled shelter, on how those wretchedly poor souls driven here in the seventeenth century, almost certainly to perish, might have viewed it. Today, Connemara’s raw, natural beauty owes much to its being devoid of signs of the hand of man; some sheep, some evidence of peat cutting but little else. In the sea estuaries fish-farming is evidently a prospering business but even the fruits of the sea were denied to seventeenth century refugees who were forbidden to go within three miles of the shore. How those who survived the journey West managed to build shelter and grow food, beggars belief. Most, of course, did not; they simply disappeared, further advancing the Lord Protector’s exalted place in his God’s heaven. With God’s like that waiting for me I would prefer to take my chances without one; compared to a paradise with men like the Lord Protector in, albeit secondary, authority an eternity of haunting the bogs, hills and lakes of Connemara may not, it seems to me, be such an awful prospect.