My Beloved Connemara
Joyce Country, boldly printed on the map of Ireland is situated in Connemara on the west coast of Ireland. The Joyce name arrived in Ireland with the invasion of Ireland by the Norman's in
1169. A huge clan, they owned vast territories in Co. Galway. So much so, that the area became known as Joyce Country. In order to identify one man from another, many had a double christian name. The Joyces were known for their dramatic presence...exceptional height and physique. Their family crest reads
"Death or Life with Honour".
My footprints are deeply imbedded in this primitive land. My great, great Grandfather Big Jack Joyce came from Leenane and once owned the Leenane Inn which is now known as the Leenane Hotel bordering Killary Harbour. The family was mostly involved in the Wool Trade, since that was the only industry available in this craggy landscape. My father, John Martin Joyce, born in the mountains of Munterowen was one of l0 children. When he was quite young he inherited the family business, due to the death of his father, John Francis Joyce.
"When I was young,
all the world was beautiful to me,
but Connemara was a great
splendour". My summers were spent climbing my father's rugged mountains in Leenane, swimming in Killary Harbour and picnicking on Lettergesh beach. From my bedroom window, I could even hear the echo of the salmon jumping up into the sunlight in Killary Harbour. The silence was everywhere...enveloping the blue sky, the icy lakes, and the misty purple mountains. The only sounds to be heard was the bleating of the black faced sheep, the cry of a bird and the echo of my own footsteps.
Joyce Country continues to triumph in it's wild majesty having survived foreign dominance, famine and rebellion. This heroic place with it's symphonic landscapes has been the perpetual solace throughout my life, as it must have been for all Connemara people forced to immigrate...to live in exile.
You will be seduced by Connemara, leaving a part of your heart behind, returning time and time again to recapture it. As the writer H.V.
Morton wrote in his travel book (In
Search of Ireland) "and you feel
that if God chose a place to reveal
Himself it would be upon these
western hills at sunset when the
whole hushed world is tense with
beauty and earth seems waiting for a