Thoughts On Connemara
H. V. Morton
How can it exist in the modern world! In years of travel I have seen nothing like it. It begins suddenly as soon as you leave Galway due west by the coast road through Spiddal to Clifden. It is a part of the earth in which progress - whatever we mean by it - has broken in vain against walls; It has been arrested by high hills and deep lakes to the east and by the sea to the west. These people have been locked away for centuries by geography and poverty. I have been to the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt, but entering Connemara gave me a finer feeling of discovery and a greater sense of remoteness from the modern life.
As I went on round the eastern limit of Killary Harbour I saw five young men pulling in a salmon net. They formed a group that might have come from the very dawn of the world. They wore homespun tweed. Their sleeves were rolled above their muscular elbows. Their necks were baked red with wind and sun. As the net was pulled slowly towards the bank, the water, perhaps fifteen yards out, suddenly boiled with furious life, the sun shone on four feet of living silver as the great fish leapt and lashed in the net. The salmon leapt up into the sunlight. I saw the whole of him: a silver monster, an eighteen pounder with great shoulders on him and a tail with the kick of a mule in it.
It was a moment I shall never forget: the sun on the opposite hills; the scent of wild thyme; the splashing at the water's edge; the Gaelic shouts that sounded like war-cries; the bright, leaping body in the net: over it all the simple splendour of a lost world.
Sadly, this glorious book is now out of print. Fortunately, the Ireland that Morton speaks about has not passed away. The candles of the eighteenth century are not burnt out. They still continue to shed light on this magical place in the twenty-first centuary.