As a child, I was incredibly lucky to spend most of my holidays in Connemara on the West Coast of Ireland. My mum is an artist (she is amazing!) so she’d spend the summer painting all the gorgeous views and selling them to tourists. Meanwhile my sisters, brother and I would get to visit beaches, cycle around the countryside and wander up mountains. We used to live on the opposite side of this lake. You can see it was a stunning place to be!
Mum and dad recently made the difficult decision to sell off their gorgeous house in Connemara. I had a few days holiday left for the end of this financial year, so when mum sent an e-mail asking me to please come and visit, I bought a cheap ticket on Ryan Air and zoomed over to say goodbye to the place where I (sort of) grew up.
This time I was only in Connemara for two days, so mum, dad and I decided to drive around to some of our favourite beaches. There are soooo many gorgeous beaches that I thought I should share them online. If you’d like to find them, there is a google map showing most of these beaches here.
The White Strand:
The white strand is a stunning beach is halfway between the Renvyle House Hotel and Tully. It is well known and so the car park can get pretty full in the summer, although it was completely empty last week! This is a loooong beach, so even when it is full, there is still tonnes of space for everyone.
The white strand is a gorgeous beach for swimming, wandering along the shore-line or catching shrimps in the rock pools. Mum once met David Beckham on this beach. She didn’t know who he was, and just told us that she’d met a really pretty man in a sarong. It was only later when she saw a photo of him in the news that she realised he was the sarong-wearing dude!
This beach was the closest beach to our house when we were growing up. We used to use the rocks as a wind break on blustery days, so we’d be happy here even if it was slightly too chilly for non hardy beach-goers! My family used bring a frying pan to the beach, then collect drift wood, build a fire and cook sausages on the beach. There is nothing better than Irish sausages cooked on a beach!!
When I was a child you had to walk over a stream on stepping stones to reach this beach. It is much easier now – there is a grassy path. You’d only notice the stream if you listen out for it!
Tully beach and the White Strand are joined by a headland so you can easily wander between the two. There are some really stunning views of Connemara’s Twelve Bens (Twelve Pins) from up on the headland. Tully gets two panoramas, as far fewer people know about it, yet it is one of my favourites!!
We always called Glassilaun “friendly dog beach” because there used to be a super friendly doggy who’d join us for walks across the white sand. When I was little the best thing about this beach was the small stream in the centre. We used to spend hours building dams in the sand. When the tide is low, you can walk around to some smaller coves in one direction. My mum used to hide chocolate there and tell us she’d met some pirates, and that if we searched we’d find treasure there(!) The treasure was normally cadbury’s golden crisp chocolate.
On the far end of Glassilaun is an island that you can reach when the tide is low. The film Tristan and Isolde was filmed here…but I don’t think many people have heard of it! (The Quiet Man was filmed not too far from here on Culfin and Lettergesh beaches. More people have heard of that!) Anyway, there is a Lobster holding place which is great to use as an outdoor swimming pool on the island. In the summer, this pool is much warmer than the surrounding sea, so it is a great place for a dip.
Once we swam with seals at the end of Glassilaun beach. We all had lolly pops that doubled up a whistles – they were called whistle pops. So we all whistled as we wandered along the beach. Once we got to the end by the island to go for a dip, our whistles had attracted a seal, who came over to swim with us. Mum thought it was our dog (who was also swimming) so she even tried to pull the seal closer to shore. She had a bit of a shock when she realised the “dog” had no ears…and wasn’t a dog!
Omey strand is a wide beach that connects the mainland village of Claddaghduff to Omey Island. When the tide is out, the sand goes really hard, so you can safely drive straight over to the island! When the tide is in, it doesn’t go too deep so you can wander around for ages in water up to your knees!
My best memories from here are mostly from exploring the island. So that is what dad and I did last week. It is a lovely island to explore, with large sand dunes, an old church, half buried in sand, and a hill you can climb up with some cairns on the top. The views from the hill are brilliant. You can see out West to all the little islands and East to the Twelve Bens. When I was a child, people still lived on the island, but mum said the last elderly gentleman who lived here died recently. Now it is just holiday homes left.
Once, many years ago, I put my hand inside a cairn on the island and pulled out what looked like an ancient hairbrush made of bone with animal teeth stuck into it. Mum sent it off to the national museum of Ireland, but they never got back to us to say what it was.
Aughrus More: (Beach with carved faces)
I don’t think I have been to this beach before, but mum wanted to show me the carved faces. You need to park your car (or bike) on the road and walk up a grassy track to get to this gorgeous little cove. Mum said that a local man had carved five faces into boulders by the beach. They have started to weather away (and at least one of them has been moved into someone’s garden!)
We could only find one of the faces. I really loved it though!
The last beach on our mini Connemara tour was always called “baggy beach” to our family. It is not too far from Omey island, so I think we first saw it as we drove past on the way to Omey. Apparently after I’d seen the white sand and climbable rocks, I badgered my parents to take us back there. One of my many nick-names was baggy, so we named it after me. I always remember this beach as an adventurous place to play. There are several small sandy areas divided up by rocks. It is the perfect place to climb as well as swim in perfect blue water.
There must be a fisherman or a restaurant that collects shell fish near here as well as there were often piles of huge shells near this beach.
Hopefully my beach list is enough to get people started. There plenty of stunning beaches around the Connemara coast, so if you plan to visit the area, just keep exploring!
The amazing E.M Audigier (otherwise known as mum)
My mum’s artwork is mostly watercolour paintings, which are perfect for capturing the moody skies and stunning sunsets in Connemara. They look fantastic behind glass, but when you take a photo it doesn’t quite capture the magic of her work. Click on her name (or here) if you’d like to see her work.
Unfortunately mum has macular degeneration coupled with a glaucoma, so she can’t see very well these days. She had to retire from painting. Anyway, my mum and dad have now moved out of their house, and will bring my mum’s last paintings back to the UK later next month. I told my dad to set up an Etsy shop to sell the last paintings. I’ll share the link with you all once he does this. I still think my mum sells her artwork far too cheaply. But it might be good for blogging friends that like a beautiful bargain!!