Sunday, 16 October 2011


Roundstone Pier
I went out to Connemara this week-end to do final research for a story I'm writing. What a place. Even though I live in the same county, it took two hours to get to the part I wanted to see. The weather was beautiful - a day-long Indian summer - and I felt blessed to have chosen this Saturday above all days to go.

I don't always find it necessary to be in the places that feature in my writing - some I research from memory or other resources - but I have found that it brings me closer to the story to be in its landscape.

And I reckoned it would be nice to go out to Connemara once again to breathe its magic. Because, as a place, it is magical - it's a hinterland of stunning mountainous beauty that has its own peculiar atmosphere. Though it is rugged, remote, wild and wet, on a day like Saturday it can feel like the gentlest most peaceful place on earth. I loved being there - I soaked in its calm.

We had tea and homemade biscuits in the haven that is Cashel House Hotel where we met a playful dog and walked through the hotel's woodlands. (Charles de Gaulle and his wife stayed in the hotel in 1969 after he resigned as President of France.) It's a gorgeously old-fashioned place of paintings and antique furniture.

Tea in Cashel House
We intruded on a private residence where the characters in my story once stayed, and the owner was nothing but friendly. In Roundstone we met the insanely talented artist Rosie McGurran who paints women and landscapes like a dream.

We walked on the pier and took photos, watching the fishermen and smelling the fishy, crabby air. We had lunch (proper veggie food!) in O'Dowd's Pub.

It was like being on holiday in our own county and I loved every minute of it.

On the pier - Roundstone
Did all this help my story? Yes, I think so. I took notes while my husband drove and some of them may end up in the piece. In fact, I think some of them will. The imagined setting my characters inhabited differs from the reality - the real place is richer and remoter, actually. And I think it gives me a new understanding of the characters now that I know how far, literally, they were willing to go to find tranquillity and seclusion. I certainly found peace there yesterday.


WiseMóna said...

How beautiful Nuala. I have yet to have tea at the Cashel House Hotel. I think even the drive out there is therapy in itself. It is so scenic and tranquil and even on a rotten dismal day Connemara it is wild in its own beauty. Love the red coat too.


We were too early for scones so I recommend arriving in the afternoon for tea :)
It's true - we've been out there in all weathers and it is just stunning every time.

Kar said...

Yummm, love the afternoon tea and congrats on the decent veggie find I know what a chore that can be..

Your photos and blog paint the perfect day out. You look and sound, light and relaxed and the weather wow!

Good luck with finishing the story!


Ta, Kar. I'm just so glad we went - I himmed and hawed about going. And it turned out perfectly. I love that!

Rachel Fenton said...

What an utterly magical place. Gorgeous post. Your story's sure to be breathtaking.


Not sure about breathtaking, Rachel. It's in first draft stage soa bit bockety still :) I live in hope!

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

I feel like I've taken a tiny trip with you! Lovely photographs and inspiring energy. best,cat


Thanks Cat :)

Ethel Rohan said...

Lovely post and photos, Nuala. I'm glad you found peace there.


Thanks Ethel. It was just one of those perfect days out.

BarbaraS said...

My husband used to go to Roundstone on hols when he was a kid, so he certainly knows what you're talking about when you speak of Connemara Calm; you got a rare halcyon day there - aren't they great?


It's a lovely place, B, and yes, it was just as you say - a halcyon day.