The weather was pleasantly cool and sunny, a circumstance which would repeat itself for days to come, to the surprised delight of the locals. Even the geese on Renvyle House’s grounds seemed happy about it.
One of Ireland’s six national parks, Connemara was founded and opened to the public in 1980. Its 7,200 acres comprise bogs, heaths, grasslands and forests. Many remnants of human civilization have been found there, including 4,000-year-old megalithic tombs.
While my family went for a hike, I studied the Park’s exhibit on the history of the rugged terrain. Remember the bog people remains in the National Museum of Ireland—Archaeology on Day 1? In the visitor center at the Park there was also great deal about bogs: how they are formed, the purpose they serve, and the hardy folk of the area. (Check out that pipe.)
An early dinner of soup, fish, garlic cheese toast, and a pint of Guinness at Paddy Coyne’s in Tully Cross was the perfect end to the afternoon.
When we returned to Renvyle House, one of the two beautiful Connemara Ponies on the property greeted us.
Interestingly, these horses are actually of Scandinavian descent, brought to Ireland by the Vikings around 795 AD. Later, legend has it, Spanish Armada galleons, returning home after unsuccessfully attempting to invade England, ran aground off the Galway Coast in 1588. Their Andalusian horses on board swam to shore from the wrecks. Gradually they began to breed with the wild Irish ponies, resulting in the strong yet elegant animal we see today.