THE AUGHRUS PENINSULA THE YEAR ROUND

It's perfectly true that in Connemara you can find the four seasons in the one day - indeed, many would say in 20 minutes!  And no one really comes to Connemara for the weather - in fact, if the climate was like Tenerife (we do sometimes wish it was...), the beaches would be packed and the seafront covered in concrete. So the mixed weather is what makes Connemara what it is - something special for the soul.

And it does rain in Connemara, that's true. Yet coastal Connemara has it easier than just a bit further inland. 30 miles in, where the land rises among the Twelve Pins (or Twelve Bens) and the Maamturk Mountains, the average annual rainfall is about 2,000mm; along the coast, the average is a mere 1,200mm - not Arizona, exactly, but a 40% reduction isn't to be sneezed at!

Furthermore, Ireland in general - and Connemara in particular - enjoys the full benefit of the warm Gulf Stream, keeping the winters mild compared with continental Europe at the same latitudes. So we have much to be thankful for. Here, we would like to persuade you that there is a great deal to see and fall in love with in Connemara and on our Aughrus Peninsula, the whole year round. In fact, why not visit in the off-season, when you will truly be one of a relatively few visitors to this area, and you can really enjoy the solitude of the area.

Let us show you some of the Aughrus Peninsula's splendours and joys throughout the year.


As we have said, our winters are generally mild and wet - indeed, the view from your window may quite often look like the scene on your left, with driving rain and wind obscuring the view. Yet there is beauty in that, too! In winter, the Purple Moor-Grass lives up to its name; willows and dogwoods, their stems bare of leaf, can show up their gleaming orange, red, yellow or green glory, especially when wet with rain. The  resulting scene resembles something the twentieth-century Spanish painter, Eusebio Sempere, might have produced.


Sometimes - as in Christmas Week 2010 - the temperatures really do drop. During that period, we experienced temperatures as low as minus 15C - why, in Co Mayo just to the north, even the relief deliveries of kegs of Guinness to pubs, whose stocks had run out because of the snowy roads, froze on the lorries; impatient customers had to wait a further day until the Guinness could be drawn.

Here on the Aughrus Peninsula too, all froze (though the Guinness continued to flow all right).The sound between Claddaghduff and Omey Island - Omey Sound - came to resemble Disko Bay in Greenland, more than a stretch of water along the west coast of Ireland. This photo was taken at dusk, as the setting sun shone pink through the ice formed around the shore rocks.



The Walsh's turf-pile had a covering of snow, and their donkeys (and the blue-tits!) would have had a hard time of it had they not been so well looked-after...

 

... And nearby Cregg Mountain - over at Moyard - became a two-kilometre snowboarding run for the intrepid.

And Fahy Lake on Omey Island was frozen solid.

But winter on the Peninsula isn't usually as harsh as that by any means, and the shorebirds and waders down at Rossadilisk can get on with the serious business of burying their heads in the soft sand and digging out juicy worms!




 

 

 

And soon enough there are other tangible signs that Spring is on the way.

 

The days lengthen, hope returns.




 

 

 
  

     Soon enough, the wild Orchids 

      appear again... 







 

  

 

   ... And the primroses in the fields and along

    the banks.    

 

 

 

 There are mild, sunny days and nights, although still punctuated by days of wild storms, the kinds of wind that blow the roofs off barns and keep sensible people indoors by the fire:

 

 

 

 At Aughrus Point, a Force 10 storm batters the rocks, fresh in from violent weather in the middle of the Atlantic. But it's still beautiful - "the ocean...wild with foam and glitter", as the poet Seamus Heaney puts it.

 

 

 

And before we know where we are, not only do we see frogspawn in the ponds, but it hatches, and tadpoles appear, and in time - as the Spring turns to Summer - their process of transformation into tiny frogs begins. This three, tiny, sitting together on a single water-chestnut leaf not an inch across, haven't formed their frog feet yet, though in every other way they're frogs, and not tadpoles anymore.

 

 

 

 

Along the roadside, the Summer madness of wild flowers appear on all the banks.

  These are Ox-Eye Daisies, at Emlough, near the road to Rossadilisk, a mile and a half from Cleggan village.

 

 

 

The wild Dog Rose, a rampant and beautiful rambling  single rose, with soft pink single-petalled flowers to die for, can be seen scrambling over walls and through hedgerows....



 

 

 

 

 

 

  If we're lucky, there are

   glorious midsummer

   sunsets to be savoured

   - the midsummer sun

   setting into the Atlantic

   just between the

   islands of Inishbofin and

   Inishark...

 

 

 





... And the sea warms, and there is Summer warmth to be enjoyed on the many beaches around the Peninsula.

This is Tra Bhride, at low tide, looking towards the back of Cleggan Bay, the Twelve Pins mountain range behind.

 

 

 

The swallows have long since come; and found their mates;

and returned to and repaired their mud nests in barns and sheds; and laid their eggs; and then there are hungry mouths to feed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  A baby Robin fledges - this is the

   very first day away from its nest

   for this young Robin.

 

 

 

 

As the Summer draws on, the banks along the roads of the Peninsula just grow more and more lush and colourful, like the narrow road here leading to Rossadilisk, orange Montbretia and red and purple Fuchsia forming the main backdrop to others, such as Purple Loosestrife, Meadowsweet....

 

 

As if that were not sufficient colour, the moths and butterflies are everywhere!

 

This is a Six Spot Burnet, one of the day-flying moths, and a very handsome one at that. They seem to love the small wild flowers growing in the short grass near the coast, especially in the sunshine - a lovely sight. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even more striking, the Common Blue butterflies (anything but common, in our view!) - especially the more colourful males, as this one is - are everywhere to be seen, especially among the rough grasses and granite rocks at the head of beaches such as Tra Mhor and Sellerna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 And inevitably the summer draws into Autumn, though the days may still be lovely, and the early morning mists lie over the Peninsula, as here, at Emlough and over Rossadilisk.

 

 

 

Late Autumn, and into Winter, the colours can be very special indeed - sometimes with strong winds, dark grey skies, and wild seas, as here at Aughrus Point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And on into Winter again.

 

But there are still lovely days to be enjoyed - even the wild ones, when the sun shines just as the gale blows, such as here, at the "Anchor Beach", at Aughrusbeg.



Sometimes the storms are violent and frightening. The series of storms over the New Year period of 2013/2014 were like that - hurricane force winds and mountainous seas, combined with exceptionally high tides, wrought damage to houses, walls, roads and cars. Cleggan Harbour was flooded and six cars washed from the pier into the harbour; the road at Aughrusbeg was washed away.


 

Thankfully, that is the exception, though, and during such days it's good to be indoors, thankful to be ashore and dry and safe.

But... the Aughrus Peninsula is always lovely, even on the bleakest of days.


 


Well... we hope that you have enjoyed this wee trip through the seasons of the Aughrus Peninsula.  More importantly, we hope it may persuade you that, lovely though the summer is here in Connemara, the other seasons are just as beautiful - and the variety is wonderful. So come out of season; enjoy the weather; and in the evening toast your toes before a warm turf fire!

   Sellerna Beach: "Combing the White Hair of the Waves Blown Back"

 

"I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each...

 I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

 Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

 When the wind blows the water white and black.

 We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

 By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

 Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

T S Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 1917

 

All of the photographs on this page (as elsewhere on the site, unless otherwise attributed), were taken by local photographer Heather Greer. If you enjoyed them, do check out more, at her own website, www.ConnemaraCaptured.com.