What makes a small place so special?

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Carraroe, Connemara
an old oil painting of mine, a sunny day near Carna

So there was this conversation about what was the true Connemara – was it the mist-covered mountains, was it the bogs and the myriad lakes, was it the stone walls and the little fields or was it Cois Fharraige by the sea…

When there’s no television and no broadband, some people go a little crazy, I suppose, but I remember insisting: –  that there had to be the sea, and floating seaweed, and the lonesome cry of the curlew;  there had to be the scent of turf fires burning; there had to be mountains in the distance, and always, the possibility of rain – but most of all – there had to be the Gaeltacht people, and Gaeltacht life.

And Ros Muc has all that – no wonder that the poet and revolutionary Patrick Pearse was drawn to it, back in the last century. “The most intensely Irish-speaking part of Co. Galway (indeed of Ireland) is Iar-Connacht”, he wrote to a friend, “and the most Irish speaking part of Iar-Connacht is the parish of Ros Muc. It is out of the tourist track but the scenery is wild and glorious…”.

Last week we were over there again, this time with independent filmmaker Marcus Howard, and we were working on a film about Patrick Pearse. We did an interview with Colm Ó Mainnín who has a great store of knowledge about the area and about Pearse’s time in Ros Muc. We also interviewed my brother Fearghas who is a schoolmaster in Indreabhán.

photo of Coilmin O Mainnin and Fearghas Mac Lochlainn
Coilmín Ó Mainnín agus Fearghas Mac Lochlainn i Ros Muc    Photo: Seán Ó Mainnín
Marcus Howard and Eoin Mac Lochlainn filming in Ros Muc
Marcus agus mé fhéin i mbun scannánaíochta ag Caladh na Leice, Ros Muc    Photo:  Fionnuala Rockett

So what do you think?  Why do we keep going back?  Do you have special places that you return to again and again?  What is it that draws you back there?  I’d love to hear your stories…

Slán go fóill, eoin



Marcus Howard – Easter Rising Stories






  1. Great post, Eoin. What makes these places so wonderful is certainly in part the mountains and the cliffs and the ocean, but mostly the people and their stories. Our stories make us who we are.


  2. Of course the tragedy of the Connemara landscape is that it is almost entirely devoid of trees, owing to the rearing of sheep in their hundreds of thousands on the hills for the last two hundred years or so. If we could only find a more sustainable way of farming, Connemara could recover its lost woodlands and pine forests. A healthy, forested landscape would support more people than one devoted to sheep.


    • Thanks Cóilín. I can’t say that I’ve seen many sheep in Ros Muc – some cattle and ponies, and the odd donkey – but actually, it’s getting very overgrown and bushy these days – very different to the time when it had a larger population living there. But there’s a lot of furze and other suffocating shrubs growing there now, not proper trees. Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmaid


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