A Few Trees

Trees are a rarity here in Connemara as there are not many varieties that are able to thrive in the marshy soil or withstand the harshness of the wind and rain. I stopped to take a photo of this small copse at the side of the road near Leenane, about 20 miles northwest of Clifden. It was an unusually calm day and the rich colour of the grass and the calm pastoral nature of the grazing sheep caught my eye. I love the silhouette of the trees against the pale blue and white of the sky, also the low shaft of light at grass level in the photo above.  Here’s another photo below from a slightly different angle.


Trees near Leenane





This next tree was nearby on the other side of the road. I’m not sure if it is a hawthorn or a holly as I didn’t get close enough to inspect the leaves. It’s shape is typical of trees growing in exposed areas such as this, right on the edge of Killary harbour. Its has developed with the prevailing wind and it’s branches have literally swept over, forming a beautiful curve.


Curved tree near Leenane





This next tree was also close by and it is a Hawthorn, one of the hardiest native Irish trees. It has been adorned with pieces of cloth and is known as a rag tree. These have been placed here by people who believe that an illness might be cured by offering a scrap of clothing from the person who is unwell. Others tie the cloths in order to make a wish which they believe might come to pass as the cloth fades away.


Rag tree near Leenane





I’ve developed a love of trees since I’ve lived in Connemara and especially for these weather worn species that have been shaped by the harsh climate. Like the scraggy Connemara sheep that dot the hillsides, they are survivors here.



Connemara is largely deprived of trees aside from the Coillte planted forests. The landscape is just too harsh and inhospitable in most areas for many varieties. The beautiful Ballinahinch estate is an exception and it boasts 450 acres of woodlands, gardens, lakes and rivers. We go there regularly for walks and to soak up the beauty and magic of the woodland. There are many routes to take but from Ballinahinch castle we usually opt for the riverside path, pictured below.


Riverside path at Ballinahinch





The path moves away from the water further on and we are surrounded by trees, evergreen and deciduous and the ever present rhododendron bushes (below)


Trees at Ballinahinch





When we gaze downwards we discover some fungi. Once we start looking for them, we discover several different varieties and it becomes a game. I take pictures while the girls spot new ones..







Mushroom at Ballinahinch





This next one has been nibbled. I love its deep red colour and I think about some nocturnal creature creeping out from its lair under cover of darkness for a little snack..


Red mushroom at Ballinahinch





The forest path closes in on the next part of our walk and it becomes a tunnel of trees (below)


Woodland path at Ballinahinch





Finally, the path opens up and looking to the right, we have a beautiful view of Ben Lettery through the trees. This is one of the ‘Twelve Bens’ mountain range, synonymous with Connemara.


Photograph of Ben Lettery from Ballinahinch




It is possible to get lost in another world in Ballinahinch wood because it is so unlike anything you might usually associate with Connemara – rock, heath, heathers and barren land and yet this place is right on our doorstep. Well worth a trip if you’re in town.