The Emerald Isle is truly an island nation. Every time we look closely at a map, we find more islands we never knew surrounded the country, which is also...an island. This weekend we scanned a map and found a place called Omey Island, located in the Connemara region a little more than one hour northwest of Salthill.
The cool thing about Omey is that you can only reach it during low tide. There is no bridge, which reminded me a little bit of Mont-St-Michel in Normandy, France, which I visited my senior year of high school. Omey Island has no grand wall surrounding the village nor a stunning, spired abbey at its peak like Mont-St-Michel, but it was quintessentially Irish in every sense. It's fairly close to Clifden, a charming village on Clifden Bay in the Connemara.
We walked across the long, wide beach to the island, following very tall traffic signs (even though it's really not a road) mounted in the ground high above the changing water levels. The wind left really cool shapes in the sand, and we picked up lots of sea shells along the way. There was a cemetery near the shore facing inland with several Celtic crosses. Then we walked past the ubiquitous stone walls that separate nearly all properties in Ireland, finding a few ruins of buildings, many cows and a few residents back to the Pacific Ocean. (We read that Omey has 20 full-time residents in all.)
The coastline was very rocky, lots of brown and black boulders, with little sandy beaches and water holes along the way. The views of Cruagh Island, High Island and Friar Island were all visible from the shore. Heavy, cool winds kept us pulling our hoodies tight over our heads, but the sun was shining all day, so we can't complain.
We drove onto the sandy crossing before heading back to Galway -- just so we could say we've driven on a road that only exists a few hours a day!!
We've also discovered the next few islands we want to see off the Western Coast of Ireland:
- Clare Island
Now we're off to France...