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Connemara (Irish: Conamara) is a district in the west of Ireland, the boundaries of which are not well defined. Some[who?] define it to be the land contained by Killary Harbour, the Maam Valley, Lough Corrib (as far as Moycullen); a line from there to the sea at Barna, and the Atlantic ocean. Others[who?] draw the eastern boundary line from Killary Harbour to Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway.
|This section possibly contains original research. (December 2011)|
The term Connemara is frequently used to describe all of County Galway west of Lough Corrib; some argue that this is incorrect. It is also used to describe the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking areas) of western County Galway; again some argue that this too is inaccurate as some of these areas are outside of the traditional boundary of Connemara. Some also argue that it is not correct to say that Connemara's eastern boundary ends around Barna just on the outskirts of Galway City or at Maam Cross.
"Connemara" derives from the tribal name Conmacne Mara, which designated a branch of the Conmacne, an early tribal grouping that had a number of branches located in different parts of Connacht. Since this particular branch of the Conmacne lived by the sea, they became known as the Conmacne Mara. (Sea in Irish is muir, genitive mara, hence "of the sea".) The area in the east of what is now Connemara was called Delbhna Tír Dhá Locha.
Connemara lies in the territory of Iar Connacht, "West Connacht", which is the portion of County Galway west of Lough Corrib. Connemara was traditionally divided into North Connemara and South Connemara. The mountains of the Twelve Bens and the Owenglin River, which flows into the sea at An Clochán/Clifden, marked the boundary between the two parts. Connemara is bounded on the west, south and north by the Atlantic Ocean. Connemara's land boundary with the rest of County Galway is marked by the Invermore River (which flows into the north of Kilkieran Bay), Loch Oorid, (which lies a few miles west of Maam Cross), and the western spine of the Maumturks mountains. In the north of the mountains, the boundary meets the sea at Killary, a few miles west of Leenaun.
Connemara is composed of the Catholic parishes of Carna, Clifden (Omey and Ballindoon), Ballynakill, Roundstone and Inishbofin. The territory contains the civil parishes of Moyrus, Ballynakill, Omey, Ballindoon and Inishbofin (the last parish was for a time part of the territory of the Clann Uí Mháille, the O Malleys of the territory of Umhall, County Mayo.)
The Ó Cadhla (Kealy) clan were the rulers of Connemara up until the 13th century, when they were displaced by the Ó Flaithbertaighs. The latter had fled into Iar Connacht from Maigh Seola during the English invasion of Connacht in the early 13th century.
Like the Ó Cadhla clan, the Mac Conghaile (Conneely) clan was also a branch of the Conmhaicne Mara.
The coast of Connemara consists of a number of peninsulas. The peninsula of Iorras Ainbhtheach (sometimes corrupted to Iorras Aithneach) in the south is the largest and contains the villages of Carna and Kilkieran. The peninsula of Errismore consists of the area west of the village of Ballyconneely. Errisbeg peninsula lies to the south of the village of Roundstone. The Errislannan peninsula lies just south of the town of Clifden. The peninsulas of Kingstown, Coolacloy, Aughrus, Cleggan, and Renvyle are found in the north-west of Connemara. Of the numerous islands off the coast of Connemara, Inishbofin is the largest; other islands include Omey, Inishark, High Island, Friars Island, Feenish and Maínis.
The main town of Connemara is Clifden. The area around the town is rich with megalithic tombs. The famous "Connemara Green marble" is found outcropping along a line between Streamstown and Lissoughter. It was a trade treasure used by the inhabitants of the prehistoric time. It continues to be of great value today. It is available in large dimensional slabs suitable for buildings as well as for smaller pieces of jewellery. It is used for the pendant for the Scouting Ireland Chief Scout's Award, the highest award in Irish Scouting.
Connemara is accessible by the Bus Éireann and City Link bus services. In earlier times it was served by the Great Western Train Group that connected Galway City to Clifden. The rail line is still visible on the N59.
The population of Connemara is 32,000. There are between 20,000-24,000 native Irish speakers in the region making it the largest Irish speaking Gaeltacht.
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