When I was a working class kid growing up in England, nobody talked much about Ireland. The Troubles hadn’t started yet and it wasn’t the popular tourist destination that it later became. And yet I once heard the name Connemara and it struck a chord like no other place name did (although Mandalay came close.) It felt warm, homely and romantic, and I wanted to be there.
I also had a recurring dream in which I was walking down a lane on a summer’s day. A little way in the distance I could see a whitewashed cottage or croft to the left of the road, and on the right was a gently sloping green field where black and white cows grazed contentedly. Ahead of me I could see an azure sea topped by a blue sky replete with white, fluffy clouds.
I always associated the scene with the name Connemara, and all my life I’ve had the notion that one day I might go there and find the exact location, right down to the white cottage and the Friesian cows. I never did.