Ireland has no coral reefs or lagoons. Yet the dives made along its coasts can be wonderful.
« One of the best diving sites in the world is on the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula, where the Atlantic Ocean meets Brandon Mountain in an exceptionally beautiful landscape. » J-Y Cousteau.
Wishing to go further than the advice of the famous captain in the red cap, we decided to venture further north in the stunning landscapes of Connemara Park to the west of Ireland in County Galway.
Here, there is no objective of explorations of dives on wrecks as is regularly the case on the coasts of the South, the East and the North. All our attention will be directed towards the meeting of a generous region which offers to our eyes its richness.
Connemara is the mythical and wild land: ancient customs, Gaelic culture, landscapes of moors, heaths and peat bogs as far as the eye can see, where sheep are found that graze calmly … Kept its rights in more than 2000 hectares of natural park. Everywhere around us, water is also all over: lakes and rivers punctuate our journey as a fine drizzle escapes from the low clouds. The strangeness of this climate echoes the richness of its fauna and flora. Bird lovers are delighted 😊
And under water?
This is where we will be surprised.
The dives are magnificent: in a sea warmed by the Gulf Stream and offering a good visibility, we discover sea bottoms just as preserved as the nature that welcomes us on the surface.
Is there a better description of the Irish seabed than that of Jennifer Holland (National Geographic)?
« I am overwhelmed by sea anemones as pink as chewing gum, as green as a granite with lime, and so oranges that I imagine myself drinking a glass of juice ».
For this Irish experience, we choose to visit the Scubadive West diving center in Renvyle.
It is certainly an experience of the end of the world. To get to the diving center, we must take a small road winding through the heather hills and the ocean. The center is just at the end of the path, not possible to go further.
Almost surprised to have arrived, we are warmly welcomed by the Gray brothers, owners of the center, and discover an extremely well organized diving structure offering high quality equipment. Great, we love it.
Fifty dives are offered from the center: diving on wreck, reef diving, diving in caves, diving along the walls, … there is something for every taste and for all levels with diving sites of 0 to-55m.
Once equipped with our drysuits (the water is not that warm 😉), our captain decides to take us in his boat, wide and stable sheltered in a reef protected by the torn coast. Indeed, although the sky is radiant and the sun shines, the sea is very agitated. Small feature: as the law requires, we are obliged to put a lifejacket on the way above our diving suits which gives us a somewhat strange look.
Finally, we jump into the water, surrounded by the mountains.
What a wonderful dive: the discovery of the dogfish all around us as much as we enjoy the movements of scallops opening their shells to propel themselves. We savor the mixture of colors offered by the ocean and the multitude of fish and other crustaceans that populate the place.
The time to take pictures, to swim along the site, to watch dogfishs taking care not to disturb them and our computers inform us that it is time to surface.
Back to the surface for a debriefing in the sunset and a short stroll on the huge beach before we eat in one of the only pubs in the area.
Who says Irish people only eat Fish and chips?
Irish cuisine with Seafood Chowder, Fishcakes, rock crab, monkfish, oysters from Kinsale or Galway, shells, mussels, but also excellent lamb, or beef (so expensive) … to delight the most discerning palates.
A real destination for divers and non-divers alike.
All this and more by drinking a Guinness or a Connemara Wiskey 8 years of age in such a picturesque pub?
…What a great day 😃