FREE SHIPPING: Ireland > €100 / EU > €150 / North America > €200
May 12, 2021
BY EUGENE MCKERNAN
It was a total coincidence that we ended up living in Tuamgraney.
I was born and reared just around the corner from the Guinness Brewery and met young German Anke in my local pub, the Brazen Head in August 1984. She was to start a job on the Downings peninsular in Donegal a week later. In those days, like a lot of young people, we used hitchhiking as our standard mode of transport, and I said I would hitch up with her for the craic. I ended up staying, so we practically moved in with each other one week after we met. First it was a caravan, then a holiday home, and when Anke was 6 months pregnant we moved to Germany.
We made a deal that we would live there for a few years and then move back to Ireland. But by 1990 we had three small children as well as our handweaving business, so this might never have happened if the house we were living and working in had not been sold. Fortuitously, the owners of the house (which was actually a run-down old castle) gave us some farewell money to leave our apartment and workshop and we took this as an opportunity to move back to Ireland.
In January of 1991 we drove around the West of Ireland looking at potential houses and workshops to rent. A fortunate set of circumstances led us to leasing a big old building in the beautiful village of Tuamgraney in East Clare. The owner intended to go on an extended sailing trip the following summer and his house was going to be free. We agreed that we would move 6 months later and shook hands on the deal without ever having seen the house in daylight.
We now own a house just on the other side of the green in Tuamgraney.
Behind it we built a knitting and weaving workshop, and we also have a small shop. In hindsight it feels like destiny, we are delighted that we found this place and could not imagine living anywhere else.
East Clare is a haven for artists and craftspeople, offering the inspiration and quiet solitude of nature as well a lively community spirit. Some of our favourite things to do include swimming, hill walking and cycling, which are all at our front door. Last year during lockdown, we began swimming in the lake which without a doubt helped to keep body and soul together in these troubling times. Watching the lake transform throughout the seasons has given us an even deeper appreciation of our picturesque surroundings.
The greenery here is so lush that walking in the forest sometimes feels like walking in the jungle. There are many ancient trees, often overgrown by moss and at times one could think one was in the rainforest. And yet the nature here with all its small hills and valleys and towering trees is what makes life in the village feel very homely and protected.
We live right in the centre of the village which means that we have all the amenities that we need at our doorstep but are only a stone’s throw away from the great outdoors. Apart from the lake there are so many walkways and woodland paths to discover that life here never gets boring. And to our delight we started observing a changing landscape in coffee culture in recent years. There are new cafés springing up in the surrounding area, as well as fresh organic vegetable markets both of which go a long way to keeping us healthy and happy.
And if we do need a change of scenery then Ennis, Limerick, the Burren, the seaside and indeed the airport are all a short distance away.
We are lucky that although Tuamgraney has so much natural beauty surrounding it, it is not yet overrun by tourism. It feels like a well-kept secret, so we are delighted that East Clare is part of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, the new slow travel destination. We hope that many people will get the opportunity to visit the beautiful part of Ireland we call our home.
May 12, 2021