County Galway, Ireland has a dangerous beauty that can kill the ordinary tourist.
Wending the Connemara Loop through an enchanting landscape of rust-colored mountains and rocky glens, I tried to avoid distraction and keep all four wheels on the road. But, as the sites grew more spectacular around every corner, and my eyes kept focusing on the mounds of harvested peat, the sheep defying gravity on the sharp ravines, and the ever-changing view, I lost site of the road on a few occasions. Sure that my car lacked the power to cling to the mountains like those ubiquitous sheep, I pulled over when I hit Killary to walk around, drink my fill of the landscape, and snap a few photos.
Killary is located on the shores of Ireland’s only fjord. A lone tree covered in bits of fabric overlooks the water there. This, I discovered later, is a Fairy Tree. These trees (actually called Hawthorns) can live up to 400 years, and are some of Ireland’s most ancient. According to folklore, the fairies live underground and around certain trees, usually Hawthorns, and will bring misfortune upon you if they are disturbed. Hanging bits of fabric from the trees may cause them to send good luck your way instead.