Connemara is a famous region in the west of Ireland. It means “Inlets for the Sea” in the Irish language and has a tremendous rugged beauty. Oscar Wilde is quoted as deeming Connemara a “savage beauty” which is incredibly accurate for anyone that has been lucky enough to visit the area. Connemara holds a particular fondness for those seeking the old-fashioned and quintessential Ireland.
Connemara Marble is a rare form of marble found in the region which is typically green-ish in colour. It is said to be one of the rarest forms of marble in the world due to its limited supply and dates back over 600 million years. The marble itself is formed when limestone is heated under pressure. While the colour is predominately green there are often shades of grey and brown seen throughout. It dates back to the Precambrian era.
In 1822, the Joyce family from Galway opened up a quarry in Clifden called the Streamstown Marble quarry. The Joyce name was to become synonymous with Connemara Marble and have supplied some world famous buildings with the iconic marble. For those lucky enough to visit Galway they should seek out the Galway Cathedral in the city where you will see a beautiful example of Connemara Marble forming the floor and completing the beautiful cathedral. This floor is one of the largest examples of the marble in the world and was supplied by the Joyce family mentioned previously. It will ensure that the family name will live long in the folklore of Galway and cement their association with the local marble.
For our US readers, an example closer to home can be seen in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania forming the walls of the Senate Chamber of the State Building. It is a testament to the beauty of the marble that it adorns a government building in the United States and further concretes the deep relationship and fondness between the two countries.
Marble from the Streamstown quarry is to be seen in Cathedrals and public buildings including the Westminster Cathedral and General Post Office in London and Oxford’s University Museum of Natural History (source).
Connemara Marble jewelry
Connemara Marble is also popular in jewelry, it is commonly seen in rosary beads, necklaces, earrings and rings. It is very popular owing to its rarity and beautiful colors while being quintessential Ireland.
The Irish Store is a proud supporter of our wonderful craft suppliers who work with Connemara Marble and we hope you have enjoyed learning about the history of the iconic stone that our descendants will enjoy for generations to come.