Connemara marble is truly an Irish treasure as it is one of the most authentic, iconic and beautiful Irish products. The Connemara region is located in the west of Ireland and is an area of stunning natural loveliness, with this serpentine rich stone reflecting the rugged beauty of the nearby mountains. The name ‘Connemara’ means ‘Inlets of the Sea’ as it’s bound on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. The area itself is a wild landscape of mountains, bogs and glinting, pristine lakes, and is also known for its Connemara ponies, a herd of hardy, intelligent animals that are believed to have been first brought to Ireland by the Vikings.
Victorian-era poet and playwright Oscar Wilde deemed the Connemara region an area of ‘savage beauty’ and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg named his home in Flat Rock, North Carolina ‘Connemara’ after his ancestral district. The Sandburg home is now a National Historic site and attracts visitors globally.
One of the rarest forms of marble in the world, Connemara marble is estimated to be an astounding six hundred million years old, formed during the Precambrian era when limestone deposits were heated under tremendous pressure. Green predominates as the main color in this stunning marble, but there are streaks of both grey and brown throughout the stone as well.
The serpentine found in Connemara marble contributes to its striking green color and the name ‘serpentine’ itself comes from the word ‘serpent’ as the stone is thought to be the color of a snake. Serpentine is not a gemstone in the usual sense but is actually a collection of up to twenty different minerals. Serpentine has been used for hundreds of years as a healing, protective stone and perhaps not surprisingly is thought to protect the wearer from venomous snakes, as well as from disease and from the evils of sorcery. The stone is also worn by people seeking inner peace and is said to promote a meditative state.
This gorgeous stone has been quarried in Ireland for nearly two hundred years beginning with the opening of the Joyce family quarry, Streamstown Marble, in Clifden in 1822. In fact, the Joyce family name became nearly synonymous with Connemara marble and their quarry supplied famous buildings all over the world, with the awe-inspiring floor of the Galway Cathedral and the walls of the Senate Chamber in the State Building at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania being just two beautiful examples of the marble’s use in architecture.
And while you are waiting for your St. Brigid’s Cross to arrive, enjoy this stunning flyover footage of the Connemara region and see for yourself why Oscar Wilde referred to the area as ‘savage beauty!’