The green gold of Connemara: this is the name given by the locals to the marble of Connemara, a variety whose origins date back to the Precambrian, about 600 million years ago. This marble is a very ancient one, extremely resistant to scratches and stains: this characteristic makes it suitable for many uses, from kitchen tops to altars, jewellery and various items. The Connemara marble is obviously green (how lucky Irish are! Even the marble complies with the symbolism of the emerald isle...), with colour variations ranging from soft to dark green or gray, cream and sepia. Even today it is extracted from the Letternosh quarry, located at Streamtown near Clifden and opened in 1800-1810.
The Green Connemara marble is not the only variety in this area, there's also a white one - White Connemara marble - whose origin dates back some 500 million years ago; typically used for the production of jewellery, this marble is extracted from Cregg quarry, near Letterfrack, which was opened in 1800 by Richard Martin, the owner of the funds Ballinahinch; the quarry is still operating. And that's not all: geologists will be pleased to know that the Galway area is known as Merlin Park, was once the quarry (now closed) of a black marble variety, geologically more recent than the previous ones (250 million years ago), in which fossils are frequently found.
The visitors of St. Paul Cathedral in London probably noticed that the steps are made of slabs of this marble: in fact, Galway was for a long time a commercial port for the export of Black Marble to England and Spain.
A wide collection of all these varieties of marble is on display at the showroom of the Connemara Marble Industries, in Moycullen, near Galway: tourists are also allowed in the workshop where skilled craftsmen work on shapeless marble blocks, obtaining the nice items sold in the store: given the huge variety of choice and prices, every visitor will have the chance to bring home a nice souvenir, whose added value is to represent a sliver of Connemara in a very real sense of the word!!