Located in the rugged west of Ireland, you could think of Connemara as a vault, where Ireland’s traditions are stored safely against the march of time. Passing through the desolate yet beautiful Doo Lough and Delphi Valleys you’ll see a landscape of patchwork fields roll out towards the Atlantic – it’s a sign that you’re about to enter somewhere special. Truth be told, this romantic region, with its old stone walls, ponies and wild landscape is the very essence of Ireland: “Irish language, song, dance and literature are all to be found in abundance here,” says Paula Lydon from the Connemara Heritage and History Centre. And she’s not wrong. Connemara is that wild hinterland on the west coast of Ireland, bounded on the north by Clew Bay, on the south by Galway Bay and on the east by Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. NEW YORK TIMES What makes Connemara different? That’s easy. Traditions are everywhere here. Everything from the food on your plate, to the music beating out of pubs are infused a unique cultural heritage. These traditions are also reflected in the language – Connemara is a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region. You can have a go yourself by practicing a few words “cupla focal”), or even doing a course, but if you don’t fancy it, don’t panic, everyone speaks English here, too. Sunset on the Sky Road Food-wise, you’re in for a treat in this part of the island. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Galway naturally has a strong sea-faring tradition, and smokehouses abound throughout the region. As well as smoked salmon and smoked mackerel on menus in pubs and restaurants, you can also go and visit one to see the art of smoking in practice in places such as the Connemara Smokehouse. Looking for a bite to eat with a truly spectacular view? Try the Misunderstood Heron, a simple food truck that serves up excellent Killary Fjord mussels overlooking the waters they come from. The Streets of Clifden, "The Capital of Connemara" Want to check out an authentic “trad session”? The good news is that Connemara is one of the finest places on Earth to hear the sounds of traditional Irish music. Contained within these old songs are the stories and fables of ancient Ireland, passed down through the years in an oral history that stretches back centuries. Musicians play in pub corners lively enough to overcome the clinks of glasses and friendly banter so try pubs such as Molly’s in Letterfrack, Lowry’s in Clifden and The Shamrock Bar in Roundstone. Landscapes, music, culture and food – no wonder Connemara holds a special place. It doesn’t get much better than this.