For her it's a labour of love … Amelia Joyce has lived and travelled all over the world, but her heart lies firmly in Connemara. One of her biggest passions in life is sharing her knowledge and love of this special place with visitors to Jasmine Cottage, one of the gems of the Five Star International collection.
"It's like living beside a priceless artwork. If you can't be happy here, then I maintain that there's nowhere in the world you could be happy", laughs Amelia, describing her lakeside luxury cottage hideaway, nestled on one and a half acres beside the waters of Lough Corrib at Oughterard. "It's always beautiful here, but I think it's at its most spectacular when dawn breaks in the morning".
Amelia, who is full of stories of the history of Connemara and its people, now plans to share her knowledge and love for Connemara in a new guide book 'My Connemara Journeys – Joyce Country', which will offer international and domestic visitors her own unique take on the area with a series of journeys suggested for each day of a week-long visit.
A proud 'Joyce from Joyce County', who was born in Leenane, Amelia's warm welcome and vibrancy is renowned and is always what comes up first for mention and praise when any visitor has been to stay. Her dreamy, romantic cottage has been rated in the Guardian newspaper as 'one of the special places to stay in Ireland'.
French doors open to peaceful garden vistas and the rough plastered walls offer a backdrop to pottery, ceramics and books collected from around the world, which bestow warmth and comfort on this charming country retreat. Amelia lived for many years in La Jolla, Southern California and has a keen eye for interiors and her design aesthetic has featured in many interiors magazines. The 'Western Way' walk starts close to Amelia's cottage on the Glann Road, ending 14 kms away at Maam.
Amelia has enjoyed a remarkable career and has had vast experience over the years in the tourism and corporate world. She formerly worked in PR internationally for Intercontinental Hotels and also worked side-by-side with Neillí Mulcahy, one of Ireland's most famous fashion designers and an outstanding standard bearer in Ireland for haute couture.
"The idea for my book is that readers will be offered a bespoke journey every day. They will get insights into the fascinating people that lived all over Connemara and hear their stories and get ideas on where to stop for a picnic or a great place to eat that the average tourist would never normally know when driving through the area", explains Amelia.
'There'll be a good sprinkling of history throughout. As Oscar Wilde described it, Connemara has 'a savage beauty .. with a rugged and rebellious landscape'.
Amelia's particular personal favourite journey in Connemara is the one from Leenane to Delphi. In ancient times, Delphi was considered to be the centre of the known world 'a place where heaven and earth met'. "I always say to visitors, it is the most stunning valley in Connemara. If they don't go there during their trip, it is a tragedy!"
Amelia's book is set to be an invaluable, unique and special handbook to the area and is much anticipated both locally and overseas. "I have been all over the world and I couldn't be happier having ended back in old Connemara!"