October can be splendid in Connemara on Ireland’s western coast, with evanescent light and feisty winds, cloud-shrouded mountains and wonderfully wild seas, and rain and sun that come and go with remarkable haste. My wife and I were married there, and we returned with friends to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We’ve always valued these ancestral lands for their respite as well as their challenges, and this trip did not disappoint. A renowned field archaeologist led us on a two-hour walk along the boggy coast, past castle ruins and ancient earthworks. Flaming torches lit the “After the Light” parade that delighted us at the Connemara Sea Week festival. And at the end of each day’s adventure, we could retreat to our historic country-house hotel or head for a pub, where we basked next to a warm peat fire, drinking great muddy pints of porter, listening to local musicians.

A view of the town of Clifden along the famous scenic Sky Road. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

A two-hour walking tour along the Atlantic is led by Michael Gibbons, one of Ireland’s leading field archaeologists. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

The group climbs an ancient earthen battlement. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

A "trad" (traditional) session by the Kane sisters at Molly's pub in Letterfrack. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Sunset in Renvyle seen from the Renvyle House hotel. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)