Thrown into a sudden world of uncertainty, Elizabeth Toher, originally from Cong, turned to the one thing that still roots her and soothes her soul, the exquisite County Mayo village she has called home all along. his life.
Like so many others, Elizabeth’s business as a wedding photographer has been decimated by Covid and subsequent lockdowns. Unsure of what to do and where to go, she found solace in the woods she played in when she was young. Rediscover their beauty as well as the stories and legends that are so deeply rooted there. It was here that she found inspiration for her latest project, a beautiful coffee table book, titled Cong.
Released November 7, Cong is Elizabeth’s love letter to the one place she’s ever called home. Elizabeth’s love for Cong is palpable with every turn of the page. A lasting legacy of a talented artist for the place that ignites her soul.
On the first turn of the page, the reader is instantly transported to this picturesque and historic village. The history, stories and legends that fill Cong come to life through Elizabeth’s rich landscapes and intertwine, giving the reader the feeling of having entered the narrative. Breaking this incredible village down into six chapters, Elizabeth guides you through the village to Cong Woods, then on to Ashford Castle and its glorious estate. From Ashford, we leave the shores of Cong and enter Lough Corrib to discover the island of Inchagoill. There is also a chapter devoted to the legends and mythology of Mystical Cong. In the final chapter, she reveals the magic that surrounds Cong when she is adorned with snow.
This visual journey takes the reader past well-known Cong sites like Ashford Castle and the Royal Cong Abbey, as well as hidden gems like Lady Buttery’s Cave and the Giant’s Grave. Those unfamiliar with Cong’s rich history will recognize well-known names such as Guinness, Wilde and Saint Patrick and learn how each left their mark. Perhaps the best introduction to this book one can give is her love letter to the village she loves and has always called home.
In Elizabeth Toher’s own words, she wrote:
To be totally and utterly in love with where you live has to be one of life’s greatest privileges. Knowing that you are walking where kings once walked is an incredibly humbling experience. I am blessed, truly blessed to call Cong home. This is where my soul truly belongs. With all my heart, I believe I was born to live in Cong, to grow here, learn here, love here, live here, and do my life’s work from here. Fate intervened a few years ago and changed the direction in which my life was heading. This intervention of fate put me on the path to documenting Cong, through photographs. Through my lens, I am honored to share Cong’s beauty, its magic, its rich history hidden in every corner, its mystical connections and the stories that bring it to life.
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Cong has been the home of High Kings and Saints, has been the backdrop for great love stories, and has been immortalized and reached people all over the world through Hollywood cinema. At every turn there are reminders of the memories this village holds. Memories of those who have walked here before. For me I see
the places where I played as a little girl, the places where I sat and dreamed, wished and prayed. This is where, as a young girl, I met and fell in love with my husband. There is a tree where together we carved our initials more than thirty years ago, which makes me smile every time I pass by. This is where I brought each of my children home, watching them be baptized and make their first communions in the same church where I was baptized and where I made my first communion.
I saw my children create their own memories in this magical setting. I walked with their little hands in mine in the same places I once walked as a little girl with some of those I loved very much. Their mark has forever remained on me and on this special place.
Last year, when the world suddenly stopped, fate intervened again. I spent hours reconnecting with Cong, rediscovering its rich history and stories. In doing so, I fell deeply and totally in love with the magical village that I am so lucky to call home.
This is not a complete history of Cong. Others have come before me to do so. Captured through my lens and featured here is MY Cong. Places that have a special meaning for me. The places that speak to my heart. This is my love letter to the place that sets my soul on fire.
* The book can be purchased from www.ElizabethToher.ie (retail price: €45.00). For more, follow Elizabeth on Facebook or Instagram.