Connemara, a land of lakes, mountains and coastal routes, is an idyllic location for the short or long term visitor. Whether you enjoy visiting small towns and villages such as Clifden and Leenane, or hill walking along some great mountain trails, or spending time relaxing along the coastal roads, you will find many ways to spend your time in Connemara.
Connemara GolfFor the golfer, visit one of the excellent courses such as Connemara Links and Ballynahinch Castle
Connemara AdventureLooking for adventure, then Connemara is the place to be, whether it's hill walking, scuba diving, kayaking, kite surfing or just having good simple fun. The Connemara Adventure Challenge took place this year on Saturday May 9th. This 32.5km ( cycling, running, kayaking ) adventure race around Killary takes you through some stunning scenery. The Connemara Adventure Challenge takes place this year on Saturday 09 May. This adventure race (cycling, running and kayaking ) over a 32.5km course around Killary.
Connemara CoastThe Connemara coast has a number of distinct regions, in the south there numerous small islands, interconnected by bridges, in the west there are some fine beaches and in the north Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord.
Connemara PonyThe Connemara pony is a breed of pony which originated in the west of Ireland. The breed makes excellent show ponies. While travelling along the Connemara Loop Drives you are likely to see the ponies in fields or meadows.
Connemara HotelsLooking for a place to stay in Connemara, why not check out our Hotel and Accommodation listings.
Connemara MarathonThe Connemara Marathon took place this year on 12th April. The route takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Connemara.
Connemara AbbeyOne of the finest examples of an Irish abbey, Kylemore Abbey, located in a beautiful but remote valley in Connemara.
Connemara AttractionsLooking for things to do ? Places to visit then check out the best places in Connemara below.
Connemara Paul HenryThe beautiful scenery of Connemara was an inspiration to the artist Paul Henry, check out the Moving Postcards and Videos below.
Connemara MarbleThe region of Connemara is famous for it's gree marble with amazing light reflecting patterns. There is a marble quarry and gift shop selling marble in the village of Recess.
Driving through the Inagh Valley from Recess, with the Twelve Bens on your left and the Maamturks on your right and Lough Inagh in between can be a memorable experience even in inclement weather.
Twelve Pins Inagh Valley
The Twelve Pins or Twelve Bens are a series of mountain peaks located in the mountain range north of the Cliden to Maam Cross road and west of the Inagh Valley. Binn (Ben) Bhan (White) is the highest of the peaks rising to just below 730 metres.
The area is ideal for walking, particularly with the excellent Western Way traversing the area. The Western Way stretches from Mayo right down to Galway. A good place to pick up the walk is close to the Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel.
While walking in the mountains it is advisable to take precautions, wear suitable boots and clothing as the weather and visibility can change quite quickly.
If you are the more energetic kind you could try running up all twelve peaks in a day.
Lough Inagh, with the Twelve Pins on the West and the Maamturks on the East is located in one of the most beautiful and tranquil valleys in Connemara. On the road from Maam's cross, take the turn just after Recess and enter Inagh Valley.
The lough opens up on the left and is backed on the east and west by high rising heather covered mountains of the Maumturks and Twelve Bens.
The Ballynahinch Fishery stretches from at Bertraghboy Bay northwards through Inagh Valley and eastwards almost to Maam Cross, with numerous loughs and tributaries all the way through dramatic scenery. It is one of the most extensive fisheries in the west.
Maamturks and Twelve Bens
The Twelve Pins and the Maamturk Mountain ranges have some of the most beautiful scenery in Connemara.
They are a delight for the driving tourist, the cyclist and walker.
There are a number of loop roads that pass through the lower valleys, making for some interesting trips.
Maamturks and Twelve Bens
The Maamturk mountains lie to the east of Inagh Valley and West of Maam Cross. While the tweleve Pins are on the West side of Inagh Valley.
The Maamturks Walk is a arduous 25km walk starting near Maam Cross and following the Maamturk Ridge and finishing in Leenane.
The walk while covering some beautiful scenic terrain in fine weather is only suited to the experienced and well equipped hill walker.The walk takes in excess of 11 hours and should only be attempted during the long summer days and in good weather.
When following the N59 from Maam Cross - the Maamturks are on the right handside - follow the Maamturks loop through Inagh Valley - upto Killary and back to Maam Cross on the N336
Inagh Valley Drive
The drive from Maam Cross to Kylemore which runs through Inagh has been voted one of the best scenic drives in Ireland. (Not sure who actually voted )
A beautiful drive or cycle is to follow the road through Inagh Valley and on to Kylemore Valley and the Kylemore Abbey.
From there continue on the road and you will soon come to the charming town on Clifden, situated on a small well protected harbour.
The main road out of Clifden will bring you back to Recess and Maam Cross.
Inagh Valley Drive
In the heart of Connemara, surrounded by bog land and distant mountains, there is a small Catholic Church which is open and welcoming to all visitors.
Lakes and Mountains
Whether you drive, cycle, walk the mountains, lakes and rivers of Connemara are accessible. The views throughout the region, with it's changeable weather can vary throughout the day.
Lough Fee Lakes and Mountains
Heading from Killary along the Connemara/Renvyle loop you pass through the Garraun Valley and by Lough Fee.
Lough Fee not far from Killary and Lennane is a glaciated lake, surrounded on two sides by mountains, the hard top road follows the course of the lake between the mountains.
Lough Fee is at the start of the,Renvyle Loop drive or at the end depending on where you want to start.
Using the lough as a starting point when driving the Renvyle Loop is good as it takes you into breath taking scenery very quickly.
After passing through the valley, you can take a detour up to the mouth of Killary Harbour, the views from this angle are interesting, you can also see the mussel fishermen at work.
After the detour swing back along the main road towards Renvyle, perhaps stop for lunch or have a game of golf on the local course.
A visit to Derryinver Quay and Ballinakill Harbour should be included in your tour, from here you can enjoy sea cruise or a sea angling trip
Within the beautiful valley of Lough Fee there is a small fish farm. The local fishermen are always only happy to chat with people passing by.
Lough NaFurnace is on the road R336 from Casla to Maam Cross. The lake is stocked for fishing and there is a small roadside cafe with wonderful views of the lake.
Park safely alongside the road and stroll about the lakeshore, off the road under foot can be wet and muddy so take care.
Take a drive through Oughterad, the Connemara Gateway or stop by the lake for a day's fishing
Lough Corrib is Ireland's largest lake it has a multiplicity of small uninhabited islands and lies within a rivers roar of Galway city. Peaceful, tranquil fishing with real expectations of a catch of trout, salmon or pike. That's what you will have on Lough Corrib. Oughterard the gateway to Connemara, it lies on the western shores of Lough Corrib. The village is a haven for anglers, who hire boats from the local fishermen or gillies. You can cruise Lough Corrib starting from Oughterad, Cong or Galway. Enjoy an evening cruise as the sun sets over the Connemara Mountains.
Driving along the N59 from Oughterad, you will catch glimpse of what lies ahead, but when you reach Maam Cross, the whole vista of the Connemara Mountains, Maam Turks and Twelve Pins opens out in front of you. This is just a cross roads on the road to Clifden or Lenane, there is a hotel right on the corner, which serves as a good base for walking or exploring the surrounding area.
Along the lake shore there are numerous boatmen offering fishing boats for hire on a daily or half daily basis. Continue on through the village of Oughterad - heading west will take you to Maam Cross.
Killary Harbour is Ireland's only fjord ( a long narrow inlet, surrounded by high mountains ).
The fjord can be toured by car, cycle, on foot or by cruise boat.
Killary Harbour Killary Harbour
Explore the dramatic scenery of Killary harbour. The harbour is a glacial fjord stretching about 16 km inland to the village of Leenane.
Killary Harbour, a long narrow fjord is bound on the North by Mweelrea Mountains and the Twelve Bens to the South. The lough marks the boundary between Counties Galway and Mayo.
The village of Leenane sits at the head of fjord, while the village is small it does have a number of good pubs and local restaurants. The village is a good base if you wish to walk some of the green roads, tracks and walkways in the area.
The remains of a village deserted during the Irish Great Famine 1840s is located close to the lough and accessible by following the green path.
Ceoil agus Craic
If the weather is inclement, don't despair just head to one of the local pubs and you may find some musicians free playing or a groups playing cards while taking a few pints.
Salmon and mussels are farmed locally in the lough, you will inevitably see the small mussel rafts working
In around Killary there is much to do. Enjoy a cruise on the Fjord - walk the green roads, stroll around the sea shore or relax over a pint in the village.
Killary Harbour enters the Atlantic in Killary Bay under the shadow of the Mweelrea Mountains Mayo. The Mweelrea are the highest mountains in County Mayo.
The dramatic sea and mountainscape views of Killary Bay and Mweelrea Mountains are best seen while travelling the Renvyle Peninsula Loop Drive or from Rosroe at the head of the Fjord.
Set among lakes, rivers and mountains - a visit to Kylemore Valley and Abbey is time well spent
Kylemore Valley Kylemore Valley
While in the area a visit to Kylemore Abbey is a must. Enroute from Leenane or Lough Inagh you pass through the beautiful valley of Kylemore
In Gaelic Kylemore is known as Choill Mhór with a literal translation of The Big Wood.
After leaving Lough Inagh travelling north from Recess, the area is pretty barren with just a covering of grass with some grazing sheep. But when you turn left into the Kylemore valley, with its 3 lakes the flora changes dramatically to stands of oak and other native trees, birds and flowers are plentiful though hidden among the trees.
The loughs in the valley are excellent for angling and you can hire a boat locally.
Kylemore Abbey is at the head of this valley and is worth a visit.
The valley is especially beautiful in late spring ( April/May ) when the Rhododendrons are in full flower.
Towns and Villages
While Connemara is not densely populated there are a number of villages and the town of Clifden is the area's major centre.
Clifden Towns and Villages
Explore the picturesque village of Clifden set between the mountains of Connemara and the Atlantic Ocean.
Clifden town was developed in the early 19th century, while remote from Galway city, it had access to local resources, such as fishing, quarries, good harbour and reasonable agricultural land.
Before the end of the same century, the rail line arrived in the town, giving it an economy boast for a number of years, providing access to Galway city for local produce, the train also brought tourists to the town. Unfortunately the life of the train was short lived as the line from Galway was closed in 1935.
Today the town 's main focus is tourism and acts as a base location for visitors touring the area. The town has a number of quality restaurants and pubs. Local accommodation can be found in hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts.
There is a fine walk from the town down past the harbour and along the estuary of Clifden Bay and on beyond the point where the bay broadens out.
For sailing enthusiasts the bay has excellent waters and a fine sailing club.
Maam or Maum village lies to the east of Connemara and close to Lough Corrib.
The village lies on a northerly gate way from Lough Corrib to West Connemara - the village is tiny though it has a pub which offers refreshments and food.
The small village of Letterfrack lies at the head of Barnaderg Bay and below Diamond hill. It is close to the entrance to Connemara National Park. The village is home to the Letterfrack GMIT campus. For many years the village was the home of an industrial school.
Letterfrack was selected by Marconi as the location for the transatlantic wireless receiver station for his new duplex transatlantic wireless service. Beginning in 1913, eastbound messages were sent from his Marconi Towers in Nova Scotia over high power wireless.
The National Park centre is the starting point for a number of loop walks of varying difficulty up Diamond Hill.
If you get the opportunity see some of the excellent examples of art hand crafted by the college students in the college.
The village of recess lies on the N59 beside Lough Gorman and close to the enterance to Inagh Valley. Follow the road west to Clifden - a samll town or turn north into the beautiful valley bordered by the Maamturk and Twelve Pin Mountains.
Recess is a cross roads on a number of the Connemara Loop drives - West towards Clifden, the Sky and Peninsula Loops - north takes you to Kylemore and Killary Harbour.
The peninsula loop drives are short and can be done in succession, the time taken varies depending on when and how often you stop. The loops are also suitable for cycling and can parts can be walked.
Sky Road Loop Loop Drives
Take the sky road from Clifden and enjoy an Atlantic sunset or amble along the narrow roads
In the Connemara region close to Clifden there are a number of marked looped roads, the Sky Road is one such road, it loops out and rises above the town, offering views of town set against the Maumturk Mountains.
The road continues with views over Clifden Bay and then swings around to hug the Atlantic Coast line, giving great views of the sea below and on the fine days beautiful sunsets as the sun drops into the sea long before it reaches the USA.
The road continues and eventually sweeps back to Clifden.
From Clifden there are a number of scenic road walks which take you along the coast. Just follow the roads out of town.
In Clifden the Sky Road Loop is well sign posted. Follow the sign posted route and it will take you out and above the town, this small road wanders above the coast - when it loops back to the N59 you can return to Clifden or continue on the Renvyle Loop.
Sky Road Loop
The Cleggan loop drive takes you along the southern end of Cleggan head past Claddaghduff and over the headland to Cleggan Bay and into the small fishing village of Cleggan. You can take a ferry to Inisbofin from Cleggan Village.
The Renvyle Loop drive takes you out along the Renvyle Headland -( turn left when heading north in Letterfrack) - pass by the Tully Mountains and over the hills towards Killary Bay
When you get to Renvyle - there is a long beach where you can stretch a leg, there are two villages (Tully and Tullycross ) where you can get some food,
There is a well maintained caravan park alongside the sandy beach just west of Tullycross.
As you walk along the beach towards the golf course there are some amazing views across the bay to Mweelrea Mountain and ahead to the mighty Twelve Pins.
The N59 road from Clifden to Letterfrack passes Rossleague and Barnaderg Bay. Just off the road there is a coffee and craft shop
From the tiny harbour there are some finew views looking towards Letterfrack and the Connemara National Park
When you get to Maam Cross - you can travel the four points of the compass - North, South, East or West
Maams Cross Maam Cross
Enjoy the breathtaking views on the road from Maams Cross through Lough Inagh Valley and on to Kylemore.
The Connemara Park is more than 2000 ha of bog land, mountains, rivers lakes and streams.
The visitor centre is located just outside Letterfrack. The park is open all year round and is popular with walkers and climbers. The village of Recess is a good stopping point before you turn right and head into the Twelve Tins mountains and Lough Inagh valley. The Connemara Loop, a circular route through some of the most scenic areas, starts at Maam Cross. The road distance is about 90Km, though the driving time due to stop offs, rests, and perhaps a sing song in a Connemara pub, may take some time The roads through Connemara are generally small and narrow. The area hosts many bus tours, so better to avoid the tours and stay ahead or wait till they have well passed.
The Inagh Valley opens out into the less rugged Kylemore valley. A stop in the abbey is a must, so don't forget to take the left turn when you reach the main road.
Inagh Valley is one of the most photographed areas of Connemara on a fine day. The road winds along the side of Derry Clare Lake and Lough Inagh, bound on the West by the Twelve Pins and on the right by the mighty MaumTurk mountains.
The Inagh Valley opens out into the less rugged Kylemore valley. A stop in the abbey a must.
From Maams Cross you can select which direction to take - go south for a loop around Galway Bay, west for one of the scenic short loop drives and north to Maam Village and upper Lough Corrib
Maam Cross to Clifden
The scenic N59 road from Maam Cross with its mountainous backdrop,winds by a series of lakes.
While following the Clifden Loop you pass through Recess and continue on the N59 as it meanders past lakes, streams and mountains, till it reaches the town of Clfiden.
Maam Cross to Clifden
Maam Cross South
South of Maam Cross the R336 road takes you through unspoilt landscpape with distance views of the Twelve Pins and Maamturk Mountains. The R336 leads you to Galway Bay and Carroe and Rossaveel.
The R336 road is part the Galway Ougherrad Galway Bay loop drive - you can leave Galway and head out along the coast through Barna or follow the Ougtherrad road past Lough Corrib to Maam Cross - the R336 connects the two parts of the loop.
Maam Cross South
The Abbey and Gardens are open all year to the public. There is a cafe within the grounds.
Kylemore Abbey Kylemore Abbey
One of Irelands most iconic castles, Kylemore stands as an oasis amongst the heather and bogland
Kylemore Abbey was built in the late 19th century, as a gift by the owner to his wife. The Abbey boasts as being one of Ireland's finest castles. Certainly the view is stunning The Abbey is nestled along the shore of Kylymore lake, back dropped by the Rhododendron purple in early summer. The Abbey until recently was a boarding school for girls, run by the Benedictine nuns, who had fled Belgium after the second world war. Today the Abbey is open as a visitor centre Apart from providing access to the house, visitors can also enjoy the Victorian walled gardens. This is the only formal garden in Ireland, built in and surrounded by bog land.
The Connemara Park is more than 2000 ha of bog land, mountains, rivers lakes and streams. The visitor centre is located just outside Letterfrack. The park is open all year round and is popular with walkers and climbers. Connemara ponies can be seen on some of the remote farms on the road from Ougtherrad to Clifden. The pony show takes place annually in Clifden in August.
Enjoy a relaxing break inthe excellent cafe, stroll about the gardens and grounds or visit the house.
Kylemore Abbey was built as a family home by Michael Henry, a wealthy doctor who lived in London. The abbey was completed in 1871 and the Henry family moved from England to Kylemore. Michael Henry took an interest in politics and became an MP for Galway County in 1871 , a role he maintained for almost 15 years.
The estate covers an area of about 15,000 acres of Connemara woodland, hills, lakes, streams and bog land.
The wildness and remoteness coupled with the natural beauty drew Mitchell and Margaret Henry( the originators of the estate ) to Connemara for their honeymoon. The area left a deep impression on the young couple.
Much later after inheriting a large fortune on the death of his father, Mitchell set about building the house and estate for his wife.
Within close proximity to the Abbey there are two inter connected lakes. Both valuable fishing waters.
The atmosphere about the lakes, changes with the mood of the day, from a misty morning start, the sun may rise reflecting the mountains in the still waters, later as western weather fronts move in from the Atlantic, the lakes may become turbulent, the surface broken by white crested waves.
The estate has a walled garden which is maintained throughout the year and looks splendid during the summer months.
Within the garden one of the workers cottage is kept as a mini museum showing how the gardeners loved in the past.
The garden is approx. 6 acres, being built on peat-land, overcome the acidic nature of the soil was one of the major problems which had to be resolved.
The garden is divided into two, one half is for flowers and the other for the kitchen vegetables. The form of the garden has been maintained to the present day.
From Clifden follow the coast road passed the coral beaches to Ballyconneely, then on past Dog Beach to Roundstone and back by the Bog Road.
Coral Beach Roundstone Loop
You don't have to go all the way to the Great Barrier Reef to find coral beaches.
Connemara has its very own and the beached around Mannin Bay are some of the finest with white soft sand.
Bun Owen or BunOwen lies at the westerly head of Ballyconneely, is an area of unspoilt beauty and still retains the charm that attracted James Joyce, and of which he wrote in his book "History of Ballyconneely from earliest settlers to the present day"
Grace O'Malley or Granuaile, the priate queen married a local and settled down in the area.
Closeby there is a small harbour, a fish smoke house and the well known Connemara Golf Course.
Just two miles from Roundstone are two fine beaches, separated by a narrow neck of sand dunes.
Dog Beach the one further west is in a small bay, with a westerly aspect.
The white sand on the beach is made from millions of tiny microscopic shells, the shells come from Foramifera, a type of phylum. The majority of phylum live on the sea floor and their shells over time were washed up onto the beach. They are related to plankton.
The white sand and shallow water add to give the sea a green blue colour on a sunny day.
Gurteen Beach is the one closer to Roundstone. It is more developed with picnic tables, easy parking, a shop and has a well maintained caravan park.
The beach swings round and faces both due south and east. So even if there is a breeze you can shelter by changing beach.
The village of Roundstone lies at the foot of Errisbeg Mountain and on the shores of Bertraghboy Bay.
The village makes a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. The loop road along the coast from Clifden, through Rounstone and back over the bog, with its amazing views of the Twelve Bens is one of the best loop for cyclists and motorists in Connemara.
Rounstone has a small but working harbour. The local fishermen can be seen working on their boats or returning with their lobster and fish catches.
The village has a number of good restaurants and pubs and of course are very welcoming to visitors throughout the season but don't go looking for the Round Stone, as the town takes it's name from Cloch na Ron or Seal's Rock.
The bog north of Roundstone is a special conservation area.
Whether crossing the bog by car, cycle or on foot, on a clear day you will see stunning views of the Twelve Bens.
The blanket bogs of Connemara help to absorb the abundant rainfall and slowly let it drain to the rivers and lakes. The bogs act like a sponge, slowing down the erosion effects of the heavy rainfalls.