Things to Do in Connemara
Connemara is an area in West Galway comprising of a broad peninsula between Killary Harbour Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway or south west Connacht.
From the rugged Twelve Bens mountain range in the north through lake-rich Roundstone Bog to the golden beaches reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, you'll know you're in Connemara by the light that constantly changes the mood and tone of the landscape. Connemara has long been regarded as the real emerald of Ireland.
This natural terrain and unspoilt environment offers the visitor a wonderland of sights, experiences, adventure and activities. The people are warm, friendly and extend a hospitality which is the essence of Ireland.
The beautiful spring flowers, buds on the trees, newborn lambs dancing on the hills and the call of the cuckoo all make Spring time a very special and magical time in Connemara. This is an ideal time to take a break as the countryside is totally renewed. On mellow Autumn days, one can enjoy the Connemara countryside, now clothed in different colours with each passing day. In the evening enjoy lovely warm turf fires after a day spent walking through Joyce Country , cycling, painting, shooting, fishing or golfing.
Situated in the heart of the West of Ireland, Connemara National Park covers
some 2,000 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths and grassland. The development of the Connemara landscape over 10,000 years is exhibited in the visitor centre with 3D models and large scale displays.
The Connemara Pony is the only native Irish breed of Equine. The Pony originates from Connemara, County Galway on the western seaboard of Ireland, and this is the area from which the pony takes its name.
Ireland's only natural fjord. It is 16 kilometres long and in the centre it is over 45 metres deep.
Maam Vaaley with its splendid scenery. One of the location for the making of the Quiet Man film in 1953.
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins (Irish Na Beanna Beola) is a mountain range in Connemara in the west of Ireland.
The Maamturk Mountains are a picturesque mountain range in North Connemara. They are less well known than their more famous neighbours, the Twelve Bens on the other side of the Inagh Valley.
Mweelrea rising from the northern shores of Killary Harbour, is one of the finest mountain renges in Ireland.
Connemara Marble is one of Ireland's most original products. Geologists estimate this natural green rock, quarried at the Streamstown Marble Quarries two miles north west of Clifden, is about 500 million years old.
Unique to the region, the marble shows twisted and interlocking bands of serpentine, in various shades of light green and dark green.
It has been used over the centuries as a means of exchange, for features in stately buildings and is recognised for its beautiful colour and resilience, with no two pieces being similar.
A broad range of souvenirs and ornamental products are produced from the stone.
Address: Oughterard, County Galway
[ Locality directory ]
Telephone: +353 91 552021 / +353 87 2529850
Fax: +353 91 552360
This Connemara mine, abandoned in 1865, is a unique reminder of the 19th century methods of ore extraction and processing. The tour explores large marble chambers and caverns studded with lead and silver pyrite and veins of calcite and quartz.
The mine is noted for its rare and beautiful octahedral crystals of fluorite and quartz. Pitch pine timbers believed to be brought back to the west of Ireland by the emigrant coffin ships are still intact in the mine today.
Historic 19th Century silver and lead mine with guided underground tours every 20 minutes - last tour 5.30 pm. A unique heritage attraction being the only one of its kind in the country. A visit is a pleasurable experience.
Open March to November daily from 10:00 to 18:00. For visits at other times please call in advance.
The Aran Islands
The Aran Islands comprise three islands (Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Óirr) located at the mouth of Galway Bay. The names are Irish language for 'the big island', 'the middle island', 'the south island' respectivly.
The Aran Islands are rich in the language, culture and heritage of Ireland.
The islands can be reached by sea by catching a ferry at Rossaveal, or by air at Connemara Regional airport near Inverin.
Two ferry companies operate a regular services from Rossaveal to Kilronan, the main village on Inis Mór. Both companies offer four services a day during peak season evenly spaced between 9am and 6pm. A regular coach service links Galway to Rossaveal which is located about 50km (one hour drive) the city. The crossing takes about 40 minutes. Discount vochers are available to Galway.Net readers (see links below).
For those that prefer to travel by air, Aer Arannoperate a service from Connemara Regional Airport at Inverin. Unfortunately Inverin is also located some distance from Galway city - about a 45 minute drive. A coach service is available from the city. Air fares are competitive with ferry prices and package deals including accommodation are often available. The view from the air on a clear day is amazing so its worth checking out.
Aran Island Ferries
4 Foster Street, Galway
Aran Island Ferries was established in 1982 by Paddy and Sally O'Brien, providing a year round service to all three islands. It is a local company situated in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht, providing employment for 24 permanent staff and 97 part-time.
The original service was provided by one of the traditional Galway Hookers `An Tonaí` which has been part of the O'Brien family for the past 5 generations. Island Ferries Teo. now have a fast modern fleet of 6 vessels.
The ferry departs from Rossaveal, about 1 hour drive from Galway. There are several extra sailings a day during peak season. A coach service is available to shuttle people to/from Rossaveal.
tel: +353 91 568903 fax: +353 91 568538
Aer Arann (Islands)
Connemara Regional Airport, Inverin, Co. Galway
Originally a small airline servicing the three Aran Islands, but have now expanded to offer intercity and international routes.
The Aran Islands service operates from Connemara Regional Airport at Inverin (about 27km from Galway city). An hourly service is available during peak season. Flight time is only 10 minutes (although the drive to Connemara Airport is at least 40 minutes!) The fare is competitive with the ferry companies and the view from the air is amazing.
Aer Arann also operate a regular service to Dublin and London (Luton) from Galway Airport which is located only a few miles from the city.
Aughnanure Castle - A Legendary place
This majestic castle which was the home of the "Ferocious O'Flaherty's" is two miles south of Oughterard. It was built around 1500. The O'Flaherty's were a wild Irish clan who were masters of West Connacht - the area between Lough Corrib and the sea - up to the 16th century. The O'Flahtery's did not take kindly to the Normans who settled in Galway from the late 1300's, regarding them as enemies. They frequently attacked the settlers, who had to build walls around the city to keep them out. This led to the saying "From the ferocious O'Flahertys good Lord deliver us". Described as "by far the finest dwelling" upon any part of the shores of Lough Corrib, Aughanure is a well preserved example of a six story Irish tower house. Opening hours: Mid June to mid Sept: 9.30am to 6pm daily. Oct & May to mid June open Sat and Sun. Last admission 45 mins before closing.
Connemara Marble Quarry
The Connemara Marble Visitor Centre is located at Moycullen, 8 miles west of Galway City on the N59. The marble factory showroom and shop has Ireland's largest display of Connemara Marble Jewellery, fashioned in Gold and Silver depicting the Shamrock, harp, Celtic Cross and The Claddagh Ring. In addition, a large selection of Marble Gifts such as Clocks, Ashtrays, Marble Eggs, Cheese Boards and Chess Boards are available. Visitors can enjoy the added attraction of seeing the Centre's Craftsmen at work.
Open all year round. Pre-Cambrian Geology qualifies Connemara Marble as one of the world's oldest natural minerals, 600 million years old. The marble is regarded as one of the most authentic products available in Ireland. The quarry is situated at Streamstown, Clifden, Co. Galway. Phone 091 555102/555746
Dan O'Hara's Homestead Connemara Heritage and History Center
Nestling into the hillside beneath the Twelve Bens is the restored cottage of Dan O'Hara, a man made famous in song and story. From the hilltop above the farm, there is a spectacular view of the Roundstone Bog as it stretches towards the Atlantic. Left of the viewing site is an Upland Burial Site (5000 years old) which has revealed much about the Neolithic and early Bronze Age activity in Connemara. The audio-visual and history presentation introduces the main events which have shaped Connemara from pre-historic to the present - this is in several languages. Other features include reconstructions of crannogs (pre-historic lake dwellings), ring forts and clochauns (Early Christian Oratory).
An old style carriage takes visitors on a guided tour through the Centre by prior appointment. Turf cutting demonstrations, sheep herding and other activities are demonstrated for groups on request. Facilities at the Center include a large craft shop, tea room (serving soups, salads and cakes), telephone and toilets. Major credit cards accepted.
Groups catered for by prior arrangement. Lunches for groups by prior booking. >
Dan O'Hara's Homestead, Connemara Heritage and History Center, Lettershea, Clifden, Co.Galway. Tel: 095 21246/21808 Fax 095 22098 Web: www.connemaraheritage.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ireland's only show mine, Glengowla Silver and Lead Mine, which dates back to the 19th century, is located two miles outside Oughterard, (Clifden Road). Reputed to be one of the richest and most productive mines of its time, Glengowla has been restored to a level of 65 feet underground.
Guided tours are available where you are lead down into the mines by steps, handrails and lighting. You will be guided through the large marble chambers and caverns where you will see silver, lead, calcite, quartz and many such mineral formations on the walls of the mine.
On the surface there is a Visitor Centre hosting many examples of minerals from the mine, a Rock and gem shop, an Agents Cottage, Gun Powder House, a Winding Stow and Gold Panning.
Open daily March to November. Guided underground tours every 20 minutes.
Glengowla Mines, Ougtherard, Co Galway. Tel 091 552360/552021.
Kylemore Abbey and Visitor Center
Kylemore Abbey located in Beautiful scenery in the heart of the Twelve Bens in Connemara, is home to the Irish Benedictine nuns.
The Abbey was originally built in 1868 by a Manchester business magnate Mitchell Henry, for his wife Margaret. Its design is neo-gothic and the house displays all the features of the period.
The Benedictine nuns bought the house in 1920, having fled their convent in Ypres, Belgium in 1914, where they ran an international boarding school for girls for over 300 years. They re-established the school here and it is still very much alive today. Today you can enjoy the 'peace and tranquility' of Kylemore Abbey by visiting the Abbey and Gothic Church or the recently restored Victorian walled garden. Separate or joint ticketing can be arranged.
Opening times: Abbey and Tea Rooms all year 9:30am - 5:30pm (except Christmas week and Good Friday). Winter hours 10am - 5pm. Craft Shop open St Patrick's Weekend - Oct 10:30am - 5pm. Tel: 195 41146 Web: www.kylemoreabbey.com
Leenane Cultural Centre
Leenane Cultural Centre, overlooking Killary Harbour, interprets North Connemara's sheep and wool industry. Over 20 different breeds of sheep graze on the lands around the centre. Inside, wool handcrafts, such as carding, spinning, weaving and the use of natural dyes are demonstrated. Local history and places of interest are also featured on audio visual display. A wool craft shop and a restaurant are also provided.
Tel: 095 42323 Email: email@example.com
Spiddal Craft Centre
12 miles from Galway City the Spiddal Craft Centre is where you can see crafts being made which gives a rare opportunity to buy unique handmade gifts directly from the skilled Artisans themselves. Consisting of a range of workshops, including candle making, leatherwork, textile design, pottery, screen-printing and siopa Gaeilge, weaving, Celtic jewellery, and a restaurant.
The craft centre is adjacent to Spiddal's blue flag beach, with stunning views of Galway Bay and The Burren.
Contact David McCarthy 091 553433. Open all year round. Also December Christmas Gift Fair
Visit the set of 'The Field'
A film adaptation of John B Keane's famous play 'The Field', directed by Jim Sheridan was made in Leenane in the early 1990's. The film and play were based on a true story which occurred in Kerry, and was a battle for land between a local man and an outsider which ended in murder. In Leenane you can visit the pubs and shops that were used as sets in the film, and see the house where the film star, Richard Harris lived.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park is a 2000 hectare state owned conservation centre made up of mountains, bogs and grasslands with spectacular wildlife. Facilities include an audio-visual show and photographic display of Connemara scenery. There are picnic facilities, nature trails and a summer series of walks and illustrated talks.
Connemara National Park is open to the public all year round. The visitor Center situated near Letterfrack is open daily Apr-May 10am - 5:30pm; June 10am - 6:30pm; July-Aug 9:30am - 6:30pm; Sept - Mid Oct 10am - 5:30pm. Last admission 45 minutes before closing. Adult: 2.75 euro, senior citizen 2.00 euro, child/student 1.25 euro, family 7.00 euro. Tel +353 (0)95 41054/41006
Near Leeane is Killary Harbour - which is both a scenic and safe haven for visiting boats and yachts. The Killary, as it is more commonly called is truly unique in that it is Ireland's only fjord. Enjoy this beautiful and unique landscape by taking a cruise on the sheltered waters of the fjord with Sea-Cruise Connemara, who offer four daily sailings on their luxury catamaran.
Step back in time as you sail past the many deserted villages, abandoned since Famine times, which dot the Northern shore of the Fjord. Admire the rugged landscape of Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht. As your cruise takes you to the mouth of the fjord, if you are lucky you may happen upon the resident school of dolphins which can regularly be seen there.
Lough Corrib- Galways largest lake
The Corrib system is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Europe. It consists of a chain of lakes draining from Lough (Lake) Carra in Co. Mayo to Lough Mask and Lough Corrib, through the River Corrib into Galway Bay.
Lough Corrib is the largest lake in the republic of Ireland, at 42,000 acres, and is renowned for its Salmon and Brown Trout.
A feature of Lough Corrib is the number of islands, a few with houses, which dot it's length. On one of the islands, Inchagoill, there is an early Christian monastic settlement and a Romanesque Church. On another, Castlekirk there is an impressive 13th century fortress.
The islands can be reached by boat ( arranged with local fishermen) and there are scheduled cruises March to October to Inchgoill Island with Corrib Cruises.
Tel: 091 552644 for details of sailings. Angling on Lough Corrib contact: Western regional Fisheries board. Weir Lodge, Earls Island, Galway. 091 563118