Connemara is not only whiskey, but also the most underrated region of Ireland. Sheer cliffs, endless green meadows, the National Park of the same name with picturesque lakes, that’s what Connemara is all about. If you enjoy silence, walking and hiking, cycling and fishing, then Ireland will be the perfect place for your holiday! Such as Connemara.
What is Connemara famous for?
Connemara is a non-pop place, it is the land of green meadows, azure lakes and moorlands. Its beauties are legendary, but they continue to be out of reach of the mass tourist. And everyone who has taken the trouble to get to Connemara is united by a love of nature. This makes the national park so quiet and clean.
They say spirits live in the local hills. However they say it all over Ireland. But we know for sure that real Irish people who live in Connemara speak not English, but Gaelic. If you dreamed of visiting traditional Ireland, welcome to Connemara!
Where is Connemara located?
The town or village of Connemara does not exist on the map. This is the name of the historical region of County Galway in the west of Ireland. This is also the name of the local National Park. The county seat is Clifden.
How to get to Connemara?
You can get to Clifden from Dublin with or without a transfer. In the first case, the way will go through the port city of Galway. Music festivals are held there all year round and it’s generally very beautiful. Galway can be reached by train (see tickets here) or by bus. From Galway to Connemara Park you can book a full day bus tour. Here are a couple of options:
If you go directly from Dublin to Connemara, the length of the route will be 280 km. You can choose a direct bus with a stop, but without a transfer in Galway. The journey from Dublin to Clifden by public transport will take around 5 hours.
If you are specifically interested in Connemara National Park, then it will be more convenient to book a bus tour from Dublin to Connemara (see a one-day tour here, and a two-day tour here). Then you won’t have to decide how to get from Clifden to the park itself.
It is much more convenient and exciting to go to Connemara by car. It is worth booking it in advance, during the tourist season the price will inevitably rise. With this link you can choose the car of the desired class. We recommend taking compact models, because the roads in Ireland are narrow. By car you will get from Dublin to Clifden in 3.5–4 hours. And there it will be possible to decide whether to go to the National Park or go further west to the rocky coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
» READ MORE – Traveling in Ireland by car: itineraryHere you can choose a nice hotel in Connemara
How to get to Connemara Park?
You need to enter the national park from the side of the town of Letterfrack. The Visitor Center is located there. In this center you can learn everything about the park, its unique nature (there is a small exposition), and the rules of visiting. There is a cafe in the center. You can take maps of the hiking trails, which also show parking lots and toilets. There are both the easiest trails for a short walk for unprepared people, and for experienced hikers.
The Visitor Center working hours: everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Visiting the Visitor Center and National Park is free of charge.
Official website of the Visitor Center: connemaranationalpark.ie
Sights of the Connemara National Park
The main treasure of Connemara is lakes, meadows, hills and swamps. You can admire them round the clock! Tourists visit the national park for the following reasons:
- To climb three Irish mountains. The Irish have only twelve of them, so each is of great value.
- To wander around Diamond Hill. Mystics call it a place of power and believe that elves live here. And even without any mysticism, the view from it is breathtaking.
- To amaze that swamps can be beautiful! Yes, most of the Connemara National Park is peat bogs. This is a very rare landscape, for which the area received the protected status of the National Park.
- To see wild Connemara ponies — the largest animals of this area, which are not found anywhere else in the world.
- To admire Kilmore Abbey. The holy monastery is located on the shore of a picturesque lake. It often hosts organ concerts.
- To buy exotic fruits in the greenhouses of the Victorian garden at the abbey. There is a collection of various types of trees, plants and shrubs on its territory; they grow not only in Connemara, but also far beyond its borders.
The nature around is so fabulous that even skeptics begin to believe in the existence of fairies, elves, and other fantastic creatures.
» READ MORE – Ireland famous parks and gardens
When to go to Connemara?
Connemara National Park is open all year round. Even in winter there is something special in the contemplation of such a huge space. Well, closer to July, the weather gets better for walking. So choosing time is up to your taste.
The park may be closed due to very bad weather, when the forecasts promise storms, strong winds and heavy rainfall.
Where to stay in Connemara?
If you are not interested in spending the night in a tent at a campsite, then you can stay in Clifden. Only about 1500 people live in the city. Even the railway station was closed here in the last century due to low passenger traffic: then tourists were not yet expected. The village is very clean and comfortable to stay in. All its residents know each other very well. They are very friendly to guests and are ready to show local sights, take you to the national park, help choose a house, hotel or hostel for accommodation. A nice bonus: housing prices in Clifden are quite affordable, check out the offers at this link.Book a hotel in Clifden
In other small towns that you will meet along the way, there can also be very charming guesthouses. See all offers of hotels in Connemara here.
» READ MORE – Cliffs of Moher in Ireland: how to reach and what to see
What to see in Clifden?
Naturally in the old Irish town there is a castle of the same name — Clifden Castle. They say that ghosts live in its ruins, and that they are very unfriendly. Local residents try not to visit the remains of the fortress even during the day. At the same time, the ruins are very popular with travelers coming to the city. The Irish have figured out how to solve this problem and not lose tourists. They invite foreigners to work as guides to the ruins. Oddly enough the spirits are loyal to them.
You can visit Clifden Castle on your own at any time and for free.
Also you can check out the tourist office in the city center. There they will offer you information brochures, tell you about current entertainment (you can even find beaches in Clifden) and answer all your questions.
» READ MORE – 20 best castles in Ireland
What to bring from Connemara?
The recipe for Connemara whiskey is not ancient at all. It was invented about 40 years ago, but during this time it has become popular in different countries of the world. Gourmets love to buy original Connemara Irish whiskey in and around Clifden and claim that it is the most delicious here. Another edible souvenir popular with travelers is dried fish.
There are not so many souvenir shops on the streets of the city, but there you can buy exclusive items made of wool, silver, original paintings, dishes made of natural materials, decorated with clover petals. Prices for such goods are quite moderate, and locals willingly make discounts for tourists.
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Legends of Connemara
Once upon a time, the Celtic tribe Conmhaícne Mara lived here, they are called «descendants of the sea». The area got its name in its honor. Druids considered Connemara sacred, they visited these lands to worship the ancient gods.
Modern Irish believe that the children of the mother goddess Danu live in Connemara. Local residents believe that demigods still live among people and are able to endow every person they like with happiness, health, and wealth.
The Irish believe that the most dangerous time in this place is the days of the spring and autumn equinoxes, winter and summer solstices. Exactly then the hills open, fairies and underground spirits come out. They dance in the meadows and kidnap beautiful youngsters.
Writers, poets, musicians and filmmakers come to Connemara for inspiration. The simple life of local residents, the silence, the unhurried rhythm of life become a real salvation, a cure for the noise, bustle of megacities and numerous stresses. The air here is clean and fragrant. Biking, hiking in the hills and meadows bring mental rest and peace of mind. If this is the holiday you are looking for, then welcome to Connemara!