Connemara is an area in the west of Ireland known for its landscapes and unspoiled beauty. The western of County Galway makes up Connemara, and in recent years it has become more and more popular with tourists looking to discover one of the last authentic and untainted places in Ireland. You will know you’ve reached Connemara when the street signs change from English into Irish. You will feel as if you’ve gone through some sort of invisible portal back in time. This is a Gaeltacht area, meaning Irish is the primary spoken language among the residents, so don’t be surprised if you walk into a restaurant or shop and find people talking in Irish. If you’re interested in being exposed to this part of Irish culture, get in your rental car and head for the wild west.
The largest town in Connemara is Clifden. Often called the capital of Connemara, Clifden is one of the most popular attractions in the region for tourists. Many visitors arrive to drive the nearly seven-mile Sky Road in the area; this circular route is known for its stunning views and rugged beauty. The town of Clifden is often used as a base to explore the surrounding area. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the 12 Bens, a small string of mountains, this village is a great starting point for hiking, bicycling, golfing, or horseback riding. The town itself has recently earned a bit of a culinary reputation for its developing restaurants. Check into one of the guesthouses or B&Bs and get to know a different side of Ireland.
Another attraction in Connemara is the small village of Leenane. Located at the head of Killary Harbour, Leenane has earned the nickname “the gateway to Connemara.” The harbour extends ten miles inland and is Ireland’s only fjord. Although it is disputed whether or not this feature was carved by glaciers, the area remains one of Connemara’s most spectacular sites all the same. The scenery attracts many hikers and hillwalkers throughout the year. Leenane is popular for its fishing, mountain climbing, and adventure sports. The cozy B&Bs and hearty good make this small village a good place to kick back and relax while exploring Connemara.
Connemara tours are available as well, that bring visitors to some of the top sites. During a tour you will typically visit Kylemore Abbey, Killary Harbour, Maam Cross, and the top scenic views in the region. Whether you want to join an exciting jeep tour or a relaxing cruise on the Killary inlet, you are guaranteed to be impressed by the dramatic scenery. The coastline of Connemara is known for its stunning peninsulas containing charming fishing villages such as Roundstone. The area is also famous for a green and white marble that has become very valuable over time.
For some repeat visitors, their favorite time of the year is the spring when wildflowers take over the hills and newborn lambs are running around in the hills. For others, autumn is the special time, when colors of the countryside seem to change almost daily. One of the most beautiful and undisturbed areas of the Emerald Isle, it is impossible to claim to know Ireland without having seen this legendary landscape.