The Connemara Loop
The Connemara Loop, to the North West of Connemara is one of the most scenic places to visit in the West of Ireland. Now part of the Wild Atlantic Way, this corner of Connemara with its ever changing landscape, presents visitors with the most spectacular mountain views, mist covered lakes, pre-historic bogs, shady glens and remote, unspoilt beaches facing out towards the Atlantic. The landscape is dotted with quaint but lively villages where modern conveniences are available along with an opportunity to step back in time to a more relaxed era at a slower pace of life. The Connemara Loop is well sign posted and takes you through the villages and townlands of Maam Cross, Maam, Leenane, Killary Fjord, Lettergesh, Tully Cross, Tully, Renvyle, Derryinver, Letterfrack, Kylemore the Inagh Valley and Recess.
The name of the Burren Region is derived from the word ‘Boireann’ which means rocky land in the Gaelic language. It is a vast limestone plateau in Northwest of County Clare. Although few trees grow in this rocky place, many other plants thrive. The Burren is a unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and Alpine plants rare to Ireland grow side by side. From May to August an amazing array of flowers creates bright splashes of colour in this otherwise austere landscape. The Burren National Park and Geopark is a truly magnificent karst limestone area which has a combination of many unusual features which makes it unique in Europe. Its geology, flora, fauna, caves, archaelolgy and history set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty. You can find clean rivers, ancient castles, peaceful lakes, sheer cliffs, magical caves, lush green valleys, bare rock mountains, green walking trails along with many relics of ancient civilisation including round towers, portal dolmens, hidden churches and sacred wells. Pristine beaches with the backdrop of sculpted limestone mountains provide a wonderful setting for lovers of the outdoors. The Burren region is a mecca for those looking for some of the best hiking, cycling, surfing, kayaking or caving in the country.
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s top attractions. The Cliffs are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 km over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. The cliffs boast one of Ireland’s most spectacular views. On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara. There are many animals living on the cliffs. Most of these are birds, with an estimated 30,000 birds from 29 species. These include the noted Atlantic Puffins, which live in large colonies at isolated parts of the cliffs and on the small Goat Island. Also present are hawks, gulls, guillemots, shags, ravens and choughs. A new interpretive centre is now open at the Cliffs of Moher exploring different elements of the cliffs.
The Aran Islands
In Galway Bay lie three rocky limestone outcrops that make up the Aran Islands. They are a bastion of traditional language, culture and music, unique in their geology and archaeology and unrivalled in their potent sense of history. Each of the three islands, Inishmore (Árainn), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) and Inisheer (Inis Oírr) have their own distinct atmosphere and character, but the dramatic landscapes and endless sea form a backdrop to a labyrinth of meandering stone walls and tiny, tightly packed fields. In between, a network of narrow winding roads and grassy lanes sweep from pristine beaches and craggy shores to the dizzying cliffs that mark the edge of Europe. The islands have lured legions of writers, artists and visitors over the centuries, their enigmatic ancient monuments, early Christian remains, holy wells and historic lighthouses adding to their sense of timelessness and mystery. The pace of life is slow here and a profound sense of peace accompanies any walk or cycle down the narrow grassy lanes. This serenity makes the islands a precious sanctuary from the rush of modern life and their isolation guarantees their place as a stronghold of traditional culture. The nightly music sessions, lively dances, traditional crafts, seagoing currachs and wonderfully warm and welcoming spirit are inimitable parts of the Aran Islands.
11km of the Galway coast, renowned for its white sandy beaches, rare flora and fauna and magnificent scenery. It is an inspirational haven for artists, musicians and photographers.
Iron Age promontory forts dot the cliffs, early Christian and medieval monastic remains tell the tale of St Colman and St Leo, 16th Century strongholds whisper of pirates Don Bosco and Granuaile and the remains of a 17th Century barracks cry out for the Catholic clergy once imprisoned here.
Today, Inishbofin has become an important centre for traditional Irish music and song, boasting its own Ceilí band and local contemporary musicians. The island plays host to many visiting musicians and artists who come to Inishbofin for its renowned music sessions. Inishbofin is a breeding area for many species of birds such as the endangered corncrake. For the adventurous there are exciting mountain walks, hill climbing and excellent shore angling. The local Heritage Museum sheds light on local history with accounts of island life in times past and information on the many archaeological sites. For those tracing ancestral roots, visitors can also access a genealogical database of the people of the island.
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden is the ideal destination for a day out in majestic Connemara at any time of year. Located about an hour’s drive from Galway City, the dramatic landscape and iconic image of a gothic castle reflected in a Connemara lake has made Kylemore Abbey world-famous and it is now the largest tourist attraction in the west of Ireland. The Benedictine nuns invite visitors to experience the Victorian atmosphere of the Abbey’s restored rooms, miniature gothic church, head gardener’s house and garden boy’s house. Kylemore’s many nature trails, woodland walks and the magical award-winning walled garden offer a wonderland to explore. Discover the Victorian heritage of the walled garden, where only flower and vegetable varieties from that era are grown. Enjoy refreshing walks and scenic views as every season has something different to offer at Kylemore. Mitchell’s café and the tea house offers home-cooked food made from recipes perfected by the Benedictine nuns and using fresh vegetables and herbs from the walled garden. The craft shop has a wide selection of design-focused Irish giftware including artisan food products, knitwear, pottery, art and handcrafts made by the Benedictine nuns at Kylemore. Choirs travel from around the world to Kylemore Abbey to sing in the Gothic church with its superb acoustics. All are welcome to attend the choral performances and admittance is included in the Kylemore entry fee.