Clifden and Connemara, situated west of Galway City, is a part of County Galway many visitors to this part of Ireland do not see. When speaking to international visitors, and on mentioning Galway, many tend to assume that Galway City is the dominating ‘must see’ attraction in this area. Galway City is indeed one of the jewels of Ireland’s crown. It’s mix of youth, attractive pedestrian streets hosting an abundance of pubs and restaurants, its music and a bohemian atmosphere all combine to treat the visitor to a unique Irish experience. But believe me, there is a lot more to Galway than its county town!
To those visitors to Ireland seeking stunning scenery, history, quintessential Irish small towns and villages and a chance to experience rural Irish life, a trip to the Clifden area (50 miles west of Galway City and pictured above) of Connemara is the place for you. You will not be disappointed.
Connemara is the overarching name for all of County Galway west of Galway City. The area is traditionally an Irish (Gaelic) speaking area fiercely proud of its traditions and customs. Clifden Town, population circa 1600, is regarded as the capital of Connemara. It’s a traditional market town with a good selection of hotels, restaurants and other categories of accommodation. It is set in an area of stunning scenery and on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s a delightful to spend at least three nights and a great base to explore the surrounding beautiful countryside.

From Clifden the visitor can easily explore –
(1) Traditional Irish Villages – Like Roundstone (pictured above), an Irish Village on the Atlantic coast that is simply adorable. Consisting of one long street with traditional pubs, restaurants and small shops, it’s exactly like what many perceive an Irish village to be. A small fishing industry operates from the local pier and the area has many small beach areas all of which are unspoilt and sparsely used.
(2) Kylemore Abbey – again easily reached from Clifden and set within jaw dropping lake and mountains scenery, Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens, including a Neo Gothic Church is a Benedictine Monastery which until recent years was a Boarding School for girls. The buildings date back to the 1870’s when it was a manor house. This area is well worth spending at least half a day to explore. It is a very special place.
(3) Leenane and the Doolough Valley – unparalleled scenery awaits those exploring the lovely village of Leenane situated at the tip of Killary Harbour and then having crossed into County Mayo, the natural beauty of the Doolough Valley. Even at the height of the summer season, this entire area remains relatively unscathed from large tour bus traffic. No written description could do justice to what you will experience here. It is without doubt one of the most scenic areas in Europe.
(4) Westport – the lovely planned town of Westport, set at the mouth of Clew Bay is within easy reach of Clifden Town. The very attractive Georgian architecture and tree lined promenade, all of which is beautifully maintained, makes this a very attractive town to shop, eat or drink.
Overall, for those seeking to experience the ‘off the beaten track’ Ireland, Clifden and Connemara never fails to satisfy. Put it on your bucket list!
Classic Ireland Guided Tours operates private guided tours tours through Ireland. Clifden and Connemara can be incorporated into the itinerary of a multi day tour. For more information, email: