Connemara – impressive lands

Connemara – does the name sound familiar? That’s no wonder, because this rugged landscape to the west of Galway city is well known – and extremely impressive…

Motorbike approaching the mountains of Connemara
Motorbike approaching the mountains of Connemara (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Intro

I’m out and about on my motorbike again (you can do the same tour by car). It’s very sunny and warm, almost hot. Blue sky, a few white clouds, dazzling light.

From Galway, I follow the coast westwards to Connemara. Connemara is well known, very well known. Perhaps it’s because of the elegant Connemara ponies that come from this region, or because of the resonant name.

Perhaps it is also because there are many coach tours to Connemara, as a day trip from Dublin and also from Galway. Connemara is well known, well marketed and well visited in summer, especially at weekends.

I’m travelling in early summer – and it is a weekend.

Motorcycle at the coast of Connemara
Motorcycle at the coast of Connemara (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

But the crowds are limited to the major national roads (N59) and Galway itself. Away from the mainstream, everything is peaceful – as is so often the case in Ireland. The small, narrow roads are avoided by the buses and many tourists with hire cars also skip them – their own fault, as these are usually the most beautiful routes!

And so I chug along the coast to the west on small roads without being bothered. The landscape is rocky, very rocky. While in the fertile east of Ireland the roads are lined with high green hedges, here it is mostly simple stone walls that surround the barren pastures. They are made of coarse natural stones and are not very high. This gives me a wide view over the pasture, the next and the next…

To the left I can see the sea glistening in the sunshine and to the right rocky hills rise up.

Motorbike at the secluded coastline of Connemara
Motorbike at the secluded coastline of Connemara (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

I take several headlands and also several detours through the hills. Anyone following my route will think I have no plan – but I want to take in as many impressions as possible and sometimes a bend is the most direct route to my destination!

I reach Clifden. The small town in the west of Connemara is very lively these days. Car travellers, motorcyclists, a few motorhomes – lots going on here. There’s a free seat in front of a café – perfect! I treat myself to a short lunch break and watch the colourful hustle and bustle.

A short time later, I chug out of the city again. After a few confusing one-way streets, I find my route: Sky Road! This is a very small road to the west of Clifden that winds its way through the rocky hills along the coast. It is partly single-track and therefore completely unsuitable for motorhomes. But I have plenty of room on my motorbike and even normal cars can manage well here with the odd evasive manoeuvre.

Renvyle Beach in Connemara
Renvyle Beach in Connemara (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Along Clifden Bay, a quick photo stop at the ruins of Clifden Castle and then there’s only the blue sky, the glistening sun and the sparkling sea. The little road is a dream!

Back on the N59, I continue north to Kylemore Abbey. On the right, beautiful mountains rise up into the blue sky.

They are only a few hundred metres high, but rise ruggedly out of the landscape, making them look very imposing. There lies the Connemara National Park, the mountainous heart of Connemara.

View of Kylemore Abbey
View of Kylemore Abbey (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Connemara Abbey is actually a beautiful little castle in the middle of the mountains! It was originally the home of a wealthy family before it was converted into a monastery. Even the view from the outside is picturesque! You can visit a good part of the abbey, take a walk around the huge estate and visit the beautifully landscaped gardens.

Today I’m just enjoying the beautiful view from the outside – I’ll come back another time and take a closer look at the abbey. I then take a detour through the mountains and past the lakes of Lough Muck and Lough Fee. What a dream! What an incredibly beautiful landscape! Wonderful lakes lie between the mountains here!

Motorbike somewhere in the mountains of Connemara
Motorbike somewhere in the mountains of Connemara (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

A few sheep trot across the road and a little further on I see strange brown heaps in the moor next to the road. Peat sods are piled up here to dry! There are still people here who cut peat by hand, dry it and then use it at home as fuel for the fire. This is how Irish cottages were heated hundreds of years ago.

I follow the N59 northwards. Again and again I have to slow down and stop because sheep are wandering along the road. That doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not in a hurry and there’s something very cosy about it: the clocks tick slower here and sheep have right of way!

Peat cutting in Connemara mountains
Peat cutting in Connemara mountains (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

I reach Killary Fjord and thus the border between the counties of Connemara and Mayo. This beautiful, long fjord is actually the only real fjord on the island. It stretches for many kilometres inland, lined by high mountains on both sides and numerous flowering rhododendrons.

Through the flowering bushes, I watch sailing ships set sail and gaze at long rows of buoys. Probably oyster or mussel farms.

I follow the fjord a little further and then turn right into the mountains. Through the mountains and over the mountains I chug leisurely back towards Galway. I can hardly get enough of the surroundings – what a beautiful country!

Motorcycle at Killary Fjord
Motorcycle at Killary Fjord (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


What you can see and visit in Connemara

Aughnanure Castle: This is a ruined castle from the Middle Ages. Once the seat of a powerful clan, it is now a beautiful sight. You can find my article about it here: https://ireland-insider.com/aughnanure-castle-in-connemara-a-well-hidden-gem/.

Clifden: This pretty little town on the west coast is the most important place in Connemara. Here you can also find accommodation, food, drink and more. See also: https://www.discoverireland.ie/clifden.

Kylemore Abbey: Kylemore Abbey is probably the most important sight in Connemara – but it’s also beautiful! You can find my article about it here: https://ireland-insider.com/kylemore-abbey-in-connemara/.

Connemara National Park: You can visit one of the most beautiful mountain worlds and one of the most beautiful national parks in Ireland here. See: https://www.nationalparks.ie/connemara/.

Round tower and keep inside Aughnanure Castle
Round tower and keep inside Aughnanure Castle (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Conclusion

You can spend a double night in Galway and do Connemara as a day trip, or as a one-way trip.

If you have more time, I can highly recommend a short hike in Connemara National Park.

Also take time to visit Kylemore Abbey and if you want to spend more than one day in Connemara, you can stay overnight in Galway and Clifden, for example. Whatever you decide, you’ll love it!

I wish you lots of fun in Connemara!

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More interesting articles for you

KYLEMORE ABBEY IN CONNEMARA


AUGHNANURE CASTLE IN CONNEMARA – A WELL HIDDEN GEM


THE ROCKY BURREN – A VERY SPECIAL LANDSCAPE IN IRELAND


THE FAMOUS CLIFFS OF MOHER

Picture credits cover picture: Pines Island Viewpoint and Connemara mountains, photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tourswww.irland-insider.dewww.ireland-insider.com)

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg