Some might be familiar with mysterious term Connemara others might even know it’s a place in Ireland. Only a few experienced its unbounded beauty. If anyone would ask where to go to get quintessence of Ireland we say Connemara National Park. Condensed on relatively small area authentic and rural as well as wild and dramatic – that’s what you can expect here. We will share our experience from visiting Connemara National Park below.
In Oughterard (please don’t ask how to pronounce lol) we took a turn signposted as view point Glenn and we reached Lake Corrib shore. Short stop there wasn’t really planned. There was a morning fog lifting from water surface unveiling many little islands located on the lake. If lake Logh Ness is a similar sight we can understand where the legend of a monster comes from… Fog even on a sunny morning gives mysterious vibe. Corrib is the largest Irish lake with hundreds of islands rising from the water. We came back there for a sunset hoping for a softer light but we have to admit it was much more impressing during the morning.
First planned stop was the best known Irish fjord – Killary Fjord. We reached Leenaun town taking the R336 exit off N59. You can hardly miss the turn. Surrounding hills aren’t as high as you might know from Norwegian fjords, but you can’t say it’s not impressing and charming sight. We didn’t take any boat tour and headed up Kylamore Abbey going along fjord scenic road.
Kylamore Abbey located by a lake makes a huge first impression especially seen from a distance. History of a building is quite interesting. English couple under the name of Henry spend their honeymoon in Connemara. Felt in love with a place so much they decided to built a castle which took 4 years to complete. Next owner had to sell the castle to cover his gambling debts and it was taken over by nuns who transformed it to abbey and school at the beginning of XX century. There is a little Gothic church nearby built by Mr Henry as a mausoleum for his wife who died early. Inside the castle there are 2 rooms made available to visit.
There is a shuttle bus bringing visitor to Victorian walled garden just over kilometer away. With such weather we felt like on holidays in Tenerife not in Ireland. The cost of visit was 13 Euros per person, but it was money well spent. We also had a little snack in a garden cafe. Piece of homemade ham & cheese quiche as well as rhubarb & strawberry crumble was a treat. Crumble was covered in warm custard sauce which doesn’t look appealing on the photos but it was a pure delight.
Connemara National Park
We drove thru Letterfrack where entrance to Connemara National Park is. There are lot of peat bogs around. Peat is being dug out, dried and used as a fuel for example to heat old style houses.
Wild Atlantic Road
We planned to do a loop along Sky Road to reach Clifden town. By mistake we took a turn into R379 and drove around little peninsula before entering the actual Sky Road. This road is a part of Wild Atlantic Way which in total is 2500 km along west coast. It was fortuitous mistake and we were blown away by scenery.
When Omey Island appears on the horizon we couldn’t believe it’s in Ireland! It was low tide when we got there and the Island was connected with a land and you could drive there. In a very short space of time high tide came and cut the Island off. You can check times for tides over here and we recommend it for everyone who plans to go there and doesn’t want to get stuck on the Island for 4 hours. While we were there high tide came almost 1 hour early for some reason and take few people by surprise. Locals who we met in local bar Sweeney’s seems delighted they have to spend few more hours in a pub.
Sky Road and Clifden
Finally after all we hit the Sky Road. As the name suggest road goes up all the way to view point – Sky Road Wild Atlantic View Point. It offers one of the best panoramic views and it’s really hard to describe, look at the pictures and you will know all about it.
We reached Clifden the capital of Connemara shortly after, little market town actually. There are 2 characteristic church spires towering above little houses, but unfortunately we don’t have a photo showing both of them. It was a short stop as we got hungry and planned to eat in Roundstone.
Road to Roundstone
On the way to Roundstone we did another loop by the coast. We didn’t expect to see anything else which could equate what we have encountered so far but what a surprise it was. This is Connemara National Park – pure beauty around every corner. By the way we stopped at Dog’s Bay where you can find long stretch of sandy beach.
We decided to eat in O’Dowd’s in Roundstone which is listed on 30 best Irish pubs by Michellin (we mention another pub of this list in here). We ordered fish platter and garlic bread. Grilled oysters and mussels were intriguing, but in general food was just ok. Now don’t get us wrong everything was fresh and nice but you would expect fireworks from one of the best pubs in Ireland. For example food in Vaughans Anchor Inn blew us away when we were visiting Cliffs of Moher.
Golden hour was approaching fast so our last stop was Derryclare Lake. There is an Island with trees which you can see in every brochure advertising Connemara as tourist destination.
Connemara National Park is our favorite! You are being amazed over and over. When sun is out it’s so picturesque you can hardly believe your eyes. Connemara feels so wild and isolated you have to put it on your must see list.