The wild and rugged beauty of Connemara

The eerie dense fog is draped over the mountains and bog lands as I enter the tiny village of Roundstone, the start of my road trip in Connemara, western Ireland. A “Galway hooker”, a rather unsettling name for a traditional fishing boat, is waiting in vain for clientele in the little harbour. It’s mid-June and Connemara has obviously refused to welcome summer. Instead of sipping cocktails, people warm themselves on a cup of tea and a huge bowl of hearty seafood chowder.

road trip in Connemara

But not all is lost. A few miles up the road, I come across beautiful Gurteen Beach and Dog’s Bay, two of the finest beaches in the area. A campsite situated right in front of it, will be my base camp for the next few days. The fog slowly starts to lift, the sky gets brighter and I’m off for a long beach walk to take in the crisp and salty air.

road trip in Connemara

I spend the evening in O’Dowds, one of the best known pubs in the area, where I wash down the seaweed hummus with a “Sheep Stealer”, one of the local Irish craft beers. The whole Connemara region and especially its lively capital Galway is known for its good food and “craic”! Later that evening I fall asleep with the soothing sound of summer rain…
The weather Gods are in a better mood the next day as I set off to walk the Sky Road, a 16km circular road west of Clifden. Most people drive this scenic road, but that wouldn’t be doing it proper justice! The views over Clifden Bay are truly breath-taking and apart from the occasional car, my only companions on the road are a few confused looking cows and sheep. The slow traveller in me is happy!

To give my tired legs a bit of respite I continue by car along “the bog road”, a rolling narrow road that offers stunning views of the Twelve Bens mountain range! According to a legend the road is haunted, so locals avoid driving it at night. I think it has more likely something to do with the state the road’s in…

road trip in Connemara

After another good night sleep on the campsite, my next day starts off with a drive of the Inagh Valley. On one side the Twelve Bens, on the other side the Maamturk mountains and in the middle the Inagh lake. Thick clouds are once again hindering a clear view, but I’ve learnt by now that this is just a temporary thing. I park the car, make myself a cup of tea and wait… Five minutes later it all starts to clear up again and the majestic view of the Bens and the lake unfolds itself. Perfect timing for a hike up Diamond Hill which, at a height of 445m, provides a fantastic viewpoint over the numerous Atlantic bays and the surrounding Bens!

The landscape of Connemara is very diverse: bog lands battered by the wind, sparkling lakes, threatening mountains and of course glorious beaches! Renvyle Beach is one of them and this will be my base for tonight! The campsite lies on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and overlooks the beach, several islands and the surrounding mountain range. It’s a true paradise to escape and unwind!

road trip in Connemara

The social hub of the area is Paddy Coyne’s in nearby Tully Cross. It is everything you imagine an Irish pub to be: a cosy interior, a roaring fire, delicious food and the ever-present Irish craic!

The good thing about avoiding the main drag is that you hardly see anyone on the road. Lettergesh beach, which according to a local chatty café owner was the setting for “the horse scene in the Quiet Man movie”, is empty and on the road to Glassilaun beach I find myself walking in utter solitude again.

road trip in Connemara

My road trip in Connemara ends with a drive from Killary Harbour to Leenane, passing Killary Fjord. The gorgeous landscapes of the Connemara will stay with me forever!

road trip in Connemara

road trip in Connemara

What’s your favourite road trip? Reveal it in the comments below! Would love to hear your stories!

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11 Replies to “The wild and rugged beauty of Connemara”

  1. Pingback: Ireland Road Trip - The Best Way to Experience Ireland

  2. Abdullah

    OMG These are such amazing places; Cant wait to make enough money to get abroad and traverse this beautiful country, Best thing about Ireland is its people, Irish girls are most beautiful. I Plan to go there and find my wife lol JK

    Reply
  3. Ana

    Beautiful writing and pictures! The landscapes are really amazing and I love Ireland is so green and such a hospitable country. I never made it to explore these landscapes in Connemara, but I visited Galway last summer and found it was a lovely city. As an Andalusian, I had troubles understanding the Irish “summer“ weather though!

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  4. Heather Cole

    We keep saying we should visit Ireland seeing as it’s just across the water, but somehow never quite make it! But that sounds like one fabulous campsite, love waking up to views of the sea in a morning, perfect with a warm cup of cocoa (now I sound like I’m from the ‘Famous Five’!). I think we also forget the UK has some superb beaches too, just have to travel a bit off the beaten track to find them. When we do make it over, Connemara will be our first point of call!

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  5. Tim

    I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want to drive down the old bog road at night either. You paint a picture for sure, with this post Els but even though I am of Irish descent it has never been a place that has called to me. Thanks for sharing though as it always good to read about places of world historical importance and Ireland is that.

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  6. Tami

    Ireland is nearly next on my list. Hopefully I’ll be there in the next few years, and then I can experience the kinds of things you have described here. It looks very peaceful and inviting!

    Reply
  7. Annika - Live Laugh Explore

    Oh Ireland and the temperamental weather…:) I used to live in Scotland so am quite familiar with having 4 seasons in one day! I haven’t been to Connemara but I would love to go explore there as well, particularly by bike or on horseback. I have to admit, I had no idea there are that many hills there!

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  8. Jessica

    Beautiful writing, Els! I was completely engaged in your piece about a place I have never been and honestly, with all of the travel blogs out there lately it’s hard to keep a reader’s attention when there is so much content to choose from. No problem here! The hike up Diamond Hill looks gorgeous! I often like the rainy weather when I’m exploring new places, it sets a unique mood. Cheers and happy travels!

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