Scroll down and browse the extensive holiday attractions that makes Connemara so special.
- Video Gallery: Click Here to view a local regatta with Galway hookers.
The area has good walks, on many roads and tracks free of traffic, through an unspoilt landscape that has changed little over the years. A number of guides are available for historic walking tours. The new Connemara Greenway for walking and cycling can be accessed at Ballynahinch Castle a few kilometres away. Further afield you have the Western Way: a 66 km walking route providing an excellent introduction for walkers to the beautiful scenery of Connemara. Starting in Oughterard on Lough Corrib, it follows the western edge of the lake northwards into a magnificent wilderness of mountain and bog to reach civilisation again at the village of Maam Bridge.
From there the route crosses the rugged Maumturk Mountains, descends into the beautiful Inagh Valley, and finally reaches the attractive village of Leenane. The terrain consists of quiet roads, bog roads, open moorland, forestry tracks, mountain paths and about 3km of timber bog bridge: please note that some parts of the route can be very wet and boggy after a rainy period. The total aggregate ascent over the route is about 620m. Details of the popular Connemara Walking Festival can be seen on www.discoverireland.ie
Long stretches of white beaches can be reached within a short car journey to the west and south of Cashel, for walking, swimming, horse-riding or just relaxing to the sound of the surf breaking, resting your eyes on the endless horizon… in the company, perhaps, of sea birds, seals or dolphins (see also www.discoverireland.ie).
For those who like a view from above, hill-walking can be had right on the doorstep: Doonreagan is situated at the foot of Cashel Hill, the top of which, at 300 metres above sea level, can be reached in about an hour. For the more advanced, there are the Twelve Bens, up to 1000 metres high: the famous Horseshoe Walk, taking in no less than seven peaks, takes about six hours but should only be attempted by experienced hill-walkers and in favourable weather conditions (see also www.discoverireland.ie).
Aa number of famous gardens around Connemara are listed on (www.gardens.ireland-guide.com). Cashel House next door has famous award-winning gardens, Ballynahinch Castle nearby is surrounded by mature woodland and has a walled garden. At Kylemore Abbey, you can visit a resurrected Victorian garden.
In recent times, much of Connemara’s early history has been brought to life. Above Cashel Church are an Iron Age hill fort (the ‘cashel’ that gives the village its name) and a holy well, and above DOONREAGAN is a wedge tomb which in later days served as an altar. Michael Gibbons, one of Ireland’s leading field archeologists, who has a family connection to DOONREAGAN, leads organised historical and archeological walks in the area. For details, please look under Michael Gibbons on www.discover ireland.ie.
Connemara is famous for the ponies named after the area, a beautiful breed of small horse going back to the Middle Ages, mixing the qualities of hardy native ponies with Arab and Thoroughbred blood. Their amenable nature makes them ideal pets, while their strong physique makes them excellent performers.
During the summer season traditional in-hand pony shows in different locations attract large crowds of local people and visitors alike. Lovers of Connemara ponies from all over the world congregate for the main event that takes place in Clifden on the third Thursday of August each year: ‘The Festival of the Connemara Pony’ (see www.cpbs.ie). There are several successful breeders of Connemara ponies in Cashel, and Doonreagan was the home of Cuifeach, the Connemara Stallion featured in the best-selling Connemara Whirlwind Trilogy by Ann Henning. If you like to ride yourself, beaches and mountains offer exhilarating possibilities.
If you want to bring your own boat, Cashel has a good sheltered harbour with slipways. Throughout the summer, regattas around the coast of Connemara offer fantastic sights of these large boats in full sail, as well as a festive day out for the local community, none more popular than the traditional celebration of St. Macdara’s Day, on July16th each year.
The most westerly golf course in Europe is located at Ballyconneely, some 25 km west of Cashel. There is also a popular course in Oughterard, some 35 km to the east on the main Clifden to Galway road (N59).More details on the Internet.
The art scene in Co. Galway is kept vibrantly alive by a number of long-established festivals, famous for the high standards of contributions and the partaking of big international names. The Galway Arts Festival, with a wide variety of events, takes place in July each year. For details please visit www.galwayartsfestival.com
Cuirt, a literary festival, takes place in April each year. Details on www.galwayartscentre.ie/cuirt,.
The Clifden Arts Festival, with a wide variety of events, takes place in September each year. Details on www.clifdenartsfestival.ie
The Galway Film Festival takes place in July each year. Details on www.galwayfilmfleadh.com
Galway is known for the high international standard of its theatre. For programmes and details, please visit www.tht.ie for The Galway Town Hall Theatre and www.druidtheatre.ie for The Druid Theatre Co.
EATING AND DRINKING
Of the two hotels close to Doonreagan, Cashel House Hotel next door is at present open only to residents, but Zetland House Hotel has a pub and live music at weekends. A little further away is Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, with a bar serving food and an exclusive dining room. Inagh Lodge and Glinsk House are other good restaurants within easy reach. And Roundstone and Clifden have numerous places to eat and drink.
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