One of the joys of a holiday in the West of Ireland is the scattered small villages each with a character and charm of its own. If you are very familiar with the area you know what each village has to offer and may visit a particular one for a great restaurant, a popular pub or a boat trip. If you are not so familiar with the area you will still find excellent places to visit and exploring is all part of the fun when you are taking a break.
To help you along here is a list of some of the villages in random order and some of the things that they have to offer.
Ballyconneely: This is a small village about fifteen minutes south of Clifden. If you are driving from Clifden keep an eye out on the bay to your right, particularly at low tide as you will often see seals sitting on the rocks basking in the sun. As you continue you will pass the Coral Strand, a beautiful beach which has become a favourite sea-swimming spot where people swim all year. Ballyconneely has a good supermarket and a lively pub which serves great food. If you take a right turn you will find yourself heading towards Dunloughan, and the Connemara Golf Links. This Golf Course is one of the premiere links courses in Ireland, you can find out more about it Here Dunloughan is very popular with surfers and there are several bays which are often full of people in wet suits falling off surf boards. There is a surf school in the summer Here For those who may not be so keen to get wet there is a number of delightful walks along the beaches.
Cleggan: This village is on the south side of Cleggan Bay and has a busy harbour with boats coming and going all day. At the head of the bay there is a nice beach, and there are super beaches at Rossadillisk and Celerna.
Cleggan is the ferry port for Inishbofin and ferries leave several times a day for the Island, exactly how often depending on the weather and time of year.(Timetable Here)
It is a stunning Island to visit and a day passes very quickly. The Island is a little paradise on a fine day. As you would expect for a fishing port there are restaurants and pubs serving great seafood and you would be well advised to stop for a bite to eat after a trip to Bofin. There are also two charter angling boats, The Bluewater and The Western Kingfisher So you can catch your own fish from the productive waters of the Connemara Coast.
Claddaghduff: Claddaghduff is quite spread out along the coast centered around the Church and The Strand Bar. The highlight of the area is Omey Strand and Omey Island. Omey Island is only an Island at high tide, when the tide goes out it reveals an amazing area of sand which is popular with walkers, if you have a dog they will love the space here, they can run until the drop. The Island itself is steeped in history having been occupied since pre-christian times, the ruins of St Fechins Church are worth a visit as part of a walk around the Island. In recent years pony racing has has taken place on the strand, the event having been revitalised some years ago. Despite its popularity it was cancelled in 2023 due to insurance costs, hopefully this will be sorted out as it was one of the top events in Connemara. Other events take place here so it is always worth going. There was an amazing event held there in conjunction with Clifden Arts Week in Autumn 2023. “Firehorse” Celebrated the history of the Connemara Pony and Pony Racing on Omey Srand with music, fire sculptures and dancers, (Read more here).
Leenane: Leenane is a Village that is well worth a visit as it has increasingly more to offer. The village several big events during the year including a walking festival, a sheep festival and more Read More. The walking in this area is second to none with great walks including the well known Killary Famine Road which runs the length of the Killary Fjord. If you are not feeling quite so energetic you can always go for lunch at one of the pubs, cafes or the Leenane Hotel. Fresh mussels are a speciality here, they are grown in the bay and are superb. A great way to spend an afternoon is to take a boat trip along the Killary Fjord on the Killary Lady. The Killary Lady offers a discount to Connemara Coastal Cottages customers, just ask when booking.
Leenane is also the closest village to the Erriff River Salmon fishery which is well worth a visit if you are a keen angler. You must, of course drop in to “The Field” bar which was used as a set in the movie, it hasnt changed a bit!
Letterfrack: Letterfrack has always been a center for quite a large part of Connemara. It is a great place to spend time with the family as it has lots to do. There is a national park here that has some stunning walks, there are several trails from a stroll to a fitness inducing hill climb. All the trails are well marked and easy to find. Read More
In the village there are some great bars and restaurants serving locally sourced seafood and other produce. For the little ones there is an excellent playground.
An interesting diversion here is a tour round a local oyster farm which includes tasting their wonderful oysters. Read More. The Coutry Store Supermarket here is particularly well stocked.
Clifden: is really the capital of the area and you can find everything you need here, there are lots of really nice shops, it is a great place for a bit of leisure shopping and lunch or coffee afterwards. Many of the bars and restaurants ( and there are loads ) now have outside seating, on a fine day you can sit and watch the world go by. The two main festivals in Clifden are the Pony Show and Clifden Arts Festival The pony show takes place in late August and celebrates everything to do with the iconic Connemara Pony, it is a really fun day out and there and there is even a class for the family dog, so get a program and see what is going on.
Stanleys shop sells fishing licenses and you can get all the information on fishing in the area here. Clifden Boat Club can be found at the end of the beach road. Every summer they run sailing courses for young people so you can book the kids in for a week and while you relax and do adult things while they learn about a sport that is a real life skill.
Renvyle: Renvyle has some top pubs and restaurants, so you wont be stuck for a good pint or a nice meal.There are regular traditional music sessions in the Teach Ceoil . The real highlight of this area however is the beaches. Some of the most attractive beaches in Ireland stretch from Renvyle beach to Glasillaun beach.
There is a continuous chain of white sandy beaches following this stretch of shoreline up to the mouth of the Killary Harbour. Not to be missed.
Oughterard: This picturesque village has a huge variety of shops which sell everything you might wish for, from fishing tackle to tweed hats. Although it is almost a small town it retains its character which revolves around Lough Corrib and its legendary trout fishing. Information about this fishery is best found in Thomas Tucks fishing tackle shop, in the middle of the village. If you want a little more exercise you can head with the kids to the Derroura Mountain Bike Trail where you can hire a bike and try out your biking skills.Also not to be missed here is a tour around Glengowla Mine, which is a fascinating underground mine tour, and you can see sheep herding and traditional Irish turf cutting too.
Roundstone: This village has always had close ties to its fishing community and as a result has some delightful restaurants selling locally sourced seafood. It also has one of the most famous Coffee shops. During the filming of a drama “North Sea Connection” there was a shot where the Coffee Cottage featured strongly and became a source of social media interest for quite some time. The real highlight of Roundstone has to be the beaches at Gorteen and Dogs Bay. These are some of the best beaches in the area with amazing white sand and lie back to back just outside of the village.