Connemara Nat'l Park area suggestions

Old Jul 26th, 2022, 08:46 AM
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Connemara Nat'l Park area suggestions

I've asked several questions the last few months and tried to do a ton of research, but no one comes through like the Fodorites! With our trip less than a month away I'm just trying to fill in some last minute details. We're traveling with another couple who likes to have dinner reservations every night. I like to be a little more fluid. So there's a little bit of friction already We'll be in Galway for 4 nights. One day boys are playing golf. another day we're headed down to Cliffs of Mohar and Burren. Third day we're headed to Connemara Nat'l Park with plans to do the Diamond Hill hike. It looks like it is about 1.5 hours drive each way from Galway to the trailhead. While we're all the way out there I'd like to poke around and see some other villages. So I'm looking for suggestions for places to visit, nice views and/or shore path walks, and restaurants/pubs. I realize these are small villages.
Thanks in advance!
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 10:19 PM
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Diamond Hill is an excellent hike, not overly strenuous and offering great views from the summit (weather permitting). It should however fulfil your quota of walking for the day; if not, there is a nice loop walk starting at Rosroe Pier nearby which runs along the south side of Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord; a popular hike with none other than Ludwig Wittgenstein when he resided locally.
There is a sheep farm in the vicinity which does demonstrations with their team of collie dogs.
Also, you can take to the water in Killary on a hour long sightseeing cruise.
A popular stop for something to eat is the quirkily titled Misunderstood Heron, a food truck that operates for the summer months,
Kylemore Abbey is of course the biggest tourist attraction near Letterfrack, a must see.
No day out is complete with a visit to a pub; two to consider would be Paddy Coyne's in Tullycross or Gaynors in Leenane.
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Old Jul 30th, 2022, 12:20 PM
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Thank you so much! Diamond Hill is our 'destination' out that way and I was looking for other interesting stops in the area. We also just heard about the Omey Island walk, if the tides are right. Any thoughts?
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Old Jul 30th, 2022, 02:27 PM
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Omey Island is a great place to visit, usually on foot from the car park on the mainland and across the beach, which does have markers for those who venture over on four wheels. The tide is an obvious consideration and despite our calculations on our visit last year, we did get our toes wet on our return walk/trot back to the car. The island is a real escape - no permanent residents although there are some houses used as holiday homes.
I would think it's not a place to be enjoyed to the full as part of a busy touring day, even if the tides appear to fit in with your schedule. Do be aware that distance covered in an hour by car in Connemara may not be quite what you might hope to achieve - and it's not all the fault of the sheep that wander everywhere.
I would reluctantly advise that Omey might be best left as a day out in itself.
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Old Jul 31st, 2022, 07:33 AM
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Thanks for the info, you really seem to know the area. Your original suggestions seemed to take us further away from Galway and we are sensitive to the fact that drive times will likely be longer than we expect. Any thoughts on the beaches/coastline around Claddaghduff or the area around Clifden? These seem to be more on our way back to Galway.
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Old Jul 31st, 2022, 08:24 AM
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Have you a route planned for your day trip?
Leaving Galway city in the direction of Clifden, I would suggest taking a right at Recess and driving up the Inagh Valley and then taking a left once you reach the Westport-Clifden road, This takes you past Kylemore Abbey; even if you don't stop, the view across the lake from the road is memorable. You are close to Diamond Hill at this point.
If you are early risers and are on the road by 9/10 o'clock, you could incorporate Killary Harbour into your itinerary by turning right at Maam Cross (before you reach Recess) and further on, a left at Maam bridge. This brings you to Leenane from where you follow the southern side of the fjord, driving towards Connemara National Park.
Moving on after Diamond Hill, you would drive to Clifden for a good selection of hostelries for refreshments.
The return to Galway should include a stop at Dogs Bay/Gurteen Bay, south of Clifden and just before Roundstone, if you take the coastal road via Ballyconneely. If the sea air has generated an appetite, O'Dowds bar in Roundstone is known for its seafood chowder.
For something a little more upmarket, you will be passing Ballynahinch Castle after Roundstone as you return to the Galway/Clifden road that you started out on in the morning.
Your biggest problem for the day is not finding things to do and see but trying not to be overambitious to see "everything".
Where have "the boys" decided to play golf, by the way?
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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 04:54 AM
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Thank you so much! We have not planned our route but one of the 3 couples has been to this area before. I love your route suggestions though and know that there will be more to do than we can fit in! They are playing at Galway Bay Golf Resort and later at Royal Dublin when we move over there. Again, one of the men has played over there before so he made the reservations and this couple made the accommodation reservations. Corrib House in Galway and a historic property, Merrion Mews with a working stable below the rooms, for Dublin.
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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 01:43 PM
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Good choice for golf, Galway Bay is a fine track, not a links course despite being by the sea - better if it's not blowing a gale though.
For your day in the Burren, a walk I would highly recommend to see the unique terrain close up is the Lough Avalla Farm Loop: neither too long or strenuous, to be worked into a day out, combined with the Cliffs of Moher. As a more accessible (and shorter) alternative is the walk at the Flaggy Shore near New Quay, off the coastal drive to Ballyvaughan, which comes with the added attraction of Linnanes Lobster Bar as a start and finish point. September 1st is the beginning of the native oyster season but you can get gigas oysters all year around (with the compulsory pint of Guinness, of course). Morans on the Weir, nearer to Galway outside Kilcolgan, is another spot for oysters in the area, if you have any bivalve fans in the group.
Wishing you all a trip to remember!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2022, 03:05 AM
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Excellent tips, thank you! Our traveling partners are "over-planners" if you know what I mean. They like to have dinner reservations even if we end up canceling due to time. We have morning tix for the Cliffs of Moher and she was trying to get a walking tour of the Burren area booked with Shane Connolly (?). I'll pass along your tips! We are from Maine, also famous for lobsters and more recently oysters. So we're looking forward to trying yours! She's tentatively booked us at Hooked, Brasserie on the Corner, and Dela in Galway but I really would like to be more flexible and try some pubs. So I'll look up and mention your suggestions.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2022, 06:55 AM
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Another vote for Kylemore Abbey! I definitely think you should go in and go to the gardens!
After the Cliffs of Moher, we went to to Lahinch beach, it is beautiful.
A thumbs up to your friends who are reservation makers, that is usually me. Like you said, you can always cancel!
We were Ireland in May and they were having tremendous staffing shortages throughout the hospitality industry. Hopefully, a lot of that has ended. Some restaurants had shortened hours and some were just closed. Reservations would give you peace of mind and eliminate that dragging around at the end of the day, going from place to place. Have a great time!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2022, 04:53 AM
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Thank you both. We're getting very excited and I'll be sure to post a trip report.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2022, 06:53 AM
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all great suggestions. we loved the sheep farm visit in the morning and then went on the boat ride down the fjord. kylemore abbey is a must visit too.
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Old Aug 7th, 2022, 04:47 PM
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bookmarking, planning a trip in May - thanks for the good discussion
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Old Aug 13th, 2022, 10:13 AM
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It sounds like you are a party of 6 for dinner, if I read your comments correctly. I think it is wise to have a reservation in place for dinner with a group that size. The hospitality industry is slammed this year and you can't count on just walking in as mentioned above. We also enjoy the pubs - I would fit in a pub visit for lunch or after dinner for a nightcap/music.

I usually make dinner reservations when we travel. Memorable meals are a highlight of our trips, so we like to have a booking in place after doing some research. (We've been to Ireland about 12 times and did the Diamond Hill walk on one visit - it is lovely!)

Enjoy your trip.
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Old Aug 15th, 2022, 12:59 PM
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Just marking for this great info as Connemara and Galway are my next Irish destinations.
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