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Hiking the Hills of Connenmara, County Gallway, Ireland

Updated on October 26, 2016

Hiking in Ireland offers some of the most spectacular scenery and solitude one could ask for. Surrounded by lush hills, clear flowing streams, and a windswept countryside that seems to extend forever you will quickly understand what many of those Irish jigs were all about!

One of the most scenic and popular places to hike in Ireland is on the western coast in an area called Connenmara. Connenmara is really a loosely defined area, of which comprises a swath of pristine countryside in the Connemara peninsula of County Galway. This is the area from which many of the famous Irish songs and ballads derived from. It is even speculated that J.R.R. himself loved this part of Ireland so much that a good deal of his inspiration for his middle earth; and let me tell you that upon exploring this area for a few days it's easy to make the connection.

Connenmara National Park and the surrounding area provide a myriad of trails and hikes with differing degrees of difficulty and variety, so best thing to do is visit the park tourist office and have them supply you with a map and some helpful advice.

A
connenmara:
Connemara National Park, Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Ireland

get directions

My method for hiking was pretty simple; pull over and ask a local where we can find a place to have a nice walk, drive until the road ends, then proceed to walk. I ended up hiking a part of a famous path called 'The Western Way,' in a small village called Leenane. The scenery was like something out of a 'Lord of the Rings' movie, with vast windswept landscapes that seem to stretch for eternity.

The most interesting part of the hike was coming across a little rock house that is said to have been the site where Saint Patrick spoke to God. Surrounding the little house were a series of Celtic stone crosses, presumably marking the twelve stations of the cross, which added to the mystique of it all.

Alleged site where Saint Patrick , patron saint of Ireland, is said to have prayed.
Alleged site where Saint Patrick , patron saint of Ireland, is said to have prayed.

Getting Around

By Car:

If you have a car I highly recommend simply driving the small backgrounds exploring and hiking as you go along. My friends and I took a car from Galway up the N59, hitting small back roads as we went. We ended up hiking a section of the well known Western Way near the small village of Leenane, idyllic and pretty Irish village situated on the edge of a fjord, which was chosen as the location to film the screen adaption of John B Keanes "The Field". A few small local pubs, restaurants, and B & B's is all you will find in this quiet village. The Field Pub is a great traditional place to stop in for a hot meal, warm fire, and a tall glass of Guinness after a long day of hiking.

Small Village of Leenane in County Galway
Small Village of Leenane in County Galway
Pub in Leenane that has been family owned for upwards of 150 years
Pub in Leenane that has been family owned for upwards of 150 years

By Bus:

Organised bus tours from Galway are plentiful and offer a good overview of the region, below are the two primary bus companies working out of the area.

Bus Éireann serves most of Connemara. Services can be sporadic, and many buses operate May to September only, or July and August only. Some drivers will stop in between towns if arrangements are made at the beginning of the trip.

Michael Nee Coaches is an independent line that specifically serves the area of Connemara, with daily buses beginning in Galway, and connections within the area. Connemara towns served include Maam Cross, Recess, Cashel, Clifden, Letterfrack, Tully Cross and Cleggan. If you’re going somewhere in-between towns (a hostel in the countryside, for example) you might be able to arrange a drop-off with the driver.

Accommodation

Making base in Galway and either driving or catching a bus from the city is a great way to explore the surrounding countryside, but if like me you want to enjoy the intrigue of not knowing where you'll end up, you can chose from a host of small villages offering warm and welcoming Irish natives. The little famous village of Leenae we stopped in for a pub meal was a charming and centrally located to camp for the night.

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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      4 years ago from Germany

      This hub reminded me of my holiday with my hubby in Connemara. It was an awesome and a breathtaking place to visit. I would love to go back there someday. Thanks for sharing.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I can see how the view would inspire ballas and poems. It is so beautiful. I may some day get to visit this lovely area. Thanks for sharing the highlights.

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