Scenic Connemara is an area of Ireland not to be missed, especially for those interested in Irish history. Here are five historic places to visit in Connemara.
Located about an hour west of Galway city, Connemara is widely known as one of the most scenic areas in the whole of Ireland, and it has one of the best and most scenic cycle routes in Galway. Oscar Wilde called it an area of ‘savage beauty’ due to its rugged natural landscape and location on the west coast of Ireland. What is lesser known is the extent of historic places to visit in Connemara.
Indeed, while the area boasts breathtaking views of mountain vistas, stunning lakes, and a diverse landscape, the area also has a rich history, and there are many sites you can visit to immerse yourself in its fascinating past. Here we have listed our top five historic places to visit in Connemara.
5. Marconi Station – home of a historic wireless telegraph system
The Marconi Station in Clifden, Connemara, was opened in October 1907 by Italian inventor and engineer Guglielmo Marconi. For the first time, this allowed for the transmission of wireless radio messages across the Atlantic between Ireland and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
Today, the area where the Marconi station once stood serves as a beautiful walk where visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the area.
Address: Mannin, Co. Galway, Ireland
4. Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens – a monastery full of history and charm
Kylemore Abbey is monastery located on the grounds of Kylemore Castle in Connemara. The monastery was founded in 1920 by Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium during World War One. It is one of the most historical sites in Galway.
Visitors can take a tour around the abbey’s restored period rooms or explore the 6-acre Victorian Walled Garden, which boasts restored garden buildings and formal flower, vegetable, and herb gardens.
You could spend the whole day exploring the 1000-acre estate to experience its woodland and lakeshore walks or you can check out the brand new visitor experience opened in 2019.
While you’re here, you can stop for a bite to eat at the Café or Garden Tea House followed by a browse the Craft and Design Shop, which offers Kylemore Abbey Pottery and award-winning chocolates handmade by the Benedictine nuns.
Address: Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Connemara, Co. Galway
3. Clifden and Clifden Castle – where the first transatlantic flight landed
Often referred to as the ‘Capital of Connemara’, Clifden is the main town area in Connemara, so it is the perfect place to stay if you’re visiting the area. It is a coastal town located on the Owenglin River, where it flows into Clifden Bay, and offers up plenty to see and do.
Clifden was also the landing site of the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919 when British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, flew from St. John’s Newfoundland to Clifden, Connemara.
The town welcomes thousands of tourists every year due to its picturesque setting between the foothills of the Twelve Bens and the Atlantic Ocean. While you’re here, you can take in the views along the beautiful Sky Road, enjoy some of the delicious seafood on offer from one of the town’s restaurants, or check out Clifden Castle.
Clifden Castle is a ruined Gothic Revival–style manor house to the west of the town. It was built in 1818 for local landowner John D’Arcy. However, the house has been uninhabited since 1894 and has fallen into disrepair.
Location: Clifden, Co. Galway
2. Glengowla Mines, Oughterard – a gold mine for mining history
The Glengowla Mines website describes this historic site as ‘a way of life long abandoned and almost forgotten just waiting for you to explore’. The mines located deep beneath the Connemara mountains are dedicated to displaying the lead and silver mining history of the area.
Mining at the site began in 1851 after a farmer discovered galena just under the soil surface and continued until 1865.
Today the mines are owned by the farmer’s great-great-grandson, Keith Geoghegan, who offers guided tours of the underground mine and surrounding farm.
Address: Glengowla, Oughterard, Co. Galway
1. Aughnanure Castle – base of the ‘Fighting O’Flahertys’
Aughnanure Castle is a 16th-century fortress located in picturesque surroundings about 4km west of Oughterard. It acted as the base of the ‘Fighting O’Flahertys’ who controlled the region for hundreds of years.
Today Aughnanure Castle, which stands on a rocky island overlooking Lough Corrib, has been extensively renovated. Visitors can explore the six-storey tower house, the remains of an unusual double bawn, the remains of the banqueting hall, and a small isolated watchtower with a conical roof.
Address: Aughnanure, Oughterard, Co. Galway