Scroll down and browse the extensive holiday attractions that makes Connemara so special.
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The area has many good walks, on roads and tracks free of traffic, through an unspoilt landscape that has changed little over the years. A Cashel-based guide is available for historic walking tours (details from your landlord). The new Connemara Greenway for walking and cycling canbe accessed at Ballynahinch Castle a few miles 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 Festivals can be seen on www.discoverireland.ie
Miles 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). The beaches at Gurteen just beyond Roundstone are popular with windsurfers.
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).
There are a number of famous gardens around Connemara (see www.gardens.ireland-guide.com) Cashel House next door has famous award-winning gardens, where Doonreagan visitors are always welcome. This hotel runs gardening courses through the year, which are open to participants on a daily basis (for details and dates, see www.cashel-house-hotel-com). Ballynahinch Castle nearby is surrounded by mature woodland and gardens and further away, Kylemore Abbey with its resurrected Victorian garden is a popular destination (seewww.kylemoreabbey.com).
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 Sunset Cottage on the other side of 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 is 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. For arrangements, see
If you want to bring your own boat, Cashel has a good sheltered harbour with slipways. For a sailing experience like no other, try a trip in an authentic Galway Hooker. 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 July 16th.
The annual Cashel regatta sees a flotilla of hookers sailing up Cashel Bay, right in front of Doonreagan. Subject to availability, local skippers will let you join in a regatta for a fee, and parties can hire a Galway hooker complete with crew for the day. Your landlord will help with arrangements (see also www.galwayhookerassociation.ie).
Local salmon, trout or sea-trout fishing can be arranged, as well as fly-fishing lessons. It is recommended that you contact the landlord in advance to discuss fishery options. Deep sea fishing is available seasonally out of Roundstone and Clifden (See also www.fishinginireland.info).
The most westerly golf course in Europe is located at Dunloughan, some fifteen miles to the west of Cashel. There is also a popular course in Oughterard, twenty miles to the east on the main Clifden to Galway road (N59) (see also www.connemaragolflinks.com).
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. For details please visit www.galwayartsfestival.com (a wide variety of events, takes place in July each year) www.galwayartscentre.ie/cuirt (a literary festival, takes place in April each year), www.clifdenartsweek.ie (a wide variety of events, takes place in September each year),
www.galwayfilmfleadh.com (a film festival, takes place in July each year) www.galwaytheatrefestival.com (takes place in October each year).
Galway is known for the high international standard of its theatre. For programmes and details, please visit www.tht.ie The Galway Town Hall Theatre www.druidtheatre.ie The Druid Theatre Co. in Galway www.clifdenstationhouse.com/theatre A multi-purpose venue in Clifden.
WILD ATLANTIC ACTIVITY PROGRAMME
Run by the Killary Adventure Centre, a self-guided day which includes kayak hire for half of the day and bike hire for the other half as well as a packed lunch. Please click here to see the schedule.
Tel: 00 353 95 31049