Colours swirl in the remote region of Connemara. It feels as if the landscapes have been painted, with thick brushstrokes adding oil paints onto the canvas. Stark mountain pinnacles shimmer a silvery-grey, purple grasslands dance with enchantment, while heathland mingles with forest, and it’s hard to find an angle that doesn’t look like a fairytale. Connemara is the peninsula of Western Galway and offers a windswept expanse of nature in the west of Ireland.
Connemara National Park is where the best-signposted hiking trails can be found, with the four routes up Diamond Hill tailored to visitors of different ages. The park’s Visitor Centre is located next to Letterfrack, which is one of the small handfuls of villages dotted across Connemara. Another path weaves along the cliffy coastline, sometimes rising high above the crashing Atlantic Ocean waves, then descending onto remote beaches. The region’s cultivated fields are separated by cute dry stone walls and are mostly considered public land, which can be crossed by hikers.
Connemara is a place to discover on two feet, or perhaps on a mountain bike. It’s also a peninsula for a romantic summer drive, where each settlement has little more than a single pub and store. Most visitors start their journey in the city of Galway, to the east of the peninsula. Shannon International Airport serves this whole area and is a two-hour drive from the national park. Connemara is also the gateway to the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, and visitors can take a ferry or light aircraft across the water.
History is proudly protected in this part of Ireland and most of the locals speak Irish Gaelic as their native language. The old heritage can also be seen at Kylemore Abbey, a remote and photogenic castle that also has a walled garden and various woodland trails.