Outdoor pursuits, culture and history aplenty: Connemara's largest town provides a full day or two of entertainment.
When touring the dramatic Connemara landscape, make a point of calling in at Clifden. This quaint town is located on the Owenglen River as it meets Clifden Bay. The urban population is just over 2,500, yet visitors won't be short of things to do. History, sports, shopping, and cozy pubs and eateries make this a fun-packed, but relaxed destination.
Start your visit with a trip to Clifden Castle. It was built in the early 1800s by John d'Arcy, and was the beginning of the Clifden township. Only the shell of this dramatic structure remains today, but it’s still a fascinating site to visit.
For an overview of the town's, and the wider area's, historical highlights, visit Connemara Heritage and History Centre, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Clifden. Here, you can listen to an audiovisual presentation about Connemara and its past and see the homestead of 19th-century tenant farmer Dan O’Hara. The center also has a restaurant and craft shop.
Clifden was also the final destination for the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919. Visit the spot, just outside the township, where John Alcock and Arthur Brown landed after just over 16 hours in the air.
Many come to Clifden for sporting activities. Quiet roads lend themselves to scenic cycling trips while the countryside is inviting to hikers and climbers. Horse and pony riding schools are abundant and golf fairways look out over the coastline. In summer, take advantage of the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean and go swimming or scuba diving.
Clifden's pubs provide all the good stout and traditional live music you'd expect in Ireland. An extra-special atmosphere pervades the town for certain events, such as the Connemara Pony Show, Clifden Regatta and Clifden Community Arts Week.
Clifden is a 47-mile (77-kilometer) drive from Galway along the N59. There are also regular buses along this route.