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There’s a lot to see and do, you could stay here for 2 weeks do something different every day and you still wouldn’t see it all At the letterfrack lodge we want the time you spend here and your overall connemara experience to be the best it can possibly be. Here are some of my personal recommendations of things to do.
The Connemara National Park
Walking the Connemara national park is one of the most popular activities in Connemara. It’s a 5 minute walk to the visitor centre which has lots of info a cafe and a children’s playground to but no trip to Connemara is complete until you experience the views from the summit of diamond mountain. There’s a top class path made from timber and stone right the way to the top of the Connemara National Park which makes for easy walking. Views of kylemore valley , the 12 bens of Connemara, and the Atlantic Ocean are just some of the highlights in your 360 pano. It takes 3 hours max to walk from the lodge to the summit and back but there are lower trails also that showcase rare connemara woodland along with all the flora and fauna of the area. All in all, this is one of the best walks ever !! Time to walk: A half day walking (but you can do 3-4 different walks, so you could spend 2-3 days exploring the Connemara National Park). Cost : free
Tully Mountain is one of those Connemara Gems that is not as popular as it should be. It stands opposite the Connemara National park and provides a different and unique perspective of the beaches and the whole Connemara area. On a clear day you can see further north as far as Croagh Patrick near Westport as well as the Aran Islands, Kerry, and Galway Bay. The tricky part of this walk is that the path is undefined so you need a little bit of common sense and some experience walking in order to navigate yourself to the top. In saying that it is pretty easy to see the top the whole way to it is hard to get lost. ( I have provided video instructions below so this will give you a clear picture of what I am talking about) Unfortunately there is no marked path up to the top but you should start your way on one of the not so steep sides to climb the top or it can get very exhausting. There is also a pleasant surprise at the top which is a small lake. The climb the mountain takes about 2 hours. The mountain and lakes at the top should take about 3,5 hours.
Kylemore Abbey is a truly spectacular sight. The Abbey itself was a former Castle, built (1867 – 1871) by Mitchell and Margaret Henry. The tragic behind the happy family life involves the sudden dead of Margaret and and one of the little girls (there were nine children). In 1920, the nuns purchased Kylemore Castle and it was converted into an abbey. You can visit 6 rooms in the abbey (the Outer hall, the Inner hall, the Drawing Room, The Community Room, The Dining Room and the Rear Hall), all of them were redesigned with the original furniture and provide a lot of information about the history of Kylemore Abbey on boards. The nuns design little booksigns with Christian blessings that you can take away for a little donation (a really nice small gift from Ireland) and you can inform yourself also about the Benedictine Nuns and their principles. I love the little Neo-Gothic Church. You take a short walk from the Abbey to the Church on the lake side and can enjoy the fantastic view over the Kylemore Abbey Lake to the Connemara Hills. The church was built by Henry Mitchell as a memorial to his wife and was restored just recently. The Irish marble columns and the sandstone ceiling give the church a beauty (special tip: the altar was designed by a modern Irish wood designer!) and sacredness. The colored church window shows five ladies with the main principles of a Christian life. You can pray and rest in this little treasure church. A bit further down the path you’ll find the old mausoleum where the remains of Margaret Henry were laid to rest. Afterwards you should absolutely go with the bus shuttle service to the Victorian Walled Gardens. It was only re-opened by the nuns in 2000 and provides two walks and endless little paths and benches to enjoy the beauty of nature. There is a small walk just to discover the Flower Garden and a longer path that also leads you to the Herb and Kitchen Garden. The two gardens are divided by a little stream. The Flower Garden is an excellent example of a planting-style typical of the late Victorian era (geometrically shaped flowerbeds). The former Head Gardener’s House was turned into a minuscule museum where you can see typical landhouse rooms. Before you leave the whole area take a look into the giftshop. You will find a huge variety of Irish products and I especially loved the home made Jam (chocolate, cake etc) by the nuns as well as self produced tasteful pottery. Definitely a good buy and a precious gift for your beloved or yourself at home that will always remind you of Ireland. To conclude the day you can have a coffee break in the restaurant.
Costs: Adults: 11 Euro
Students: 7 Euro
Seniors (over 65): 7 Euro
The Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a tourism trail that leads you through some of the best coastal scenary in the world. It covers the entire west coast of Ireland. The 2,500 km (1553 miles) driving route passes through nine counties and three provinces, stretching from County Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale, County Cork, on the Celtic Sea coast. Along the route there are places and attractions which have been designated as points of interest for travelers. One of these points is the Connemara National Park which is the most popular tourist destination in Connemara. It is beside the Killary Fjord which is 15 minutes drive from the Connemara National Park.
The beaches in Connemara
The beaches in Connemara have splendid scenery which begins with the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. There a handful of beaches many of which are off the beaten track. With 8 beaches within 15 minutes of the Lodge you are spoilt for choice. You can walk, run, jump, do whatever you like with big beaches, small beaches, long beaches, and short beaches. Experience the freedom of your own isolation. Sea Shore walks. Walk along the sea shore and unwind to the sound of the waves. Stop for a moment, perhaps have a picnic in the splendid glory of the Connemara seascape. Cost: FREE
Inish Bofin Island
Take a step back in time. Located 12 miles off the west coast with ferries running morning and evening this is one of the best ways to spend the day exploring this romantic and rugged island on foot or cycle. This will prove to be an unforgettable experience and a sure highlight of your holiday. Time: 1 Day . Cost: @€15
If you are visiting Galway checkout www.galwaytourism.ie