Connemara National Park, Galway
Free Admission Tourist Attraction in Ireland #14
Connemara National Park occupies nearly 3000 hectares and is located in the very western part of County Galway. It is a great place from which to experience the rugged yet beautiful scenery and landscapes of Ireland.
The Park Visitor Centre is based out of Letterfrack which is only a few miles from the Atlantic coast, just about as far west as you can go in Ireland (the next stop westwards is New York!). Located just 15km from Clifden, 53km from Westport and 82km from Galway City the park is best visited by car or tour bus although there are some public bus services available. The Visitor Centre is open from March through October while the park grounds are open throughout the year.
The Visitor Centre offers an exhibition and information desk, a Cafe and a Playground for the kids. Nearby Diamond Hill can be climbed along four different walking trails. Free Connemara Pony Rides are occasionally available but be sure to check the schedule so you arrive when this free service is provided.
The park makes up only part of the overall region known as Connemara which covers much of Galway and part of Mayo. Several days could easily be spent exploring the towns and villages of this picturesque location. Hikers and explorers will certainly enjoy the parklands, lakes and forests. Connemara includes the towns of Clifden and Oughterard and includes between 20,000 to 24,000 native Irish speakers in the region making it the largest Irish speaking Gaeltacht in the country. Kylemore Abbey is one of the most notable tourist attractions in the County while fans of the film 'The Quiet Man' will enjoy visiting nearby Cong, where the movie was shot.
A very good tip when planning your visit to Connemara or indeed just about any rural location in Ireland, is to time your visit with a festival event. Just about every town in Ireland has a festival during the year when streets are closed off, musicians play into the small hours and traders display their wares and stalls.
Remember, a lot of the villages you encounter in Connemara will be very small indeed, some only having a population of a few hundred people, or even less. Festivals bring a lot of people into these villages and there are festivals for just about everything!
Connemara is a fantastic place to explore and you could spend an entire week visiting Galway. The nearby Burren and Bunratty Castle, Oughterard, Kylemore Abbey, Clifden and the Connemara National Park are all on the doorstep of Galway city which makes a great base from which to travel the western part of Ireland.
Find out more here: http://www.connemaranationalpark.ie
Video about Connemara National Park, Galway
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