Quite a number of people are of the opinion that "Connemara" and "Connemara National Park" are the same. When you take a Guided Tour you will soon realize the difference.  Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands, and woodlands. Some of the Park's mountains, namely Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack, and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. 

Connemara National Park was established and opened to the public in 1980. A walk in the Connemara National Park is one of the most exhilarating experiences in Ireland. Located beside the Quaker founded village of Letterfrack the park presents widely varying views and landscapes that unfold into majestic panoramic scenery as you venture further up the hill. All Connemara seems to be before you and you can sense the splendid diverse range of rugged beauty that Connemara has become famous for. A recently built path of stone makes the journey more pleasant and accessible to a wide range of hill walkers. In fact, the park is divided into three different walks which suit the beginner to the more avid walker. Do bring suitable clothing and footwear if you plan to do some walking on your tour with Ireland West Tours. From the start of the walk, you can see views of Tully Mountain and the nearby winding bays of clear blue water. If you continue the ascent, the views of Lettergesh and Renvyle Strand in North West Connemara become a feast for your eyes. Go further up and Cleggan and Clifden will come in to view. At the summit of the Diamond Mountain, Kylemore Lake is visible along with Kylemore Abbey, the Inagh Valley, and on a really clear day, you might be lucky enough to see as far as Westport and Achill Island in neighboring County Mayo. It is worth the climb but will take approx 3 hours in total. Again, if you plan on doing the walk do bring proper clothing and footwear.  Your driver will gladly wait for you.

At this point, you may observe completely contrasting views. The Irish weather has its rapidly changing moods as it could well be raining on one side and very warm on the other. Tully Mountain could be cloudy and Clifden might have all the sun. By the time you finish the walk, it could well be vice versa.

Back at ground level you can relax in front of the pond area surrounded by large trees, or go for a coffee and browse the Museum.  The Museum has some super exhibits of Connemara life and in particular, it has a great display of Bog or Peat history.  You can trace the history of peat from its early days right up to the present and even future forecasts.

Much of the present park area was formed by part of the Kylemore Abbey Estate and the Letterfrack Industrial School, the remainder having been owned by private individuals. The southern part of the Park was at one time owned by Richard Martin (Humanity Dick) who helped form the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the early 19th century. The Parklands are now wholly owned by the State and managed solely for National Park purposes.

Western blanket bog and heathland are the predominant vegetation types to be found in the Park. The boglands, situated in the low-lying areas, are generally very wet, while higher up the mountains, a drier area of mountain blanket bog develops. Heather covers the mountainsides, with ling, cross-leaved heath, and bell heather all very common. Probably the most common and most abundant plant in the Park is the purple moor grass which is responsible for the color of much of the landscape throughout the year. Insectivorous plants are an integral part of the bog community. Sundews and butterworts trap and digest insects with their leaves to gain nutrients, which are in short supply in bogs. Rare plants from colder areas of Europe and the Arctic may be found high up in the mountains. Among those are roseroot, purple and starry saxifrages, lesser twayblade, and mountain sorrel. On the other side of the coin, plants from Portugal and Spain can be found in the Park. The most notable are pale butterwort, St. Dabeoc's heath, which is a member of the heather family, and St. Patrick's Cabbage.

The birdlife of Connemara National Park is diverse. Meadow pipits, skylarks, stonechats, chaffinches, robins, and wrens are among the common song-birds resident in the Park. Birds of prey are seen occasionally, usually kestrel and sparrowhawk, and peregrine falcon making spasmodic visits. Winter brings an increase in the numbers of some species native to Ireland such as woodcock, snipe, starling, song thrush, and mistle thrush. Visitors from other parts of Ireland and abroad as well as winter migrants from northeast Europe such as redwing and fieldfare can visit the park in the wintertime.

Rabbits, foxes, stoats, shrews, and bats can be seen at night. In recent years both pine marten and non-native mink have been observed. The latter is not really a welcome guest as he is a threat to native wildlife species.

The largest mammal in the park is the world-renowned Connemara Pony. A herd of pure-bred Connemara Ponies was presented to the State by the late President Erskine Childers and the herd is currently managed under an agreement with the Connemara Pony Breeders' Society. At Ireland West Tours we have named two of our Tours after two very famous Connemara Ponies, "The Nugget" and "Stroller.

In 1935 at the International Horse Show in Olympia London, the 22-year-old, 15 hand Connemara gelding, The Nugget, cleared a 7’2” jump and subsequently won over 300 prizes internationally earning over 4,500 pounds sterling in prize money

Only one of two horses to jump a clear round in the entire 1968 Olympics was a 14.1 half-bred Connemara, Stroller. Stroller competed in the Olympic games as a member of the British Team ridden by Marium Coakes. They won the silver medal behind the gold medal winners Snowbound and Bill Steinkraus. Stroller cleared a Puissance Fence of 6’10.

YouTube Video          By  Conor Ryan          Duration  1:35

"We toured Ireland West Tours and are so glad we did. Jim suggested that we see the Cliffs of Moher from the water, and it was a wonderful experience. Thanks so much for a wonderful day."

Barbara, Georgia, USA


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Satisfying the customer 

Over the years we have had several compliments on our drivers from many of our satisfied customers. Click on the link to "Tripadvisor" below to read, in full, the reviews of some of our many happy customers.

"We spent a wonderful day with Jim and are still raving about all we saw and did, as Jim showed us so many fabulous places. Your day will be very well spent if you can schedule Jim to show you this beautiful section of Ireland!"

Kathy J, Florida, USA


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