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The raw and rugged beauty here will take your breath away. Escape in the National Park and find mountains, lakes and many more awe-inspiring sights
The artistic, dynamic and laid-back, Galway City is only around 130 miles from Dublin and takes just over two hours to drive to. There are unique shops, restaurants and bars as well as plenty of art galleries and theatres. The Galway City Museum preserves the history and heritage of Galway City and is worth a visit.
But it’s the countryside in this area is where the true inspiration comes from. There’s a raw beauty on this rugged coast that’s dotted with white sand beaches, making it a beautifully rewarding road trip.
Only 17 miles out of Galway City is the stunning Lough Corrib, one of Ireland’s largest lakes where you can while away many hours fishing, picnicking or boating. Close by is the magical Brigit’s Garden. Great for families these Celtic inspired gardens have fairy hills, forts and crannogs (artificial islands).
Further west, just over an hour’s drive away from Galway City you’ll find the Connemara National Park, which contains the magnificent Twelve Bens Mountain Range just waiting to be conquered. There’s also beautiful woodland, walking trails, nature trails, megalithic court tombs, ruined houses and a wild herd of Connemara ponies - so be ready to take some amazing photographs.
Clifden, the largest town in Connemara sits beneath a mountain range. You’ll find the Whitethorn Gallery and Lavelle Art Gallery that sell work by local artists, plus some lovely boutique shops. A bike trail runs south from the town or you could head out to sea on one of the many fishing trips available here. We also love Ballyconneely, six miles along the coast from Clifden and the home of the Connemara pony. It’s a wonderful spot to go pony trekking along the sand.
There are also many islands and most well known are the Aran Islands. They are great for a day trip and home to their world-famous sweater, so if your looking for a fashionable souvenir to take home with you the Aran Sweater Market has over 500 different Irish clan designs.
The Tulca festival in November celebrates contemporary art and the fantastic Galway Arts Festival in July is Ireland’s largest international arts festival. In 2010 there were 273 performances in 25 venues over 14 days so book your tickets today.