The Area


The Foundations                                                                                               

Founded by John D'Arcy, Clifden was one of the last towns to be built in Ireland.  The Irish name for Clifden is Clochan, or beehive cell, and indicates an early Christian association with the town.  D'Arcy's vision was to create a thriving commerical centre in a resource-rich, but poverty stricken region. He hoped the town would raise the living standards throughout the area by exploiting the rich fishing, wool and marble resources in the locality.  D'Arcy's own house, Clifden Castle, now in ruins, is located on the Sky Road.

Sean O'Farell is a local landscape photgrapher and family friend. Click to experience some amazing views of Connemara.

Current times

Clifden is now a thriving economic and tourist centre and is crowned capital of the Connemara region. There is a generous mix of shops, pubs and restaurants to cater to everyone's taste and requirements. The extensive choice of menus in the town will cater for every budget from pub lunches to 3* dining. Seafood and lamb are specialities of the area. There is a lively social scene in the town over the summer months with live music every night of the week varying from fireside traditional Irish music and dance sessions to folk sing-alongs and open mic sessions where anyone can join in! Local handicrafts and art are well represented in the shops and you can find everything from second hand books to designer clothing, delicatessens to supermarkets. It is a great base from which to experience the enormous variation of countryside and breath-taking scenery this part of Ireland has to offer. It is but an hour and half's drive direct from Galway City centre, 45 minutes to the north lies the awesome Killary Ford and 45 minutes to the south will take you into the rural heartland of Gaelic speaking Connemara.


Connemara is famous for amongst other things, the breeding of the Connemara Pony. Every August the Connemara Pony Breeders Society host the Annual Show which sees a huge influx of visitors to the town. Many come to participate in the showing of their champion ponies as well as in the jumping and riding classes.  Many others come to watch the honest majesty and beauty of the Connemara pony, the Stallion class is always a popular exhibition class with the crowds. The show is an excellent family day out with exhibits of local handicrafts, local produce, music and dance taking place all over the town. While the Clifden Show is the main Connemara Pony show there are others in the area throughout the summer, please see our Activities and Events page.


Clifden Arts Week has been running for over 25 years and is a ten day long festival of music,literature, art,and poetry.  The RTE National Symphony Orchestra participates every year and indeed Clifden is the only venue outside of Dublin in which the orchestra plays annually. The festival is centred around the Clifden Community Secondary School and allows the students an intense interaction with the arts that is unique in the whole of Ireland. Participation in workshops in poetry, song, dance, pottery, art, music directly with the artists themselves runs in tandem with the daily curriculum. The town opens its doors to the arts with poetry reading in cafe's and pubs, classical concerts in the local Anglican church, live music  of all genres from blues to jazz, from folk to traditional and all from local and internationally renowned artists.The big finale of the event entails a whole day and night of street theatre, a children's parade and an evening of fireworks over Clifden Harbour.


Cleggan is a small fishing village 10 kms north of Clifden much of the local catch is landed in Cleggan harbour.  It is also the gateway to Inisbofin Island with ferries leaving and returning daily, the trip takes less than an hour. The beaches in the Claddaghduff and Streamstown area close to Cleggan are second to none.  Omey Island is a very short drive from the centre of the village and is accessible only at low tide every day.


The small village of Ballyconneely provides a central hub for the fishing and farming communities of the area stretching from the Coral Bay and Mannin Beaches out into Bunowen where there remains the ruins of a castle built by the great female pirate of the 17th century Grinne Bheal. The 18 hole championship golf links on the Ballyconneely headland and surrounded by pristine beaches provides an ideal scenic location for some daily exercise for the whole family. Dunloughin beach also provides excellent surf for the more adventurous.


Roundstone has provided the inspiration for many artists with its picturesque harbour and clear view of the Twelve Bens mountain range. It has been described as a botanists delight where many wild flowers rare to this country can be found.  The rugged, backdrop to Roundstone is the majestic mountain of Errisbeg which presides over the village and astounding beaches of Gurteen and Dogs Bay which provide kms of white sand for romantic walks.


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