Connemara is one of those places that makes you say, wow. It is almost too beautiful for words. It’s wild, desolate and breath-taking. Its patchwork fields and stone walls knit perfectly into the landscape. The old white traditional cottages make you think of old Ireland with farmers in the paddy caps herding their sheep through the fields. It’s a step back in time to the traditional Ireland. The landscape opens up in front of you with bursts of yellow and bright purple flowers complete with the hills rolling up into the misty sky. Something you won’t be forgetting soon!
Head out on our Connemara 7 day Adventure tour to experience all that the west is famous for. This 7 day soft adventure tour includes all accommodation, breakfasts, etc. and, of course, all activities, like sea kayaking, trout fishing and horse riding. All of this with some of the best tour guides in the business. Surely a once-in-a-lifetime adventure! One of the Highlights on this tour will be the Connemara National Park which features 2,957 hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and forests. On day three of our tour we will bring you to this incredible spot. The Connemara Pony is known worldwide as a breed that is hardy, handsome and strong like the landscape they were born into. You’ll be brought on a pony trek through Connemara’s beautiful countryside. In the afternoon you will be taken to a real working mountain sheep farm. After a tour of the farm, the farmer will give you a sheep dog demonstration. Watch the skill of the farmer, as well as the sheep dog as he rounds the flock up in a matter of minutes. The farmer will then teach you the ancient art of turf cutting. Turf is a natural fuel source cut from the ground and then dried.
In the past, the Park lands were used for agriculture, mainly as grazing for cattle and sheep. Vegetables were grown on some of the more fertile lowlands. Today, these areas are easily recognised by the old cultivation ridges and hollows. Several of the bogs in the Park were used extensively as fuel sources, and old turf banks, now disused, are commonly seen.Many remains of human presence can be seen in the Park. The oldest are megalithic court tombs some 4,000 years old. There is also an early 19th century graveyard about which little is known. Also of that period is Tobar Mweelin, a well which was tapped to supply water to Kylemore Castle around 1870 and is still in use today. Stretches of the old Galway road, in use over a century ago, may still be seen in the northern sections of the Park, but other stretches are obscured by vegetation. Ruined houses, a disused lime kiln, old sheep pens, an ice house, drainage systems and old walls in various parts of the Park, are all evidence of a greater population and more extensive use of these lands in the past. The landscape has an abundance of wildlife, history geology and natural wonder.
The rocks underlying the National Park are typical of the Twelve Bens area and are termed metamorphic rocks. These rocks derive from sediments deposited in a warm shelf sea between 700 and 550 million years ago. Upheavals in the earth’s crust formed the sediments into crystalline schists within the roots of an elongated mountain belt. Regional uplift and erosion have since brought the rocks to the surface. The mountain tops are mostly of more resistant quartzite, while the flanks consist of less resistant schists and grey marbles. The last Ice – Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, imposed a final shaping to the landscape and left behind localised deposits of sand and gravel, widespread boulder clay and erratic boulders. These features largely determine the pattern of plant communities in the Park.
Western blanket bog and heathland are the predominant vegetation types to be found in the Park. The boglands, situated in the lowlying areas, are normally very wet, while higher up the mountains, a drier community of mountain blanket bog develops. Heather covers the mountain sides, with ling, cross-leaved heath and bell heather all very common. Probably the most common and most abundant plant in the Park is purple moor grass, responsible for the colour of much of the landscape throughout the year. Insectivorous plants form 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 the bogs. Rare plant species from the colder areas of Europe and the Arctic may be found high up in the mountains, such as roseroot, purple and starry saxifrages, lesser twayblade, and mountain sorrel. Conversely, plants from Spain and Portugal are also found in the Park, notably pale butterwort, St. Dabeoc’s heath, which is a member of the heather family, and St. Patrick’s Cabbage.
The birdlife of the Park is varied. Meadow pipits, skylarks, stonechats, chaffinches, robins and wrens are just some of the common song-birds within the Park. Birds of prey are sometimes seen, usually kestrel and sparrow hawk, with merlin and peregrine falcon making occasional visits. Winter brings an increase in the numbers in the Park of some species native to Ireland such as woodcock, snipe, starling, song thrush and mistle thrush, augmented by visitors from other parts of Ireland and abroad as well as winter migrants from north Eastern Europe such as redwing and fieldfare. Rabbits, foxes, stoats, shrews, and bats are often observed at night. In recent years both pine marten and non-native mink have been seen, the latter is a threat to native wildlife species. The largest mammal in the Park is the Connemara Pony. Although a domestic animal this pony is very much part of the Connemara countryside. A herd of pure-bred Connemara Ponies was presented to the State by the late President Childers and the current herd in the park are direct descendants of those presented by President Childers. You’ll be brought on a pony trek across the national park to view its beauty and natural splendour.
The tour doesn’t just bring you to the Connemara national park but has many more great highlights. Day 1 you will be heading from Dublin to The west! First you will visit the colourful town of Galway, and then you will make your way to Roundstone. Once you check into your accommodation and freshen up, we’ll get you on a bike and take in some fresh sea air and beautiful views of the surrounding area. On your return, you will visit the world famous Bodhran factory. A bodhran is an ancient Irish drum and you can see this age old, handcrafted instrument being made with skilful hands. Day 2 is Inisbofin Island! The drive there is spectacular and the boat ride to the island is even better. After some lunch upon arrival, we’ll begin our hike around the island and view its many birds, wild flowers and seal colonies along the route. The island is 5 miles off the Galway coast and is home to many white sandy beaches and coves. Maybe we’ll take a dip along the way, if it takes our fancy. Day 3 is the magical Connemara Park. Day 4 is the hike up the mountain of Mweelrea. Once you have made the summit, at a height of 814 meters, you will have the best view of Killary Harbour and of the entire Connemara National Park. It is truly a spectacular sight from the top and one that you’ll never forget.
Day 5 is Kylemore Abbey! First you will visit Killary Harbour, you will kayak along the deepest water inlet in Europe, where U-boats used to hide during World War II. Killary harbour is also one of only two fjords in Ireland, which holds a huge mussel farm industry. Afterwards we will visit Kylemore Abbey, a romantic castle built by Mitchell Henry for his wife in 1867. It sits among a beautiful mountainous landscape on the edge of lake Pollacapaill and presents a fairy-tale sight. Day 6 You will walk through a gap in the mountain range and down to the Inagh Valley, where you will find Inage lodge, a wonderful oasis where you can have some lunch or a pint after your walk. We will stay in Leenane again tonight.
It’s the last day, Day 7. We must head back to the capital today. On the way back, we have one more surprise up our sleeve. The Irish are world famous for our whiskey making. Whiskey was born in Ireland and Tullamore Dew is one of Ireland’s many world famous brands. Before we return to Dublin, you will visit their newly refurbished visitor’s centre where you can learn all about the secrets of whiskey making. You will have lasting memories of this glorious Irish landscape of Connemara. So join the adventure today and book your tour with us!