Gateway to Connemara

By Susan O’Brien
Photos by the author

The early part of the 21st century has changed Ireland in many ways both good and bad. A building boom (now gone bust in the world-wide recession) had Irish-style mini-mansions going up throughout the beautiful and rugged western part of this once-impoverished country. Many immigrants were returning home to take advantage of the employment opportunities created by the famed “Celtic Tiger” economy.

But if you are a visitor looking for a place that still holds the bucolic charm for which Ireland is famous, Clifden in County Galway is a perfect base for exploring beautiful Connemara. This little Irish village is perfectly situated between bustling Galway City and the rolling countryside of western Ireland, which is justly famous for its rugged, desolate beauty.

Clifden Ireland
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara

One of the newest towns in Ireland, Clifden was founded at the beginning of the 19th century by John D’Arcy, who hoped the town would bring prosperity to the poverty-stricken area. Today the village is much as it was built more than 100 years ago, but as a hub for tourists exploring the surrounding countryside, it is home to numerous restaurants, shops, B&Bs and hotels.

Clifden is a logical and pleasant home base or jumping-off point for anyone wishing to explore Connemara and its beautiful coastline, quaint villages and rugged mountains. It is also a convenient hour’s drive into Galway City, with its more cosmopolitan nightlife and shopping scene.

To check out accommodations, restaurants and things to do in Clifden, go to For information on the region, go to or

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