Connemara is one of the top attractions for anyone exploring Ireland. It is home to the Connemara National Park. It has hundreds of acres of unspoilt scenery for explorers to roam about in. Our Ben Lettery Hostel is nestled in the very heart of this region and we also have a few more hostels scattered on the borders. Our Connemara hostels are unique because most visitors extend their stay after they arrive. There are a number of reasons for this. The mountains, the lakes, the coastline, the colours and the people all combine to make Connemara an experience that lasts.
From the 12 Bens range which challenges long distance hikers to the pleasant Maamturks and the high Mweelrea overlooking Killary, Connemara is a hill-walking paradise. The views from the mountains are amazing. Despite being popular, you can be out all day here and not meet another person. There is a feeling of remoteness and wildness. The region recently won the Biodiversity Blitz by counting 542 species of plant and animal in 24 hours during International Biodiversity Day! The mountains even have insect eating plants like the Sundew and Butterworth and red deer roam freely.
Connemara is a watery landscape. It is so watery that the sky and the waters below often get mixed up. Bogs are scattered throughout the lowlands. Brown water contrasts with the clear glacial lakes. Rivers are surrounded by sedges, moor grass, bog myrtle and wildflowers. Some like the Dawros weave through ancient Irish oaklands making it look like there are mystical faeries watching from beneath moss and greenery.
The coastline of Connemara is rugged and worn and craggy. It ranges from Killary where the dolphins come into the fjord to chase salmon down to Galway where the boats come and go. Islands like Inishbofin hang off the shoreline. Most are accessible by boat. Some like Mweenish island and Finish island can be reached by walking along tidal spits. Beaches like Mannin are crystal clear. The new Blueway attracts snorkellers and kayakers. On dry land, the Sky Road has panoramic views over the bay. It is considered the most famous route along the Wild Atlantic Way.
You can’t come to Connemara without mentioning the weather. It changes the light that bathes the area. Sunrise, evening and dusk all transform the landscape. The purple moor grass and heather that grows everywhere is like one giant Instagram filter.
The official term for weather here is changeable. This means that we like to discuss it a lot. Just when you think it is going to pour down for hours, the sun appears. Like everywhere else in Ireland, think layers when it comes to clothing.
Connemara is a Gaeltacht area. The people clung to their language like barnacles to a rock. 47% of Gaeltacht speakers in Ireland are based here. During the famine there was a battle for existence. The hardship has chiselled a culture that is distinctive to the area. You will find unique boat-building, woolen fashions and celtic jewellery crafts here. The people are survivors. It is this which gives them a warmth and a welcome hospitality for others. Maybe this is why the Connemara ponies did so well here after being shipwrecked from the Spanish Armada.