Clifden, County Galway
in the heart of Connemara
Clifden is a jumping off point for the Connemara National Park and an unlikely pub crawl destination for the more mature.
Situated at around the midpoint of the main N59 between the Connemara-bookending towns of Galway and Westport, Clifden is perfect for those wanting to make Connemara more than just a drivethrough. Just up the road is the much-visited, and strikingly beautiful, Kylemore Abbey and a little further on is Killary Fjord where you can take a boat trip along Ireland's only fjord. Just to the south of Clifden is the unique Roundstone Music and Crafts where you can see a master bodhran (Irish drum) maker at work and Connemara Smokehouse and Factory Shop. Finally, just along the road back to Galway is Dan O'Hara's Homestead which is a nice little stop for a tour of a farm and famine cottage.
For the more mature, or the old at heart, Clifden is a perfect drinking spot. This compact town ticks all the boxes of a string of welcoming pubs with good beer, reasonable prices and an atmosphere not marred with too much noise. On the perpendicular streets of Market Street and Main Street, a handy string of quality drinking holes allow for an effortless pub crawl within a five minute walk. Lowry's Whisky and Music Bar is an attractive and lively haunt, O'Malley's has an outdoor terrace with pleasant views of the estuary, Griffin's Bar is a cosy old school pub with great sessions most nights and EJ King's Bar is a good midway point to fortify yourself with some good pub grub.
Clifden is also well known around these parts for excellent seafood. Market Street's Mitchell's, O'Malley's and Darcy Twelve restaurants are all worth a shout for quality fare from the nearby sea.
In terms of hotels there are two in the town: the Alcock & Brown Hotel and Station House Hotel. Both are nice enough 3-stars with the Station House edging it over the slightly drab-looking Alcock & Brown. An excellent way to enjoy the most of an overnight is by booking one of the serviced apartments on Market Street directly overlooking the estuary On the other end of the scale is the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. For those with deeper pockets, this 4-star hotel just outside the town will be a stand-out stay for anyone looking an Irish castle experience.