Located where the Owenglin River meets the North Atlantic Ocean, Clifden is a laid-back coastal town in Connemara. It was founded in the early 19th century by John D’Arcy and evolved into an important harbour for the shipping of marble, fish and kelp. Clifden rose to prominence after Guglielmo Marconi built his transatlantic long-wave wireless telegraph station nearby in 1905.
Things to do in Clifden
West of Clifden are the ruins of Clifden Castle, which was built in a Gothic Revival style in 1818 for John D’Arcy. It features two round turrets framing its entrance tower and a large medieval-style gateway. Stroll through the surrounding farmland to see the remains of a seashell-constructed “temple” while enjoying the sweeping views across Clifden Bay.
In the nearby village of Lettershea is the Connemara Heritage and History Centre, an open-air museum on the grounds of the Dan O’Hara Homestead. It offers a fascinating insight into the cultural heritage of Ireland’s west, with a reconstructed ring fort and a stone beehive hut among its attractions. Turf-cutting demonstrations are regularly held on-site and there’s a cafe serving light lunches and scones.
Clifden makes an ideal base for exploring Connemara National Park, which encompasses 2,000 hectares of bogs, heathlands and forests. It is particularly renowned for its abundant birdlife, with Eurasian wrens, meadow pipits and peregrine falcons all spotted here. The park also provides a habitat for Connemara ponies and is home to several megalithic tombs.
Getting around Clifden
Clifden is just over an hour’s drive from Galway and a little under two hours from Ireland West Airport Knock, which has seasonal flights to destinations across Europe. Regular buses connect to Clifden and the town is small enough to explore on foot.