To celebrate St Patrick’s Day (and my personal favourite day of the year), we’ve compiled a list of the best places in Galway to visit if you want to see mother nature in all her glory. Ireland is renowned for its stunning landscapes and great craic, so this isn’t a comprehensive list as there are some amazing sights in every county, but just some of the key places you’ll want to visit if you are heading to the west coast soon!
Built in 1868, Kylemore Abbey is one of the most beautiful sights in Galway. The castle has had a tumultuous history with multiple owners, however in 1920 the Benedictine Nuns arrived after their original home was destroyed during World War One. The castle was later opened as a school for girls and is now available for the public to visit. Set in the backdrop of rolling mountains and with a huge lake at the front, it’s stunning in all weathers. The Abbey is not the only thing to visit here – there are different walks that will take you around the beautiful grounds and surrounding areas, and guides to tell you all about the history of the Abbey. If you want to see Connemarra in all its natural glory, this is a must visit (and the Instagram options are absolutely incredible here).
Take a quick boat trip from Galway Bay to the three Aran islands to experience Ireland before it became more built up and industrial. The islands are Inis Mor, Inishmaan and Inisheer, each of which offer beautiful views of the ocean as well as being home to all kinds of wildlife and native flowers. You can stay on the islands overnight, however they are the perfect day trip especially if the weather is sunny – although the chances of that are small. Situated in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way, you could not get closer to natural Ireland if you tried. The islands are always full of traditional music and feature classic stone walls that define farming in Galway. Definitely make the trip in order to see The Seven Churches, which is one of the oldest monastic foundations in Ireland.
Built in the 16th century by the O’Hynes clan, this castle was restored in the 20th century and has been host to some of Ireland’s most famous talents such as William Yeats. Overlooking a huge bay, it is the perfect representation of Ireland’s simpler past and is not to be missed.
The Connemara Giant:
The legend is you haven’t really visited Ireland until you have visited the Connemara Giant and touched his hand for luck. It’s just outside Galway city, near to the town of Clifden (where there’s an amazing literary festival and pony show every year) and is a huge stone giant perched upon his pedastal, looking out over the land. The view behind him is amazing, as he is on the edge of what defines the stunning Wild Atlantic Way (rolling hilltops and huge lakes). The plaque by the giant is possibly one of the best in Ireland:
(CONN SON OF THE SEA)
BUILT IN 1999
BY JOYCES CRAFT SHOP
FOR NO APPARENT REASON
Even if he’s there for no apparent reason – he’s definitely worth the visit.
So why not book a summer weekend trip to Galway and visit some of the most beautiful sights that Ireland has to offer? In all honesty, when renting a car and driving along the Wild Atlantic Way it’s difficult to find a bad view – so take your camera and soak up the best ones! Wishing everyone a happy St Patrick’s Day!