Take a Hike
Connemara National Park
By Jordan Staggs
The Wild Atlantic Way is known for the idyllic scenery that makes up much of western Ireland, including rugged mountains, craggy beaches, and rolling moors. Perhaps the best place to get a bird’s-eye view while also learning about the region’s wildlife and geologic history is Connemara National Park. Best known as the site of Diamond Hill, a popular hiking destination, the park opened to the public in 1980. Admission is free, and the park boasts many nature trails, abundant wildlife, a playground, educational tours and events, a visitor centre and tea room, and more.
From the summit of Diamond Hill, at about 440 metres (1,450 feet), visitors can survey the rolling lands around Connemara National Park and take in views of the famous Twelve Bens mountain range, Ballinakill Harbour, the town of Letterfrack, Kylemore Abbey’s castle and grounds on the shore of Kylemore Lough, and the rolling hills, farmlands, and turf bogs of Connemara to the east.
The land surrounding Connemara National Park is rich in history, with burial sites dating back to megalithic times and other ruins of more recent origins, such as an early nineteenth-century graveyard. From the top of Diamond Hill, hikers can often see the faint outlines of Galway Road, disused for more than a century. The old walls, ruined houses, and sheep pens hark back to a time when the area was an agricultural and commercial hub centred on the Kylemore estate.
After a brisk or leisurely hike, visitors can relax with coffee and assorted homemade goodies in the tea room. Connemara National Park also often hosts outdoor activities and educational events, including guided hikes, biodiversity seminars, and children’s nature lessons.
To learn more about Connemara National Park or to see its events calendar, visit www.connemaranationalpark.ie.