Things To Do

Interesting Things About Clifden, and Things to See and Do in the Surrounding Connemara Area.

Clifden is a town on the coast of County Galway, Ireland and being Connemara’s largest town, it is often referred to as “the Capital of Connemara”. It is located on the Owenglen River where it flows into Clifden Bay. The town is linked to Galway city by the N59 and is a popular tourist destination for those touring Connemara.

History of Clifden

The town was founded at the start of the 19th century by John D’Arcy who lived in Clifden Castle (which is now a ruin that can be seen from the Sky Road west of Clifden). The Sky Road in Clifden is one of the best tourist attractions in the entire Connemara region. The circular route is 11km long and takes you out west from Clifden. It is the birth place of Jon Riley, Saint Patrick battalion’s commander, who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War the 19th century.


Marconi and the Wireless

Clifden gained prominence in the early 1900s when Guglielmo Marconi built his first high power transatlantic long wave wireless telegraphy station approximately four miles south of Clifden in to minimize the distance to its sister station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. The first point-to-point fixed wireless service connecting Europe with North America which opened for public service with the transmission of 10,000 words on 17 October 1907 and ceased operation on 25 July 1922 after suffering serious damage in the Irish Civil War.  Transatlantic wireless service  formerly provided by the Clifden station was transferred to the more modern Marconi wireless station near Waunfawr, Wales. At peak times, over 400 people had been employed by the Clifden wireless station, but none more famous than Jack Phillips, the heroic chief Radio Operator on the Titanic, who died while trying to obtain assistance for the doomed ship.


Festivals and Events of Clifden

  • The Connemara Pony Show – Organized by the Connemara Pony Breeders Society and held on the third Thursday in August since 1924.
  • Clifden Community Arts Festival – During the 2nd half of September offers Clifden poetry reading, lectures, drama, recitals, pub gigs and music of all kinds. The festival was first founded by Brendan Flynn, principal of the Clifden Community School in 1977 as a way to bring creative arts into the classroom and Clifden.  Get a taste of our festival on this youtube video: Clifden Arts Festival Archive at UCD
  • Omey Island Races – horse racing on the beach.
  • Clifden Regatta – Fun on the water

Places of Interest in and around Clifden

  • Twelve Bens
  • Connemara National Park
  • Kylemore Abbey a neo-gothic large country house built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, for of his wife Margaret. Purchased by Benedictine nuns in 1920.  Check out the amazing story of this building and the people who lived in it.
  • Ballynahinch Castle sporting estate of the Martin family.
  • Sky Road an 11-km drive along Clifden Bay and Streamstown Bay rising more than 150 m above sea level at Slyne Head, with stunning views of the Atlantic, Ocean, Clifden Castle, coast-guard station, the islands of Inishturk and Turbot and also of Clifden Town.
  • Derrygimlagh Bog: a natural wilderness of blanket bog 6 km south of Clifden and the site of the Alcock and Brown crash-landing and the Marconi transatlantic wireless station.
  • Inishbofin
  • Slyne Head Lighthouse