is a selection of Walk Connemara's past
events, including walks, island trips and book launches. To see a
calendar of our
upcoming events, click here.
Mountain Climb, June
: This is a great walk for walkers of
all abilities. The first part is follows the beautiful coastal road
through Letter. Then it continues over grassy cliff-tops before the
climbing starts. It is well worth the effort to get to the top, where
there are panoramic views of the Bens (also known, incorrectly, as the
"12 Pins"), the Mayo coastline and the
Island Trip, May
: We had a magical afternoon walk in
Inishark with its abandoned village and Great Skuas (Arctic birds of
prey). What great island walking.
Northern Sunset Walk, May:
The Northern Sunset walk was
spectacular, with a cloudless sky allowing the sun to slowly disappear
over Tulach, The Stags and the Atlantic.
had dry weather for our morning traverse of the spectacular Roundstone
complex, with its multitude of lakes and quaking bog.
still a bit early for wild flowers, but we saw rare flowering heathers
and plenty of bird-life.
Sunday’s hike in the Connemara National
Park provided a great chance to see the early spring flowers and the
megalithic (court) tomb. We saw a wall of wild garlic in the Ellis
Woods, and a carpet of bluebells in the Letterfrack woods.
It was a beautiful spring day for our Omey
Island walk. There was lovely sunshine with a brief shower. We walked
across the sand to the island where we visited the ruined chapel and
the holy well and saw some rare wild flowers.
It was a great day for the Maamturks
Challenge. The weather was fantastic with a spectacular clear dawn.
Very sociable and great people on the hills. Wonderful organisation and
volunteers including the welcome at Benbaun and the very tasty soup at
Inishshark Adventure, April
emminent field archeologist Michael Gibbons expertly guided us on these
uninhabited monastic islands. On Caher Island (Cathair na Naomh
City of the Saints) we disembarked at the impressive Portatemple
of the Monastary?), surrounded by cairns with crosses.
After visiting the remains of the monastic chapel (several
slabs and a cursing stone), we hiked the island to the holy well. On
Inishshark, we visited the Dunin promonotory fort, passing by a currack
bay and Clochan Leo while hiking back through the pre-historic field
system to the Aill na
(Foreigners') cliffs overlooking the impressive Buachaill
stack. We even dropped into Inishbofin for a refreshing cup of coffee.
What a great Connemara Island Day!
Challenge Training, March
. The weather was fantastic
for the Maumturks Challenge training hike. Paul led a group over
the final part of the challenge, ending up in Leenane. There was even a
bit of snow on the mountain tops.
Day in the Park, January
. Wet weather weather
didn't stop us from starting the year with a trek in the Connemara
climbed Diamond Hill in the Connemara National Park by moonlight. It
was a beautiful night and the moon was bright with just a few clouds to
add to the atmosphere.
We took advantage of the stong tides to guide a group around the
stunning tidal archipelago at Rosturk in Clew Bay (between Mulranny and
Newport). The rain stayed away and we got spectacular views of the sun
lighting up Clare Island.
Paul's book “Connemara and
Walking Guide”, September
The Mayo Launch of Paul's book, of "Connemara and Mayo: a Walking
Guide", went very well, with a great turnout of walkers and others
involved in local Tourism. We had a few drinks while Michael Gibbons
officially launched the book. Thanks Michael Gibbons, to the staff of
the Westport Tourist Office, and to the Clew Bay Hotel for supplying
"Omey in a
a blast (Errisbeg had to be cancelled due to the high winds).
With hardy visitors from the Canadian Yukon, we crossed the
strand just after the tide had ebbed. But the driving rain left the
sands wet. The wind was strong to gale force as we traversed
Western end and stayed with us as we returned to the mainland. It was a
great experience, in the company of great people.
fantastic. With a family group, we headed up towards the
of Connaught's highest
mountain. As we approached the summit, the sun came out to take
advantage of clear northern air and reveal the spleandour of the
panaromic views. The light was superb; Glassillaun was torquoise and
looked stunning. The descent was warm. What a day to be on Mweelrea!
The Omey Walk in
was spectacular. A slow start, due to French timing and communications
difficulties, provided an opportunity to try a new frisbee from The
Outdoor Shop Clifden. The weather was beautiful and the sands were a
comfort to bare feet. A lot of old bones were found. We had a wonderful
picnic on the north western islet, looking out at Cruach and High,
before returning to the "continente" of Omey. The underwater bog was
exposed and the blackberries are coming out!
Twelve Bens Hike August
was a great day in the Bens. We spent six and a half hours hour
climbing the three adjacent peaks Ben Lettery, Ben Gower and Ben
Gleniskey. The ground was slippy after all the rain of the past days.
But we had a fine day. Even the wind decreased as the day progressed.
The bog under Ben Gleniskey was magnificent. The sun was out; the
clouds were occasional. We came acrooss a lot of sheep, especially up
high on Ben Gower - something we did not see two weeks ago!. What a
great introduction to the Bens!
the Silver Strand in
was misty all the way up - and down - Connaught's
highest mountain. The ground was very wet and the streams were flowing
very rapidly; the rivers and lakes were high. On the summit
encountered sheep. During our descent we met a group who were heading
up. It was a very atmospheric day to be walking!
The Introductory Twelve Bens
hike in August
was a great day to be walking in the Bens. The weather was dry with
light winds and the visibility was suprtisingly good; we could even see
Kerry's Mount Brandon far away on the southern horizion. We
covered Bens Lettery Gower and Gleniskey and enjoyed descending along
Omey in August
was an exciting and enjoyable walk around the beautiful tidal island
near Claddaghduff. Our group included two Omey residents who showed us
their beautiful house and provided great hospitality to overseas
visitors; many thanks!
Errisbeg in August
was a breezy climb all the way to
the top of one of Connemara's most dramatic
peaks on a lovely
group included a great French family.
Horseshoe in August.
led a group on a challenging six-seven hour
over the dramatic and strenuous circuit of Ben Lettery, Ben Gower, Ben
Breen, Bencollaghduff, Ben Corr and Derryclare.
guided walk, August
. Paul took a group of Dutch
to Errisbeg today, where there are stunning views over Roundstone bog
and the 12 Bens
walking tour, August
Although it was a bit damp, this was an interesting and enjoyable way
to see Clifden and its surroundings.
led a five hour climb up three adjacent peaks. It was warm,
and clear as we climbed Ben
Lettery. The wind increased and mist arrived with a little rain as we
got to the first peak. It was a pleasant temperature and the mist made
the climb to Ben Gower and Ben Gleniskey alll the more atmospheric. The
mist cleared as we descended the valley. A nice introduction for our
led a small group of French people on two-hour walk of the beautiful
island near Claddaghduff. We headed across the big strand that had
little or no sign of the great Omey Races just a couple of days ago
(See photo of the last race - against the tide!). We followed the
route as described in "Connemara and Mayo - a Walking Guide", stopping
off at the old Church remains (See photo). We also saw a large
number of amulets at the Holy Well (Tobar
). The sun came out as we returned along the road
cross the sands again.
led a small group on an evening
walk of three of the smaller "Bens". We started at Mweelin on
warm summer's afternoon with the sun shining. Adter passing the
Lime kiln, Megalithic Tomb and burial ground, we climbed the steep
grassy ground to the top of Benbaun. There were fine views down to
Kylemore, out to the Islands, and North to Mweelrea and the Maumturks.
Next we descended a little and climbed Benbrack with fantastic views of
The Twelve Bens and The Inagh Valley. En route to Knockbrack we met two
wild goats. The midges were out by the time we finished what was a
lovely midsummer's evening walk.
Paul led a group to the top of Connaught's highest mountain.
started from near the Silver Strand in fresh winds as clouds swirled
over the summit. As we approached the saddle with Ben Bury
(photo), the clouds lifted and we climbed to just below the summit to
take in the great views (photo). Surprisingly there was no wind at all
on the boggy peak where we met about ten other climbers. The sun came
out as we descended past the remains of a circular enclosure (photo) to
Dadreen. Taking about 5 hours, this is certainly the easiest way to
climb Mweelrea (unless you have a boat!). En route back to engaging
refreshment in Gaynor's of Leenane, we stopped off to see the fabulous
Srahwee (Megalithic) Wedge Toumb near the stumps of ancient Scotts Pine
Loop, Inishbofin, May.
Paul led the final walk of
the inaugural Inishbofin Walking Festival. From the Community Centre we
headed up “The Pound Road” and east to Cloonamore which was exposed to
the fresh west-north westerly wind. We passed the house from where
2FM’s Tubridy Show was recently broadcast (photo) and climbed the new
stile. After reaching the end of the Loop we continued north to the
spectacular Doonahinnena (Dún na hInne) cliffs (photo) complete with
recently cut “scraw” turf (photo). We spotted several interesting birds
thanks to one Inishbofin’s bird watching enthusiasts. When we reached
the East End beach, several people took off their boots and paddled
(photo) in beautiful sunshine. Leaving the East End we heard the
distinctive sound of a corncrake (there are reports of four pairs in
Bofin this year). We visited the remains of St. Colman’s Abbey before
finishing off with excellent food in Day’s bar. The Inishbofin Walking
Festival has been launched and offers great potential for the future.
Thanks to Donal Kitt and the Inishbofin Development Company for a great
trip to Bofin.
Diamond Hill 28 May 2011
Paul finished his week of guiding
for the Grassroutes
group with a trip to
Connemara. From the village of Letterfrack we walked up the hill to the
National Park and then headed up the Diamond (photo). It was
breezy enough on
top, but there was no rain (photo). On our return we visited
Park to view the fantastic displays. We finished the day with a drive
past the Aasleagh Falls,
up the Doo Lough valley. It was a great week despite the weather.
much to John
Wallace for the great support work with the bus. Thanks to
the group for the lovely card below.
Achill Head, May. Despite
another poor weather
forecast, we went to Achill and out to Keem Strand. Two of the more
climbers in the group headed up Croaghaun. As
the rain was just starting, Paul led the
main group north west up along the stream (hoping it might clear later
for the cliffs).
After a short climb we passed the lakes under the misty Benmore and
along the stream to the Booley village (photo). After a rather wet
in the fine remains of a large Booley house we descended to Bunown to
the cliffs below Croaghaun; it was impressive despite the driving rain
and a sea
with little swell. We returned along a similar route and finished with
walk on the beautiful Keem beach. We then drove to the deserted village
Slievemore and picked up the two fast wet and tired Croaghaun climbers
heading back to Westport.
Cong and the Seanbhóthar, May. Paul
continued his week
of guiding for Grassroutes
Holidays with another day dictated by the
unseasonably bad weather. The forecast for strong winds
and rain meant we had to stay low and avoid the coast. We headed to
and visited the Abbey before walking through the beautiful woods to the
cave, passing several fossilised outcrops along the way. After a good lunch in Clonbur
we walked along the old road to Cornamona. A few words of Irish were
as we passed some interesting archaeology in this Gaelic-speaking area.
finished the day with a drive up to Lough Na Fooey for an excellent
Sheepdog and shearing demonstration (photo).
Island, May. Paul took a group to Clare Island for
the day. The crossing was rather rough after the previous day’s storm
but the day turned out very sunny. We dropped into see Beth Moran’s
beautiful weaving en route to the Lighthouse and walked the spectacular
cliffs as far as Alnamarnagh (photo). We lunched looking up at a
stunning Knockmore (photo) before descending Ballytoohy to take the
“Tar Road” to the Abbey. Thanks to Bernie Winters we got to see the
wall paintings (photo) and the curious O’Malley coat of arms (photo).
We managed to fit in a drink in the hotel before returning to Roonagh
with entertainment provided by two Dolphins!
Tóchar Phádraig, May. Paul
led a group of 11 visiting Americans on a section of Tóchar
Phádraig (Patrick’s Causeway), Ireland’s oldest pilgrim walk.
This low-level walk was chosen as storm-force winds were forecast which
made it unsafe to climb Croagh Patrick as planned. We started at the
12th Century Balintubber
Abbey with an introduction from Fr. Fahy and headed off in
very strong winds. The rivers were flowing very rapidly and the lakes
were very high (see photo). After sheltering from the squally showers
and passing through some beautiful fields (photo) we eventually made it
to Aghagower. The refreshment in Scott’s Bar included the Enda Kenny
and Barack Obama (O’Bama) speeches on the TV; a memorable occasion.
Beanna Beola, An Gleann Mór,
the Beanna Beola Hill-walking Club's
final walk of the 2010-2011 season. After meeting at Letterfrack with
visibility poor and a forecast for windy rain, we decided to
stay low in An Gleann Mór. We climbed up into the Connemara National
Park and along the Diamond Walk. Then we descended
Addergoole to the Polladirk River, which was difficult to cross due to
the recent rains. We went all the way up into the big valley (Gleann Mór
lunched at Maumnascalpa in the shelter of the cave (photo).
Then we returned underneath Benbrack and Knockbrack past waterfalls
(photo) a fantastic underwater stream. We followed the river before
turning east under Diamond Hill to Letterfrack passing the remains of a
sheep's head attached to the deer fence, with bones scattered around.
We were all a bit damp afterwards.
Maumturks Challenge, April. Paul
a group of three on the Maumturks Challenge. The weather was superb,
with good visibility apart from a little mist on Corkóg. We
climbed the last hill, from the Coll of Despondency, in total silence
and without stopping once. We made it all the way to Leenane, where
Paul bumped into a very fit friend from Errisleannan. This man had
finished ahead of us despite having earlier cycled for two hours from
Errisleannan to the start of the challenge! And after getting the
shuttle bus back to the start, he was planning to cycle for another two
hours to get home again!
Galway Book Launch, April
28th 2011. The Galway
launch of “Connemara
and Mayo - a Walking Guide” by Paul Phelan was launched
Gibbons in the Discover
Tourist Centre. This was a great event with
distinguised guests from Galway
along with photographer Sean O'Farrell and the artist Joe
Boske. Thanks to all who helped, particulary Medbh Killilea and Anne
, Ciarán Hanley (Murty Rabbitt's) and Michael Gibbons.
Cave, April 23rd 2011: To marking the
90th anniversary of the Kilmilkin Ambush, and the publication
of “Connemara and Mayo - a Walking Guide”, Paul led a special
“O’Maille’s Cave” in the Maumturks.
It was a great event.
Five of us (including a member of the Acton
family, related to Padraigh O'Maille's wife) met at the fabulous Lough
Inagh Lodge Hotel
. In fine weather we climbed to
Maumahoge and down into Glenlosh to the cave. We
spent half an hour marvelling at this man-adapted cave
a hideout during the War of Independence by
local IRA activist and speaker of the first Dail Pádraig
It is a truly
special site. We could imagine the sounds of the rifles
out 90 years ago over the hill. After lunch. we returned by
same route, stopping off at the pass
to view the spectacular corrie lake. Back in the Lough
Inagh Lodge Hotel
and Maura O'Morain produced tea, coffee, scrumptous scones and cake. To
mark the 90th anniversary, an excerpt from
Adrian Acton's account of the Kilmilkin Ambush was read out (Adrian's
full story can be heard on Connemara
Book Launch, April
16th 2011: “Connemara and Mayo - a Walking Guide” by Paul
Phelan was launched
Gibbons on the 16th April 2011 in
included great music from Aidan Ward (vocals, guitar) and Fergal
Scahill (fiddle). Books are now available in the
including local distribution opportunities see the Guide Book page.
Nephin Beg, March.
Paul led a
group of seven from the Beanna Beola Hill-walking Club on a walk of Ben
Gorm in the Nephin Beg range (West of Newport, Co. Mayo). The weather
was good with the summit clear and light winds. From Lettermaghera
South we climbed to the coll overlooking the Lough Doo corrie and had
lunch. Then we climbed to the summit 562m of Bengorm. Instead
returning, we continued north and then north west to the coll at 357m
before making our final ascent to 468m. We then returned to the coll
before descending a little into the Glendahurk valley and contoured to
the south towards Carheenbrack (where there are beautiful remains),
before picking up the Burrishoole Looped Walk back to the start. All in
it was nearly six hours of gentle hiking.