Touring Mayo Connemara
Head Coach Connacht Rugby
Why this trip?
By far and away my most treasured cycle since arriving in Ireland nearly two years ago was my 3 day Galway to Westport to Clifden and returning to Galway route, a cycle I did in February 2019.
I completed this ride on my trusty Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Mountain Bike, loaded up with panniers and an energy & desire to explore. Before I left home, I said to my wife ‘I’ll be back in 3 days’, and I truly didn’t know where I was going when I left. I knew that Westport was a place of interest, so I headed that direction. Whilst I had no planned route, I have a pretty clear memory on where I went due to photos I took and my recollection of the places I visited.
Need to Know More?
Route Rating ➤ Moderate
Distance ➤ 307 km
Climbing ➤ 2,018 meters
The main arterial road out of Galway is the N84 but as soon as I could turn off that I did so, taking me through the picturesque Irish countryside littered with farm houses, dairies, abbeys and wee sleepy villages like Caherlistrane, Kilconly & Cloghans Hill, consisting of the odd corner store, church or GAA field. Before I knew it I was entering Hollymount in County Mayo, one of the most stunning counties in Ireland.
From Hollymount I stayed on the back roads and skirted Lough Carra and headed through Culleen, Carnacon, Ballintubber Abbey and into Killawalla. From Killawalla I continued on the R330 and cycled into Westport, spending the night in the Castlecourt Hotel where I enjoyed a well-earned Guinness and steak at the Helm Restaurant on Westport Quay.
After a good night’s rest I jumped back on the bike and took off in the rain heading to Louisburgh. I had forgotten to pack my shoe waterproofs so I stopped into Westport Bike Shop to try and buy some much needed protection. They didn’t have my size but the owner said ‘Not to worry, my husband has a pair that will fit you, I’ll get him to drop them in for you – just give me 15 mins’ (!!!) and I kid you not, 15 mins later her husband arrived and offered up his week-old pair of shoe skins for me to take on my merry way. Talk about Irish hospitality!!!
I rode into Louisburgh and then took the more scenic route via Cregganbaun towards the Doolough Valley. This was one of the toughest yet most rewarding 90 mins of cycling that I’ve ever done, not because of the terrain but because of the wind & rain. I found myself riding into this almighty headwind with hail/rain belting me in the face, with this most majestic view of Doo Lough to my right. This was the rugged Coonemara in all its glory. At one stage I looked down at my speedo and I was doing 6kms/hr and I was going as hard as I could!! I have never wondered again as to why the trees have a ‘lean’ on them in this part of the world!!
After a brief stop at Delphi Resort, where I had a stunning Mushroom Risotto and Flat White chaser, and a chance to thaw/dry out, I jumped back on the bike and made my way towards Clifden via the N59, passing the Aasleagh Falls, Leenaun, Kylemore Abbey and into Letterfrack. The weather eased up a tad for the last 14kms into Clifden, and the descent into there was truly beautiful as the sun was setting.
I stayed with friends that night and again, enjoyed a well-earned rest.
With slightly weary legs, I continued my journey on day 3, leaving Clifden around 8am and heading towards Galway. I’d decided to stick to my adventurous ways and hug the coastline so I took off heading towards Ballyconnelly along the R341. I was duly rewarded for my more scenic choice of route and with the weather still turning it on, I got to witness the angry Atlantic Ocean in all of its fury as it bashed the western coastline of Ireland. Stunning scenery, more sleepy villages and virtually car-less roads made for a very memorable final day as I meandered my way towards home via Roundstone, Inverin, Screebe and then back out to the coast.
I was getting a tad low on energy around midday when out of the blue appeared The Courthouse Caife in Costelloe. I can certainly vouch for their BIG burger and chips!! With a full belly and a sniff for home, I continued along the Wild Atlantic way via Spidal, Barna and then into Galway.
A truly memorable 3 days where I met some wonderful people and experienced the Connemara ruggedness at its best.
Hope you enjoy the spin as much as I did.