Ballynahinch Castle, West Ireland
This superb hotel has a fascinating history. Ballynahinch Castle was previously the home of Prince Ranjitsinhji, Maharajah of Nawanager. He was an accomplished cricketer who batted on the England team with W.G. Grace and loved fly fishing. He was the first head of state to visit the Irish Free State in 1924. Today, his former home is a luxury hotel with a myriad of outdoor activities. We’ll be writing about it in detail in an upcoming post.
These handsome ponies are specific to the area of Connemara and they excel at show jumping.
As you walk, cycle or drive around the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll notice quite a few sheep in the middle of the road so be prepared to slow down at a moment’s notice!
The island of Inishlacken is largely uninhabited these days but makes an interesting excursion from nearby Ballynahinch Castle, one of the best hotels in Ireland. They can arrange a tour with local fisherman John, where you’ll learn to fish and see the lobster pots being collected. Then you head on to Inishlacken to see the last remaining inhabitants…the sheep that are brought here by boat to graze each day. Archie rounds them up with his sheepdog before transporting them back to the mainland. The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable so make sure to dress in plenty of layers and to take a waterproof jacket.
There’s a link between the Maharajah who bought Ballynahinch Castle, aka Prince Ranji, and this Benedictine Abbey. Although it’s still a monastery, it was also a girls’ school until 2010. The Maharajah sent several of his nieces to school here. These days its attractive Victorian walled garden is a popular visitor attraction.
Pine Island, Derryclare Lough
This atmospheric place has the distinction of being the most photographed place in the Connemara area. Its located on Derryclare Lough, a freshwater lake, 20 kilometers east of Clifden and close to the Twelve Bens mountain range. Whatever the weather, it certainly makes for a unique shot and it’s also a popular fishing spot for salmon and trout.
This picturesque fishing village is the departure point for quite a few boat trips and well known for O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar and Restaurant. This cosy eatery is at the heart of the local community and serves excellent food. Roundstone has featured in several films and is a designated Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty.
If ever a road deserved it’s name, the Sky Road certainly does. This circular coastal route stretches for 11 kilometers with an upper and a lower road. Along the way, you’ll discover some fantastic vantage points and there is a car park at the highest point so that you can capture shots like this one.
With very little light pollution, West Ireland is a particularly good place to see spectacular sunsets and also to stargaze. Fingers crossed that you get to experience one like we did, it’s a great way to conclude a stay in this beautiful area. Fly to Knock or Shannon international airports to see it for yourself.
Have you ever been to West Ireland? Are there any other nearby attractions that you would recommend to visitors?