Heritage hot spots: History, nature, art, environment
Connemara National Park
What is it?Connemara National Park, in Co Galway, is one of the six national parks of Ireland. It includes 2,957 hectares of mountains (including four peaks in the Twelve Bens), bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. Much of the land was formerly part of Kylemore Abbey Estate and Letterfrack industrial school. The park opened to the public in 1980.
Why visit?It’s always a good time to experience the elements in the wide open landscape of a national park. Visitors can go on one of four walks of varying lengths up Diamond Hill. On your way, you can see the park’s small herd of Connemara ponies and donkeys.
If it’s very wet you can find out about the history and geology of the park by watching the audiovisual show at the visitor centre (where, in addition, art and photography exhibitions are regularly held). There is also a good playground and picnic tables with views of Diamond Hill.
Why now?The aerial-dance company Fidget Feet will perform a promenade theatrical circus performance piece in the national park next Saturday and Sunday as part of the 35th Clifden Community Arts Festival. The show A Fairies’ Tail will bring the audience on a journey through the woods “to find out who or what is hiding out in some of the best-known children’s stories”. If you’d like to go to the shows – on Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at noon and 4pm – you should wear outdoor footwear and bring raingear. Admission is €10 for adults, €5 for children. You can book tickets on clifdenartsweek.ie, on 091-442730 or at the festival box office on Bridge Street.
Meanwhile, Captivating Brightness, an Irish Museum of Modern Art exhibition of work inspired by the west of Ireland, is on show in the old SuperValu on Market Street.
Clifden Arts Festival runs from September 20th to 30th.
How do I get there?The visitor centre and main access are near the village of Letterfrack, along the N59. The visitor centre is open daily from 9am to 5.30pm until the end of October. Entry and parking are free. Guided tours for groups by appointment. Call 095-41054 or see connemaranationalpark.ie.