Alternative New Year’s Eve: Connemara

Work off your Christmas feast with the Connemara Walking Festival


Blow away the post-turkey lethargy with a few days exploring Connemara with an enthusiastic guide.

Archaeologist Michael Gibbons has been leading the Connemara Four Seasons Walking Festival for a number of years and is a joy to listen to.

The festival begins with a talk the first evening by Michael on the history and secrets of the Connemara highlands and islands.

His knowledge of the landscapes, culture, history and traditions of this rugged region is legendary. Two days are then spent exploring the landscape.

One of the walking days will be to Omey Island, the spiritual tidal island off Claddaghduff, home to St Féichín’s monastery, a holy well and ancient Christian sites.

The storms of last winter have exposed strata from the Neolithic era. On our visit some years ago a sperm whale was beached on the island and people came from far and wide to see it. There will also be a walk in Connemara National Park.

The other walking day will take you up Erris Beg Hill for magnificent views of the landscape and will be followed by a walk on Dog’s Bay to see Inishnee Island, a drowned forest and abandoned famine cottages.

The walks are moderate, and will require boots and wet gear.

STAY: The base for the walking festival is the Station House Hotel in Clifden and costs €199pps for two nights including dinner one evening and packed lunches and €269pps for three nights with two dinners and packed lunches, December 27 - 30.

Further details from (095) 21699 and