Paved road except trail to Clifden Castle / 5km / 1 to 2 hrs
Leave Clifden by the Beach Road, descending towards the quay. Directly ahead on the hill opposite is a monument to John D’Arcy, the founder of Clifden and the man who built Clifden Castle. This monument took a long time to construct. Begun in 1839, the year of D’Arcy’s death, it was not completed until the local heritage group undertook the project in 1992. You can learn more about John D’Arcy and the history of Clifden at clifdenheritage.org, the new website of the Clifden and Connemara Heritage Society.
Just after the ball alley and childrens’ playground you will arrive at Clifden Quay. Alexander Nimmo drew up the plans for the quay in 1822, and it was completed in 1831. Clifden Inshore Lifeboat Station is located here and is called out on a regular basis. The Owenglen River empties into the estuary here, and the sandy mud flats at low tide are the result of material carried by the river in spate. The walk continues along the estuary overlooking Faul peninsula on the far side and, as we continue, a fine vista opens over Clifden Bay. The mouth of the estuary has many hidden rocks, and the navigation channel is marked with stone beacons.
After about 2km, the road widens into a parking area for Clifden Beach. The Clifden Boat Club is 100 metres further ahead. It houses the Boardwalk Café, where you can stop-off for refreshments. Then, walk back to take the first left, up the hill of Mine Road. Looking back we occasionally get a fine view over the bay and the distant navigation mark, the White Lady on the south-western approaches. A lime-kiln is integrated into the stone wall on the right side of the road 800 metres from the turn. This was used to burn lime-rich rock to fertilise the acidic fields of the Clifden demesne to your left.
Soon you come to the castle gates, the entrance to the demesne. If you have the time, walk through the gateway arch and stroll along the winding trail edged with a series of five standing stones (only one is original). Soon you will be led downhill and turning right to discover a magnificent view of Clifden Bay and Clifden Castle, which was built by Clifden’s founder John D’Arcy circa 1810 and which was once his residence. Spend an hour here exploring amid the ruins of D’Arcy’s splendid home (exploring inside the castle is not advised).
Walking back towards the town, you will notice a sign pointing to the John D’Arcy Monument to your right. A short climb to the summit of Monument Hill will reward you with panoramic vistas of Clifden Bay, Clifden Town and the surrounding area, a good opportunity for photography enthusiasts.
Source: ‘Walking in Connemara: Shorter Walks to Explore the Hidden Connemara’, Connemara Tourism 1996
Available at The Clifden Bookshop, Main Street, Clifden