Spoiler alert as the weather gods put the mist in mystical Connemara




We are not fair weather campers and there is so much more to experience on the byways, bog lands and bays of magical, mystical…moody and misty Connemara, the pride of the Wild Atlantic Way.



Where do you start with Connemara? A rugged landscape carved out of marble, stone and shoreline. A home to poets, playwrights and piseogs and the very epitome of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Names like Renvyle, Recess and Roundstone come tripping off the tongue as places steeped in fable and lore and populated by folk that seemed carved out of that same rugged landscape and instilled with a soul and spirt of pure decency, a lilting language and a glinting eye as they weigh up an honest measure of Céad Míle Fáilte.
Whether you fancy a campsite or an isolated spot all of your own to call home for a night, Connemara is oozing with options. From wild camping at the edge of the Atlantic to conventional campsites near towns and villages or something a bit earthier and eco out on the edge, Connemara’s got it covered.




A mist covered mountain is a mist covered mountain in any man’s language and when the sky, sea and shoreline blur in to one, all of those plans for a barbecue, a cold beer and a romantic Connemara sunset get put on hold.

Our plan, as we departed Achill after a fabulous weeklong stay (more on that in our next post), was to wind our way down the coast at a leisurely pace and to take in as much of the Connemara delights as had come with such lofty recommendations all year. We were ultimately headed for Lahinch, via Oughterard for a surf and some music in Kenny’s Bar courtesy of the Tom Wait’s tribute outfit, Bone Machine. But all that was down the road.
First there were endless possibilities along The Connemara Loop and the winding N59 into Clifden. We were spoilt for choice from Delphi down to Maam Cross with Leenane, Lettergesh, Letterfrack all in between, not to mention the stunning scenery of Killary Fjord, Ballinakill Bay, The Twelve Pins mountains and even the possibility of a ferry out of Cleggan to Inishbofin.
We were never going to squeeze it all in but egged on by rave reviews and encouraged by a saturation of stunning Atlantic sunsets all season on social media I was positively childlike with excitement as we rocked up to our first port of call at Connemara Camping.



Lettergesh Beach is all yours, just a stones throw down the steps from the campsite. Even on a cloudy day it's exhilarating.




Connemara Camping near Lettergesh, is perfectly positioned on an elevated site overlooking the Atlantic with a stone staircase down to beach. It is the type of campsite that throws up those classic photo opportunities of a tent or campervan right out on the edge of the world as the crimson sunset reflects a palate of oranges, reds and yellows from the tip of the horizon right down the lens of your camera. At least that was the theory.
Just as we arrived the weather gods decided to have some fun and cashed in their chips for the summer and they even fast forwarded to a blustery, damp, misty evening of squalls and as the seasons changed their tune it soon turned from forty shades of green to forty shades of Connemara grey.
Now, campers can’t, don’t or at least shouldn’t complain about the weather, which goes with the territory, but a mist covered mountain is a mist covered mountain in any man’s language and when the sky, sea and shoreline blur in to one, all of those plans for a barbecue, a cold beer and a romantic Connemara sunset get put on hold…for another year, a vista not made any easier to swallow as the country has gone delirious over the best summer in thirty years.
Connemara Camping itself is a no airs and graces sort of place but the facilities are a bit rough and ready. Perhaps if it had been a sunnier day I would have been more forgiving. They make a great play on being a token free site, ‘If you want to drive people mad on holidays put in a token machine for showers,’ says the friendly chap at reception which sports an array of personalised and localised T-shirts for sale. However, when I learn that you can only get the Wi-Fi at the coffee shop area at reception once you purchased something and they have a rather petty additional €1 charge for mobile phone or device charging and a further €1 to chill freeze blocks, I think all the talk about token free showers is just tokenism. The general cost per night is €11 per person plus €4 for an electrical hook up (EHU), some of which have seen better days and it didn’t seem the safest that numerous motorhomes had to take their connection from the other side of the site, across the damp ground and the access roadway.

Clifden ecoBeach Camping looked great, seemed well run and offers loads of quirky options for a ‘wild’ like camping experience across the dunes and shoreline.






Clifden ecoBeach Camping was to be our next stop but the weather gods were by now having a full-on belly laugh as they turned any hopes of sunsets in to distant Facebook memories. We paid a quick visit to check it out and it looked great, seemed well run and offers loads of quirky options for a ‘wild’ like camping experience across the dunes and shoreline. Will definitely be back to give it a proper try, but first impressions were promising.
But Connemara hadn’t given up on us just yet and had a few more pleasant surprises up its misty sleeve.
Letterfrack was a revelation, offering respite from the inclement weather. If the challenge of camping in the wet conditions proved too much, it boasts an abundance of hostel options, many within an easy stroll of the village which itself is the gateway to Connemara National Park. The park is a treasure trove of walks, hikes and treks and among other things has an interesting museum on the social, historical and environmental importance of our bog lands.






The Connemara National Park  is a treasure trove of walks, hikes and treks and among other things has an interesting museum on the social, historical and environmental importance of our bog lands.



Leaving Letterfrack along the N59 do take care as much of this route has no margins or road markings. Just outside the village overlooking Ballinakill Bay, which had some water skiing action in tow, is a Killary Fjord Shellfish wagon serving up some fresh local mussels and oysters in the car park opposite the Avoca Shop.  Simply delicious and what an antidote to the pissy weather which had even the sheep scarpering for cover. Oysters at €10 for six and a generous pot of mussels for €7, served with great relish and a smile helped brighten up the day.


Killary Fjord Shellfish wagon serving up some fresh local mussels and oysters in the car park opposite the Avoca Shop 


Clifden itself was resplendent and all a buzz for the Connemara Pony Show. Clifden Camping is located on the outskirts of the town which also serves up the 41st edition of its acclaimed Clifden Arts Festival from September 12th to 23rd. Another event and spot which are top of my list.
On the road out to Roundstone I noticed a big friendly welcoming sign for campervans and motorhomes at Keoghs of Ballyconnelly. A good sign you’d have to say!


The banks of Lough Corrib near Oughterard, great fishing country.





For us it was on to the lovely Oughterard on the banks of Lough Corrib, which was licking its wounds from a poor mayfly season. It was an immensely enjoyable stopover with friends, a chance encounter with a Silver Bullet trailer en route, before we belted on to Lahinch, leaving Connemara in the rear view mirror full in the knowledge that we’d be back before long. 
We are not fair weather campers and there is so much more to experience on the byways, bog lands and bays of magical, mystical…moody and misty Connemara, the pride of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Lahinch and the sun finally decides to make an appearance.