It’s a place in Ireland we visit on every single trip, the place we got engaged seven years ago, and one of my favorite spots in all of Connemara. Ballyconneely, just outside of Clifden, is one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches I have ever visited. The water, in places, is Caribbean-blue (but nowhere near as warm!), the sand, bleached-white in places and a golden yellow in others.
From every spot on Ballyconneely’s beaches, you can see green fields, the rocky 12 Pins or Bens, the mountains of Connemara, and endless sky.
When the sky is gray, as it often is in the West of Ireland, Mannin Bay and the surrounding landscape can match it; depending on your own mood, it can be soothing and serene or somber and a little bit too heavy. Being a lover of gray skies and rainy days, I am usually a big fan.
Ballyconneely goes back further than the seven years ago when we got engaged, even further back than the almost 10 years ago when my husband and I first visited there together. When my husband was a child, he and his family owned a caravan on the beach and spent weekends playing in the surf, wandering the surrounding hills to round up sheep, and falling asleep to the sounds of the waves lapping the shore. Does that not sound like a magical way to spend childhood summers?
If you plan a trip to Ireland, I definitely recommend including Ballyconneely on your itinerary; it’s an easy day trip from Galway City and can be combined with a visit to Clifden, Kylemore Abbey, and Ballynahinch Castle. Many people are wooed away from the West by the metropolitan and better known sites of Dublin, but this is where the real Ireland shines through.