advertisement

Connemara Pony -- The sturdy yet elegant Connemara pony is the only horse breed native to Ireland, though it has received an infusion of Spanish blood over the centuries. Often raised in tiny fields with limestone pastures, the ponies are known for their stamina and gentleness, which make them ideal for amateur riders and young people. Born and bred to traverse the region’s rugged terrain, they are adept at scaling short, steep hills and delicately picking their way along rocky shores.

Because much of the countryside is well off the beaten track, pony trekking is actually a fantastic way to cover ground. It gets you off the busy roads and out into the countryside, even onto the white-sand beaches near Roundstone and elsewhere along the coast. The Cleggan Beach Riding Centre, Cleggan (www.clegganridingcentre.com; 083/388-8135) offers beach and mountain treks, the most popular being a 3-hour ride to Omey Island at low tide. And near Loughrea, the Aille Cross Equestrian Centre (www.connemara-trails.com; 091/843-968) can set you up with guided treks for all levels of ability.

Aran Sweaters -- The distinctive chunky, creamy Irish "fisherman's sweaters" known as Aran knit sweaters originated in this region. Using the oat-colored wool from the native sheep, the semi-waterproof sweaters were first knitted by the women of the nearby Aran Islands for their husbands and sons to wear while out at sea. Each family had a different stitch or pattern. Years ago, the patterns were not only a matter of aesthetics; they served as the chief way to identify men who had drowned in the treacherous waters off the coast. Today these sweaters are hand-knitted in the homes of Connemara and the nearby Aran Islands, then sold in the many craft shops throughout the region.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.