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Head west into Connemara, following signs for the coast road (R336). The road winds its way along the edge of the headland to the busy, unromantic modern beach resort, Salthill (Bóthar na Trá), a summer favorite of Irish families, which is somewhat reminiscent of the New Jersey shore in the U.S., or Blackpool in England. It has a boardwalk and a fine beach, plus lots of bars, fast food, amusement rides, and game arcades, which can be good if you've got children looking for an alternative to historic sights (so long as you don't mind the crowds). Farther along the scenic road are charming little historic towns including Gaelic-speaking Spiddal (An Spidéal), which is also an ideal spot to shop for locally made Aran knit sweaters and other handicrafts.

The road continues as far as Inverin (Indreabhán), then turns northward, with signposts for Rossaveal (Ros an Mhíl). From Rossaveal, you can make the shortest sea crossing from the Galway mainland to the Aran Islands, and on a sunny day, you might want to combine this coastal drive with a trip to the islands.

If you continue on R336, you'll leave the Galway Bay coast and travel past the rocky and remote scenery approaching the center of Connemara. Along the way you'll pass Ros Muc, site of the Padraig Pearse Cottage. This simple, rather bleak thatched-roof structure served as a retreat for Dublin-based Pearse (1879-1916), who was one of the leaders of Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising. He used his time here to improve his knowledge of the Irish language. Now a national monument, the cottage contains documents, photographs, and other memorabilia. Admission is €2 for adults. It's open from mid-June to mid-September daily 9:30am to 5:30pm.

At this point, you can continue north into the heartland of Connemara or retrace your route to Galway.

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.