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Clifden Castle: History, Parking + Walk Map

Clifden Castle: History, Parking + Walk Map

The imposing Clifden Castle was built in 1818 for John D’Arcy, the founder of nearby Clifden Town.

Although now in ruin, the castle is still incredibly impressive, and you can visit it right before tackling the nearby Sky Road Drive.

It’s accessed via an impressive gate (see map below) and it is just under 1km from the tiny parking area.

Below, you’ll find everything from how to reach it and where to park to the history of Clifden Castle.

Some quick need-to-knows about Clifden Castle


A visit to the castle in Clifden isn’t as straightforward as many of the other castles in Galway, so take 20 seconds to read the points below:

1. Location

Clifden Castle can be found in the Connemara region in County Galway. It is just off Sky Road, less than 3km from Clifden Town. The castle is 80km from Galway City (roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes away by car). 

2. Parking

The Clifden Castle parking area is very easy to miss (see photo on map above). Driving towards the Sky Road, look out for the old castle gates (a beautiful stone archway with two towers).

In front, you will see a small triangular patch of gravel with enough room for three to four cars (here on Google Maps). 

3. It’s a 20-minute walk to the caatle

From the parking area, there’s a short 1km walk to reach the castle. Pass through the old castle gates and follow the gently winding path through horse pastures and fields. Along the way, keep an eye out for the mock standing stones that the original owner, John D’Arcy, had built in honour of his children.


4. Wear appropriate footwear

The walk to the castle is down an uneven gravel track that at times can get very mucky and wet, especially after it’s rained! Proper footwear is a must, and those with limited mobility may find the walk challenging.

5. Take care

The castle is in ruins and you enter at your own risk. The castle itself also sits on private land, so please show respect and, as always, leave no trace behind you.

The history of Clifden Castle

Clifden Castle

Photos by the Irish Road Trip

Clifden Castle is a beautiful ruined manor house overlooking the coastline. It was constructed in 1818 for John D’Arcy, the founder of nearby Clifden.

The castle was built in the Gothic Revival style, with pointed arched windows and doors, several towers, and two round turrets.

It served as the D’Arcy family’s main residence for several decades, alongside the 17,000-acre estate it belonged to.


The early days

In 1839 when John D’Arcy passed, the castle fell under tumultuous times when his eldest son Hyacinth D’Arcy inherited the estate.

Unlike his father, Hyacinth wasn’t well-equipped to manage the family’s properties and tenants, and during the Great Famine, their troubles grew when many of the D’Arcy’s tenants emigrated elsewhere causing them to lose rental income. 

Eventually, the family went bankrupt, and in November 1850 several of the family’s properties, including Clifden Castle, were put up for sale.


New owners

The castle and lands were purchased by two brothers from Bath, Charles and Thomas Eyre, for a sum of 21,245 pounds.

The brothers used the castle as their holiday home until 1864 when Thomas bought Charle’s share and gave the castle and surrounding estate to his nephew, John Joseph Eyre.

When John Joseph passed in 1894, the running of the estate was left to agents and the castle began to fall into disrepair.


A controversial sale

Later on, the estate, not including the castle demesne, was sold to the Congested Districts Board/Land Commission.

In 1913, the castle demesne was offered to the board for a sum of 2,100 pounds, to be sold on to former remnants, but no sale was ever made. 

In 1917 the castle and lands were bought by a local butcher, J.B. Joyce, in a highly controversial sale.

The land around the castle was highly coveted and several former tenants had been using the castle grounds to expand their own farms.


An new era

The townspeople turned against Joyce and proceeded to run him and his cattle off the land, and replace it with their own. 

In 1920, a Sinn Féin arbitration court decided that Joyce should sell the land and it was divided and shared between the tenants.

The tenants were given collective ownership of the castle, and they stripped the castle of its roof, windows, timber, and lead, and it fell into ruin.


Things to do nearby

best things to do in galway ireland


One of the beauties of the castle in Clifden is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Galway.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Clifden Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

  1. The Sky Road (5-minute drive): A breathtaking 16km scenic drive
  2. Eyrephort Beach (10-minute drive): One of the quieter beaches near Clifden
  3. Clifden Town (5-minute drive): There’s some great places to eat in Clifden, like Off The Square
  4. Kylemore Abbey (25-minute drive): One of the most beautiful castles in Ireland

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