This article is sponsored by Ford Ireland
I recently spent a few days spinning around Connemara and Cong in the Ford Kuga ST-Line X Plug-in Hybrid.
One quick glance at the photo above should give you a fair insight into why I’m currently at home nursing a cold…
In Ireland, you’re often faced with a choice between either canceling plans or embracing wet-and-wild weather.
On this occasion, we embraced it. And it was well worth it (for the most part..!).
Some quick need-to-knows about this Wild Atlantic road trip
Here’s a quick overview of this road trip to have a flick through before we get into the various places to visit (times are rough estimates).
1. Distance from the main cities in Ireland
I’m going to use the different cities listed below as our point ‘A’ and Kylemore Abbey in Connemara as our point ‘B’ to calculate the distances:
- Cork City: 3 hr 55 min
- Limerick City: 2 hr 34 min
- Waterford City: 4 hr 19 min
- Dublin City: 3 hr 33 min
- Belfast City: 4 hr 46 min
- Galway City: 1 hr 10 min
- Kilkenny City: 3 hr 48 min
- Derry City: 4 hr 4 min
2. We tried to ‘play it by ear’, but then decided to embrace the rain
Bad weather and Ireland go hand-in-hand. We were washed out of it on this trip and we tried to dodge the rainy spells initially, but the weather apps told us we were wasting our time. So, we embraced the rain and luckily landed some dry spells in between.
3. A hybrid road trip
We were hitting the road in the Ford Kuga ST-Line X Plug-in Hybrid, which combines all electric driving with a petrol engine. The Kuga PHEV has a choice of driving modes, so you can decide whether to run on all electric power for up to 45-63km*, the petrol engine or a combination of both. You can seamlessly switch from petrol to electric at the touch of a button which is handy for our road trips.
Places to visit around Connemara and Cong
There’s an almost endless number of things to see and do in and around Connemara and Cong. Below, you’ll find a handful of our favourites.
Just keep in mind that these aren’t in chronological order, so you can pop them in to your itinerary based on where you’re starting your trip from.
1. The Connemara Loop
You’ll find The Connemara Loop on the North West of Connemara. You can walk, cycle or drive it and, regardless of how you tackle it, you’ll be treated to an ever-changing landscape from beginning to end.
We roughly followed this route, but had to change it up at times to due to torrential rain. The one benefit of this heavy rain was the appearance of countless waterfalls in the area.
You can drive the Loop in its entirety or you can do chunks of it. If you arrive in Connemara on a fine day, it’s well worth taking the Loop out to Renvyle, Lettergesh and Glassilaun – three of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
Ford Kuga ST-Line X Plug-in Hybrid feature-focus: Best-in-class rear legroom and luggage space can be realised using sliding second row seats, able to easily move forward or rearward up to 150 mm.
2. Clifden Castle
It’s thanks to our ramble down to Clifden Castle that I’m currently nursing a lovely little head cold!
You’ll find Clifden Castle a short distance from the town, right before you begin the Sky Road Drive (keep an eye out for the castle gates – there’s parking just before you reach them).
The walk down to the castle takes around 20 minutes along a gravel road that’s bordered by fields (one of which had two bulls on the day that we visited!).
The castle itself is in ruin, but there’s plenty of it still to explore – just be mindful of where you step. There’s definitely a slightly creepy buzz to this place on a gloomy day.
3. The Sky Road
We drove the Sky Road twice on this road trip… On the first occasion, the entire area was completely misted over.
1 hour later we had clearish skies and a peach of a sunset to accompany our spin.
Now, there’s a lower and an upper Sky Road – if it’s your first time visiting, aim for the upper road, as the views are a lot more impressive.
There’s multiple view points along the route and the drive itself only takes around half an hour – just make sure to drive carefully as plenty of walkers and cyclists use this route.
Ford Kuga ST-Line X Plug-in Hybrid feature-focus: The FordPass app* and connected modem will keep you connected. Your vehicle will communicate with the world around you, updating you with information about your car and keeping you moving in intelligent ways. With real time traffic updates, finding your nearest charging station, and vehicle health alerts you’ll always be kept up to date.
We were presented with a rare bright spell around midday so we took a spin out to the lively little village of Cong in County Mayo.
Although famous for its connection to the Quiet Man movie, you don’t need to be a John Wayne fan to enjoy a stroll around this place.
Park up in the big car park on the edge of town and aim for Cong Abbey. From here, you can stroll into the park where you’ll find walking trails, the Monk’s Fishing Hut and glorious river views.
5. Lough Inagh
One of the more popular areas amongst photographers exploring Connemara is Lough Inagh – a freshwater lake in the Inagh Valley.
The area that surrounds the Lough is like something whipped from an oil painting and it lends itself beautifully to wet, gloomy days.
There’s plenty of viewpoints and off-the-beaten-path twists and turns to take here, each of which give you a different perspective on the surrounding landscape.
6. Kylemore Abbey
If you’re tipping around Connemara and you’re looking for some respite from the rain, head over to Kylemore Abbey.
You can grab a bite-to-eat in the restaurant and then take the tour of the Abbey to grab a bit of shelter for a while.
Kylemore was built by Mitchell Henry in 1868 as a private residence. In 1920, the Abbey became a Benedictine Monastery.
There’s a wealth of history to be discovered here and there’s a nice mix of interactive displays and ancient artifacts on show inside.
6. Derrigimlagh Bog walk
Few rambles in Connemara are as overlooked as the brilliant Derrigimlagh Bog walk, which starts from a car park just outside of Clifden Town.
There’s two main attractions here – the most notable is the Alcock and Brown landing site. The duo crashed here during the world’s first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
The area is also famed for being the first place on earth to have a transatlantic message transmitted from it. This happened in 1907 when an Italian inventor by the name of Guglielmo Marconi transmitted a message to Canada.
History aside, this is a lovely spot to stretch the legs away from the hustle and bustle of Clifden.
Learn more about the Ford Kuga ST-Line X Plug-in Hybrid
And that is a wrap on our mini-road-trip-guide to Connemara and Cong. You can discover heaps more places to visit in Connemara in our Galway guide.
Or, if you’d like to discover more about the Ford Kuga ST-Line X PHEV, visit Ford.ie.
*Based on full charge of Kuga PHEV ST-Line. Estimated range using Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). Figures shown are for comparability purposes and should only be compared with other vehicles tested to the same technical procedures. Actual range varies with conditions such as external elements like temperature, driving behaviours, route profile, vehicle maintenance, and lithium-ion battery age and condition. 63-km WLTP Overall Range reflects a combined driving cycle and 45-km WLTP Extra High range reflects motorway driving – both tests are conducted in controlled conditions with an ambient temperature of 23 degrees Celsius and no climate or electrical load.
*FordPass App, compatible with select smartphone platforms, is available via a download. Message and data rates may apply.