The Leenaun To Louisburgh Drive: One Of The Best Drives In Ireland

The best drive in Ireland? My aul lad thinks so.

Leenane to Louisburgh drive 2

I only properly started to explore Ireland around five years ago.

It was a couple of years before I started the @instaireland account on Instagram and my only really experience with travelling around Ireland was on breaks with my Mam and Dad.

As an impossible to amuse teenager.

So I neither appreciated the scenery or the effort my parents put into organising the trips. I was a ungrateful little prick altogether.

On these trips, and as far back as I can remember, my Dad would always talk about how the best drive in Ireland can be found ‘out west’, and that nothing else in Ireland could compare.

The Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive

This incredible drive is known as the ‘Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive’ and up until three years ago, I never understood why he raved about it so much.

Then we drove it together, and it all made sense.

Ever inch of this stretch of road and the scenery that envelopes it just hugs the soul.

Leenane to Louisburgh drive galway
Where the drive kicks off in Leenaun (via Google Maps)

About this peach of a drive

The Leenaun to Louisburgh drive takes you along a stretch of road that starts in (unsurprisingly) Lennaune in Connemara and that slivers through the mountains to Louisburg, in Mayo.

Leenaun is hands-down one of my favourite little (and I mean ‘little’) villages in Ireland.

It’s small, has a buzzy atmosphere from all of the tourists and locals milling about the place and the views out over the Killary Fjord (above) are nothing short of sensational.

For those of you that have watched ‘The Field’, you may recognise Gaynors pub in Leenaun as the pub that featured so frequently in the movie.

Aasleagh Falls
Photo by Big Smoke Studio via Failte Ireland

For those of you that start the drive in Leenaun (you can of course start it in Louisburg) you’ll stumble upon Aasleagh Falls about 4 minutes or so outside of the village, on the River Erriff, just before the river meets Killary Harbour.

There are few sounds that rival the soft ‘plops’ that emit from a waterfall the size of Aasleagh Falls.

You can park the car at a lay-by close to the falls and there’s a pathway that allows visitors to make the short stroll to the waterfall.

Stretch the legs and gulp down lungfuls of fresh air.

Thinking about exploring Galway? Check our our detailed 3-day Galway road trip guide.

Keep on drivin’ and get read for your eyes to pop!

The Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive is one of those stretches of road that just completely shocks the system.

I’ve driven this route many times and on every occasion I’ve been taken aback by the sheer lack of people you meet while spinning along it.

Leenane to Louisburgh drive mayoLeenane to Louisburgh driveLeenane to Louisburgh drive connemara

The scenery varies from icy lakes to rugged mountains to open country.

As you make your way along the road, you’ll pass Doo Lough, a long dark freshwater lake.

Leenane to Louisburgh drive ireland Leenane to Louisburgh drive guide

As you drive make sure to keep an eye out for a plain stone cross – it stands as a memorial to the Doolough Tragedy which took place in 1849.

Advice for driving this route

The only advice I can give you during this drive is to take your time and stop and stretch your legs as often as possible.

For me, driving through places like this, regardless of whether you’re on your own or with people, is all about loosing yourself for a little bit.

Forget the phone, the radio and everything else and allow yourself to be immersed in the beauty that surrounds you.

Have you done this drive before? Would you agree with my aul lad that it’s the best drive in Ireland? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Certainly one of the best drives in Irelandbut I reckon the Louisburgh to Leenane drive is even better. The road from Doolough up passed Tawnyard Lake also takes some beating. The whole area is just a masterpiece of nature, love it

  2. Most beautiful place I’ve ever been ,stayed in the Leenaun hotel with stunning views over Killary Harbour.
    Can’t wait to return.

  3. Agreed…I’ve done this drive twice – both times from Westport out past the amazing Clew Bay and Croch Patrick and into Louisberg. Then left through the amazing Delhi Valley and into Leenaun and finally onwards to Clifden. It’s pure jaw dropping and the most beautiful drive in Ireland. Can’t wait to do it again after lockdown.


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