The Clifden Castle ruins are some of the most enchanting in all of Ireland. In this post, we are going to give you a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about visiting Clifden Castle. Let’s jump right in!
The history of Clifden Castle
Clifden Castle, an enchanting remnant of the 19th century, is located in the heart of the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland.
This Irish manor house was built around 1818 for John D’Arcy, the founder of Clifden town, and was considered one of the first buildings with a Gothic Revival style in Ireland.
The D’Arcy family resided in this majestic property until the mid-19th century, enjoying the expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding twelve pins mountain range.
The mid-19th century marked a turning point for Clifden Castle and the D’Arcy family. The Great Famine that swept through Ireland drastically affected the family’s fortunes when their potato crop failed. This led to their eviction and the sale of the castle and estate to the Eyre family of Bath, England, in 1850.
There is a more varied history after the new owners put the castle into a trust, a local butcher became the local landowner, and eventually, the estate was divided up by a group of tenants, but we won’t get into it too deeply.
The castle gradually fell into disrepair and was abandoned by the turn of the 20th century. Despite its ruined state, the castle’s romantic aura remains.
Today, the ruined manor house remains a popular destination for Ireland visitors who enjoy its history, architectural beauty, and the tales of bygone eras it continues to hold within its walls. And it’s an excellent destination for anyone looking for a weekend break in Ireland.
Now that you know the history of Clifden Castle, let’s jump into what you need to know before your visit.
How to get to Clifden Castle
The location of Clifden Castle
Clifden Castle is nestled within the stunning landscape of Connemara, in County Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. This remarkable relic of the 19th century sits just outside the town of Clifden, on a hill overlooking Clifden Bay. This is one of the best castles in Galway!
The best and only way to reach Clifden Castle is by car. Most visitors to this region will already have a rental car, which is something to consider when planning your trip.
The drive to Clifden Castle from the town is less than 5 minutes. You’ll pass Abbeyglen Castle Hotel on your way, but don’t drive too far! Sometimes, Google Maps will try to take you further than you need to go.
The exact parking for Clifden Castle is linked here and sits just outside the castle entrance gate, which is pictured below. Even though it appears that you can drive through the gate to reach the castle, this is private property. All visitors must park outside the gate and take a short walk the remaining distance to the castle ruins.
Be sure to take any valuables with you, and don’t leave tempting items in view from your car windows. We heard reports that cars are frequently broken into at this parking area, although we personally didn’t have any issues.
Getting to the castle
After you’ve parked your car, it’s time to set off on a hike! Don’t worry, though; it will be totally worth it.
The entire path to the castle is a gravel roadway which is fairly easy to traverse. On the way to the castle, you will be walking downhill, meaning the way back is all uphill.
The distance from the parking area to the castle is 1 km (0.62 miles). The road winds through farms and fields with sheep, horses, and cows, but don’t worry; you’re not lost. Just keep going and follow the castle signs. If you’re lucky, a cute horse might even pose for a photo with you!
Exploring Clifden Castle
Once you reach the castle, you’ll be awed by its impressive structure! The castle, set in a picturesque landscape, is characteristic of a romantic, Gothic aesthetic with castellated battlements, a square tower, and round turrets.
Obviously, the castle is in ruins, so you must be cautious when exploring. There are steep drop-offs and loose debris throughout the castle and grounds.
We found the best way to enter the castle itself was to walk around to the backside. This part of the castle is incredibly picturesque due to the thick ivy that has grown to cover the outer castle walls.
There are multiple rooms in the castle to explore. We had fun walking through them and trying to guess what each room had been used for in the past!
Please respect the castle and grounds during your visit, and don’t leave any traces behind! Take all trash with you, and don’t vandalize the property in any way. This is private property, and visitors need to be respectful to keep it open to the public.
Tips for visiting Clifden Castle
Is there a cost to visit Clifden Castle?
No, there is currently no cost to visit Clifden Castle or to park at the entrance.
How long should you spend at Clifden Castle?
This will depend on how fast you hike and how much time you want to explore the castle and grounds. We recommend planning at least 1-2 hours for your visit.
Due to the remote location of the castle, you will likely have very few other visitors there with you. We only encountered two other groups coming and going.
What to wear during a visit to Clifden Castle?
Due to the hike to reach the castle, it’s essential to wear the proper attire. A good pair of hiking shoes are necessary, and waterproof clothes are recommended as well.
It rained during our visit, and there were large puddles and flooded areas in and around the castle. You’ll also want to ensure that your shoes have a good grip for climbing around and exploring inside the castle.
Can you fly a drone at Clifden Castle?
No, drones are not allowed at Clifden Castle. We weren’t sure, so we brought ours along, but signs were posted forbidding the use of drones on-site.
Are there restrooms or facilities available at Clifden Castle?
No, there are no restrooms or facilities at Clifden Castle. Plan to stop and use the restroom in Clifden before getting to the castle.
Is Clifden Castle open to public visits?
Yes, Clifden Castle is open to the public. There are no posted visiting hours, although visiting after dark would not be advised due to the treacherous grounds.
Things to do near Clifden
There are plenty of great things to see and do nearby Clifden Castle! Here are a few of the highlights:
- Clifden Town: Explore the charming nearby town of Clifden itself, known for its colorful buildings, lively pubs, local shops, and welcoming atmosphere.
- Connemara National Park: Immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of Connemara National Park, offering hiking trails, picturesque vistas, and an opportunity to spot local wildlife.
- Sky Road: Take a scenic drive or walk along the famous Sky Road, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic coastline and surrounding landscapes.
- Omey Island: When the tide is low, venture across the sandbanks to Omey Island, known for its ancient church ruins and tranquil beaches.
- Inishbofin Island: Take a ferry trip and travel to Inishbofin Island, a peaceful haven with stunning beaches, walking trails, and historical sites.
- Kylemore Abbey: Marvel at the captivating Kylemore Abbey, an elegant castle set by a picturesque lake, offering a glimpse into Ireland’s monastic history. It’s one of the most beautiful castles in Galway!
- Abbeyglen Castle Hotel: Enjoy a luxurious stay at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, which provides beautiful views, excellent food, and multiple indulgent treatment rooms.
- Ashford Castle Hotel: Consider a day road trip to the spectacular Ashford Castle Hotel, which offers an immersive visit to the historic castle and extensive grounds, including multiple immersive experiences such as afternoon tea in Ashford Castle and riding horses on the Ashford Castle grounds.
Where to stay near Clifden Castle
Plenty of lodging options can be found nearby in the town of Clifden. There are a wide range of accommodations available, including bed & breakfasts, hotels, and even a luxury castle hotel.
I hope you’ve found this Clifden Castle guide helpful in planning your visit to this stunning Connemara castle.
Do you still have questions? Drop them below and I will do my best to answer them for you.