ByRoute 1.5 Co. Galway (W) & Co. Mayo (W)

Cois Fairrige (Co. Galway / West)

Cois Fairrige (“Beside the sea”) is the traditional name given to the shore of Galway Bay west of Barna on the outskirts of Galway City, and is also used to refer to the local dialect of Irish Gaelic. (The toponym applies to  several other coastal areas of Ireland).

Sunset at Furbo (Photo by Deb Snelson)

Na ForbachaFurbo (Co. Galway / West)

Na Forbacha / FurboFurbogh (pop. 800), a district on the north  coast of Galway Bay,  has no village street or centre, but rather comprises 14 townlands, most of which run North to South from scenic bog and woods to the rocky foreshore, broken at Furbo by a sandy beach.

Furbo, just within the Connemara  Gaeltacht region, is the first place  west of Galway City where Irish Gaelic is used in the school, church and at community meetings; however, the language most commonly used in day to day life is English, particularly amongst younger age groups. The figure for those who speak Irish daily is self-reported as 39%.

Although approximately 12km from Galway City centre, the district has maintained its rural nature quite successfully due to strong local opposition to large scale development, and any new residential construction generally involves a requirement (arguably unconstitutional) that at least 50% be reserved for Gaelic speakers .

The church of Realt na Mara (RC) is an impressive white building with a distinctly Hispanic style campanile and interesting grounds.

The Galway Bay Baptist church is a small house in Furbo.

Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht Authority,  has its headquareters in Furbo.

Na Forbacha / Furbo is linked by rural backroads to Maigh Cuillinn / Moycullen.

(A personal memory: somewhere along this coast, on 20th July 1969, a family group emerged from a car to start their camping holiday. The sun was sinking below the horizon, a cold wind was blowing sand everywhere, and it began to rain as the tyrannical father told his two sons to erect the tent and his eldest daughter to start cooking a meal. She rebelled, and with the support of her brothers forced a change of plan. As  a result, within hours they were happily installed in a local hotel, watching the first Moon landing on a black & white TV.)

An Spidéal / Spiddal (Co. Galway)

An Spidéal (“hospital”) / Spiddal (pop. 1360), a small town on the north shore of Galway Bay, is a popular tourist resort. (Photo – johnnymac1875)

Although Spiddal is within the  Connemara Gaeltacht, and traffic signposts are exclusively in Irish Gaelic, the main language to be heard in public daily is English. Nevertheless,  teenagers from all over Ireland visit Spiddal for Irish courses every summer, and students from Minnesota, USA spend the autumn months studying Irish literature and culture locally.

Colaiste Connacht, a famous Irish Summer College founded in 1910,  is situated in the grounds of Spiddal GAA Club. The raised carpark commands  a great view of Galway Bay.

The town has two shops, several restaurants and  a number of pubs where  traditional Irish music can be heard live on most weekend nights and sometimes during the week in summer time.

Cill Éine / St Enda’s church (RC) is a splendid Gothic edifice dating from 1897.

Spiddal’s Promenade (“the prom”) is a popular place to stroll.

Spiddal Pier, a busy working facility, is where visitors can find boats running regular daytime  trips and evening charters to the Aran Islands and / or around Galway Bay, plus fishing excursions for  shark, pollack, ling, ray, mackerel and much more. The rocks behind the pier, and the pier itself, provide some shore angling when the mackerel shoals are in.

Spiddal’s beaches include one by the roadside east of the village, another sheltered behind the pier and reached by means of a narrow road west of the village, plus Tra na mBan (“Women’s strand”).

Gaelic football and hurling are the most popular sports in Spiddal, however, there are also karate and sailing clubs in the town.

The Boluisce River & Waterfall are scenic attractions, popular with adventure sports enthusiasts, notably kayakers.

Shannagarraun Wood is a Special Area of Conservation,  rich in ferns, mosses and lichens under he oaks, hazel, birch and holly.

The TG4 Irish language television series Ros na Rún is filmed in Spiddal, and the set is occasionally open to the public.

The Irish folk-influenced Waterboys’ record Fisherman’s Blues was partly recorded in Spiddal.

Spiddal is connected by a rural road to Keeagh, west of Moycullen.

Loch an Locháin Bhig (Loughaunbeg), one of several beautiful freshwater lakes surrounded by blanket bog inland from the coast road (Photo by Graham Horn)

Trá Sailin is a beautiful beach with a very small area for parking.

Tig Cualáin, an Irish speaking Pub / B&B, has a beer garden with fabulous views.

Indreabhán / Inverin (Co. Galway / West)

Indreabhán (“little estuary”), aka Inverin / Inveran, a Connemara Gaeltacht community, is more strongly Irish-speaking than Spiddal, as fewer commuters from Galway live locally and there is a stronger sense of tradition.

Coláiste Lurgan and Coláiste Uí Chadhain are the two best known Irish-language summer colleges in the area.

Like many communities in the West, Indreabhán is scattered haphazardly across the landscape; the nearest thing to a centre is called Poreen, where the Síopa an Phobal is located next to the River Cnoc.

Trá Mhór Choill Rua is the most popular beach for swimming in the area, with plenty of public parking and clean public toilets. A WWI German mine washed up here in 1917 exploded and  killed nine people who were examining it. A monument commemorates this tragedy.

Micheal Breathnach (1881 – 1908), a leading figure in the Gaelic League, travel writer, translator and and director of the Connaught Training College for teachers in Tourmakeady (Co. Mayo), was born locally and is also commemorated by a monument.

The fanous local GAA club, Cumann Michael Breathnach, has  a covered stand with stunning views towards Galway Bay.

A comórtas bailte (football tournament) is held every year on St Stephen’s Day (26th December).

Knock church (RC) is an attractive low white edifice.

An Bóthar Buí´(“the Yellow Road”), despite  starting beside a group of large wind power generators, is a lovely rural walk along pretty roads. Shaped like a horse-shoe, it passes through lush greenery beside the Crumlin River.

The Three Lakes Trek, another beautiful walk in the shape of a horse shoe, starts above Cor na Ron near the entrance of Crumlin Lodge estate (believed to be the inspiration for the song Avalon by Bryan Ferry, whose father-in-law died in a mysterious 1997 fire that destroyed the C19th building).

Connemara Regional Airport is the home of Aer Arann, which services the Aran Islands; flights take a mere 10 minutes.

Loch na Tulai / Lough Tully, a pretty lake, is virtually inaccessible despite its proximity to modern buildings.

Tully church (RC) is set in attractive grounds with lawns and trees.

Baile na hAbhann / Ballynahown (Co. Galway / West)

Baile na hAbhann (“river settlement”), anglicised as Ballynahown / Ballynahowan, is a townland and home to a mainly Irish-speaking rural community.

The district is largely taken up by blanket bog, with classic dry stone walls dividing some fields used for rough grazing on the shores of  Loch na Creibhinne / Lough Nagrevin.

TG4, the Irish language television channel,  has its headquarters locally.

Ballynahown Pier protects a small working harbour with mooring facilities for a limited number of boats.

A beautiful coastal walk, part of the Slí Chonamara / Connemara Way, provides access to several sheltered beaches and stunning views of the Aran Islands.

Bantrach is the location of Peadar Mhór‘s Pub, a must for a pint of Guinness.

Ros an Mhíl / Rossaveal (Co. Galway / West)

Ros an Mhíl / Ros a’ Mhíl (“peninsula of the whale/sea monster”) anglicised as Rossaveal / Rossaveel, another  Connemara Gaeltacht village, is the location of County Galway’s chief fishing harbour.

The Rosaveel Martello Tower is an Artillery Platform erected c.1804 as part of Ireland’s coastal defences against a feared French invasion.

Ros an Mhíl / Rossaveal is the main ferry port for the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

Aran ferry leaving Ros an Mhíl / Rossaveal harbour.

Ros an Mhíl / Rosaveal is linked by a direct road across the interior with Oughterard on Lough Corrib.