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The Connemara Trail has been run by Willie Leahy for more than 35 years. It is the oldest vacation trail ride in the world, and its success has, in part, been responsible for the advent of dozens of such rides throughout Europe, America and Asia. The Connemara Trail follows a route from Cloonabinia (just west of Galway City) to Clifden to Toombeola.  

2015 Dates
All 6-day rides begin on a Monday afternoon and conclude Saturday evening.

april may


july aug sept



Riders meet at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern), Eyre Square, in the City Centre of Galway. Luggage is transferred, and riders are transported 30 minutes west of the city to Oughterard. Riders and horses are matched, and the group heads straight into the mountains for a long ride which will finish at Maam Cross. The trail takes riders past "famine houses" abandoned since the 1840's. The view is magnificent, on the horizon is lovely Lough Corrib, one of the largest lakes in Ireland. Way below the trail is the Quiet Man Bridge, made famous by the John Wayne movie of the same name.


Having spent the night at a lakeside pasture, the horses are refreshed and ready for the ride from Maam Cross to Ballinafad. A path takes riders alongside the beautiful Lough Sindle and past remains of a long-forgotten lime kiln, hidden in a grove of hazel trees. After a lunch break on a village green, the ride continues through silent woodlands. The day ends with a canter along the old Galway to Clifden railway line before the horses are turned out to pasture and riders are transported to their lodging for the night.


The ride begins in the mountains and ends at the sea. Highlights include a canter through a woodland and a ride by the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, the magnificent ancestral home of the Martin family. Richard Martin founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Today the property is a world-renowned resort prized for its gourmet cuisine and outstanding fishing. After lunch, the group moves on toward Clifden with first glimpses of the ocean. During the afternoon, the route passes by the Alcock and Brown Memorial, the site where the first transatlantic flight landed. The horses are pastured in a beachside field, and the riders return to Clifden for the night.


A full day spent on the spectacular Mannin Bay beaches! Riders can gallop and jump (optional) over small stone walls and sandy banks and swim their horses in the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This is, quite simply, an unforgettable day for anyone. Lunch is served on the beach. Following the last of the beach gallops, the riders return to Clifden for the night.


Today, the riders move from the sea back into the mountains. The ride begins along Mannin Bay and ends at Toombeola. The morning portion of the ride follows the coastline, passing dozens of small farms along the way. The views of the ocean are often spectacular, and visitors who have never been to Ireland have often compared the color of the water to the Caribbean Sea. After lunch, the final ride of the week takes the group high in the mountains above the picturesque village of Roundstone with brilliant views of Dogs Bay.


The ride heads straight up into the mountains overlooking Cashel Bay. The trail passes by long abandoned villages, where the potato ridges still remain—a memory of a long-forgotten way of life.  Lunch is eaten close to the small village of Cashel. The horses are re-saddled for the final leg of the trail which takes the riders through Cashel and then along the coastline around Cashel Bay to Willie’s Mountain, Shanndonnell, where the ride ends. Riders are transported back to Galway for a farewell drink and reception.