CLIFDEN, the English-speaking capital of Connemara, is a popular, animated service town for both tourists and locals, enhanced by a spectacular setting: it perches on a steep, verdant hillside, where the lofty, grey spires of the Catholic and Anglican churches compete for attention, while on its western side the land plunges abruptly down to the deeply indented harbour. Several stately townhouses sprinkle the three major streets – Main Street, the continuation of the Galway road culminating in Market Square, with Bridge Street and Market Street branching off it at either end and meeting to form a rough triangle (the one-way system runs clockwise from Bridge to Market to Main streets). By basing yourself in one of the town’s fine accommodation options, you’ll be able to explore the varied attractions of coast and mountain hereabouts – especially if you have your own car or are prepared to hire a bike – and return to sample the often lively nightlife.

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