Killary Harbour is Ireland’s only true fjord and it extends 16km from the Atlantic coast deep into its head at the wonderful Aasleagh Falls. It is stunningly beautiful along its full length, and forms a dramatic border between counties Galway and Mayo. And here in this remarkable glacial valley are some of the most spectacular vistas in the West of Ireland. And at the very head of Killary fjord is lovely Leenaun, a most attractive village with a sprinkling of tea rooms and gift shops to distract contented tourists from the ridiculously wonderful scenery outside.
Killary Harbour is also extremely deep, with 45m of water at its centre. This offers a very safe, sheltered anchorage to workboats and visiting yachts. Indeed the great beauties of Killary Harbour have been diverting passing yachts from their intended routes since the outset of recreational sailing in Irish waters. Killary is also a centre for shellfish farming. Strings of mussel ropes can be seen for much of the fjord’s length. Mussels and clams grown in Killary Harbour are sold at the Westport Country Market every Thursday morning, and are rumoured make a wonderful chowder.
To the north of Killary Harbour lies Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht and County Mayo. To the south are the Twelve Bens and the impressive Maumturk Mountains of Connemara. There are extraordinary panoramas on every side. Killary Harbour and its surrounding headlands offer generous opportunities for outdoor pursuits, including hillwalking, trekking, trials cycling, and even scuba diving. There are regular boat trips along the fjord, and the well-appointed Killary Cruise Liner will ferry guests along the length of the fjord, and out onto the great Atlantic Ocean.
And of course, Killary Harbour fjord is a real treat for birdwatching, with nationally important populations of many species, including ringed plover, mute swan, whooper swan, mallard duck, tufted duck, and barnacle goose in plentiful supply.
This part of Connemara would have been badly affected by the famine in the 1840's and there is evidence of the destitution of this era, ruined buildings, a famine relief road dating back to 1856 which would have been constructed by the local people in return for food.
There are amazing walks which take you along this historic road. Nowadays it's a much happier spot with a lot of industry including mussel farms in the fjord and a chance to taste them locally.
Getting to Killary Harbour
By bus, or car. Regular bus services are provided from both Galway and Clifden to Killary. Alternatively follow the N59 from Galway to Maam Cross, and then the R336 north to Killary.
Where to stay
Killary Harbour has a wonderful range of comfortable accommodation options from small hotels to hostels and B&B's.
Killary is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Inishturk and Clare Island if you are travelling north, and don't miss Renvyle, and Letterfrack, if you are travelling south.
Things to do in Killary Harbour.
Visit the tiny harbour to the north of the Fjord, which has its own mini-rapids and is very beautiful indeed.
Killary is known as the Adventure Capital of Ireland and Killary Adventure Centre organises most of the outdoor activities in the area such as kayaking, diving, surfing, coasteering, gorge walking, water skiing, high rope courses, turf warrior and much more.
Join the crew of “The Connemara Lady” to take a cruise along Killary Fjord and out onto the Atlantic Ocean. See stunning views in the most comfortable of surroundings. Enjoy.
Tour the movie locations of “The Field”. The film adaptation of John B. Keane’s famous play The Field, directed by Jim Sheridan, was made in Leenane in 1989. Well-known stars involved in the production included the late Richard Harris, John Hurt and Tom Berrenger. Visitors can view many of the locations used as sets in the film, including one of the pubs in the village.