Cill Chiaráin (anglicized as Kilkieran) and Carna lie in the very heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht region, a much treasured area where Irish is still in daily use. Kilkieran lies in a rugged terrain of rocks and islands, which is rich in ancient culture and longstanding traditions. Turf is packed in long wonderful “creels” so elaborately formed that they resemble works of folk art. Boats are named after saints, perhaps a prudent precaution given the weather and the sea conditions they encounter over the winter months. And in the middle of all of this vernacular culture lies Padraig Pearse’s beautiful summer cottage, a tiny living monument to the great patriot himself. And as you walk through its meagre rooms you begin to understand the man himself, and you know that he found great opulence in the frugality of its appointment, and in the beauty of its setting.
The area around Kilkieran and Carna is also renowned for boat building skills and its fine traditional boats, the best known of these being the beautiful “Galway Hookers” with their broad setting, their russet-red sails, and their voluminous hulls. The Galway Hooker was designed centuries ago to accommodate the carriage of bulky turf and other commodities to the offshore island communities. And even as we negotiated the meandering roadways of beautiful Mweenish Bay a stunning Galway Hooker slowly crossed the waters before us and disappeared behind a rock strewn headland. Gorgeous!
In the sixth century St McDara built a small church on one of the islands off the coast near Kilkieran. The unique stone roof of his church has recently been restored. Today St McDara’s feast day is celebrated in mid July when people make their way to the island for the celebration of mass. Kilkieran and Carna are also renowned for their skilled boatmakers, and the ancient art of “currach” bulding is kept very much alive to this day.
Getting to Carna and Kilkieran
By bus, or car. Bus Eireann provides a daily service from Galway City to Carna. Alternatively follow the N59 west from Galway to Glendollagh, and then the R340 south to Carna.
Where to stay
Carna & Kilkieran have a wide range of comfortable accommodation options including small hotels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.
Kilkieran and Carna are surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Roundstone and Clifden if you are travelling north, and don't miss Lettermore, and Carraroe, if you are travelling south.
Things to do in Kilkieran & Carna
Buy a few bags of turf in Carna and bring them home with you. Even your neighbours will enjoy the unique odour of burning turf wafting about “of an evening”.
The well-known Carna Loughs are a group of lakes in the Carna-Kilkieran district of south Connemara. They all hold brown trout and occasional sea trout. The sea trout run from mid-June and fishing lasts from then until the end of September or early October, depending on the weather. Carna Anglers’ Association control the fishing on Lough Keeraun, Lough Truskan, Lough Sheedagh and Lough Skannive.