village and townland in County Galway, Ireland

Leenane or Leenaun is an attractive village on the south shore of Killary, a fjord in the west of Ireland that marks the northern boundary of Connemara and County Galway. The north shore and the little settlements of Aaleagh and Clog lie over the boundary in County Mayo, but it's convenient to describe them here. Leenane in Irish is An Líonán, "where the tide fills"; it's set amidst sparse mountainous terrain and was the film location for Sheridan's "The Field" of 1990. At the head of the valley is the mountain Magairlí an Deamhain or Mogarlyandoon - "the devil's goolies" or testicles. English mapmakers pursed their lips and decided it would be nicer to call it "Devilsmother".

Get in edit

Leenane village centre

Leenane is on N59 between Clifden and Westport in County Mayo.

Bus Éireann 423 runs three times a day from Westport to Leenane (45 min), continuing via Letterfrack to Clifden (another 45 min). Some departures are timed to connect with trains from Dublin at Westport.

There's only one direct bus a week from Galway, which doesn't facilitate day trips: Bus Éireann 419 plies every hour or two between Galway and Clifden but usually sticks to the direct road N59. On Tuesday morning it follows an indirect route from Clifden via Letterfrack and Leenane, taking two hours to Galway, and returns that evening around 18:00.

For day trips from Galway, take Citylink Bus 923 to Clifden in the morning, then route 423 to Leenane. And in the evening, continue on route 423 to Westport then take Bus Éireann 456 back to Galway.

Get around edit

You need a car.

See edit

  • 1 Sheep and Wool Centre, Letterbrickaun. Mid-Mar - Oct daily 09:30-18:00. Small museum demonstrating the history and traditional techniques of wool gathering and weaving. Entry is only by guided tour every 2 hours. Plus shop and cafe. Adult €7.
  • 2 Aasleagh Falls are reached by a short walk up the Erriff River valley.
  • 3 Delphi valley is the scenic valley north of the fjord followed by R335. You pass the small Fin Lough to reach Doo Lough ("black lake"), hemmed in by 700-800 m mountains. A Celtic cross at its north end mourns events of 1849 in the Great Famine. Officials arrived in Louisburgh, Mayo to check on those claiming poor relief. For some reason this didn't happen, and the officials went on to Delphi, 12 miles south, to spend the night. They left word that those still wishing to claim relief must present themselves at Delphi at 07:00 sharp next morning - or else! So many dozens, perhaps a few hundred, destitute malnourished people had to drag themselves through a cold wet night to Delphi. Seven bodies were found by the wayside, another nine never returned home, and the full death toll is not known.
  • 4 Maam Valley is a glaciated U-shaped valley starting a little way south of Leenane, with the Joyce River coursing southeast to Lough Corrib. Road R336 follows the valley ("Maam" means a pass), so it's a natural driving route, part of the Connemara Loop. At its head are the Maamturk Mountains, which have several prehistoric and early historic sites, and ancient woodlands. A fossil found here in 2017 was a new species of brittle-star, now named Crepidosoma doylei. At Maam there's a junction: stay on R336 south to rejoin N59 at Maam Cross and reach Oughterard and Galway, or take R345 east for Clonbur, Cong and Tuam.

Do edit

  • Drive or cycle the Wild Atlantic Way. Coming from Letterfrack take the lane north to Tully Cross and along the shore east to Killary fjord and into Leenane. Continuing north, wind round the head of the fjord to follow R335 up the Delphi valley into Mayo.
  • 1 Killary Adventure Company, Leenane H91 PY61 (On Main Rd), +353 95 43411, . Activities include archery, kayaking, rock climbing, abseiling, and gorge walking. Adult full day around €100, child €50.
  • 2 Killary Fjord Boat Tours make 90 min cruises. They sail Apr-Oct two or three times a day, adult €21.
  • Hike the Western Way. This long-distance trail starts in Oughterard and follows the valley up to Maam. There it cuts west to cross the Maamturk Mountains into the Inagh valley, then north along that valley to wind into Leenane. It reaches the county boundary at Aasleagh, heads up the Erriff valley then over to Sheefry, and on north to Westport, Mayo. The trail goes all the way to County Sligo.
  • 3 Mweelrea is the 814 m / 2671 ft mountain brooding over the north side of the fjord. While the mountains southside in Galway are quartzite and other hard rocks, those to the north in Mayo are Ordivician sandstone. Mweelrea is from Irish Cnoc Maol Réidh, meaning "bald hill with a smooth top", as indeed it is. The quickest route is from the west, near the end of the lane at Cloonamanagh, which is a long way round from Leenane. It's a slog-in-a-bog however you approach.

Buy edit

Killary fjord
  • Hamiltons is the village shop, post office and filling station (so see "Drink", naturally), open M-F 09:00-17:30, Sa 09:00-14:00, Su 10:30-14:00.

Eat edit

  • Blackberry, Letterbrickaun (N59 junction with Maam valley road). Apr-Sept daily 12:30-16:30, 18:00-21:00. Home-cooked meals in a friendly atmosphere. Closed Tuesdays April May & Sept.
  • Misunderstood Heron, Letterbrickaun (N59 just north of Killary Adventure Co). Apr-Oct W-Sa 11:00-17:30, Su 12:00-17:00, plus Tuesdays July Aug. A quirky foodtruck cafe.

Drink edit

  • Hamiltons Bar (jcn N59 and Maam valley road). Open daily. Great pint and views. It's also the village store and filling station.
  • Carraig Bar (east on N59). Open daily. Has bar food.

Sleep edit

  • 1 The Convent B&B, Letterbrickaun, Leenane, +353 95 42240. Comfy B&B in a converted convert, 5 rooms en suite. Breakfast is served in the former chapel with the sun glinting through the stained glass windows. No dogs. B&B double €80.
  • 2 Leenane Hotel, Clifden Rd, Leenane, +353 95 42249. Long-established welcoming mid-range hotel open Apr-Oct. B&B double from €100.
  • 3 Connemara Hostel (Sleepzone), Connemara Loop, Tullyconor, Derrynasliggaun H91 TP63 (3.5 miles west of Leenane off N59), +353 95 42929. Hostel open Mar-Oct in converted 19th century building looking onto Killary fjord. They also offer transfers which are tours of Connemara, which you can hop on / off, leaving Galway around 09:00 to reach here at 13:00 and back into Galway for 18:00. Dorm €25 ppn, double room €50.

Connect edit

As of June 2020, Leenane and the N59 from Clifden through Letterfrack have a mobile signal from Eir, Three and Vodafone, but not 4G. It goes dead further along the roads north and southeast of the village.

Go next edit

This city travel guide to Leenane is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.