Killary Harbour (An Caoláire Rua) is one of three examples of glacial fjords found in Ireland, the others being Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough. Dramatically surrounded by mountains that rise steeply from the water’s edge, Killary Fjord stretches 16 kilometres inland to the picturesque village of Leenane, and forms a natural border between the counties of Galway and Mayo. The harbour has a depth of about 45 metres at its centre.
On the northwest shore is Mweelrea which is the highest of Connacht’s mountains. East of Mweelrea Ben Gorm range, while to the south are the Devils mother, Leenane Hill and Binn Mhór. The breathtaking mountain vistas provide a dramatic backdrop for Leenane village, nestling beside the water at the head of the fjord.
An old grass-covered road runs along the southern side of the fjord and it provides an excellent route for a leisurely walk. Along the route lie the ruins of an old famine village, and is a reminder of the devastation suffered in this region during the potato famine. The ruins of cottages and the unmistakable marks of ridges on the hills and fields tells the story of the large population that attempted to sustain themselves on these hillsides before the potato famine caused a huge decrease in the population at the time.
Boat tours are available on the Killary Fjord, which allow wonderful views of the surrounding scenery, as well as a very good opportunity of a meeting with the friendly dolphins that frequently accompany the ship as it cruises along.
The area is also famous for its seafood, including mussels and salmon.
This is an area of unique natural beauty and a recommended area to visit while in Connemara.
Piotr Dybowski / Failte Ireland