Oughterard Trails Festival highlights the beauty and culture of Connemara

Festival walkers enjoy the beautiful scenery and flora and fauna in Sullivan’s bog, Leam, Oughterard.

Festival walkers enjoy the beautiful scenery and flora and fauna in Sullivan’s bog, Leam, Oughterard.

This year’s Oughterard Trails Festival runs from June 15 to 17, highlighting the rugged beauty of Connemara by showcasing the wonderful walks, scenery and the heritage of this unique area.

Among the activities are a cruise to Inchagoill Island, walking a Western Way trail in Connemara, the Galway Wind Way series of trails, a walk and talk on the swift bird, and the family oriented Oughterard Loop. New this year is the Derroura Mountain bike trail for cyclists, and Sean Leonard and his one man show on Richard Martin.

This small festival has it all, says festival organiser Sinead Grime.

“We aim to offer something for everyone, no matter what age or ability. The festival is small and friendly and a great place to meet like-minded people and explore new territory with expert local guides” she says.

The weekend festival kicks off on Friday June 15 at 6pm with a cruise on Lough Corrib to Inchagoill Island, the largest island on Lough Corrib. Coillte’s environmental officer will lead a trail around the island pointing out all the eco-highlights, while captain David Luskin from Corrib Cruises will highlight the archaeological jewels hidden on the island. The trip costs €20 per adult, €10 per child, or €50 a family ticket.

Also on Friday evening a free walk and talk detailing the ‘Amazing Swift’ will be led by Lynda Huxley at 7.30pm at Oughterard Courthouse. This free event aims to educate people about this extraordinary bird and is being hosted by Swift Conservation Ireland as part of Swift Awareness week.

The evening concludes with a traditional Irish music session at Hession’s Bar.

The Western Way take centre stage on Saturday when Rosaleen Ní Shúilleabháin, rural recreation officer from Forum Connemara, leads walkers on a spectacular trail with stunning Connemara scenery. The registration fee of €15 covers the bus and lunch afterwards at Keogh’s Bar in Oughterard.

The evening walk on Saturday at 3.30pm is aimed at family groups and will highlight the newly opened ‘Galway Wind Way’, a series of recreational trails at SSE and Coillte’s Galway Wind Park in Cloosh Valley. To celebrate Global Wind Day, a worldwide event that celebrates the power and possibilities of wind energy, Noel Joyce will lead a walk along the newly-developed trails at what is currently the Republic of Ireland’s largest wind park, while SSE’s John O’Sullivan will give an overview of the operations at the park. The cost is €5 per adult, children U16 free. Registration is from 3pm at Car Park 2 at Galway Wind Park.

That evening Sean Leonard comes to Oughterard for his one man show on Richard Martin - a tale of honour, deathly duels and infidelity, which the festival’s Noel Joyce says will “delight and amuse” in equal measure. Tickets can be prebooked online at Eventbrite. To finish off the Saturday evening Glenn Jones will serenade the festival goers with his mix of folk, rock and trad at the Boat Inn from 10pm.

Sunday’s activities start at 10am with a spin at Derroura Mountain bike trails. Sinead Waters and friends will lead cyclists of all abilities around the trails where they will be rewarded with stunning views over Lough Corrib. Bike hire is available at a discounted rate at Derroura Bike Hire. Afterwards refreshments will be served at Faherty’s Bar. Cost is €5 per adult/€10 family; registration is Derroura car park 9.30am with transport by car pooling.

The final walk is the family-oriented Oughterard Loop at 2pm on Sunday. This walk takes in the history and eco-heritage of the local area, highlighting the Corrib Lake, the Owenriff river and trout hatchery, the Famine workhouse and army barracks. Registration is at Breathnach’s Bar from 1.30pm, cost is €5 per adult, children free with refreshments served afterwards at Breathnach’s bar.

For more information visit www.discoveroughterard.com/oughterardtrailsfestival html for more details of all the walks. Tickets for all events are available on Eventbrite. https://oughterard-trails-festival.eventbrite.ie

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