A Guide to Visiting Ireland in July

In short there are a load of things you can get up to in Ireland in July. They include:

● Visiting Connemara

● The Galway Garden Festival

● The Galway International Arts Festival

● The Galway Film Fleadh

● The Galway Races

● Causeway Coast Summer Street Entertainment

● Inishtrahull Island Basking Shark Sea Safari

● Armoy Road Races ‘Race of Legends’

Visit Connemara

Connemara is one of the most beautiful areas in all of Ireland. It is in the western part of Ireland, just outside the west of Galway city. July is a great time to visit the area as the weather has one of the best chances to be favourable for hiking and exploring the area.

As mentioned, the region is located just outside of Galway city. Galway in July is host to an astonishing amount of quality festivals that all travellers to Ireland should try to visit. It makes sense then if you are in the city for July to make the short trek out to Connemara.

Walking holidays are offered by Walking Connemara. They offer a five-day tour where you will have a walking tour of some of the most breath-taking places in Connemara. Such places include Killary Harbour, Inish Bofin and Clare Island to name a few.  At these places you’ll be brought to beaches, monistic sites and places of historical significance.

Connemara is still home to as great deal of Irish speakers and it is recognised as an area in Ireland where the language is still strongly used in day to day lives. If you want to hear a few over spoken words of the language, then it is probably best to head to a rural pub and keep an ear out for it.

Lettermullan is right at where Connemara meets the Atlantic and it is certainly a place where Irish is spoken heavily. I was in Irish college in this village for a few weeks when I was a teen and I was very much aware of how much Irish is spoken there. It is a quaint little village surrounded by the beautiful but desolateConnemara countryside. A nice pub to check out there is Tigh Lee. It’s an extremely welcoming spot that do great pints of Guinness. You might just hear a few Irish words there.

Clifden is another place you should visit while in Connemara. It is the biggest town in the region and referred to as the Capital of Connemara. The town is a beautiful coastal town that offers an array of pubs, restaurants and activities to enjoy.

Clifden was hit particularly bad during the great Irish famine and many within the locality died or emigrated.  Sky Road is an amazing 11 km drive you can take from Clifden bay. You can also enjoy the sight of Clifden Castle.

The house once belonged to the founder of Clifden, John D’Arcy. The estate however went bankrupt in the mid-19th century from the Great Irish Famine. The famine resulted in tenants of the estate dying or emigrating, which led to a drop in rent revenue from the estate. The castle and estate are now owned by several families.

Check out the Galway Garden Festival in  Claregalway

Every year in July the Galway Garden Festival takes place in the small town of Claregalway. The festival usually spans over the course of a weekend and has a range of knowledgeable speakers who share their expertise on gardens and plants to attendees. At the festival you will see a wide variety of rare plants, trees and seeds. Alongside speakers, you will also be treated to live entertainment and great artisan food.

Claregalway is a commuter town of Galway city, approximately 10 kilometres from the city. The town is full of history and culture and was until recently a stronghold for native Irish speakers. Claregalway is home to a mid-13th century Friary and a 16th century Norman watchtower. If you do plan to come to the town for the festival it would be hard for you to miss these interesting sites.

Head to the Galway Film Fleadh

The Galway Film Fleadh is a major Irish film festival that takes place every July in Galway city. Fleadh is the Irish for festival and it is defiantly a festival atmosphere at this event. Usually most of the films shown are Irish and are displayed in the Town Hall theatre which is in the middle of the city. The theatre is only about a ten-minute walk from Eyre square so it is easy to get to. The Town Hall theatre as the name suggests use to be a town hall. Prior to that it was courthouse. The building was constructed at the start of 19th century and still maintains a great deal of charm. The rooms themselves within the theatre are great to enjoy films, with comfortable seating and a pleasant setting.

There is overall a great buzz about the festival, so even if all you want to do is catch a film, then it would be wise to catch a flick at the Fleadh if you have a chance.

The theatre is mostly used for plays throughout the year, however when July arrives it is taken over by budding Irish filmmakers who want to show off their work. The festival itself is often seen as a launching ground for filmmakers in Ireland. Like Sundance or SXSW in the United States.

There will be many directors, actors and screenwriters at the event. If you’re interested in meeting some people in the industry, then the Fleadh is probably one of the best places in Ireland to do so. It is very much a warm and sociable event where strangers from the industry meet one another and discuss projects over a couple of pints. Oftentimes the nearby Galway rowing club building serves as the social gathering spot in the evening where filmmakers and actors go to network and discuss the films at the fleadh.

The Fleadh also might attract some international talent. The year I went, Saoirse Ronan made an appearance at it. In previous years famous American actors like Woody Harrelson and Zachary Quinto have also made an attendance. So, if you’re eager about viewing a glimpse of a Hollywood star like Colin Farrell then the Galway Film Fleadh might just be the place for you.

Visit the Galway International Arts Festival

July really is the month to visit Galway city. Another fun festival that takes place there that month is the International Arts Festival.

This festival is one of Ireland’s leading cultural events and has a significant amount of music, art pieces, plays and visual exhibitions around the city. One of the most popular venues for events during the festival takes place in the ‘Big Top’ tent. This is large visually striking tent that is set up near the Cathedral during July.

As stated, the tent hosts a range of events, but it also is lit up at night, making it quiet the sight to behold. It is only a few minutes’ walk away from town and you can even make your way there by taking a scenic stroll along the canal from town.

Previous artists who played at the festival include ‘We Are Scientists’ and also the amazing accordion player Sharon Shannon. She is well known for her collaboration with Irish artist Mundy for their cover of the Galway Girl song.

If you can only make it to one arts festival in Ireland, then the Gawaly International Arts festival should be the one to visit.

Enjoy the Causeway Coast Summer Street Entertainment

If you can’t make it to Galway for July and instead find yourself in Northern Ireland, then the Cause Coast Summer Street Entertainment could be a good way for you to enjoy yourself.  The event takes place in the seaside towns of Portrush and Portstewart in County Derry during most of July and August. Shows usually occur bi-weekly in each town and include theatre and circus shows.

The entertainment also takes place in the nearby County Antrim town of Ballycastle. Each town is both pretty and enjoyably located next to the sea. They all have a long history of tourism even throughout the Troubles, so they each have a great deal of expertise providing visitors with memorable experiences and top-notch service. 

The Causeway Coast Summer Street Entertainment is usually free, so you’ll have some extra change to spend on  dining in some of the quality food establishments in the area.

As mentioned the areas are well use to tourism, so you’ll have no issue finding affordable accomadation that will suit your needs. The towns are also a drivable distance from Northern Ireland’s two main cities of Derry and Belfast. They also aren’t too far away from Belfast International Airport.

Take part in the Inishtrahull Island Basking Shark Sea Safari

July is probably one of the best times of the year to venture out on a guided sea adventure if you visit Ireland. The seas are usually a lot calmer in summer months compared to winter ones and the weather can oftentimes be pleasant. After enjoying some street entertainment in Portstewart, you might want to consider participating in the Inishtrahull Island Basking Shark Sea Safari that departs from the town’s harbour.

This Safari brings you to the deserted island off Inishtrahull off the coast of County Donegal. The island had people living there until the end of the 1920’s and had a manned lighthouse until the 1980’s. Now the area is a proteced wildlife area. Like Fasnet rock off the coast of County Cork, Inishtrahill was often the last bit of Ireland emigrants would see as they would journey across the Atlantic to North America.

While taking part in the tour of the island you will be shown the old grave, the old lighthouse and hopefully some lively seals that sometimes make an appearance around the island.

During the boat ride over there you’ll be encouraged to keep an eye out for the Basking shark. It is the second largest shark in the world and is monstrous in appearance. The shark has been the victim of overfishing which has led to an extreme population decline among its species. Some commercial uses for the shark include food and animal feed.

If you have any interest in unwater wildlife or simply like the sea air, then going on this tour would defiantly serve you well.

Watch the Armoy Road Races ‘Race of Legends’

The Dark Hedges near Armoy

Six miles (or 10 kilometres) away from the town of Ballycastle is the village of Armoy. It is here that the phenomenal Armoy Road Races take place in July. This race involves motorcyclist racers from around Northern Ireland and further afield competing against each other in the beautiful County Antrim countryside.

The circuit is just over 3 miles or 5 kilometres long and visitors to the race can watch the competitors whizz by at incredible speeds from a number of designated vantage points. It runs in a triangular shape, with the racers usually riding in a anti-clockwise direction.  In addition to the races themselves there are also several exhibitions and events in the locality in the lead up to it. In previous years there has been BBQs, classic bike displays and photo/art exhibitions.

Armoy itself is close to a lot of different tourist attractions. These include the famous Bushmills Distilleryand the Giant’s Causeway. If you do have some spare time after or before the races make your way over to the Causeway. It is one of Ireland’s most spectacular geographical features and there are only a few other places like it in the rest of the world.

If speed is your thing then the Armoy Road Races might just be you. With that being said, prepare yourself for some fast head motions that you’ll need to execute to catch a glimpse of the bikes thunder you by.

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