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over the image to see a description)
the last twenty-five years the Sky Road has become the leading
tourist attraction of the Clifden area. As the
road begins its sinuous wind west of the town past the Thomas Whelan
Memorial and over Mullarkey's Hill, the eastward view
takes in the dramatic panorama of Clifden with the Twelve Bins in
the background, one of the most famous and photographed vistas in
the entire country.
through the townlands of Cloughanard and Falkeeragh it passes by
the picturesque entrance to the D’Arcy Castle.
Just above the
castle the Atlantic comes into view with the rugged Connemara coastline
to the south and the breaker rocks of Carraignaroona and the beacon
tower at Errislannon Point, known locally as the 'White Lady', directly
the Sky Road is the name now used by both the upper and lower roads
(which divide for about four miles and reconnect to form the 'North'
road on the opposite side of the peninsula) originally it was used
exclusively in relation to the upper or 'high' road. The
name originated, according to local tradition,
when visitors to the area in the early part of the century, on questioning
where the high road led to, were pointed west 'up towards the sky'.
And indeed the climb is worthy of the name. At Scardan the road reaches
an altitude of about 400 ft. almost vertically above sea level.
view to the east is a spectacular panorama of Clifden Bay framed by
the mountains to the east and north and the four 'Erris' peninsulas
of Connemara (Errislannan, Errismore, Errisbeg and Iorrus Aineach)
to the south and southeast. Continuing westwards for another half
mile or so there is a parking area
from where the spectator can view another panoramic expanse, extending
in an arc from Errismore and Slyne Head to the islands of Inishturbot,
Inishturk, High Island, Omey, Ininsshark and Inishbofin. On a clear
day clear day the contours of the Atlantic coastline, including Inish
Turk North, Mweelrea, and Achill, can be seen stretching away to the
'lower' Sky Road follows along the more fertile land along the coast,
through the populated townlands of Beleek and Fahy.
the views are equally spectacular, with magnificent cliff formations
and sea erosion visible at first hand.
is an area that is rich in geology and archeology as well as local
history. As the area was Irish-speaking until the end of the nineteenth
century most of the place names have never been anglicized and are
still known in their traditional form: thus we have Caladh Beag
and Caladh Mor, Moineir, Ard Mor, Ail Antoine, Barr na hAille, Cloch
a' tSaigdiur, Fo Thaigh, Pol Uamhin, and so on.
dramatic and beautiful landscape is witness to some of the most diverse
weather patterns in Ireland. The calm beauty of a summer morning and
the magical luminescence of a full moon over the bay in autumn are
as memorable as the sunsets for which the area is most famous.
dramatic are the rain clouds driven in from from Slyne Head that
sweep across the exposed uplands. The area is rich in the natural
history of land and shore and sea. Most especially beloved are the
playful schools of North Atlantic Dolphins whose parade up the bay
provide wonderful entertainment for visitors and are welcomed by
local people as a sign of good luck and fine weather.