Walks Around Cong
There are many walks of different lengths and grades that can be taken directly from Ryan’s Hotel. Cong is also only a short drive from the mountains of Connemara and Mayo and makes an ideal base from which to explore these areas.
The Cong Heritage Trail
The local Heritage Trail connects the many historical sites in the village. A Heritage Trail Brochure is available for sale at local shops.
Just outside the Hotel is the Market Cross erected on a 14th Century base. Step around the corner into Abbey Street and there is the 13th Century Abbey once home to the last High King of Ireland. Walk through the abbey to the Monks Fishing House on the bank of the Cong River. Return to Abbey Street and you pass the home of George MacNamara who, according to local legend and lore, was a famous highwayman. On the corner of the Abbey Street is the Quiet Man Museum and just along the lane is “The Dying Mans House” – one of the many sights made famous by the John Ford picture that was filmed in Cong.
From the patio area at the rear of the Hotel you can see the aqueduct that was built to carry the Cong Canal over the river. Leave the Hotel and turn left at the Bookshop and you will see more of the canal that was never completed. Continue along the road past the school and you will come to Kellys Cave, one of the many caves in the local area.
Just outside the village are many standing stones and burial chambers on the mythical battleground of Moytura made famous by Sir William Wilde (the father of Oscar Wilde).
The Cong Forest
Just a minutes walk takes you to the Abbey of Cong. Walk through the cloisters and follow the yew tree lined walkway and you will reach a bridge across the Cong River which takes you into the Cong Forest. Here there are marked walkways ranging from around 30 minutes in duration to several hours. The routes pass by many interesting features including the Guinness Tower, the remains of the Guinness arboretum and many caves. The forest is home to many small animals including Pine martins, otters, red squirrels, badgers, hares and stoats
If you are looking for a more demanding route it is possible to follow the forest paths to and from the village of Clonbur. The Guinness family once owned this forest and made trails and tunnels so that they could travel through their estate without using the public roads. Today the same trails offer safe off road walking and cycling for all the family.
The intrepid walker can extend their walk further to take in the route to the summit of Mount Gable and from there take in the panoramic views across the head of Lough Corrib to Connemara. Alternatively you may extend your walk into the forest around Ballykine and take in the ruins of the castle, the shore of Lough Mask and White Island.
More information about walks in the forest is available from Coillte Outdoors
Ashford Castle lies immediately to the south of the village of Cong. There is a charge to access the grounds. The walk to the castle takes less than 10 minutes from the village. Within the grounds of the Castle there are many fine walks linking the formal gardens with woodland areas. To the south east of the Castle is the woodland of Kinlough which affords excellent views across the mouth of the Cong River to the Castle. To the west of the castle it is possible to follow the lakeshore of Lough Corrib from the Castle to the Chalet where there is an obelisk erected in the memory of Lord Ardilaun (it is possible to complete the latter part of this route without entering the Castle grounds). To the east of the Castle it is possible to follow the Castle driveway to the Lodge at Ashford Castle and exiting the Lodge grounds turn left to Lisloughrey Pier. Just beyond the Pier is a small woodland area with many historical features including crannogs and the old beacon that was built in the 19th century to guide the Galway Steamer safely home.
Beyond the immediate area of the village there are many opportunities for walking in Connemara and the Joyce Country ranging from the flat topped hills of Maamtrasna to the demanding ridge walks of the Maamturks. More information about walking in these areas is available in the following guidebooks:
West of Ireland Walks – Kevin Corcoran – includes a chapter on Cong.
Connemara and Mayo – A Walking Guide – Paul Phelan.
More information about walking in Mayo is available from Mayo Walks.
Local guides are available to lead walks in the local area and throughout the West of Ireland.
Cong is a mecca for the cyclist and Ryan’s Hotel is a bike friendly hotel. We provide secure cycle storage for guests and there are laundry and drying facilities within the hotel. Cycle clubs are very welcome and we regularly provide breakfasts and lunches to club rides passing through the village. Please contact us for more information.
Local Cycling Opportunities
Off road there are many miles of forest trails providing safe options for all the family. Many of the walking routes that are described above are also suitable for cyclists.
The more adventurous mountain biker is catered for in the Cong Forest with "MTB" signs marking the mountain bike trail.
Cong is also ideally located for longer on road cycles taking in circuits of Lough Mask, Lough Nafooey/Cornamona/Maam and Lough Corrib.
Thanks to a very active local cycling club, Cong is also the venue for a number of national competitions. More information is available from the Cunga Cycling Club.
Bikes are available for hire locally and guided cycle tours can be arranged. There is also a local bike repair service.