Things to do in Cong
Welcome to Cong!
Cong is the perfect visitor destination with much to do in and around the village and the mountains of Connemara on the doorstep.
The area is a major centre for outdoor activities including walking, cycling, fishing, horse riding and shooting.
For those looking for something less energetic there are lake cruises, great shops and restaurants and bars to relax in.
We hope you enjoy your visit to Cong and find this site a useful guide.
The Community run Tourist Office is now open from 10am to 5pm daily in the Old Court House. Local volunteers are available to answer your questions and provide information about the village and the local area.
Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark
Cong is within the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark. The Geopark started as a 10-year voluntary effort, then a two-year project (2020-2021). It is now consolidated into a fully functional geopark.
The key aim is to put in place the resources and structures to achieve UNESCO Global Geopark status. Geoparks are places of internationally significant geology, managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and economic development. They open a window on heritage and culture – ancient and current and everything in between – for locals and visitors alike.
More information about the Geopark is available at https://joycecountrygeoparkproject.ie/en/
Walks around Cong
The Heritage Walk
Cong has a long and fascinating history which can be seen in the many historical buildings around the village. The local Heritage Trail connects the many historical sites in the village and a Heritage Trail Brochure is available for sale at the Tourist Office and from the bookshop.
At the bottom of the Main Street 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 Macnemara 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.
Walking out the village towards the large car park you will see the Cong 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).
Further information about all of these sites is available in the Heritage Trail Brochure.
Guided walks around the historical sites of Cong are available from Cong Walking Tours. Cong Walking Tours can be contacted by telephone at 087 6811 4226 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guided tours of the Quiet Man filming locations are available from the Quiet Man Museum. More information is available here.
Forest and riverside walks are just a few minutes from the centre of the village. Walk through the cloisters of Cong Abbey 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.
Ashford Castle lies immediately to the south of the village of Cong. There is a charge to access the gardens. 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.
The Quiet Man
Cong is famed around the world as the place where the John Ford film “The Quiet Man” was made. Fans of the film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara will delight in seeing the locations where many of the scenes were filmed. The Quiet Man Museum is located on the corner of Abbey Street and guided tours of the “Quiet Man” film locations are available from April to the end of September. More information about the Quiet Man Museum and location tours is available here.
Cong is a mecca for the cyclist. 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 who also organise events throughout the year.
Bikes are available for hire locally and guided cycle tours can be arranged.
Cong sits between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. Lough Corrib is the second largest lake in Ireland and reputedly home to 365 islands – one for every day of the year.
Corrib Cruises offer lake cruises every day of the year. The morning cruise departs from Ashford Castle and Lisloughrey Pier and is an excellent way to see the many sights along the lakeshore. A commentary is provided throughout the voyage.
During the summer months there is also a two hour afternoon sailing which stops over on the historic island of Inchagoill. The cruise includes a guided tour of the island and music on the boat.
Cruises can be arranged for groups at any time of the year.
More information about Corrib Cruises is available here.
Lough Corrib and Lough Mask are known all over the world for the quality of their trout fishing and Cong has been the traditional centre for fishing the waters since the 19th Century. Brown trout fishing is generally available from February to September.
Lough Corrib and the Cong River are home to some of the best salmon fishing in Ireland. There is a salmon hatchery in Cong, and so there is a large run of salmon returning to the hatchery. Salmon Licences may be purchased in the village.
Boats can be hired locally and there are many gillies available to guide visiting fishermen.
The Ashford Equestrian Centre offers trail rides, hacks and carriage rides in the Cong Forest for all ages and abilities from beginners to experienced riders. Located just ten minutes walk or a few minutes drive from the village, the Centre also offers a range of adventure activities including archery, kayaking, zip lining and clay pigeon shooting. More information about Ashford Outdoors is available here.
Ireland’s School of Falconry is located in the grounds of Ashford Castle and offers you an opportunity for you to fly a hawk under the supervision of an experienced instructor. The School of Falconry is the oldest established school in Ireland and offers a choice of sixty or ninety minute hawk walks. More information about the School of Falconry is available here.
Ballinrobe Golf Club
Just ten minutes from Cong, Ballinrobe Golf Club’s championship course is idyllically located on a 300 acre estate. The 7,100-yard, par-73, course was laid out and designed by well-known architect Eddie Hackett and the contoured greens, which are 80% sand based, are playable all year round. World renowned Irish golfer, Padraig Harrington, described Ballinrobe Golf Course as “..The finest championship golf course in the West of Ireland”.