Clifden (Irish: An Clochán, meaning "bee-hive cell") is a town on the coast of County Galway, Ireland and being Connemara's largest town, it is often referred to as "the Capital of Connemara". It is located on the Owenglen River where it flows into Clifden Bay. The town is linked to Galway city by the N59 and is a popular tourist destination for those touring Connemara.
The town was founded at the start of the 19th century by John D'Arcy (1785-1839) who lived in Clifden Castle (which is now a ruin that can be seen from the Sky Road west of Clifden). The Sky Road in Clifden is one of the best tourist attractions in the entire Connemara region. The circular route is 11 km long and takes you out west from Clifden.
It is the birth place of Jon Riley, Saint Patrick battalion's commander, who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War the 19th century.
Clifden gained prominence in the early 1900s when Guglielmo Marconi built his first high power transatlantic long wave wireless telegraphy station four miles south of the town to minimize the distance to its sister station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. The first point-to-point fixed wireless service connecting Europe with North America opened for public service with the transmission of 10,000 words on 17 October 1907 and ceased operation on 25 July 1922 after suffering serious damage in the Irish Civil War. Transatlantic wireless service formerly provided by the Clifden station was transferred to the more modern Marconi wireless station near Waunfawr, Wales. At peak times, over 400 people had been employed by the Clifden wireless station, but none more famous than Jack Phillips, who later died as the heroic chief Radio Operator on the Titanic.
Clifden is near the landing place (53°26'N 10°01'W / 53.433°N 10.017°W / 53.433; -10.017) of the first transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown on 15 June 1919. The plane crashlanded in Derrygimla bog, close to Marconi's transatlantic wireless station.
In "the burning of Clifden" in 1921, 14 suspected Republican homes were burnt by the Black and Tans.
* The Connemara Pony Show, organized by the Connemara Pony Breeders Society and held on the third Thursday in August since 1924.
* Clifden Community Arts Week in late September offers poetry reading, lectures, recitals and traditional music. The festival was first started by teachers in Clifden Community School in 1979 to bring creative arts into the classroom.
* Omey Island Races: horse racing on the beach.
* Clifden Regatta.
Clifden lies within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tuam and the Church of Ireland Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, and its Omey Union Parish. Clifden has two churches: St. Joseph's (Roman Catholic) and Christ Church (Church of Ireland).
Places of interest
* Twelve Bens
* Connemara National Park
* Kylemore Abbey a neo-gothic large country house built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, in memory of his wife Margaret. Purchased by Benedictine nuns in 1920.
* Ballynahinch Castle sporting estate of the Martin family, one of whose better known members is ' Humanity Dick' founder of the RSPCA.
* Sky Road an 11-km drive along Clifden Bay and Streamstown Bay rising more than 150 m above sea level at Slyne Head, with views of the Atlantic, Clifden Castle, coast-guard station, the islands of Inishturk and Turbot and the town.
* Derrygimlagh Bog: a natural wilderness of blanket bog 6 km south of Clifden and the site of the Alcock and Brown crash-landing and the Marconi transatlantic wireless station.
* Slyne Head Lighthouse