The Only Fjord in Ireland


Killary Harbour - PD Image Wikimedia Commons by El Comandante

Killary Harbour – PD Image Wikimedia Commons by El Comandante

Norway is the country most associated with fjords, but Ireland also has one. Though it’s the only one, it lies along the border between counties Mayo and Galway, one of the most beautiful places in Connemara, and it’s reputed as being the wettest place in Ireland; where wet really means wet.

It’s name is Killary, and it stretches quite a distance inland, up the narrow, glaciated valley. There’s a catamaran that sails tourists the length of the fjord, a 90 minute trip with commentary, a bar and small restaurant. The commentary is interesting if you can hear it above the chatter of tourists who really don’t care that much. I got to hear it only when I stood beside a loudspeaker on the open deck.

Many stories do the rounds about the place, some from mythical times, some more recent. My favourite comes from World War II, when during a violent storm two submarines, one British and one German, took refuge in the quiet, deep, narrow waters of Killary harbour.

Each knew of the other’s presence, but neither could fire on the other since they had each sought refuge illegally in neutral Ireland. Local police also knew of the presence of the two alien craft but turned a blind eye, since to investigate would result in an international incident that could have drawn Ireland kicking and screaming into the war, but on which side?

When the storm died down both subs set out into the Atlantic again to rejoin the war, and nothing was ever said.