The 1970s

Killary Adventure Co was the brainchild of Jamie & Mary Young, both of whom had travelled extensively before visiting the unique Killary Fjord in 1979 & deciding to settle there. Jamie participated in the 1976 single-handed race to America & then the Youngs spent their honeymoon sailing to America in a 26ft boat designed for single-handed sailing. In 1979 they once again took to the water spending a year working on the famous 80ft ocean racing yacht Ondine.

The 1980s

Little Killary Adventure Centre opened its doors in 1981, growing to become a market leader in the field of adventure holidays. Ciara, Shane & Kim were all born at Killary - growing up in Connemara being an adventure for them all! As a natural development of the business, Killary Corporate was born, running its first corporate training course in 1984. Killary Tours also evolved in the 1980s, filling a need for inbound Irish adventure tours both for the hardy and the seekers of ‘soft’ adventure.

The 1990s

Early 1990 saw the completion of the extensive renovations at Killary Lodge, an old country house dating back to 1830. Situated on 30 acres of land, with two beaches and a pier, guests relaxed amid the stunning setting and ambience of the Lodge and its services or ventured forth on one of the many activities available locally. Killary Lodge operated as a thriving business until 2006 when it was sold to another company and now operates as a youth hostel.

The new century

The new millennium came and with it some dynamic changes to Killary - a sad goodbye to Little Killary Adventure Centre, which had served us so well for 20 years, and a big welcome to Killary Adventure Co. looking after all the adventure business. K2, our brand new budget accommodation centre built on the main Leenane/Clifden road, was also opened for business. Nestled into the hills with a spectacular view out over Killary Harbour to Inishturk Island, it really has the most remarkable setting.

In 2003 Killary Adventure Co. expanded into the Stag and Hen activity weekend market with Irish Stags and Hens. This division offers inclusive packages to those stag and hen parties that are looking to do something a little different for their final weekend of freedom!

In 2006 Killary Tours expanded to include a company offering all-inclusive ski and snowboarding holidays to the French Alps. In 2008 was launched offering surfing and kite surfing holidays to France, Portugal and the Canary Islands. We no longer offer those packages but still have links in France, Portugal & the Canary Islands.

The adventure continues

Over the ensuing years, as well as expanding the business Jamie has found time for other challenges! He led the first Irish Kayak Expedition to circumnavigate Cape Horn in South America and he was a team member of the South Aris expedition which re-enacted Shackleton's famous adventure in the Antarctic. In 2003 he and one other attempted to traverse from the South Pole to Patriot Hills by kite buggy! In 2012 Jamie took part in the Round Rockall Sailing Race which he helped to instigate. He sailed the Killary Flyer single-handedly and did us all proud once more. On 14th  June 2013 with a crew of 9 others including kayakers, climbers and film-makers Jamie set off on another highly successful Killary Expedition to Greenland for approximately 10 weeks. Read their story on

Never a man to stand still and with adventure in mind, in 2006 Jamie developed the concept of Gaelforce West Adventure Race. The race ran for the first time in August 2006 in association with Failte Ireland. Now it sees up to 3,000 competitors take to the Galway and Mayo hills to complete the 65km course. In 2010 Killary Adventure Co. ran four events for Gaelforce Events. These included the hugely popular Gaelforce West but also 2 new events, the Gaelforce Connemara Adventure Challenge and Gaelforce Turf Guy. In 2011 a new event Gaelforce North was brought to the adventure racing calendar and ran in June in Donegal. In October of 2012 the Great Fjord Swim had people taking to the waters to compete in two races. In 2013 the Turf Guy Challenge was renamed and rebranded as the Turf Warrior Challenge. 2013 also saw Ireland's first ever women-only adventure race take place on the July 27th as part of the Gaelforce family of events. We are particularly proud of this as we really would like to see more women finish our events and enjoy the thrill of adventure racing. It proved so popular that a second women-only adventure race is now held in September in Wicklow. In 2015 the Gaelforce Mountain Run was launched and took place in March. In spite of the very challenging weather conditions on the day over 150 mountain runners took part. 

The future

2016 looks like it will be a busy year with plans afoot for a number of new events and the aim to try and introduce more people to the great feeling experienced as part of an adventure race. Adventure Duathlons have also been added to a number of the adventure races so that those who prefer dry land can still enter and  a new 12km Introductory route being added to the Gaelforce Mountain Run for those new to mountain running. 

So now that you know a little of our history you might want to meet the team. This will also give you information on joining us whether for work experience, employment or volunteering for events.

Our webcam will let you see up-to-the-minute views along the fjord from the accommodation base, so that you too can see why Jamie and Mary Young came to visit and never left!