The West & South West Tour
We travel to the Hennigan Heritage Farm and get a glimpse of what life was like for small tenant farmers in Ireland between the 1870’s and 1950’s. The story of generations of Hennigans is skilfully interwoven with the History of Ireland touching on the famine and the land wars. In the afternoon we go to Strokestown House and see how the other half lived, this is one of Ireland’s many aristocratic Landlord mansions which sustained itself on the rental incomes from the tenant farmers such as the Hennigans.
On route to Strokestown we visit Rathcroghan which boasts a multitude of monuments stretching from the first farmers of prehistoric Ireland, to the skeletal remains of a medieval metropolis created by the O’Conor kings of Connaught. The Kings were inaugurated at the ceremonial centre at Rathcroghan, and the site was witness to the rise and fall of great tribes and dynastic families. Some of these went on to rule the whole island as high kings, ensuring the continuing legacy of this unique complex well into the medieval period and beyond. Overnight in Charlestown
We go to Westport and travel to the Great Western Greenway. The Great Western Greenway is the longest off-road cycling and walking trail in Ireland. The track runs along the disused Westport to Achill railway track, which closed in 1937. It is 26 miles of traffic-free cycling with some of the best views in Ireland. If you feel up to a little light exercise you can cycle a 11 mile or 8 mile section of the route where the Atlantic Ocean and mountains merge to give you some of the most spectacular scenery in the Country. After your cycle we then travel to Achill Island. The Achill landscape is a major tourist attraction with picture postcard Blue Flag Beaches, some of Europe’s highest cliffs and large tracts of blanket bog sweeping over the island’s two peaks and down to the shore. Overnight in Westport.
We leave Westport and travel through the spectacular countryside that is Connemara, stopping off at Killlary Harbour for a 90 minute boat trip. Killary Harbour is Ireland’s only true fjord and extends 10 miles in from the Atlantic Ocean and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the west of Ireland. We then drive on to Kylemore Abbey, the abbey is regarded as one of Ireland’s most romantic buildings. Originally built in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history including engineering initiatives, model farms, tragedy, royal visits, gambling debts, a hideaway during Ireland’s troubled history as well as excellence in education. We continue our journey through Connemara and spend an overnight in Galway City. Traditional Irish Music is available in various City centre Pubs as well as other cultural events such as theatre and concerts. Overnight in Galway
We leave Galway and travel to Kinvara, here we stop at Dunguaire Castle which is probably the most famous land mark that is associated with Kinvara. The castle was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. This restored 16th century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Galway Bay. We then go to the Burren, this is an area of limestone rock covering imposing majestic mountains, and tranquil valleys with gently meandering streams. With its innate sense of spiritual peace, extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, and megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt’s pyramids, the Burren creates a tapestry of colour and a seductively magical aura which few people leave without wanting to experience again. In the heart of the Burren is the Ailwee Cave, carved out of limestone, it cuts into the heart of the mountain. The story of the Aillwee Cave began millions of years ago when streams sinking underground on Aillwee Mountain started dissolving channels through the lines of weakness in the limestone. Our final stop of the day is spectacular cliffs of Moher. This imposing wall of limestone reaches almost 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We leave the Burren and take the ferry across the Shannon estuary to Kerry. Overnight in Listowel.
Once cited as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’ by the National Geographic and voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by Trip Advisor; CNN recently recommended it as a very favourable winter destination; it is listed as one of the top 10 places to be on New Year’s Eve – all of these accolades refer to the stunningly beautiful Dingle Peninsula. The Peninsula, which stretches out into the Atlantic ocean, is the most northerly of the mountainous promontories which forms the indented coast of South-west Ireland. It is particularly notable in its scenery of the mountain and coast and is of interest on account of its antiquities. The peninsula is the location of numerous prehistoric and early medieval remains – for example, the Gallarus Oratory in the very west of the peninsula. In the course of our tour we stop for a stroll on Inch Strand and have a few pints of Guinness in the Pub once owned by the famous Antarctic explorer Tom Crean. Overnight in Tralee
The Iveragh Peninsula which contains Ireland’s most spectacular mountain road – the Ring of Kerry – is situated in the south west corner of Ireland. Over the centuries it has been the inspiration of poets and writers because of its magnificent coastal scenery and rugged countryside. The Ring of Kerry is usually done in an anti-clockwise direction along the banks of the River Laune to Killorglin, via Glenbeigh, Kells, Caherciveen and the southern shores of Dingle Bay. The tour continues to Waterville and along the coast via Coomakista Pass and Derrynane and on to Sneem. From Sneem you will travel up the mountain road to Molls Gap, then via Ladies’ View and back to Killarney stopping at Muckross House and gardens. Overnight in Killarney.