The West Coast Tour
We start off your tour in Donegal. Donegal is one of the most unspoilt landscapes in Europe. It’s famous for its beautiful scenery, coastline, impressive mountain ranges, glens and lakes and rich reminders of a historic past. Our first stop of the day is Glenveagh National Park (over 14,000 acres), a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine lakes. Glenveagh is the haunt of many rare and interesting plants and animals and is famous for its herd of native Irish red deer. There are a variety of short walks from which you can choose. The estate of Glenveagh was originally consolidated into a single holding in the 19th Century by John Adair culminating in the infamous evictions of 244 tenants in 1861. A fine Victorian castle (1870) surrounded by beautiful formal gardens is picturesquely located on the eastern shore of the Lough Veagh.
In the afternoon we travel to The Ulster American folk park to soak up the Culture of traditional Ireland. The Park explores the historical link between Ulster and America, focusing particularly on the lifestyle and experiences of those immigrants who sailed from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The real strength of the Ulster American Folk Park, however, lies in the recreation of the actual experience of migration. Visitors are first guided through parts of an Irish village, consisting of smallholdings, cottages, churches and a blacksmith’s workshop.
The park then “ends” in a city street (complete with well-stocked shops) leading down to a quay. Here a sailing ship awaits you, you board … and when you get off again you are in America. Leaving the immigration shed you pass several American city dwellings until you are in the open countryside. Here several farmsteads are recreated with a loving eye for detail … down to typical crops like maize and pumpkins. Taking a gigantic u-turn you are finally heading back to the museum complex. Overnight Donegal Town
We travel on to County Sligo. The area is best known for its connections with WB Yeats who is buried in Drumcliffe cemetery, his grave bearing the epitaph: “Cast a cold eye on Life, on Death. Horseman pass by“. The cemetery at Drumcliffe where Yeats is buried is an obvious stop and there is a small round tower just across the road. Glencar Lake, close by, is worth a visit, particularly to see the beautiful waterfall which feeds it. Parke’s Castle is a 17th century fortified manor house with lovely views over Lough Gill. There is a small harbour nearby from where we will take a boat for a cruise on the lake and a visit to the Lake Isle of Inisfree, which is the place that Yeats wrote about in his famous poem., ‘The Lake Isle Of Innisfree.’ We conclude the day with a tour of Lisadell House, the house has a long association with Yeats. Set amid stunning scenery, Lissadell House & Gardens are famous as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz and her siblings Eva and Josslyn Gore Booth. Constance was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, and was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons at Westminister. Overnight in Charlestown.
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.
From Hennigan’s we go to the award winning Foxford Woollen Mills Visitor Centre. At the core of the centre is The Historical Woollen Mill Tour where you can step back in time to see how life was in Foxford in the1890’s. The tour also includes a visit to the working woollen mill where skilled craftspeople can be seen producing the world famous rugs, blankets and tweeds.
Then on to the Céide Fields in North Mayo for a truly unique experience. For this is not just another archaeological monument or visitor centre. Here you can indulge yourself in a vast prehistoric landscape, a natural wild ecology of blanket bog, dramatic cliffs and coastline.
It is then on to Ballycroy National Park. The Park was established in November 1998, it is Ireland’s sixth National Park. It comprises of 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range. We then drive for an over night to Westport where you will be able to catch some traditional music in Matt Molly’s Pub. Matt plays with world famous traditional band called The Chieftains. Overnight in Westport
We leave 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.