Three Days In The West – Donegal, Sligo and Mayo
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