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It will be the local communities you visit that will enhance your stay and the local characters you meet along the way that will add colour and humour to your memories.
There is no question that the imagery of the West of Ireland will be forever imprinted in your mind after your visit to the dramatic landscapes of Mayo and Galway. Rugged mountains, freshwater lakes and miles of unspoilt coastline await discovery.
Picture yourself conquering the summit of Errisbeg Hill or strolling along a stretch of beach where the only footprints that you will see are your own. What is hard to imagine is not that these places exist, but that they exist in the midst of local communities.
In the West of Ireland where the Gaelic culture still thrives and half the population still speak Irish as its first language, it is the people of these local communities that may distract you from the wonderful signts to be seen. Allow us to introduce you to what a traditional Irish Welcome should be. By day, enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes of Ireland. By night rest your weary bones by a roaring turf fire, accompanied by superb traditional Irish music in one of a myriad of welcoming pubs.
This 10 night tour is based on arriving and departing from Shannon Airport, although it can be adjusted to suit other entry and departure locations/airports.
The first 5 nights will be spent in the counties of Cork and Kerry where you will be able to Kiss the Blarney Stone and visit attractions such as the Cobh Heritage Centre, the Midleton Jameson Distillery, the Ring of Kerry and of course the beautiful Dingle Peninsula. From here you will be travelling north along the west coast of Ireland including visits to the Cliffs of Moher and Burren region in County Clare.
Travel to Kinsale via Limerick City, Blarney and Cork City with optional detours to the Tipperary towns of Cahir & Cashel and Cobh in Cork. Among the most interesting attractions in Limerick are King John’s Castle and The Hunt Museum. From there, the direct route to the small coastal town of Kinsale will allow you to ‘Kiss the Blarney Stone’ at Blarney Castle and visit the Cobh Heritage centre near Cork. Cobh, situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbours, was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic in 1912 and was the closest port to the site of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. The Heritage centre also recounts the story of those Irish who left Ireland during ‘The Famine’. An optional detour includes visits to ‘The Rock of Cashel’ and ‘Cahir Castle’, both in Tipperary and both are amongst Ireland’s premiere historic attractions. Kinsale is a delightful harbour town that has retained its old world charm and has a myriad of old Irish pubs and excellent restaurants as well history laden attractions such as the Desmond Castle Museum and the star shaped ‘Charles Fort’ from the 17th century.
If you did not have a chance to visit the following of Kinsale's major attractions, make sure to include them today. Desmond Castle and the International Museum of Wine, which was built in about 1500, had many uses. In 1600 and 1601 it was used as an arsenal by Don Juan Aguilla during the Spanish occupation of the town which lasted for 100 days prior to the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. In the 17th century the castle became popularly known as the "French prison" and was used for prisoners of war, most of whom were captured at sea. During the American war of Independence, the crews of many American vessels were held prisoner in Kinsale in poor conditions. Other notable attractions include Charles Fort, the 17th Century star-shaped fort. St. Multose Church is well worth a visit and was built in 1190. The Courthouse and Regional Museum in was used for ceremonial occasions in the 18th century. In 1915, the Courthouse was used for the inquest into the sinking of the Lusitania. The Regional Museum is now housed in the Courthouse. If you did not manage to visit Cobh or Blarney the previous day, then you will have the option of doing so today.
Today you have the option of the scenic but longer coastal route or the shorter route via Blarney Castle. The longer route includes visits to Mizen Head, the southernmost point in Ireland, as well as Bantry House and Gardens and the French Armada Centre, also in Bantry. From Bantry, you will be heading north to Killarney via the Healy Pass. Have your cameras at the ready for some breathtaking scenery across the Caha Mountains that divide Cork from Kerry. After the mountain pass, you come to the town of Kenmare. The town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre. The alternative route for today’s journey is a shorter one. First stop is the famed Blarney Castle where a climb to the ramparts to kiss the Blarney Stone is said to bestowe the gift of eloquence, otherwise known as ‘the Gift of the Gab’. From there it is straight to Killarney. With its three famous lakes and majestic mountain ranges, Killarney has been the inspiration of poets and painters over many centuries. The Killarney National Park is internationally renowned both for its scenic beauty and scientific interest. There are many walks and trails around Killarney including a 2-hour tourist trail around the town itself. You will also have a chance to visit Ross Castle, the Gap of Dunloe or simply take a stroll through the streets of this quaint town to enjoy the great pubs and enjoy the traditional Irish music on offer.
You have a number of touring options. Chief amongst these is the Ring of Kerry driving tour. The Ring of Kerry is a journey through some of the country’s most outstanding scenery around the Iveragh Peninsula. Stunning mountain and coastal scenery combined with colourful towns and villages will make this one of the highlights of your tour. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route. Following the peninsula drive, you then arrive at Muckross House. Muckross House is a magnificent Victorian mansion completed in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert. The location of the House is spectacular, close to the eastern shore of Muckross Lake and set beneath the impressive backdrop of Torc and Mangerton Mountains. As an alternative to the Ring of Kerry tour you may prefer to take a wonderful tour by pony and trap that takes you through the Black Valley in the Gap of Dunloe. After a snack at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, you will return to Killarney by boat via the beautiful lakes of Killarney
We travel to the fishing town of Dingle today as well as the dramatic Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula has more interesting antiquities, historic sites and varied mountain scenery than any other part of Ireland. Dingle is the most westerly town in Europe and attracts large numbers of visitors each year, many of whom come to learn the Irish language in the surrounding ‘A Flor-Gaeltacht' – Irish speaking district. On route stop in the village of Annascaul, the birth place of Jerome Connor, the famous sculptor, and Tom Crean, a local hero who accompanied Scott and Shackleton on three Antarctic expeditions, including Scott’s doomed attempt to reach the South Pole. On his return to Annascaul Crean opened the "South Pole Inn", which is still in business today. Minard Castle is also well worth a visit. The castle is said to have been built by the Knight of Kerry and is the largest fortress on the peninsula. Continue on past Dingle and visit Dunbeag Promontory Fort. What makes it one of the most dramatic archaeological sites on the peninsula is that results show that it was begun in the late Bronze Age, 800 BC. Continue on to Slea Head and here you will see Dun An Oir (Fort of Gold. Here in 1580, after three days siege, over 600 Irish and Spanish soldiers surrendered to Lord Grey only to be massacred by his troops. Nearby is the Gallarus Oratory, one of the best preserved early Christian church buildings in Ireland. Back to Dingle for the evening. Here you will find among other great pubs and restaurants, Dick Macks, possibly Dingle’s most famous pub, which is half a leather shop and half a pub so you can buy a pint and a purse at the same time! Foxy John’s is a hardware store and pub combined – an unusual arrangement to say the least.
After an early breakfast depart Dingle in the direction of Brandon to drive over the renowned Conor Pass, Ireland’s highest mountain pass. At the summit Brandon and Tralee Bays can be seen to the north, with the sandy Castlegregory peninsula separating them and to the south lies Dingle Bay. Continue to Tralee and Tarbert where you will take a ferry crossing on the Shannon Estuary to County Clare. Continue north to the Cliffs of Moher. The majestic Cliffs of Moher are without doubt one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights and overlook the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of West Clare. You then arrive at the village of Doolin. Doolin is world-famous for its wealth of Irish folk music and in recent years has been attracting crowds to spontaneous sessions in any one of its excellent pubs. Just north of the Cliffs you then have the lunar like Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs as well as the Aillwee Caves. With an earlier start to the day, there is a longer inland route that will include visits to Adare Village, one of the prettiest villages in Ireland, King John’s Castle in Limerick City and Bunratty Castle and Folk Park just 10 minutes north of Limerick.
Today we travel to the University City of Galway and on to Westport in county Mayo via the lunar like Burren Region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs. Also on route, you will have a chance to visit Dunguaire Castle which was built in 1520 by the O'Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. You will also have the chance to stop in Galway, the ‘City of the Tribes’ is also known as Ireland’s Cultural and festival capital. With its street entertainers and traditional pubs with great music, Galway and in particular, the Quays area of the city centre will enthrall you particularly in the evening time. Other sites in Galway include Ireland’s largest medieval parish church, the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas of Myra dating back to 1320. Christopher Columbus reputedly worshipped in this church in 1477. Also nearby are Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square. A longer route to Westport will bring you to the hauntingly beautiful Connemara Region. Situated on the most western seaboard of Europe, this unspoilt region boasts breathtaking scenery. The characteristic features of Connemara include its rugged, unpolluted coastline, dramatic mountains, numerous lakes and rivers and woodlands and the renowned Connemara National Park. Visit Kylemore Abbey and the Lough Inagh Valley as well as the spectacular Sky Road near the town of Clifden. You can also visit the fishing village of Roundstone and see how a ‘Bodhran’ (traditional Irish Drum) is made. Touring north from Connemara, you will also be able to walk along the fjord at Killary harbour or indeed take the catamaran cruise through Ireland's only fjord.
Just south of Westport you will see Croagh Patrick, otherwise known as Ireland's 'Holy Mountain' upon which St. Patrick (according to Irish folklore) spent 40 days fasting. The area around Croagh Patrick is rich in archaeological remains which provide an interesting insight into life in times past.
Just north of the town of Westport in the county of Mayo - is Ireland’s least populated region where you can walk the open countryside for miles with no company other than the local sheep. In addition another attraction worth doing while in the area is The Great Western Greenway, taking you from Westport to scenic Achill Island which will take you through the picturesque villages of Newport and Mulranny and offers magnificent views of Clew Bay. You may also wish to visit Westport House - Designed by the famous architects Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century, Westport House is located west of the Shannon and is one of Irelands’ most historic homes open to the public.
Heading south from Westport, you reach Galway, the ‘City of the Tribes’ also known as Ireland’s Cultural and festival capital. With its street entertainers and traditional pubs with great music, Galway and in particular, the Quays area of the city centre will enthral you particularly in the evening time. Other sites in Galway include Ireland’s largest medieval parish church, the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas of Myra dating back to 1320. Christopher Columbus reputedly worshipped in this church in 1477. Also nearby are Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square.
There are a few options here for you to decide on. If you have not explored the raw beauty of Connemara and around Roundstone and Clifden or alternatively, you may prefer to take the ferry to the Aran Islands. Aran will take you back to an Ireland of Celts and Early Christians. Take a pony and trap, or a guided tour from the pier up the island to the stone fort of Dun Aengus. Dún Aengus is located on top of a 300ft high sea cliff and is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. This evening, back to the Quays area of the city for some of the best traditional entertainment in the country.
The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. The largest island is Inishmore the middle and second-largest is I...
Bunratty Castle is now a very popular tourist attraction. The interior has been furnished by Lord Gort with tapestries & artifacts from various eras in the history
The Burren is a unique karst-landscape region in northwest County Clare, in Ireland and one of the largest Karst landscapes in Europe.
The Céide Fields is an area situated on the north Mayo. This location contains one of the oldest known field systems in the world. Using various dating methods, it was discovered...
The Cliffs of Moher boast one of Ireland's most spectacular views On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as are the valleys and hills of Connemara.
The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland. It is situated on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, on the road that crosses the peninsula between Dingle Town and the...
There are so many things to see, to do, to explore, to experience on the Dingle Peninsula . . . from almost 2,000 archaeological sites, to more walking than you could fit into a ...
Doolin is small fishing village on a sandy bay world-famous for its wealth of Irish music & has been attracting crowds to spontaneous sessions and festivals. Overlooked by Doonag...
Dún Aengus is the most famous of several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands, of Co. Galway. It was built during the Bronze Age and dates from 1,000 B.C. It is located on Inis...
Below, you will find a price for this self drive tour including your car rental. Pricing for other accommodation and transport options is also available upon request. Please also note that all of our driving tours itineraries and sightseeing guides are available to those wishing to avail of one of our experienced driver guides.
|Accommodation Type||B&B's||3* Hotels||4*Hotels & Manor Houses||Combination|
|Jan-Mar & Nov-Dec||$909||$1,077||$1,371||$1,110|
|April & October||$909||$1,181||$1,510||$1,206|
Included with your car is all compulsory insurances - Collision Damage Waiver insurance (CDW with an excess/deductible), theft protection insurance, location fee of €30, Road fund tax, sales tax at 13.5%, unlimited free mileage, third party liability insurance, 24 hour peace of mind break down cover.
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