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This Best of the Wild Atlantic Way Tour is accessed through Shannon airport and is a 12 night tour based on the highlights of the spectacular coastal route that is the Wild Atlantic Way. The Wild Atlantic Way driving tour is the longest defined coastal route in the world and stretches for 2500km along Ireland’s western seaboard encompassing rugged mountains, freshwater lakes and miles of unspoilt pristine sandy beaches.
Along Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ where the Gaelic culture thrives and much of the population still speaks Irish as its first language, it is the people that might distract you from the wonderful sights to be seen. These warm-hearted and friendly communities that dot the landscape will welcome you with open arms and regale you with stories and the history of their areas. By day enjoy the magnificent scenery including, The Inishowen Peninsula, The Cliffs of Moher, The Aran Islands, Killary Harbour and the stark Burren Landscape of County Clare as well as the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. 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 that dot the Wild Atlantic Way.
This tour includes a night in Galway city which although a world away from the small coastal villages you have visited, is the perfect way to end your tour. Galway is the only large city where you can hear Irish spoken on the streets and is a vibrant city known for its selection of eclectic shops, pubs and restaurants.
Travel to Kinsale via Limerick City, Blarney and Cork City. 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.
Kinsale prides itself to be the gourmet capital of Ireland, boasting abundant superb restaurants and atmospheric traditional pubs. A great deal of your vacation time could indeed be spent in Kinsale itself but if you wish to venture out further afield, your Irish Tourism tailor-made itinerary will help you do just that! 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
Today you have visits to Mizen Head, the southernmost point in Ireland, as well as Bantry House and Gardens and the French Armada Centre, also in Bantry. Just north of Bantry you will find Garinish Island. A short boat trip from Glengarriff brings you to the island – look out for seals basking on the nearby rocks – to see the beautiful Italian style gardens that are home to numerous rare and sub-tropical plants. Travel to Castletownbere, one of the largest white fishing ports in Ireland. Situated on Berehaven Harbour and looking out towards Bere Island, the town has a spectacular background of the Slieve Miskish Mountains. Return to Kenmare via the stunning Healy Pass 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.
From Kenmare, you will be heading to the quaint town of Dingle in County Kerry. You will be travelling there via the stunning mountain route via Molls Gap and Ladies View, as you descend towards the Lakes of Killarney. You will have time to visit Muckross House and Gardens in Killarney before continuing on to Dingle. Muckross House is a wonderful Victorian manor built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert. The location of the House is impressive, close to the eastern shore of Muckross Lake and set below the impressive backdrop of the Torc and Mangerton Mountains. You will also pass though the small village of Annascaul which is the birth place of 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. Dingle retains the charm of a fishing village despite being a popular tourist destination.
From Dingle head to the harbour village of Ventry, in which the ancient tale of the Battle of Ventry Strand is based. The tale as told in a 15th century manuscript describes how Daire Donn, King of the World, landed at Ventry in an attempt to invade Ireland and was defeated on the beachhead by Fionn Mac Cumhaill. You will also see Dunbeg Fort and the Blasket Islands just off the coast. Further along the coast road will bring you to the remains of Ferriter Castle and Dun An Oir. 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.
Today we travel to the University City of Galway and on to the Connemara region west of Galway. 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. 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. Continue west of Galway 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. From there travel just south of Westport to 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. Findings date back to 200 B.C. 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.
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. The amazing geology, archaeology, botany and wildlife of this region of North Mayo is interpreted for us at The Céide Fields Visitors' Centre with the aid of an audio-visual presentation and exhibitions. Achill Island and the Currane Peninsula, on the west coast of Co Mayo, are among the most remote and scenic areas in Ireland. You can also travel north to Castlebar, home to the Museum of Country life, an open-plan building houses collections of domestic goods, once used as part of daily life from 1850 to 1950. Exhibits and a movie explain how Irish people made a living from the soil before the machine age.
From Westport, travel north to Sligo and view the Ancient Tombs of Carrowmore. There are over 60 tombs here that have been located by archaeologists to date, dating back to nearly 5,000 B.C. and centuries older than the Pyramids of Egypt. Shortly after leaving Sligo on route to County Donegal you will arrive at Drumcliff Churchyard, perhaps the most visited graveyard in Ireland. William Butler Yeats is buried here under the epitaph that he penned, “Cast a Cold Eye on Life, on Death. Horsemen, pass by!” The Churchyard stands in the shadow of the magnificent Benbulben. Continue north until you reach Belleek home to Belleek Pottery, where there is an excellent visitor centre that is open from April to October. Set up in 1857, the factory is famous worldwide for its ornate fine Parian China. Other major touring attractions in Donegal include the Railway Heritage Centre, Donegal castle and Donegal Craft Village in Donegal town. Heading west from Donegal Town, on the edge of the Atlantic is Ireland’s premier fishing port of Killybegs. Nearby are the magnificent Slieve League Cliffs which at over 1,000 ft (300 metres) the cliffs are the highest marine cliffs in Europe. Next stop along this route is the Gaelic speaking village of Glencolumbcille where you can take the opportunity to relive local rural life as experienced in 18th, 19th and 20th century Ireland.
There are a number of other options available to you today including the ancient territory of the Inishowen Peninsula is the most northerly part of Ireland. Monuments of an earlier age seem to grow from the landscape as castles, towers and ancient churches shimmer in the sunshine. Your tour begins at Grianan an Aileach, the ancient Temple of the Sun that was Christianized by St. Patrick. Founded by the Druids, this ring fort dates back to some 2,000 years B.C. The panoramic view from the walls of this ancient palace is truly magnificent; seven counties can be seen on a clear day. Onwards north to Buncrana and the Tullyarvan Mill - a tastefully restored corn mill dating from the 19th century, today developed as a local craft centre and tourist amenity.
From Buncrana to Dunree Head and Fort Dunree, constructed in 1798 by the English as a defensive measure against Napoleonic invasion. At the top of the Inishowen Peninsula is Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head. It is not just Ireland’s most northerly point, but also an area of great scenic beauty and of historical, scientific and ecological importance. The area is steeped in history and folklore. Continuing around the peninsula, you arrive at the pretty village of Culduff with its stone circle. Deep in the heart of County Donegal is Glenveagh National Park and is considered by many to be Ireland's finest national park. At the core of the park is the Glenveagh Estate, originally the home of the notorious landlord John George Adair, much despised for his eviction of Irish tenant farmers in the 1860s.
As you travel south to Galway another stop of note is the village of Knock. It is a major Roman Catholic pilgrimage site and it is claimed there was an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1879.Galway City, the ‘City of the Tribes’ also known as Ireland’s Cultural and festival capital. 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.
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 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...
The Gap of Dunloe is a beautiful glacial valley in the Macgillacuddy Reeks mountain range, which dominate the skyline of Killarney on the Ring of Kerry. Here you can enjoy an ene...
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||€925||€1,121||€1,513||€1,076|
|April & October||€925||€1,214||€1,590||€1,187|
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