Our Signature Tour Itinerary: The Wild West Irish Way!
Expecting great things in the simplest of places.
Our Wild West Irish Signature tour travelers have happily come to “expect the unexpected” in the Wild West of Ireland, and with our small groups, we can be much more spontaneous and flexible than the average tour. Whether you fancy a rigorous hike or a leisurely stroll along a country road, we will accommodate you. This is the beauty of our small group approach – flexibility. We become intimate with both the people and the land, and go to places and events only the most local of the locals would know about. We also maximize your experience by being adaptable to change plans if the weather dictates. (Example: sea conditions for a boat ride.) As flexible and spontaneous as we are, we do set out initially with an itinerary! Our Signature Tour includes several places that only recently were selected as “Top 10 Historic Sites and Activities” by National Geographic Traveler! (See Dates and Prices for specific 2015 dates.)
You arrive in Dublin International Airport and we will be waiting for you in a very comfortable mini-bus. We help you with your luggage and exchanging money and perhaps have a bite to eat before setting off for a scenic drive across the beautiful lakelands and Midlands to the west coast of Ireland. We arrive in your cozy and comfortable Irish Bed & Breakfast in the most stunning landscape in Ireland. You can get settle in and if you like, take in your breathtaking surroundings. We will acquaint you with your new environs and take you to places the local folks have named, and cannot be found on Google! As evening draws near we will seek out a cozy pub nearby for our first pint of Guinness, or a cup of tea and a delicious dinner. If there is a traditional Irish music in earshot, we will get you to it!
Breakfast is served and off we go to see more of the very local hidden places. We will begin your day by exploring the hidden and fascinating places on the Maugherow Peninsula. We will ramble down small roads that lead to incredible vistas and catch our first true glimpse of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline. We will meet some of the local folks along the way and you will begin to get the “feel” of this little known paradise. Onward we go to explore a hidden ancient beach full of fossils from millions of years ago. Our travelers have described this serene place as “feeling like we are on another planet.” We will explore a mythical Promontory Fort (a place of an eerie legend) and climb up past “famine house” ruins. From this obscure peninsula, we can see across Sligo Bay to County Mayo and all the way up to Donegal Mountains. We will take you to Streedagh Beach which was the scene of three Spanish Armada shipwrecks in 1588. The ruins of the church where the Spanish sought refuge from the English Garrison stand nearby and you will get a sense of what happened during this historical watershed event.
We enjoy another home-cooked “Irish Fry” and head out toward Strandhill Beach. We take the hike up Knocknarea Mountain to Queen Maeve’s Cairn, (one of National Geographic Travelers Top 10 Historical sites) and take in this spellbinding vista! Once we have explored this mystical landscape, we will visit a stunning hidden “fairy glen.” We will pop in for a light lunch at a seaside cafe walk along Strandhill Beach (which has some of the best surfing in Europe). Enjoy a soothing “Celtic Seaweed Bath” and Spa treatment if you like. If the tide is low, head out to wondrous Coney Island, (another National Geographic Traveler activity) where we go for a walk around ancient sites such as the legendary St. Patrick’s Wishing Chair. There is one pub and one family living on this island and you will meet them! We visit a traditional Irish cottage and we will have an old fashioned music session for you. Then we poke our heads in various pubs and cafes to experience the “craic.” In the evening we take in an Irish Music and dance show at the local heritage hall.
It’s megalithic! We visit the spectacular “thin place” known as Carrowmore Tombs. You will meet with local storyteller and author of “Myths and Legends,” Michael Roberts. Michael will provide an exclusive and unbelievable journey back to ancient Ireland. These prehistoric places pre-date the Pyramids and the scenery surrounding them is just startling. From here we venture to a gorgeous and sacred Holy Well, where celebrations and ritual have taken place for thousands of years. Our storyteller, who was raised nearby, will fascinate you with his stories and indeed his own experience living near such a wondrous place. Imagine yourself riding a horse on a beach, near a castle, or even up an enchanted mountain valley! You always have the option of simply taking a beautiful solitary stroll along the beach of Moneygold.
Taking a boat ride from Rosses Point to the mystical Isle of Innismurray** is one of the pearls of a Wild West Irish Tour. We pack a lunch and head out to this long abandoned sacred island. Innismurray is an uninhabited island situated 7 km off the coast of County Sligo. It covers 228 acres and, most likely, our small group will be the only people on the island. We will explore the remains of an early Irish monastic settlement which was founded here in the 6th century. People lived on this island until 1948, and they left behind the homes their families struggled to survive in for centuries. Part of the day’s activities could involve some fishing for those so inclined. The boat ride out to the island and back is absolutely a once in a life time experience. Our boatman will get us home safely and we will head off to his brother’s pub and restaurant for a delicious dinner and a pint or two. We finish the day taking in the Rosses Point beaches and visit Lissadell Beach. **The trip to Innismurray is subject to weather conditions.
Donegal Day! We begin the day by visiting the spectacular Mullaghmore Peninsula. You will be keeping your camera busy with photos of Classiebawn Castle with mighty Benbulben Mountain in the background.We visit the busy seaside town of Bundoran and look out across Donegal Bay toward the highest sea cliffs in Europe: Slieve League. Within an hour you have the choice of walking up to the top of Slieve League, or going for a picnic at the viewing area below. Either way, you will be in awe of these cliffs. Glencomcille is just up the road and chances are the main language you hear spoken will be Irish Gaelic. Take in some of the old fashioned shops here and perhaps take in the wee beach in a hidden cove near the town. We can make a stop to see Kathleen, who makes Aran Sweaters in her home! We also visit the famous Belleek China factory. We stop for dinner in either Killybegs or Donegal Town before heading back to our warm comfortable cottage by the sea.
W.B. Yeats called Sligo the “Land of Heart’s Desire” and we venture out to Yeats Country where we visit some of the enchanting places of his myth and legend, including Dooney Rock, Inishfree, Creevlea Abbey, Dromahair, County Leitrim, Lough Gill, Parkes Castle, Tobernalt Holy Well, Glencar Lough and Waterfall, and other secret places that have no name. We take a cruise on the lovely Rose of Innisfree, and will be serenaded by the boatman with stories and poems associated with all the gorgeous places we will experience. We have a full day in store for you and we turn north to the Dartry Mountain range, where we will take you to a secret and hidden valley. Chances are we will be the only souls there, with the exception of the many sheep and herdsman. We have had the experience to observe and even assist as the border collies help move the sheep from field to field. Ancient “famine house” ruins are found here, and we walk into these sacred places with reverence.
Dublin’s Fair City Day! We say beannacht agus ádh mór (goodbye and good luck) to our friends on the Maugherow Peninsula and skip across the heart of Ireland to Dublin City to check into your comfortable hotel for your last full day in Ireland. This will give you ample time and opportunity to do a little shopping and to see this beautiful historic city. You can choose to visit extraordinary places like Dublin Castle, Trinity College–where you see the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol which is famous for the Easter Rising of 1916, the Dublin Zoo, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Brewery, Stephens Green, Grafton Street (for great shopping, pubs and some of the best street musicians in the world), Phoenix Park, the National Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History. There is always great “craic” in the lively Temple Bar area and then walk across the Half Penny Bridge to famous O’Connell Street for more Irish culture, history and shopping. The nightlife is mighty with traditional Irish music and your last night in Ireland will be one to remember!
After this whirlwind of fun and adventure, it will be time to say our goodbyes. You will have just spent 8 of the most memorable days in your life. We can say this because this is what our guests tell us time and time again. Our Signature Tour is about depth and a personal and transforming experience. You will likely be saying Slan to your new lifelong friends. We bring you back to Dublin airport in plenty of time for your flight home.
Optional Activities: Irish Cooking class, horseback riding on a beach, mountain climb, hill bike riding, walking, golfing, surfing, and spa treatments. *Some of these activities will have an additional cost.
There is nothing like an Irish pub with traditional music session and we know where the best sessions are! Our friends locally know the best places and you may find yourself in someones home sitting in on Irish music and some laughs!
We cannot possibly name and describe all the hidden places and gems that we unearth for you. We want our secrets to be shared with you on your Wild West Irish Tour. We could spend two days alone on the Maugherow peninsula exploring the “Punch Bowl” (a geological stunner), Serpents Head Beach, Golden Stand and the thick forests nearby. We visit Sligo Town for a good bit of shopping and some fun and diversion. We tour Sligo Abbey and the local museums. We visit Coney Island, Drumcliffe, Dromahair, County Leitrim, Trinity Island Castle in Roscommon, Lough Key, Creevykeel Court Tomb, Carrowkeel and the Caves of Keash, a donkey rescue, Curlew Castle, Michael Quirke Woodcarver, (and storyteller) the Coleman Heritage Centre in Gurteen, Ballintrillick and many more wonderful places.
What’s included in the tour price:
- 8 nights of B&B / guesthouse-style accommodation.
- 9 days of touring and sightseeing
- All admissions into historical sites
- Daily Irish breakfast
- Touring in a comfortable mini-coach with your experienced tour guides
- 2 Boat cruise excursions and visiting at least 2 Islands
- At least 6 historical sites or activities recognized by National Geographic Traveler as a Top 10 site