SAMPLE Detailed Tour Itinerary for Our Tour of Counties Donegal, Mayo, and Clare
We're on our way to Ireland again! Sue Riley, Sloan Wainwright, and Glen Roethel – Join us!
Day 1. (The details of this are subject to change, but always magical)
This morning we welcome everyone aboard around 9:30 a.m. after your breakfast at the B&B. Your B&B in Bunratty is the departure point for the tour. We’ll then head northwards to County Donegal in the far northwest of Ireland. We’ll have a stop to stretch our legs and have a break and then we’ll gather for a brief “go around” of introductions to our fellow guests and an overview of our itinerary for the tour. We then drive to the village of Cong in County Mayo for lunch (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knock,_County_Mayo). After lunch we will drive to see the grave of WB Yeats in Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo. After that we’ll be on our way up to County Donegal where you will be staying at the Mill Park Hotel https://www.millparkhotel.com, in Donegal Town for 3 nights. After settling into the rooms and resting up for a bit, we’ll meet for our first group meal in the hotel restaurant, followed by a private Irish music concert with talented local musicians.
Today we will leave the country to drive into Northern Ireland, part of the UK, to visit the town of Derry, and have a chance to walk on the old city wall. In Northern Ireland they call the city Londonderry, but in the Republic of Ireland it is still called Derry. Lunch will be in Derry. Back in the Republic of Ireland, we will go to the Grianan of Aileach, an ancient round stone fort built around the 1st century AD. You can see several counties from there, including Northern Ireland. http://www.megalithicireland.com/Grianan%20of%20Aileach.html. From there, it is back to Donegal Town for dinner in town, and more music.
This morning we will drive to the gorgeous Slieve League Cliffs http://www.ireland.com/en-gb/articles/waw-slieve-league-cliffs/. You can hike up around the Cliffs and lunch will be nearby. There are many lovely sites in the area to be seen. Dinner will be in town and you’ll be hearing more local music at a pub in town.
Today we move south into County Mayo. We will visit the Céide Fields, a Neolithic archaeological site on the north County Mayo coast. http://www.museumsofmayo.com/ceide.htm. Lunch will be at the Céide Fields Visitor Center.
In the afternoon we will make our way to the beautiful town of Westport where we will be staying for 3 nights at the Clew Bay Hostel Hotel. http://www.clewbayhotel.com. This evening we will meet for our second group meal followed by some wonderful traditional music.
Today we will make a visit to the Country Life Museum in Turlough, an excellent museum with displays showing the amazing changes in Ireland between 1850 to 1950. http://www.museumsofmayo.com/country-life-museum.htm. Lunch will be at the museum. You will have a free afternoon today. This evening we will all be on our own for dinner and then music at a very well known venue – Matt Molloy’s Pub.
In the morning we’ll hop on the bus and head to the wonderfully scenic Achill Island, Ireland’s largest island, which is accessible from the mainland via a bridge. Here, a knowledgeable local guide will lead us around the island to visit several points of interest (http://www.achilltourism.com/places.html). We’ll have lunch at the Beehive Restaurant in Achill. We’ll be back in Westport for dinner on your own and a session of traditional Irish tunes in one of Westport’s many lively pubs. One famous pub is Matt Molloy’s; Matt is the well-known flute player of the famous Irish band, The Chieftains (http://www.mattmolloy.com/pub_about.html). Also, if anyone is interested, there is a great theater show of the Legend of Grainne Mhoal the Irish “Pirate Queen” at the Westport Hotel, 25 euro a seat (http://www.grainnemhaol.com/).
We’ll pack up and head south to County Clare. We’ll drive through some wonderful scenery on to Galway City, Ireland’s third largest city, where we’ll stop for lunch and a stroll up Shop Street – a pedestrian mall with shops, cafes, buskers, bookshops and pubs. Lunch will be in Galway City. We’ll continue on our way back to County Clare for our last three days we will be staying at The Falls Hotel (https://www.fallshotel.ie) in the town of Ennistymon. After checking in and a rest, we will have dinner in town followed by a private concert.
We will tour parts of County Clare starting with one of Ireland’s most spectacular and well- known sites, the Cliff’s of Moher, with breathtaking views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/). We will also tour the Burren region of County Clare. (http://www.galway.net/galwayguide/visit/burren/). The Burren is a unique limestone landscape with plenty of historical sites including ancient tombs, stone forts, old churches and graveyards. We’ll make a stop at the Poulnabrone Dolmen (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Poulnabrone.htm) and visit the Caherconnell Stone Fort (http://caherconnell.com) where we will have a sheepdog demonstration. Lunch will be at the fort. We’ll return to Doolin, and in the evening, we’ll meet at the wonderful local pub McDermott’s for more great music, food, and great Irish “craic.”
Today is our last full day together. Weather permitting, we will take the ferry over to Inis Oírr (Inisheer) (http://www.aranislands.ie/inis-oirr-inisheer/) a 40 minute trip from Doolin pier. You can get some friends together and hire a horse-pulled wagon to tour around the island or hire a bike, or just walk. There are several places to grab some lunch at a pub or shop. On the return trip (assuming the seas are calm), we will get a different view of the Cliffs of Moher from the sea. For those who don’t like boats, there is great walking in the Doolin area and a few great shops, pitch-and-putt golf, and pubs if the weather is iffy. In the evening we will have our last group dinner at the hotel, and a final “go around” of farewell thoughts on the tour, a few songs, many hugs, and possibly a few tears.
We head back to Shannon Airport in the morning. Be sure to let us know your departure time if you fly home, or whatever other arrangements you have made for the rest of your holiday.
Most music sessions (a group of Irish musicians playing traditional jigs, reels, and songs, usually unplugged) in general begins around 9:30pm, sometimes 10pm and goes until around midnight, late for many guests at first. The flip side of the coin is, we don’t head out most mornings until 10am, so you can either sleep in, or go for a walk.
Most folks do come on the tour in a large part for the music. So be prepared for late nights. And you are free to stay in any night. We pride ourselves on our flexibility.
Please remember, this is a SAMPLE Detailed Tour Itinerary, and it is subject to change as we get closer to our exciting time together.