Region Highlights: The West
If you love a wild landscape relatively untouched by development with archeological wonders, the west beacons you. From the Burren with the ancient Poulnabrone dolmen, to the hills and bogs of Connemara. Splendid Galway and Westport, offering the literary paths of W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. The Aran Islands, the sheer cliffs of Achill Island, the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, and pubs full of traditional Irish music, with the best of Irish music in Co. Clare as well as the Cliffs of Moher. Come to the west of Ireland and you won’t be disappointed.
Situated in the mid-west region of Ireland, County Clare boasts truly breathtaking scenery and a wonderfully warm, charming and welcoming people. Clare is a magical county, full of surprise and contrast. In Clare, you will find the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin (a find for Irish music), the lunar landscape of the Burren, Lough Derg and the beautiful Loop Head Drive. In the middle and east of the county, you will find a patchwork of fishing lakes teeming with game and coarse fish, to the north and west you will find magnificent resorts and beaches all along our Atlantic Ocean coastline.
So if it's walking, cruising, golfing, eating out, fishing, horse riding, flying, surfing, dolphin watching or just enjoying the music in the local village pub - County Clare has it all.
You will find the recently renovated King John’s Castle in the medieval city of Limerick. The castle overlooks the majestic Shannon River. While in Limerick, why not partake in a Ghost Walk – or visit the Milk Market, one of Ireland’s foremost farmer’s markets! Galway is a lively city that will not disappoint.
Galway's famous Spanish Arch is located on the left bank of the Corrib, where Galway's river meets the sea. The Spanish Arch was originally a 16th century bastion, which was added to Galway's town walls to protect merchant ships from looting. At this time, it was known as Ceann an Bhalla (Head of the Wall). Its current name "Spanish Arch" refers to former merchant trade with Spain, whose galleons often docked here.
While in this bustling city, be sure and check out the Spanish Arch, St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, Lynch Castle, Galway Cathedral, and Galway Museum. Also, home to the Galway Races and the Galway Oyster Festival – where hotels book out well in advance. Make sure you plan your vacation accordingly.
Home to the Aran Island, here you will find peat farmers and friendly fishermen with spectacular scenery. You can pre-book the ferry ride over, along with a ½ day tour of the Island.
Be sure to include a visit to Kylmore Abbey in your Connemara travels. Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden is known as Ireland’s most romantic castle. Located in the heart of Connemara, Co. Galway, set in the most idyllic location, Kylemore Abbey is one of the top places to visit in Ireland.
Western Ireland is an important part of Irish history. Come step back in time when visiting the west. Almost half of County Galway speaks Gaelic as their first language. The city itself is popping with live music, shopping, festivals, fine restaurants and pubs. Connemara is a nature lover’s paradise, with splendid mountains, lakes and big skies. Follow the Connemara Coast for a delightful day touring this rugged region.
Moving north to Co. Mayo – you will find de-stress in the west! With hiking, fishing, angling, golf, painting, horseback riding or just relaxing with a foamy pint at a local put enjoy a conversation with the locals. And get ready for awe inspiring scenery and a wealth of historical attractions.
Mayo stands out as one of Ireland’s most scenic counties, with its craggy coastline that’s been lashed by the powerful Atlantic, but there is much to see and do in this majestic place.
Be sure and include Ceide Fields, with lies beneath the wild bog lands of North Mayo, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs. The stone walled fields, extending over thousands of acres are almost 6,000 years old, the oldest known in the world. They are covered by a natural blanket bog with its own unique vegetation and wildlife.
Visit Patrick’s sacred mountain, Croagh Patrick, a place of ancient history, where Ireland's patron saint fasted for 40 days in 441AD. Magnificent views of Clew Bay and the surrounding south Mayo countryside are to be had from all stages of the ascent of the mountain. Follow the steps of Patrick and in doing so meet people from far and near.
A stop on Achill Island brings you a stunning spot on the edge of Western Europe bursting with history and awe-inspiring sights.
Wesport in Co. Mayo is a lively town filled with music, restaurants, pubs and shopping, a perfect complement to your self-drive vacation, or consider the bustling market town of Castlebar, Co. Mayo, which has received international recognition for both walking and angling.