|Connemara and Kylemore Abbey Tour Connemara, west of Galway city, is one of the most scenic regions in Ireland, with its many bogs, rugged mountains, blue lakes and rivers running down to many beach lined shores. Drive along Galway’s coast road and feel life’s difficulties slipping away. On the left is the Atlantic Ocean, while on the right is the rocky landscape of Connemara. Freshwater and sea fishing are abundant. The pace of life here is relaxed. Much of the area is Irish speaking and many old customs survive.
Visit Roundstone, the Inagh valley, Recess, Leenane, Kylemore, Letterfrack, while keeping an eye out for the Connemara sheep grazing along the slopes.Visit Dan O’Hara’s pre-famine (1840) farm and heritage centre incorporating a pre-historic lake dwelling (Crannog) dating to 1500 BC, a neolithic tomb (5000 years old), and a pre-historic Dolmen Tomb. Clifden is the Capital of Connemara – a lively spot with excellent restaurants and many pubs.
The Twelve Bens’ mountains provide a wonderful backdrop to the town Not to be missed is the ‘Sky Drive’, an exhilarating 7 miles circular drive west of Clifden. Enjoy the fresh sea air, the peace, tranquility and closeness of nature. In August the town hosts the famous Connemara Pony Show. Visit the Connemara National Park, a 2000 hectare State owned conversation centre made up of mountains, bogs and grasslands with spectacular wildlife. There are also many ancient sites, nature trails and picnic areas in the park.
There is an audio-visual show and a photographic display of Connemara scenery. Picturesque Kylemore Abbey, built in 1868, home to the Benedictine nuns, and now a High School for girls, stands at the edge of the lake surrounded by woodlands. Visit the beautiful Gothic Church recently restored and the recently reopened the magnificent 6 acre Victorian walled garden.Open all year Phone + 353 95 41146 www.kylemoreabbey.com
Returning towards Maam Cross, the Maamturk mountain on the left and the Twelve Bens tower behind in shades of purples, blues and greens. In this area some green marble quarries can be found. Fans of the classic 1951 film ‘The Quiet Man’, starring John Ford and Maureen O’Hara, can visit the Maam Cross and Maam Bridge area, where parts of the film were made. This is also the main area where the farmers dig the peat from the bog.
Oughterard, a town on the banks of the Lough Corrib, has one of the best fishing lakes in Ireland and is one on Ireland’s leading anglers’ resorts. Here you will find Aughanore Castle, a 15th century Tower House. One wall of the banqueting hall still stands and its windows contain some of the finest specimens of floral decorative stone carving of their period. Open during the summer months.
Also located in this area is the Glengowla Silver and Lead mine dating back to the 19th century and Brigit’s Garden, comprising four Celtic inspired beautiful gardens. Last stop is the Connemara Marble factory in Moycullen before returning to Galway. The Connemara region is truly a magical area. Artists from all over the world have come to paint this landscape with its ever-changing light.
|Aran Islands On the edge of the Atlantic, at the mouth of Galway Bay are the world famous Aran Islands, a maze of stone walls and tiny fields, high cliffs and incredible rugged landscapes. They are renowned for their unique way of life, where age-old traditions co-exist with modern living. The islands are rich in history, with ancient monuments, from both pre-historic and Christian times.
The three Aran Islands, Inis Mór Island (Big Island), Inis Meáin Island (Middle island) and Inis Oírr Island (East island) are situated in a north westerly, south easterly direction at the mouth of Galway Bay, Ireland.The Irish (Gaelic) language is still spoken here and in the twenty first century all native born islanders are bilingual in both Irish and English.
On Innishmore, the largest island, is the Dun Aengus fort. ‘Dún Aonghasa’ is situated on the cliff side or south side of Inismór. It is a semi circular stone fort over looking the Atlantic. It is deemed to be one of the best examples of its kind in Europe. Archaeologists, scholars and tourists come here from all over the world and it is likely to be given the official status of a world heritage site in the near future. A 14 acre site the fort consists of three terraced walls surrounding an inner enclosure containing a platform on the edge of a three hundred foot high cliff. The views from it are breathtakingly spectacular. The Island’s main port town is Kilronan, where you can hire bicycles, a minibus, or jaunting car to take you round this rugged island.
Innismaan is the middle island, where one should see what remains of the old, traditional lifestyle, stone houses with thatched roofs.
The smallest island, Innisheer boasts the remains of some ancient churches and a holy well. This island is a haven for bird watchers, and those interested in flora and fauna.
There are daily boat trips to the Aran Islands from Rosaveal, with a connecting coach service from Galway city and also from Marless House or one can fly with Aer Aran from Inverin airport, with connecting coach service from Galway city and also from Marless House to Connemara airport.
Take the ferry - Aran Island Ferries
Take the plane - Aer Arann
For more information visit www.aranislands.ie
Highly recommended – Faherty Tours. Guests are collected from Marless House by your guide, taken to the ferry and on the the Aran Islands, where you be given a tour of the whole island , including the Dun Aengus fort. Given some time to sight see, have a spot of lunch and do a little shopping. You are then back to the boat and home to Marless House. No personal driving involved.
City Guided Walking Tour
Legend Tours organise walking tours of Galway city which explores the history of medieval Galway.
Stroll down the ancient city streets and narrow winding lanes through the heart of Galway’s old medieval town. Learn of its Royal Gaelic origins, Norman Conquest and the power and prestige of its legendary fourteen merchant families, the 14 Tribes of Galway. Gain exclusive access to the Hall of the Red Earl which is the city’s earliest preserved archaeological site.
Visit the ancient but hidden harbour, remains of the old town wall and intact medieval houses including Lynches Castle and the now famous Kings Head Pub. Then explore the ancient Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas and discover how Galway became one of the richest and most powerful city states in medieval Europe.
|Corrib River Cruise Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a guided tour of the river Corrib on the modern Corrib Princess. The cruise will take you past University College Galway, Menlo Castle and various sites of both historical interest and natural beauty. There is an abundance of wild life and a peace and tranquility all of its own.
Daily sailings from Woodquay at 2.30 and 4.30.
|Burren and Cliffs of Moher The Burren is unique 160 square kms of limestone with rare flora and fauna growing among the rock formations. A day trip to the Cliffs of Moher incorporates Dunguaire Castle, the Burren and Ailwee Caves and the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a 5000 year old megalythic burial tomb.Drive south on the N67 to the pretty fishing village of Kinvara, and Dunguaire Castle, a 16th century Tower House. This castle is open to visitors by day, and holds Medieval Banquets nightly during the summer months. The entertainment celebrates the richness of Ireland’s’ literary and musical past and evokes the colourful characters who are so much a part of the castle’s history.
Further south is the famous Ailwee cave with its stalactites, stalagmites, relics of bears and a waterfall. Next to the Burren – a unique bare limestone area with its combination of many unusual factors, its geology, its flora and fauna, caves and archaeology. This is the area where the first stone age dwellers settled. When Cromwell’s envoy visited The Burren, he brought back reports of “a savage land, yielding neither, water enough to drown a man, nor a tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury him”.
One can explore the many prehistoric sites of Dolmens, most noteworthy the famous Poulnabrone dolmen, a 5000 years old tomb used by stone dwellers to bury their dead. Round stone forts, souterrains, and burial chambers of the people who inhabited this land can also be found.Going south are the majestic Cliffs of Moher, dropping 700 feet to the heavy selling Atlantic Ocean on the west coast to Clare. Extending for 5 miles, these spectacular natural monuments are now home to puffins and guillenots, cormorants and rare fossils. At the foot of Abbey Hill, the ruin of the12th century Cistercian Abbey of Corcomroe rises unexpectedly among the rocks. Return by the coast road towards Blackhead lighthouse with breathtaking views of Fanore beach, the blue Atlantic and the Connemara coast with the Aran Islands in the distance.
|CongThe Connemara & Cong Tour departs daily at 10am from Merchants Road in Galway City.
Lough Corrib stretches from Galway City to north Mayo and boasts 360 islands. The upper lake is famous for it trout and salmon angling and is the most scenic. Built on its banks is the picturesque village of Cong, with its 13th century Augustinian Abbey and the magnificent Celtic cross erected in the centre of the village. This village was the setting for the classic firm ‘The Quiet Man’ shot here in 1951, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Nearby is the fairy-tale-like Ashford castle, now an hotel, standing like a stone jewel between the woods of Cong and the waters of the Corrib.
To see the hidden Ireland off the main tourist track this tour is a must with the first stop at Ross Errily Friary- a hidden but atmospheric 14th century monastery before entering Cong Village for a guided walk through Cong Woods to see Ashfort Castle. Entering Connemara on the Lough Nafooey route allows you to see the stark beauty of the hidden valley of Connemara before arriving at the Atlantic Ocean and for hostellers there is an option to hop-off at Sleepzone Connemara. The tour then continues to Kylemore Abbey (or Connemara National Park for walkers) and back home via the Inagh Valley. Approximate time of arrival 17:30 in Galway.
Highlights Include: Ross Errily Friary, Ballymagibbon Cairn, Glebe Stone Circle, Cong Village, Abbey & Woods, Lough Nafooey Valley Route, Leenane & Killary Harbour, Kylemore Abbey. Inagh Valley, Quiet Man Bridge
|GortThe bustling town of Gort is situated 20 miles south of Galway city. Close-by is Thoor Ballylee, a delightful 16th Century Tower House, once the home of the poet W.B. Yeats during the 1920′s. Recently restored by Bord Failte, it now houses an interpretative centre on Yeat’s life and works.
Nearby is Coole Park, once the home of Lady Gregory. At the turn of the 19th century, during the Celtic Literacy renewal, Lady Gregory played host to leading lliterary figures of the day, W.B.Yeats; George Bernard Shaw; Sean O’Casey; Oliver St. John gogarty and many more.
Coole House was demolished in the 1950′s. Onl the famous Yew walk, garden and autograph tree remain, to remind us of the part this played in the Irish literary renaissance. The stables have been converted to an interpretative centre and tearooms. The grounds are now a National Park and Wildlife Park and are open to the public from May to September.
|AthenryAthenry is unique in that it is the only walled town in Ireland whose still intact medieval walls are clearly visible to the approaching visitor.
It has five towers and a town entrance known as the North Gate. The Arts and Heritage centre is located amid the ruins of the 13th century St Mary’s church. Among the exhibits are the town’s 14th century Civic Mace and Seal that were returned to the people of Athenry after an absence of 160 years.
Other places of interest are Athenry Castle (1235); Dominican Priory (1241); Athenry’s medieval Walls (1313); the North Gate (15th century); Market Cross (15th Century). The town is situated about 15 minutes (by car or train) east of Galway City, in the heart of rich country, made famous by the popular song, “The Fields of Athenry”.
|Ballintubber Abbey Ballintubber Abbey is situated on the N84 near the town of Claremorris. It was founded by Cathal O’Connor, King of Connaught, near the site of the church built by St. Patrick in 441. It is Ireland’s only Royal Abbey. One can stroll around the grounds of the Abbey and pray within its hallowed walls.
There is an interpretative centre and a neatly thatched cottage and tea rooms.
|OughterardOughterard is a small town on the banks of Lough Corrib and is famous for its angling. The finest brown trout are caught here as well as salmon. Western Regional Fisheries Board at Weir Lodge, Earl’s Island, provides information and advice on angling in the county. – Phone + 353 91 563118. www.wrfb.ie
Aughnanure Castle was built by the O’Flaherty’s circa 1500. It is a good example of a Tower House with restored interior. Outside are the remains of a Watch Tower, bastion and Banqueting Hall. Close to the Castle is an 18 hole Golf Course open to the public all year round.
The Glengowla Silver and Lead mine - dates back to the 19th century and is located just 2 miles from Oughterard. Reputed to be one of the richest and most productive mines of its time, Glengowla has been restored to a level of 65 feet underground. There are guided tours where you can see Silver, lead, calcite, quartz and many such mineral formations on the walls of the mine. Open March to October.
Brigit’s Garden - is an ideal place for contemplation and tranquility. It is located in the Oughterard area and comprises four beautiful Celtic inspired gardens. There are sculptures and craftwork set amid 11 acres of woodland, meadow and lake shore, through which runs a nature trail, where you will discover a ring-fort, a stone chamber, a calendar sundial and a thatched round house. Open February to October.
|Galway City Sightseeing Tour Enjoy this hop on/hop off city tour on an open top coach, visiting the city and surrounding area.
By taking the City Sightseeing Tour on the red/cream open top bus you have selected the best way to see the ancient historical city of Galway better known as “The City of the Tribes”. You can sit back, relax and listen to our professional guide who gives you a running commentary of the sights you see along the way.
Highlights of the tour includes: Eyre Square, the Courthouse, Town Hall theatre, Galway Catherdal, NUIG, Corrib Village, Circular Road, Salthill, The Claddagh, Wolfe Tone Bridge, Spanish Arch, Galway Museum and Merchants Road.
Tours run every 60 minutes from the tourist office in Galway city or Salthill.
Visitors who prefer not to do the driving themselves, and wish to explore the peaceful countryside, have a range of options that will allow them to explore the city and county. There are daily coach tours to Connemara, Cong and Maam Valley and the Cliffs of Moher.
As you leave Galway on the Connemara Tour you travel out through Salthill and as you look out over Galway Bay you can see the coast of Clare, home to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, another of the Tours. You continue through Connemara taking in the villages of Bearna, Furbo, Spiddal, Inverin and on to the Famine Village just before Rossaveal where you can board a ferry to take you across the Atlantic to the very edge of Europe.
For all tours, you can be collected from Marless House on the morning of your tour.