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Joyce Byrne - Private Guide in Dublin

 Member Since 2006 

Into the West Guided tour of Western Ireland: Connemara, Aran Islands and the Burren

Hiking tour in Shannon

Tour Price : $2899 per person Duration : 7 days Languages: English

Day 1

Walking Distance 2 miles (3.2 km)

From Shannon we drive north to Clifden in County Galway: a lovely little town known as the "Jewel of Connemara". Connemara is a wild, rugged, unspoilt area with a ragged coastline and two sets of impressive mountains - the Twelve Bens and the Maamturks. We will be accommodated for the next two nights at a guest house right on the edge of the town. We will take our evening meal at one of Clifden's many fine restaurants specialising in fresh seafood. The town has many pubs with traditional music sessions most nights of the week.

Overnight: Clifden, Connemara.

Walkers in Connemara, County Galway 

Day 2

Terrain: waterside paths, rocky tracks. Elev Gain: 100 ft. Walking Distance 6 miles (9.7 km)

First stop today is Kylemore Abbey: western Ireland's most famous man-made landmark. Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain on the shore of Lough Pollacappul, in the heart of Connemara, Kylemore is regarded as one of Ireland?s most beautiful buildings. Built in 1867 by Mitchell Henry as a romantic gift to his wife, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history. Today Kylemore Abbey and the estate are open to visitors and the main areas to be visited are the Abbey itself, the Gothic Church,  and the Victorian Walled Gardens.  There are also craft shops, pottery studio, restaurant and tea rooms as well as lake and woodland walks.

Kylemore Abbey

Connemara, County Galway

Our walk today will be at Killary fjord. The fjord is 16 km long and forms the natural border between County Mayo in the north and County Galway to the south. Our route will take us along an old famine road (a rough track built to give poor people work during the Great Famine of 1845-49). The view to the north looks out across the fjord to Mweelrea, western Ireland's highest mountain, and the views to the south are of the Maamturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens. This is one of the finest walks in Ireland!

Overnight: Clifden, Connemara.

Breakfast and Lunch Included.

Gothic Church by Candlelight

An abundance of Sea Pinks

Connemara Shore, County Galway 

Day 3

Terrain: coastal sandy track, quiet lanes and beach. Walking Distance 6 miles (9.7 km)

This morning we will take a guided walk at Omey Island (5 miles). This is a beautiful little island located just off the Connemara shore and we can reach it by walking across the sand at low tide. We will take a circular walk around the island travelling by ancient tracks beside a lake and then out across lovely quiet sandy beaches (Please note this walk is dependent on the tides). Alternatively we will take a walk at Maamean (the "Pass of the Birds") in a low gap between the Maamturk ("The Pass of the Wild Boar") Mountains. This is typcial Connemara landscape with lakes, ancient tracks, bogs and rocky mountains. We begin at St Patrick's Chapel and the Station's of the Cross.

In the evening we will take the ferry out to Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands. We will be accommodated at a beautiful guest house at the foot of the fort of Dun Aenghus.

Overnight: Kilmurvey, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included.

Liam O'Flaherty Monument, Aran Is

Aran Island Cottage

Flowers of Inismore, Aran Is
Day 4

Terrain: quiet lanes, grassy tracks, rocky shore. Walking Distance 12 miles (19.3 km)

Note: this walk is 12 miles long, but there is an opportunity, if you wish, to take a shorter option of 7 miles). The first part of our walk today takes us up to visit Dun Aenghus, a massive semi-circular ring fort lodged on the edge of cliffs that drop 300 ft into the Atlantic. Gaze out from the cliff tops across the wild Atlantic Ocean (next stop Newfoundland!). Our walk consists of much varied terrain, beginning with a fabulous trek across the rocky flagstones of the northwestern shore of the island. We then travel on along quiet grassy tracks with fine views lined with endless stretches of dry stone walls. If you are taking this tour in springtime, you will be delighted at the sight of magnificent "carpets" of sea pinks (or thrift) found along the flaggy shore.

Inishmore (trans "the big island") is the largest of the three Aran Islands and the most remote. The name Aran is from the Irish Arainn which translates as "the long ride". An appropriate name for an island 9 miles long by 3 miles wide. Although commonly known as Inishmore, Aran is still the official title. There is no place like Aran, an island covered in a myriad of dry stone walls, colourful wild flowers, tiny fertile meadows and endless Pre-Christian and Christian sites of interest. All with a boundary of wild Atlantic waves. You will find the whole place absolutely enchanting!

Overnight: Kilmurvey, Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included.

Shopping on the Aran Islands

Galway Bay Sunset

Day 5

Terrain: grassy track, country lanes, green road. Elev 400ft. Walking Distance 6 miles (9.7 km)

This morning, we will take the morning ferry back to Rossaveal and then head on to Slieve Elva in the Burren region of County Clare. The Burren ("a stoney place") is a strange, lunar-like region of bare carboniferous limestone which occupies around one hundred square miles of County Clare. Below the surface of the Burren is the most remarkable assemblage of spectacular caves, streams, potholes and "turloughs"(vanishing lakes)

After our walk, which takes in wonderful views of Galway Bay, we will make our way to the coastal village of Ballyvaughan where we spend our final two nights.

Overnight: Ballyvaughan, or Lisdoonvarna, County Clare.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included.

Ballyvaughan Harbour, County Clare

Original watercolour by James Byrne

Spring Primroses

The Burren

Day 6

Terrain: old green road, rocky tracks. Elev Gain 400 ft. Walking Distance 11 miles (17.7 km)

Note: this walk is 11 miles long, but there is an opportunity, if you wish, to take a shorter option of 6 miles). A wonderful day exploring and walking the Burren! The word "Burren" comes from the Irish "Boireann" which means "great rock". And it is truly an immensely rocky place. The hills of the Burren are made up of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks called "grikes", between isolated rocks called "clints". The area supports arctic, alpine and Mediterranean flora side-by-side, and the mild winter temperatues ensure a long growing season. The blue flower of the Spring Gentian, an alpine plant, is the region's best-loved flower. For our walk today we will be escorted today by a Burren expert. He will take us to sites of botanical, geological and archaeological interest.This will include walking in two separate parts of the Burren with a break for lunch.

Poulnabrone

Dolmen

The Burren

In Springtime you will never see anything like the carpets of primroses, or the white flower of the blackthorn cascading over all the hedgerows. Rare and spectacular plants occur in abundance. Nowhere else in Ireland, Britain or even north west Europe can such quantities of the blue Spring Gentian, cream Mountain Avens or yellow Shrubby Cinquefoil be encountered. Orchids grow everywhere in the Burren and 23 out of the 27 Irish species are to be found here.

Overnight: Ballyvaughan, or Lisdoonvarna, County Clare.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included.

 Walkers on the Burren Way, County Clare

Cliffs of Moher

Day 7

Terrain: cliff path. Walking Distance 1 mile (1.6 km)

Our last walk will be at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. Leaving the bustling car park behind, we can enjoy relative solitude walking along the cliffs towards Hag's Head. On the grassy bank at the lower cliff look out for puffins: they make their nests on the grass. We can also hope to see and hear fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes, and if we're really lucky, peregrine falcons. Then it's Goodbye to Ireland after our drive back to Shannon Airport.

Breakfast Included.

NOTE: The above scheduled itinerary is subject to change for varying reasons. Any changes made by Joyce's Ireland and / or the tour leaders will be in the interest and safety of all parties. Some tours may run in reverse.

"Stony seaboard fair and foreign

Stony hills poured over space,

Stony outcrop of the Burren

Stones on every fertile place.

Little fields with boulders dotted,

Grey-stone shoulders saffron spotted,

Stone-walled cabins thatched with reeds,

Where a stone age people breeds,

The last of Europe's stone age race."

John Betjeman

Celtic Cross

Additional information

Tour information:
Tour Price: $2899 per person
Duration: 7 days
Group Size: 2 persons minimum
Languages: English
Tour package includes:
Airport Transfer :YES
Hotel pick-up:YES
Drop-off :YES
Tour Transportation (car, van, limo, boat, etc…):YES
Food and Drinks :YES
Other services (fees apply):
Attraction tickets (concerts, theater, museum, circus...) :NO
Translation services :YES
Reservations (hotels, restaurants, airline) :YES
Visa support :NO
Additional information:
This tour must be booked at least 7 days in advance of your travel date :NO
Tour groups must include a minimum of 2 passengers :NO
Tour prices are flexible and based on your requirements :YES
This Tour is Kid Friendly :YES