Rural Meets Urban

 

ROUTE

Day 1 Bunratty

Day 2 Galway

Rural meets Urban Cartour ex Shannon

Rural meets Urban Cartour ex Shannon

Day 3 Westport

Day 4 Sligo

Day 5 Dublin

Day 6 Dublin

Day 7 Limerick

 

ITINERARY

Day 1 : Arrival in Shannon Airport after collection of your car, take the N18 into Limerick. En route – suggest a visit to Bunratty Castle and Folkpark. The castle is notable for its perfectly restored example of Norman – Irish Castle keep. This castle was originally built in 1277, but has been rebuilt more than once in the centuries that followed. The folk park in the castle grounds gives visitors a glimpse of a traditional lifestyle in the Shannon Region. It features a complete reconstruction of a 19th century village street, including craft shops, general stores and post office.

On to Limerick City, built in 922 by the Norsemen, Limerick ranks as one of the oldest cities in Ireland. This city of the Treaty is of great historical importance to Ireland. Its position on the mouth of the river Shannon makes it one of the most important ports on the west coast.

Overnight – Bunratty

3* Hotels: Bunratty Castle Hotel or Bunratty Manor Hotel

4* Hotels: Radisson SAS Limerick

Day 2: Take the N18 to Ennis and the N85 on to Ennisymon. Visit the seaside resort of Lahinch and continue to Liscannor famous for its flagstones. Onward to the Cliffs of Moher, which rise to a height of nearly 200 metres, giving a wonderful view of the Aran Islands. The cliffs have a fine watchtower and a visitors centre.

Onward to Doolin – the lively local pubs are known world wide to lovers of traditional music. Onward on the coast road (R477) through Fanore to Ballyvaughan. Visit the Aillwee Caves. These 2 million year old caves lead to the heart of the Burren’s underground.

Onward to Kilcolgan via Kinvara, which has a unique Galway boat festival each August. At Kilcolgan take the N18 via Clarenbridge and Oranmore. In Oranmore you will find your hotel accommodation for this evening.

GALWAY

Galway city

3* Hotels: Flannerys Hotel, Days Hotel Galway, Jurys Inn Galway

4* Hotels: Ardilaun Hotel, Galway Bay Hotel, The House Hotel, Menlo Park Hotel

Day 3: Galway

City has many relics of its mediaeval past, and is worth taking time to explore. Many changes have taken place here in recent years, and buildings which are hundreds of years old stand side by side with modern architecture. For car parking, you are advised to park in the Eyre Square Centre or the Forster Street Car Park. These are both convenient to the Tourist Office at the end of Eyre Square, where the city ramble begins. This is a signposted walking tour of Old Galway and the accompanying booklet can be obtained from the Tourist Office.

Take the N59 from Galway City towards Clifden. Enroute visit Aughnanure Castle just outside Oughterard, once the finest fortified dwelling of the O’Flahertys, on the shores of Lough Corrib. A climb up the stone spiral staircase of this restored building, will give a panoramic view of nearby Lough Corrib and some of its many wooded islands.

Onward through Recess to Clifden (capital town of Connemara) from here take the N59 to Kylemore Abbey – an echanting valley lying between Twelve Bens in the South and the Doughruagh and Garraun Mountains further North.

The mountains rise almost perpendicularly from the lakeshore: gleaming white against the lower slopes is the magnificent castle built by Mitchell Henry, M.P. in 1864-’68, Kylemore Abbey. After Kylemore take the R340 to Leenane. In Leenane take the R395 to Louisburg and Westport. On the Louisburg Road, Croagh Patrick, one of Mayo’s most famous landmarks, rises 2,510 feet from the sea on the southern side of Clew bay and the entire Western Coastline. St. Patrick is reputed to have spent 40 days and nights praying and fasting on its slopes. The summit of the mountain would appear to be a curious place to have a church, yet on Croagh Patrick’s summit there is one.

Westport is a planned town of the Georgian period. The town’s most striking present-day feature is the pleasant boulevard, known as the Mall, a colonnade of lime trees overhanging the Carrowbeg River. Take a walk around Westport. Down the elegant tree-lined Mall with its stately Georgian buildings, alongside the Carrowbeg River. Cross the river, go up Bridge Street, a cheerful miscellany of traditional shop and pub fronts. Friendly faces, smiling children, a busker or two. Turn right at the clock, along Shop Street to the Octagon.ST PATHRICK CAT

Overnight in Westport

3* Hotels: Castlecourt Hotel, Clew Bay Hotel, Westport Woods

4* Hotels: Westport Plaza or Knockranny House Hotel

Day 4:  Take the N17 through the towns of Tubbercurry and Collooney towards Sligo. Take a trip to Drumcliffe a small settlement under the mighty table mountain Ben Bulben – in a small churchyard here lies the grave of the famous poet, William Butler Yeats. Yeats was born here and returned often in his lifetime.

Although Sligo is a city, having a charter and two cathedrals, it is locally, and affectionately, known as Sligo Town. The name Sligo is thought to mean ‘shelly place’, although some say that it might derive from ‘Sli’ meaning route, as from earliest times Sligo was strategically placed. This was always an area abounding in shellfish of all kinds, and bucket loads of shells were removed when foundations for the town’s buildings were laid. Equally, from earliest times Sligo was a strategic point in the North West, and remains so today, so either root would be valid.

Famine Memorial, Quay Street Car Park: Here in the car park, stands a memorial commemorating both those who died during the famine years which so devastated Sligo, culminating in the Great Famine of 1845, and those who emigrated to escape. Many left from these Quays, including one ill-fated ship, which sank just outside Sligo Bay with the loss of all on board.

Sligo Abbey: This Dominican Abbey, the only medieval building left standing in Sligo, was founded by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Maurice Fitzgerald in 1253, who already had a castle in Castle St., no trace of which remains. Accidentally destroyed by fire in 1414, it was rebuilt in its present form. When Sir Frederick Hamilton’s soldiers sacked Sligo in 1642, killing, pillaging and burning, the Abbey was also torched and everything valuable in it destroyed, including ornaments, vestments and items which the townspeople had brought to the friars for safekeeping. (5 of his cavalry, on their way back to Manorhamilton after this raid, galloped to their deaths over the cliffs above Glencar.) Stonework from the buildings started being removed in the 18th C and in 1760 the community of friars moved elsewhere. Still intact amongst the ruins of the Abbey are the High Altar, and the pulpit projecting from one of the cloister walls. Take time to visit the Abbey, and see the remains of this beautiful building in detail

Overnight – Sligo

3*Hotels: Sligo Southern Hotel, Sligo City Hotel

4* Hotels: Sligo Clarion, The Glasshouse, Radisson SAS Hotel

Day 5: From Sligo to Ballyshannon, onward onto the R230 to the town of Belleek on the banks of the River Erne, and home to Irelands oldest pottery. For more than 137 years this little village has been famous for its distinctive parian china. Today, as ever, Belleek holds a special place in the hearts of china collectors the world over. A trip to Belleek Pottery Visitors Centre is like a step back in time and offers a fascinating insight into this most historic pottery.

Travel into Enniskillen in the County of Fermanagh. Fermanagh is a paradise for fishing, cruising and other water based holidays. The largest lake – Lough Erne is 50 miles long and some of the best monastic sites in the area are located on the islands of the lake from Enniskillen. Travel on the A509/N3 to Cavan and Kells famous for its high crosses. These are decorated with biblical scenes and the Market Cross is located at the junction of John Street and Castle Street. Its original location was probably at the entrance of the ancient monastery. The other four crosses are situated in the grounds of St Columba’s Church.  From Kells take the R163 to Newgrange/Boyne Valley. Newgrange is older than the pyramids in Egypt, the great megalithic tomb in Newgrange is over 5,000 years old. This area is an United Nations World Heritage Site. On the shortest day of the year the winter solstice, the rising sun creeps up the passage way and bathes the chamber in sunlight for twenty minutes. From here it is a direct drive to Dublin.KILARY HARBOUR

Overnight – Dublin

3* Hotels – Best Western Academy Hotel, Grafton Capital Hotel or Jurys Inn (Custom House or Christchurch)

4* Hotels – Clarion Hotel IFSC, Clontarf Castle or Dublin Hilton

Day 6:  Dublin City is, by international standards, small and compact. The city centre, stretching between Parnell Square and St Stephens Green, north to south and Dublin Bay and Pheonix Park, east to west, can be covered easily by foot.

Suggest a visit to some of Dublin’s most important features today:-

Trinity College, The National Museuminch beach 3

Overnight – Dublin

3* Hotels – Best Western Academy Hotel, Grafton Capital Hotel or Jurys Inn (Custom House or Christchurch)

4* Hotels – Clarion Hotel IFSC, Clontarf Castle or Dublin Hilton

Day 7: From Dublin take the N4 out of Dublin to Kinnegad and from here the N6 to Athlone. Just before Athlone, turn on the N62 for Clonmacnoise. In a gentle bend of the Shannon River, on a hill side, lies the ruins of the legendary ecclesiastic city – Clonmacnoise. If forms an impressive natural museum, with its 9 churches, 2 round towers and 2 high crosses. In 548 A.D., St. Ciaran founded the monastery, which quickly evolved into a well known centre for learning. The site is a perfect example of fertile isolation which was favoured by the monks of the early church. Surrounded by bog, the only access was either by River or along the Esker Causeway known as The Pilgrims Road. Onward to the Shannonbridge on the R357 and back onto the N6 just before Ballinasloe, onward through Loughrea and Gort. In Gort take the R460 to Corofin. Onward on the R476 to Lisdoonvarna, and then on the R478 back to the cliffs of Moher.

From Lahinch you can either take the coast road through Kilkee before driving back to Ennis and Limerick or you can the N85 from Lahinch directly to Ennis and on the N18 to Limerick.

Overnight – Limerick.

3* Hotels: The Pery Best Western, Jurys Inn Limerick or Castleoaks House

4* Hotels: Absolute Hotel, Clarion Hotel, The Strand Hotel

Day 8: Depart Limerick for Shannon for return flight home.