Visit Ireland’s famous west coast with a guided private driving tour of Galway and Mayo.
Galway city is well known for being a city of fun and festivals no matter the time of year you visit. The city is synonymous with music, dance and performance providing an electric atmosphere. The windy cobbled streets of Quay St and Shop St are famous for their buskers and street performers. Chill out in Eyre Square with the artists and young musicians or retire into one of the hundreds of bars to enjoy a cold pint with the locals.
Just a little south of the Galway city are some charming small towns of Oranmore, Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan and the famed fishing village of Kinvara. The town features some fantastic seafood restaurants given its history and Dunguaire Castle is a notable feature looking down on the town from across Galway Bay. On the way back, why not stop in the historic Coole Park. This was once home to Lady Gregory, a dramatist and folklorist and one of the co-founders of the Abbey Theatre. Made famous in the poetry of WB Yeats, it’s the perfect place to take a stroll and see if you can spot the fabled Wild Swans. While you’re in the area, it would be a shame not to see Thoor Ballylee or Yeat’s Tower. This 15th-century castle was bought by Yeats in 1917 and restored to be used as a family summer home. Anyone with interest in his poetry should take a trip to see where he wrote many of his greatest works.
West of Galway city, of course, is Connemara National Park. This expanse of wild, natural beauty is a must on any itinerary. The terrain varies from bogland, mountain and rocky outcrops making it an otherworldly experience to travel through. There are some great stops you can take along the way too. Connemara is host to a number of fantastic beaches. Dogs Bay outside the village of Roundstone is an idyllic example of Ireland’s white sand beaches. Coral Beach too, so named for the red calcified seaweed that resembles coral along the strand.
Heading north you’ll find the ‘Capital of Connemara’, the town of Clifden nestled in Clifden Bay. The town is known nationwide for being a hub of art and literature with numerous festivals celebrating creativity taking place throughout the year. Take some time out to visit one of the small galleries and you can even take some authentic Irish art home with you. Your driver will be able to recommend the best places to eat here too with small cafes and restaurants a particular speciality here.
One of the most scenic drives in the west is just north of Clifden, the Sky Road drive. Follow the coastline and watch the Atlantic Ocean swirling below as you go by. Next stop has to be Kylemore Abbey, a gem in the middle of the wilderness. The abbey is steeped in history, originally a castle gifted by Mitchell Henry MP to his wife Margaret to showcase what could be achieved on the edge of Connemara. In the 1920s, Belgian nuns fled the war and set up a Benedictine Abbey there which remains to this day. The Victorian Gardens just a mile from the Abbey are some of the finest in Ireland. The tea rooms are open throughout the summer season where you can enjoy homemade delights while taking in the spectacular views of Diamond Hill.
Not to be overlooked just north of Galway, Mayo offers many wonderful places to visit. First stop would have to be the charming town of Cong, located just on the county border between Galway and Mayo. Here you’ll find the impressive ruins of Cong Abbey. You may recognise the village and grounds of the castle from the film The Quiet Man which was filmed here in 1951 starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
The coastal town of Westport is loved by visitors from near and far and for good reason. A friendly warm welcome is extended to everyone who comes to the town. From bars to restaurants and small family run cafes, Westport is a great place to stop on your journey around Mayo. Outside the town of Westport is the very impressive Doolough Valley drive. Also, outside the town is the well known Croagh Patrick, the site of an annual pilgrimage. Mayo is a county known for it’s devotion to the Christian faith too for the shrine located at Knock. This is where many believe the Virgin Mary appeared in 1879 and is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.
Another wonderful town north of here is Foxford, famous for its woollen mills which were opened in 1892. Some of the best quality woollen clothing and homewares are produced here. The visitor centre allows you to see how the wool is produced and woven and you can also purchase gifts and souvenirs from the store.
If the weather is nice, a ferry trip out to the Aran Islands is a must. Made up of three rocky island; Inis Meáin, Inis Mor and Inis Oirr, they are still home to 1,300 people who speak both Irish and English. A truer glimpse into Ireland’s rural past would be hard to find. As noted by the National Geographic, ‘that this feeling, this authenticity, has survived the modern world is nothing short of miraculous’. The beaches facing on to the Atlantic are wild and beautiful and there are walkways all over the island to take in the untouched scenery. On the cliffside of Inis Mor is one of the most well-known prehistoric hill forts, Dun Aonghusa. You may also have seen photos of the famous shipwreck on the coast of Inis Oirr. This truly breathtaking sight is a must see when you visit. The freight ship was washed up on the coast on a stormy night in 1960 and remains there to this day. From this vantage point, you can also make out the coastline of the nearby County Clare including the Cliffs of Moher.
The west of Ireland is famed for it’s wild, unspoiled natural beauty and it’s easy to see why when you visit. Get in contact with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tom on +353 87 261 2131 or Laura on +353 87 989 8585 to get planning your trip to the West!
The west of Ireland is famed for it’s wild, unspoiled natural beauty and it’s easy to see why when you visit. Contact Tom from VIP Chauffeur today. Let’s get started on planning your perfect, tailor-made trip around Galway and Mayo.