Discover West Ireland
The west region of Ireland is mountainous and has many freshwater lakes, unspoilt miles of coastline and sandy beaches. Highlights include Errisbeg Hill, The Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher, and in County Clare, Kilary Harbour and the Burren Landscape.
Ireland’s historic culture is at its strongest in this area as half the population still speaks Gaelic as its first language. This is most prominent in the smaller areas in West Cork, Waterford and Meath.
Driving across Galway, Connemara, Clare Island, Westport, the Burren and Kerry will give the most comprehensive overview of Ireland’s west. Starting from Shannon airport, Galway Bay is the first must-see stop off and just a short distance from the old city. It is a relaxing and secluded spot but there are some exciting activities to experience. One hidden gem is the market located behind St Nicholas’ Church known for its local people and local products. Another local pastime is an evening stroll of the prom at Satlthill.
Connemara, meanwhile, boasts white sandy beaches and deep blue water. Despite the unpredictable weather in this area, the views are breathtakingly exotic. The capital city of Connemara is Clifden, which is a great place to stop for lunch or drinks. The Abbeyglen Castle is a lovely restaurant offering delicious lobster salads and a great view. For the less extravagant diner, the Steam Coffee House in the Station House forecourt serves up organic soups, homemade sandwiches and cakes.
The western region of Ireland is the most popular with tourists for many reasons, especially areas like Roundstone, Clifden and Kylemore with its Victorian Walled Gardens. For adventure enthusiasts, a hike up Diamond Hill in Connemara National park should not be missed. From there, travel to the Leenane Cultural Centre before driving through the Dhulough valley on your way to Louisbur where you can hop on a ferry out to the traditionally quaint Clare Island.
Give the driver a break by indulging in a short cruise from Waterville to the World Heritage Site, consisting of monastic remains from the 5th century located on Skellig Rock. Close by is Little Skellig, a bird lovers paradise which is home to puffins, kittiwakes, storm petrels, razorbills and an abundance of breeding gannets.
A drive across the Iveragh Peninsula through the Ballaghoisheen Pass en route to Killarney offers breathtaking views of the wild landscape as well as the National Park Centre and the 19th century, Muckross House.