The Best of the West!
Posted by Neil Hand on the 10th of April 2015 at 16:00:34
The West of Ireland is synonymous for its wild and rugged dramatic coastlines, soaring cliffs, breath-taking sunrises and sunsets, colorful and vibrant towns and villages and a barren beauty which is infused with rich and colorful traditions, histories and heritage. It is a region which captivates visitors from the moment they take their first gulp of the salt infused Atlantic air, or when they first spy a glimpse of colorful foliage in the desolate beauty of the Burren. The allure and magic of this region is that no visit is the same – compare your traveling stories of this region with friends, and everyone will speak of a different experience, be it the endearing character met when trying to find your way while lost in a myriad of back-country roads, the sudden traffic jam caused by a medley of frenzied cows at feeding time or the golds, pinks and oranges of the magnificent sun setting over Galway Bay against a darkened azure sky.
Here are some of my favorite spots in the wonderful west of Ireland……
Doolin, County Clare - arguably one of the best spots to enjoy traditional Irish music, it is sometimes referred to as the traditional music capital of Ireland. This charming fishing village at the foot of the Cliffs of Moher is a doorway to the moon-like landscape of the Burren region and should be included in any visit to the West! With music sessions happening all year round – check out one in each of its pubs – O’Connor's, McDermott's and McGann's. Awaken your Celtic soul as the infectious rhythms of a thousand years invade your senses.
Doolin2Aran Ferries, County Clare – a family run affair with over 50 years sea-faring experience, this cruise companies offers spectacular cruises from Doolin – with unrivaled views of the Cliffs of Moher. This is a unique way of seeing these world famous Cliffs. The ferry company also offers cruises out to Inis Oirr – one of the Aran Islands where you can stay for 3 hours and enjoy its crystal clear water and Caribbean-esque beaches! Heavenly!!
Galway City, County Galway –Vibrant and vivacious, colorful and characterful, fun and friendly this is one great city! Infused with a heady mixture of local and visitor and with an uniquely Irish vibe mixed with international influences, no stay in Galway is boring. With numerous pubs and clubs offering an eclectic mix of world music and of course rousing rebellious Irish traditional music sessions, numerous eateries offering the fruits of the Atlantic and a contagious excitement and sparkle which seems to wind its way around her maze of medieval streets, Galway encapsulates the magic of the West and highlights the very best of Irish charm, charisma and craic! Go there!!
Kylemore Abbey, County Galway – located in the very heart of Connemara this visually staggering house, sits majestically against the rugged beauty of its surroundings. As all great things of beauty often are, this house was born out of a love affair that has intrigued all that has heard it. Set in grounds which contain some great forest walks, a superb walled garden (which provides ingredients for their café shop) and all overlooking a gorgeous lake, this is a little place of heaven carved out from the barren beauty of the untamed and wild Connemara region.
Achill Island, County Mayo –is Ireland’s largest island –resting prettily in the Atlantic Ocean and offering long sandy beaches, rugged mountains and soaring cliffs. It’s rugged beauty is spell-bounding – be sure to take the Atlantic Coast Drive for some truly spectacular coastal views. Visit the Deserted Village –abandoned during famine times as it’s inhabitants moved to other villages on the island or emigrated. Achill Island will bewitch you from the moment you first glimpse her haunting and unmistakable beauty. My favourite place in the world! For more ideas on what to do in Mayo - read our blog here!
Drumcliffe Graveyard, County Sligo – A monastery was founded here in 575 by St. Colmcille with a later high cross installed here dating from the 9th century - both still standing today. However, it is with W.B. Yeats that this graveyard is so well known as it is here, at the foot of the imposing and impressive Benbulben Mountain in a simple grave, Yeats asked to be interred. His grave is unremarkable – as Yeats insisted it to be –marked only with the simple inscription "Cast a cold eye on life, on Death. Horseman, pass by" – penned by the man himself, who’s only wish was to be repatriated to his beloved Sligo which has inspired so much of his works. Pay your respects to one of Ireland’s greatest wordsmiths in this peaceful setting amongst his peoples and inspirations.
These are just some of the West’s highlights – but there is so much more to this region! Inspiring artists, musicians and writers for centuries this region has something for everyone – captivating and mesmerizing, discover it for yourself with our Journey Through the West Self Drive Tour…..
But perhaps you would like to focus in on only county in Ireland's western region so why not focus in on Galway as she has a wealth of history, heritage tradition and an abundance of some of the amazing scenery you will ever see!