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One of the last wild areas of Ireland, Connemara is a broad peninsula to the west of Galway city, bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Its name derives from “Conmhaicne Mara” (meaning: descendants of Con Mhac, of the sea). With dramatic coastlines, high mountains, sandy beaches, great walking and cycling, not to mention colourful villages such as Clifden and Roundstone, you won’t be short of diversions.
This 200 year old elegant waterfront building has been sensitively restored into a warm and welcoming bed and breakfast, offering individually decorated bedrooms with a quirky and eclectic twist. At every turn you’ll find antiques, original art and other artefacts: you will be forgiven for thinking you have stumbled into a carefully arranged stage-set.
Breakfast is very special – linger as long as you can below the Virginia creeper in the airy conservatory, enjoy fresh baking from the Aga and a wide range of homemade treats. The house is situated right at the river’s edge, so it is a short walk (under ten minutes) up a gentle hill into the centre of Clifden.
What to See and Do
There is so much to do in this small area you will have your work cut out deciding among the plentiful recommendations we’ll provide for your holiday. You could take a day trip to the unspoilt Inishbofin Island, or a voyage through Galway Bay’s myriad islands on a stunning Galway Hooker, an historic sailing boat complete with distinctive red sail. Or remain on dry land and choose a guided coastal walk, hire an electric bike or simply enjoy some fine dining and great Irish music in Clifden – the choice will be yours.
Next you’ll be following the Wild Atlantic Way north out of Connemara and into fabulous County Mayo. Travel up through the Delphi Valley, through the towns of Louisburgh and to the colourful town of Westport. This is a wonderful part of the route so allow plenty of time to enjoy it properly.
Your accommodation in Westport is a long-established family-owned hotel at the very centre of life in this most colourful of Irish towns. Recently refurbished, the rooms are of fine quality, while there’s a range of dining options inside, from bar food in the traditional pub, to a more refined menu in the sun-kissed orangery.
What to See and Do
Mayo stands out as one of Ireland’s most scenic counties. But while you may gasp in awe at the craggy coastline that has been lashed by the powerful Atlantic, make sure to remember that there’s a lot more going on in Mayo. Ceide Fields is the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world while Croagh Patrick is where Ireland’s patron saint fasted for 40 days in 441AD. There’s an abundance of charming villages from beautifully situated Westport to the peaceful town of Cong. You can even take a drive round the island of Achill – easily accessible via a small bridge!
Sligo sits proudly on Ireland’s west coast – a place symbolic with tradition and history, with friendly local people, great views, fantastic countryside and expansive beaches. To get here we recommend continuing north on the Wild Atlantic Way, maybe stopping to stretch your legs on one of the fabulous Atlantic surf strands along the way. Do arrive at your next guest house in good time – this is one you’ll really want to make the most of!
This magnificent country home has remained in the hands of the same family for over eight generations, making it one of the oldest continuously owned private homes in Ireland. The family are still hands-on running the estate, farming the land, managing a herd of deer to produce fine venison and now operating the house as an exquisite boutique guest house. Indeed it is highly likely that the owner himself will be there to welcome you. Bedrooms are individually decorated, full of character and historical interest – several with a four poster bed. With famous family ancestors featuring in magnificent oil paintings mounted on the walls and numerous heirlooms dotted around, you will really feel like you are experiencing Georgian life first hand. Downstairs there is a comfortable drawing room, with marvellous period furniture, ornaments and paintings. A great place to relax, and maybe read a book or newspaper. Dinner is served in a splendid dining room, with oak tables set with the family’s finest silver!
What to See and Do
Sligo is a picturesque, historic and ancient county – whether you are inspired by the work of Yeats, visiting megalithic tombs, or walking among impressive mountains, round beautiful loughs or alongside the Atlantic roar of the surf beaches. Your hosts are a local family and have a wealth of knowledge on the local area and can provide you with detailed directions to make sure you easily find what you are looking for.
As you travel north further along the Wild Atlantic Way out of Sligo, very briefly past the distinctive mountains of County Leitrim, you enter one of Ireland’s most famous counties – Donegal.
In a peaceful setting close to the centre of Donegal Town, your hotel is a family-owned gem whose staff are some of the friendliest you could meet. Freshly updated rooms are simply furnished and enjoy a splash of colour her and there, while the en-suites are super-modern and easy to use. The in-house bistro serves delicious breakfast, and Irish classics until late-afternoon, Donegal Castle is only a five-minute walk away, while there’s a range of dining and shopping within similarly easy distance.
What to See and Do
Be it the enormous sea cliffs of Slieve League, reputedly the highest in Europe, the woollen mills of Donegal Town or the fascinating replica thatched village at Glencolmcille heritage centre, your visit here will be full of great things to do and see.
You now continue northwards and we recommend a diversion through the stunning mountains of the Glenveagh national park, before descending to your final destination.
Something of a treat to round off your holiday, this 15-bedroom listed Georgian property is the very epitome of classic Irish country house elegance. Set on the banks of Lugh Swilly, in vast, rolling grounds designed by Capability Brown, guests are invited to roam, and could easily do so for an entire day. What could be more appealing than getting wonderfully lost, perhaps with a picnic lunch in tow? Inside, rooms are presented in traditional style and are supremely comfortable, with every modern touch provided to make your stay as relaxing as possible. Dining here is a further treat, the Michelin-recommended restaurant serving a menu of Irish classics created from the best of what’s available in the local Donegal larder.
What to See and Do
You are now in striking distance of some of Donegal’s most popular attractions. You might decide to visit another island – Arranmore is the largest inhabited island in Donegal and a short 15 minute ferry crossing takes you on a great journey, passing through small channels between smaller deserted islands. Other options could include a day trip to the Inishowen peninsula and Malin Head – Ireland’s most Northerly point – or maybe take a guided trip round the historic city walls of Derry/Londonderry.
Your tour of the Wild Atlantic Way at an end, choose to return direct to Dublin or Belfast, or extend your stay on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland.
This self-drive holiday covers the Wild Atlantic Way from Connemara in County Galway, then via Mayo, Sligo and onwards to two bases in the South and North of Donegal.
£1225 per person for April, £1295 per person in May & October, £1325 per person in June & September, £1345 per person in July and August.
Prices are based on two sharing in ensuite twin or double rooms for ten nights on a bed & breakfast basis.
We would recommend Dublin as your starting point, whether by air or ferry, although it is also easy to come via Belfast. With some adjustments, we could also arrange the trip using the or the port of Rosslare via the ferry from Fishguard in south Wales
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions and recommended routes from your specified starting point, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All Ireland itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from April until October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
As a child I spent a very memorable holiday in Connemara, in the west of Ireland. Although we had explored many parts of Ireland and Scotland before, ...
A well planned trip with good accommodation. Easy to follow and well informed guidance. Every one was very welcoming and most helpful.Angela & Terence, Middlesex, England
This was an experience we would not have missed. The scenery was stunning. Such a surprise to see such beautiful beaches. The people were so friendly,Su & Michael, Kent, England