The Burren, County Mayo, Connemara, and the Aran Islands

Overview

The Wild Atlantic Way, stretching more than 1,500 miles along Ireland’s western shores, is one of the world’s longest coastal routes, brimming with all that makes Ireland so magical to explore. With beloved Trip Leaders Con Moriarty and Ann Curran, we’ve chosen one of the most dramatic sections—from Galway to County Clare and the Burren, County Mayo, Joyce Country, Connemara, and the Aran Islands—for our wonderful cultural and hiking adventure. Con and Ann know this land as no others do, and will share ancient sites, secret hikes that lead to stunning lighthouses, sacred peaks, and lively villages, and will introduce you to historians, shepherds, island folk, and musicians all along the way. You’ll also savor the fantastic Irish food scene, from oak-smoked salmon to vegetables fresh from the garden, irresistible cheeses, and, yes, pints of cream-topped Guinness. Our lodgings range from a historic manor house in the Burren to an enchanting Victorian-era fishing lodge set on the shores of Lough Inagh. We’ve timed these trips for the best seasons: June will be fabulous with wildflowers, and September is the start of our “secret season” when we’ll have these magnificent landscapes all to ourselves. A journey in Ireland with Con and Ann brings you into the heart of its landscape and the soul of its culture. Come experience the true Ireland with us!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Galway / The Burren

In the spectacular karst landscape of the Burren, we hike into hidden glens that hold a treasure trove—Bronze Age burial sites, standing stones, Iron Age forts, and Celtic high crosses—and we savor a sunset view from the towering Cliffs of Moher.

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Days 3-4
County Mayo / Westport / Clare Island

Ancient trails lead us up Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick. Ferrying to Clare Island, once the domain of a powerful Gaelic clan and their fierce pirate-queen, Grace O’Malley, we hike dramatic cliff ramparts and visit a sheep farmer to see his border collies in action.

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Days 5-6
Connemara / Joyce Country / Omey Island / Clifden

In Connemara’s Joyce Country, a local archaeologist joins us for a hike to evocative Omey Island, accessible over the sands at low tide. Omey holds many of Ireland’s stories, with its shell middens and tiny medieval church. On one evening, we explore lively Clifden, the “capital” of Connemara, where a pub can surely be found!

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Days 7-9
Aran Island / Galway

In the otherworldly Aran Islands, where Gaelic is heard as often as English, our hikes are amid a labyrinth of stone-walled fields. Back on the mainland, our trails lead along Killary Harbour to the Twelve Bens and we enjoy an evening in the company of musicians. Depart on Day 9.

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Highlights

Highlights

Hike on gorgeous Clare Island, with its iconic lighthouse and dramatic cliffs
Explore Connemara on a hike with a local scholar, meet a sheep farmer and his border collies
Hear the lilting sounds of the Gaelic language in the Aran Islands
Savor the Irish food scene, with local specialties from oysters and seared scallops to grass-fed Irish beef
Enjoy lodgings of character: an 18th century manor house, a Victorian-era fishing lodge, and a guesthouse on the Aran Islands

Details

Length: 9 days
Cost From: $4695  
Arrive: Galway, Ireland
Depart: Galway, Ireland
Lodging: 8 nights charming inns and hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

A mix of moderate walks and hikes, 3-6 hours a day, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day’s hike)

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