10th - 16th September 2023
Counties Galway & Mayo form the heart of west coast Ireland, and running through them is a section of the Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland’s spectacular coastal route. The vibrant city of Galway is surrounded by the jaw-dropping terrain of the romantic Connemara Peninsula, known for its looming mountains and vast lakes. Windswept islands dapple the coastline, rugged with cliffs. The dramatic Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only glacially formed fjord, forms the county border and to its north, County Mayo shares these wildly beautiful landscapes, yet sees far fewer tourists. Alongside this incredible scenery, the region offers a strong sense of tradition, a warm welcome, and is packed with historic sites.
Day 1: Depart Manchester area to catch the morning ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. On arrival in Dublin we will travel directly to Powerscourt House & Gardens (Entrance included).
Powerscourt House and Gardens today offers the warmest of welcomes to our visitors and some of the best views in Ireland, overlooking the breath-taking Sugarloaf Mountain. It’s a wonderful place to relax and enjoy browsing our splendid range of stores or to indulge in a coffee and dessert in the famous Avoca Terrace Café. The Gardens stretch over 47 acres and offer visitors a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes, secret hollows and rambling walks.
Managed by Head Gardener, Alex Slazenger and a team of four gardeners, Powerscourt Gardens were designed from 1731 onwards, with the desire to create a garden which was part of the wider surrounding landscape. Powerscourt Gardens include The Walled Gardens, The Italian Garden, The Dolphin Pond, The Japanese Gardens, Pets Cemetery and Pepperpot Tower, among other features and attractions. Sadly we have to leave Powerscourt and make our way to our overnight hotel. After check-in we will have time to relax before dinner.
Days 2 -6:
- A visit to Galway City. Richly historic, the bohemian city of Galway heaves with remnants of medieval history, lively Irish pubs and Gaelic culture. Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch are
amongst the town’s most interesting sights, and the Galway City Museum tells the story of this colourful port. It is the capital of the west of Ireland and sits where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. The city’s hub is 18th-century Eyre Square, a popular meeting spot surrounded by shops and traditional pubs that often offer live Irish folk music. Nearby, stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls. Known as The City of Tribes, Galway is a beautiful city. So beautiful is it, that it was once described as the “Venice of the West” by well-known Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.
- Full day excursion to Ceide Fields & Connacht
- The remarkable neolithic site at Céide Fields in County Mayo, Ireland, contains the oldest known stone-walled fields in the world – dating back nearly 6,000 years. Céide Fields overlooks the mighty Atlantic Ocean which gently laps (or vigorously pounds …. depending on the weather!) up against the cliffs below. The landscape itself has been forged from the dramatic upheaval and movement of the earths crust over millions of years. The soil at Céide Fields has been constantly subjected to the conflicts of the weather. The warm Gulf Stream comes up past the American continent between Ireland and Iceland. In the opposite direction, cold deep waters flow south from the icy Arctic Ocean. The combination of all these factors has resulted in the wild beauty and uniqueness of this region in County Mayo, Ireland.
The Connacht Distillery story starts on the northwest coast of Ireland, in the wild, rugged, landscape of County Mayo in the province of Connacht. founded by master distiller Robert Cassell and a team that saw the potential in irish whiskey, the derelict old duffy’s bakery site in Ballina was painstakingly renovated, with whiskey production commencing in 2016. Situated where the River Moy’s pure, fresh, water rushes down to meet the in-flowing salty Atlantic Ocean, dramatic shifts in atmospheric pressure exert an ever-changing influence on the whiskey maturing in our barrels. During our visit you will have a guided tour of the distillery and a tasting of 2 Whiskeys and 1 Gin.
- Full day excursion along part of the stunning Wild Atlantic way from Louisburgh - Delphi with a stop at the waterfalls and Kylemore Abbey. Spectacular mountain ranges dominate this part of the Wild Atlantic Way.The first of these appears just after leaving Westport - Croagh Patrick – Ireland's sacred mountain. According to legend, St. Patrick spent 40 days and nights fasting, praying and doing penance on this mountain and at the same time banishing snakes from the island of Ireland. Evidence has been found that Croagh Patrick was a place of great importance in the pre-Christian era. A Celtic hill fort was discovered encircling the summit of the mountain.Continuing in a southerly direction the Wild Atlantic Way meanders through the valley of Doo Lough and Delphi finally reaching Ireland's only fjord – Killary harbour, extending 15 km inwards, sheltered on all sides by lush green meadows.Majestic mountain peaks, magic sandy beaches and continuously changing landscapes are the landmarks of the Connemara National Park. Before it flows into Killary Harbour the river Erriff presents a small (about 3.5 meters high) but impressive Aasleagh Falls. Kylemore Abbey & Gardens – the jewel
in the Connemara crown! Kylemore Abbey & Garden has a superb picturesque lakeside setting, surrounded by woodlands at the foot of the Twelve Bens Mountains. The Abbey (which looks more like a charming fairy tale castle) is said to be one of the most admired buildings in Ireland, with its very impressive neo-gothic style exterior standing out against the backdrop of wild and beautiful Connemara. The Victorian Walled Garden is another must see attraction at the Kylemore Lough. t was originally called Kylemore Castle and was built around 1863 as a residence for a wealthy English politician named Mitchell Henry. It took about 5 years to complete the castle. Kylemore Abbey & Garden is the home of the Benedictine Order of Nuns in Ireland who have lived here since 1920. The nuns decided to open a boarding school for girls, although the school closed in 2010. The boarding school is presently located in the abbey part of the castle. The Benedictine nuns also ran farm and a guesthouse here, but the guesthouse had to close in 1959 due to a fire. The nuns lead a monastic life of dedication to prayer and work and a section or the Abbey is sectioned off and strictly accessed only by the nuns. One of the most notable features of the abbey is the magnificent neo-gothic church (which looks like a miniature cathedral!). The building of this church started in 1877 when Mitchell Henry decided to dedicate it as a memorial to his dead wife. In the Victorian Walled Garden Abbey. A stream runs through the heart of the garden and divides it into Flower Garden and Kitchen Garden. The Visitors Centre is also well worth a visit to learn more about the abbey through its video displays. It also has a 200-seater restaurant, which specialises in traditional Irish dishes and a craft shop where you can purchase some famous Kylemore Abbey Pottery.
- Full day excursion Clare Island - Encapsulated in the Saw Doctor’s song ‘The Green
and Red of Mayo’, Clare Island is located 3.5 miles off the west coast of County Mayo, Ireland. The ferry crossing takes approximately 25 minutes and there is every chance that you will be accompanied on your journey by a school of dolphins. Clare Island is the largest (5 miles long and 3 miles wide) of the 365 islands in Clew Bay. Famous as the ancestral home of the legendary Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley a population of about 160 people. Clare Island’s silhouette is dominated by the peak of Knockmore at 462 metres on her North-Western edge and the more gently sloping Knocknaveen to her centre. Her western cliffs are among the most dramatic in Europe and are home to large numbers of nesting sea birds. Once on Clare Island, there is so much to see – Granuaile’s Castle, the 12th century Cistercian Abbey, the Lighthouse, the Napoleonic Tower and the various Bronze-Age sites. Why not call in and see the Heritage Centre or Ballytoughey Loom?
- A visit to Westport House included a 30 minute guided tour and self entry to the gardens. One
of the few privately-owned historic houses left in Ireland, Westport House was built by the Browne family whose connections to Mayo date back to the 1500s. Their lineage relates them and the house to the trail-blazing pirate queen and chieftain, Grace O’Malley.
The current Georgian stately home was built upon the castle ruins in the 18th century, and boasts classical symmetry and beautiful balustraded terraces. Inside, the house is architecturally stunning with fascinating collections, including fine antiquities and paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Day 7: Check out of the hotel for return journey to Manchester via Dublin and Holyhead.
Westport Woods Hotel & Spa
The 4* Westport Woods Hotel is a gorgeous hotel wonderfully located between Westport Quay (10 minute walk) and Westport town (15 minute walk). Away from the hustle and bustle and set in seven acres of beautiful woodland, the hotel offers all the action and fun of Westport but also the tranquillity of the lovely spa and leisure centre.
All of the Non Smoking rooms offer the usual amenites you expect from a 4-star hotel, including en-suite, Toiletries, Tea & Coffee making facilities, TV equipped with 16 channels, Wi-Fi, Iron, Hair Dryer, safe deposit box and a hair-dryer. And of course you can relax in the indoor swimming pool, hot tub, spa and wellness centre.
Price per person (Based on 2 Adults sharing Twin/Double Room):
- Member Plus Adult - £905
- Member Adult - £930
- Non Member Adult - £955
- Single Supplement - £154 (double/twin for sole occupancy)
- Coach Transport throughout the tour
- Return ferry crossing (Holyhead - Dublin)
- Porterage at the Westport Woods Hotel & Spa if required
- Welcome tea/coffee on arrival at the Westport Woods Hotel & Spa
- 1 nights accommodation at Overnight Hotel with Breakfast and Dinner
- 5 Nights half board accommodation with Breakfast and 3 Course Dinner including Tea/Coffee after dinner
- Free Use of the Leisure facilities
- Live Music on 1 night
- Entrance to Powerscourt House & Gardens
- Orientation tour and time at leisure in Galway
- Entrance to Céide Fields Visitor Centre including Soup & sandwich lunch
- Connacht Distillery Guided Tour & Tasting (2 whiskey's and 1 gin)
- An excursion to Clare Island with lunch of soup and sandwiches
- A Guided Tour of Westport House - Includes a 30 minute guided tour of Westport House and self-guided entry to the gardens
- An excursion along the stunning Wild Atlantic Way from Louisburgh - Delphi with stop at Aasleagh Falls
- Admission to Kylemore Abbey
- Single Supplement
- Any items of a personal nature such as meals, drinks, etc
- Guide/Driver Gratuities
- Travel Insurance
For further details and bookings, you can either use the or contact Bob Walker
Please include your Name, Home Address, Contact Telephone Number, Membership Number and the Number Places Required (Member/Non-Member)