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Republic of Ireland West Coast Tour


Donegal Castle, Weaving Wool, Pilgrimage Moutain, and Herding Sheep

Doolough Valley, Errill River, Westport House, and Ballintubber Abbey

Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Medieval-Style Banquet, and Knappogul Castle

John B Keane, Pub, Killarney National Park, and Killarney

Horse-Drawn car, Ross Castle, Kenmare, and Stone Circle

Donegal Castle in Donegal, the Republic of Ireland.

Donegal Castle in Donegal.

Tours

We use the best tour operators to book tours to Ireland including escorted tours, hosted tours, and independent tours with hotels or bed and breakfasts. Contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

Ireland

We were on a tour of Ireland by motor coach on an escorted tour with CIE Tours. We first toured Northern Ireland, then the West Coastal Region of the Republic of Ireland, the details are here, and finally the East Coastal Region of the Republic of Ireland. Click on each webpage for details. Contact us for more information.

 

Donegal

From Northern Ireland we headed south to the Republic of Ireland to explore the western coastal region of the country. We traveled through the attractive countryside of Donegal county to the town of Donegal. The main attraction in the town is the Donegal Castle, pictured above, and which we toured. The castle was built by the O'Donnell chieftain in the 15th century. The town is famous because the castle became the center of power for the O'Donnell dynasty. They were one of the most powerful families in Irish history from the 5th to the 16th century. In the 17th century Sir Basil Brooke made major additions to the castle. A boundary wall was built around the castle. But for most of the last 200 years the castle fill into ruins. It was mostly restored in the 1990s. Throughout the castle there are Persian rugs and French tapestries.

 

Travel through the rugged countryside of Donegal, renowned for heathery hills, sheep and the many tweeds made from their wool. Stop in Donegal town for a tour of Donegal Castle, built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century and expanded in the 17th century. Drive around Donegal Bay and through Counties Sligo and Mayo. Head to Westport for a gentle walking tour of this historic town.

Weaving Wool

Weaving wool in Donegal, the Republic of Ireland.

Weaving wool in Donegal.

This is sheep country. As a result, Donegal has a long history of weaving wool. The gentleman in the picture above is demonstrating how they weave wool.

Pilgrimage Mountain

Pilgrimage Mountain of Croaghpatrick, the Republic of Ireland.

Pilgrimage Mountain of Croagh Patrick.

The mountain pictured above is Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. It is 2,506 feet (764 meters) high and is the holiest mountain in Ireland. In the year 441 St. Patrick spent 40 days fasting on the mountain. As a result, in honor of St. Patrick pilgrims climb the mountain on Garland Sunday, the last Sunday in July. Masses are also held at a chapel at the top of the mountain. The pilgrimage has occurred for at least 1,500 years

Sheep Herding

Demonstration of a dog herding sheep in the Republic of Ireland.

Demonstration of a dog herding sheep.

We were taken to a farm where dogs were herding sheep. The sheep were brought up from the pasture by dogs so that they could be sheared of their wool. See the figure above. As a kid I saw a dog herding cows on an Iowa farm so that could be milked. It is fascinating to watch a dog controlling and driving the livestock.

Doolough Valley

Doolough Valley landscape in the Republic of Ireland.

Doolough Valley landscape.

We stopped in Doolough Valley to get a closer look at the magnificent landscapes. One is pictured above. Here you find very impressive scenery. The valley is between Mweelrea Mountain and the Sheeffry Hills. We had to get in the picture, as can be seen below.

Sunny and Rebecca in Doolough Valley in the Republic of Ireland.

Sunny and Rebecca in Doolough Valley.

Erriff River and Waterfall

Erriff river watefall in the Republic of Ireland.

Erriff River Waterfall.

The beautiful and rugged scenery with both lowlands and mountains continues in the Erriff Valley. The Erriff River with a waterfall, seen above, adds to the attraction. The valley extends from Aughagower to Killary Harbor in northern Connemara. The Killary Valley is a fjord that was created by glaciers. It is the only fjord in Ireland. The border between the counties of Falway and Mayo runs down the center of the harbor, which is attractive. The picturesque village of Leenane is located at the mouth of the harbor.

Westport House

Wstport House in Westport, th Republic of Ireland.

Westport House in Westport.

The Westport House in Westport is said to be the most beautiful house in Ireland, and we went on a tour through the house. In the 1500s a castle existed on the site of the present day Westport House. It was one of Grace O'Malley's castles. She was the Pirate Queen of Connacht and ruled the area surrounding the castle. The original Westport House was built in 1650 on the foundation of the old castle. It was built by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke, the great-great-granddaughter of Grace O'Malley. Since then there have been additions to the house. It is now a stately square house in a parkland setting with terraces, gardens, a lake, and a view of the Atlantic Ocean. There are more then 30 rooms to see. The house contains a lot of its original contents including furniture, portraits, and silver.

Ballintubber Abbey

Hyatt resort.

Ballintubber Abbey near Ballintubber Village.

Ballintubber Abbey was founded in 1216 by the Irish King Cathal of Connacht. There was a fire in the Abbey in 1265 that was apparently confined to the nave. It was rebuilt in 1270. In 1653 Cromwell's soldiers tried to destroy the Abbey by burning it. They were only partially successful. However, the roof was destroyed. The Abbey was not restored and reroofed until 1966. It was completed in time to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Abbey's founding. Despite fires and other problems mass has been held in the Abbey since its founding without a break. This is an amazing record since it includes 236 years when there was no roof and people were exposed to bad weather, especially rain and cold. We had a tour of the Abbey and grounds.

Galway

We had some free time in Galway to walk the streets, shop, and while there we had lunch. From there we headed to the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher, pictured above and below, are not to be missed. They are very popular with about 1.5 million visitors per year. During our visit it was not a very clear day, as can be seen in the picture above. The cliffs are in County Clare and have a length of about 8.7 miles (14 kilometers). At the midpoint of the cliffs is O'Brien's Tower. It is a stone tower built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O'Brien. At the southern end of the cliffs at Hag's Head the cliffs extend 390 feet (120 meters) above the Atlantic Ocean. Their maximum height above the ocean is found near O'Brien's Tower, and is 702 feet (214 meters).

Another view of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Another view of the Cliffs of Moher.

Medieval-Style Banquet in Knappogue Castle

Knappogue Castle Medieval-Style Banquet, Ireland.

Knappogue Castle Medieval-Style Banquet.

We had a fascinating and delightful evening at a medieval-style banquet in the Knappogue Castle located in County Clare. The castle is described as a tower house. It was built in 1467 and enlarged in the mid 1800s. After being neglected it has been restored. The picture above shows our banquet. The food was very good and we were entertained with music as seen below. There were also singers and a step dancer. All of the music and dancing were of high quality and very enjoyable.

Musicians performing at the Knappogue Castle Medieval-Style Banquet, Ireland.

Musicians performing at the Knappogue Castle Medieval-Style Banquet.

John B Keane, Famous Writer

Billy Keane lecturing about his famous father John B Keane in the Keane Irish Pub, Ireland.

Billy Keane lecturing about his famous father John B Keane in the Keane Irish Pub.

We traveled from near Limerick along the Shannon River to County Kerry. We stopped at a pub in Listowel once owned by John B Keane, the famous Irish playwright, novelist and essayist. He is one Ireland's most respected literary figures. We were served tea and stones while learning about John B Keane from his son Billy Keane, who now runs the pub that was acquired by his father in 1955. John B Keane was born in 1928 and died in 2002. He was a prolific writer and was honored with the Irish Pen Award in 1999. Billy Keane is also a writer and writes a column for the Irish Independent as well as novels. It was an interesting time.

Killarney National Park

Horse Drawn Car Ride

Rebecca with the driver of the horse drawn cart for our ride in Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Rebecca with the driver of the horse drawn car for our ride in Killarney National Park.

We traveled along the Dingle Peninsula to Slea Head seeing gorgeous country and coastline. There was a stop in Dingle for refreshments and to look around before heading to Killarney National Park. It is near the town of Killarney in the southern most part of Ireland. We were given a horse-drawn car ride through the park along Lough Leane Lake, Killarney's largest lake. The scenery was absolutely stunning. The picture above shows Rebecca with the horse-drawn car and the driver. The park was the first national park in Ireland. The park contains approximately 25,425 acres (102.89 square kilometers). It has oak and yew woodlands and the largest native forest in Ireland. A red deer herd is found there. The park's habitats are extensive and there is a wide variety of species. The park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle in Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Ross Castle in Killarney National Park.

Ross Castle is in Killarney National Park near the town of Killarney. It was built next to Lough Leane Lake, which offers very scenic views. The castle was built in the Middle Ages, likely during the late 15th century by one of the O'Donoghue Ross Chieftains. It is an example of a stronghold. At one time there was a fortification around the castle with circular defensive towers. Part of the fortification was removed in order to add a building on the south side of the castle in the 18th century. Only two of the towers remain. In the castle you see 16th and 17th oak furniture. The castle, which was recently restored, is open to visitors from April to October. There is a fee but it includes a guided tour. The castle grounds are open to stroll around throughout the year, and you should take time to do this. The castle is seen in pictures both above and below.

Ross Castle, Ireland.

Close-up view of Ross Castle.

Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone Circle, Ireland.

Kenmare Stone Circle.

We visited the Kenmare Stone Circle in the town of Kenmare. It is one of the largest stone circles in south west Ireland. It is egg shaped and measures 56 by 49 feet (17.4 by 15.8 meters). Stone Circles were built during the Bronze Age (2,200 to 500 B.C.). The placement of the stones was often consistent with some solar or lunar event. This stone circle has 15 heavy boulders. The very large boulder in the center has a giant capstone 6.6 by 5.9 feet (2 by 1.8 meters). It may mark the burial site of someone important. It is likely that the stone circle was used for ritual and ceremonial purposes. The Kenrare Stone Circle is shown above. You can see how big the stones are in the picture below where we are sitting on one. We went to the town of Kenmare to look around and have lunch. Then we traveled part of the Ring of Kerry. There was magnificent mountain scenery at Moll's Gap and Ladies View. Then we returned to Killarney for the evening with free time and dinner.

Sunny and Rebecca trying out one of the stones in Ireland.

Sunny and Rebecca trying out one of the stones.

Bagpipe Music on the Street

Bagpipe music in Kenmare, Ireland.

Bagpipe music in Killarney.

As we walked the streets in Killarney we encountered this gentleman playing a bagpipe.

This ended our tour of the west costal region of the Republic of Ireland. We were now going to the southeast coastal area where we would travel in the remaining days north along the eastern coastal area ending the tour in Dublin.

Ireland

We were on a tour of Ireland by motor coach on an escorted tour with CIE Tours. We first toured Northern Ireland, then the West Coastal Region of the Republic of Ireland, the details are here, and finally the East Coastal Region of the Republic of Ireland. Click on each webpage for details. Contact us for more information.


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