IRELAND WITH JAMES KEELAGHAN and HUGH MCMILLAN
MAY 31-June 9, 2018
Counties Mayo, Galway, and Clare
Detailed Tour Itinerary
Note that the below schedule is often dependent on the weather. We will always have a plan B in case of rain.
We hire the best Irish musicians we can in each county we visit.Folks like, Luka Bloom, John Spillane, Karan Casey from Solas, Lumier (Eilis Kennedy, Pauline Scanlon, and Donogh Hennesy from Lunasa), Muireann McCauliff of Danu, Seamus Beagley, Cathay Jordan of Dervish, Tommy O’Sullivan, John Doyle from original Solas etc.
Most folks come on our tour in large part for the music. Most music sessions ( a group of Irish musicians playing traditional jigs, reels, and songs, usually unplugged) begin around 9:30pm, sometimes 10pm, and continue til around midnight. This can be a bit late for most Americans at first. So be prepared for late nights. The flip side of the coin is that we don’t head out most mornings until 10am, so you can either sleep in or clear your head with a walk before we leave for the next day’s activities. And you are always free to stay in any night. We pride ourselves on our flexibility.
Also, a free full Irish breakfast is provided B & B style at each hotel, normally in the dining room. Usually between approximately 8 – 9:30am.
Also: We want you all to know that if for any reason you prefer to sit out any of our planned day or evening outings to do something on your own or just relax, that is perfectly fine. Just let us know so we know how many heads to count in the bus.
If the above info does not answer all your questions, contact along with Vicki Belinoski at Inishfree Tours. firstname.lastname@example.org
Detailed Tour Itinerary
Counties Mayo, Galway, and Clare
Day 1. Thursday, May 31, 2018
This morning we welcome everyone aboard around 9:30 a.m. after your breakfast at the B&B. If you are staying elsewhere, you will still meet at the B&B in Bunratty as that is the departure point for the tour. We’ll then head northwards to County Mayo. Our first stop is at Coole Park, (http://www.coolepark.ie/), the home of famed Lady Gregory, a patron of the arts whose guests included James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, and many other notable Irish poets, writers, and playwrights. We’ll have a chance to stretch our legs before gathering in the gardens for a brief “go around” of introductions to our fellow guests and an overview of our itinerary for the tour. We then drive to the village of Cong in county Mayo for lunch (http://www.tourclare.com/cong.html). Cong is the quaint village where much of the 1952 movie 'The Quiet Man' with John Wayne and Mara O'Hara was filmed. After lunch we drive to the beautiful town of Westport where we’ll be staying in the Clew Bay Hotel (http://www.clewbayhotel.com) for 3 nights. After settling into the rooms and resting up for a bit, we’ll meet for our first group meal in the hotel restaurant, followed by a private Irish music concert with a talented local musician.
Day 2. Friday, June 1, 2018
In the morning we’ll hop on the bus and head to the wonderfully scenic Achill island, Ireland’s largest island, which is accessible from the mainland via a bridge. Here, a knowledgeable local guide will lead us around the island to visit several points of interest (http://www.achilltourism.com/places.html). In the evening we’ll be back in Westport for dinner on your own and a session of traditional Irish tunes in one of Westport’s many lively pubs. One famous pub is Matt Molloy's; Matt is the well-known flute player of the famous Irish band, The Chieftains (http://www.mattmolloy.com/pub_about.html) . Also, if anyone is interested, there is a great theater show of the Legend of Grainne Mhoal the Irish “Pirate Queen” at the Westport Hotel, 25 euro a seat (http://www.grainnemhaol.com/).
Day 3. Saturday, June 2, 2018
Today we will visit Ballintubber Abbey for a guided tour talk/walk of the Abbey. http://www.ballintubberabbey.ie We will also make a visit to the Country Life Museum http://www.museumsofmayo.com/country-life-museum.htm An excellent museum with displays showing the amazing changes in Ireland between 1850 to 1950. Just across the road is an old round tower and abbey. There will be some tree time in Westport this afternoon to explore Westport. This evening we will all be on our own for dinner and then a pub session.
Day 4. Sunday, June 3, 2018
We’ll pack our bags and move south through gorgeous scenery to County Galway. We’ll stop at the National Famine Monument at the base of Croagh Patrick in Murrisk, County Mayo. The monument depicts a coffin ship with skeletons and bones as rigging. We’ll then head down through the atmospheric Doolough Valley, stopping for a hike if the weather allows. We’ll proceed on past beautiful Ashley Falls and through the town of Leenane for lunch before stopping off for a look at the picturesque Kylemore Abbey (http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/). We’ll arrive in the scenic village of Clifden in the late afternoon and check in for our three-night stay at the Alcock & Brown Hotel (https://www.alcockandbrownhotel.com). After some time to rest and refresh, we will have our second group dinner followed by a private concert by a local Galway songwriter at the hotel.
Day 5. Monday, June 4, 2018
Today please wear waling shoes. We will tour and walk around the Connemara region in the morning with a local archeologist guide Michael Gibbons. We will stop for lunch on our own in the picturesque sea village of Roundstone (http://www.roundstone-connemara.com/) followed by an afternoon walk nearby, and then back to Clifden. Dinner on our own and another great music session at a local pub.
Day 6. Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Weather permitting, we drive to the small fishing village of Cleggan, from where we’ll catch the 40-minute ferry over to Insihbofin (http://www.inishbofin.com/), a very beautiful, peaceful, low- paced island. We’ll get the chance to stroll around the island on foot, or rent a bike, or take a mini bus guided tour of the island. We'll return back to Cleggan on the late afternoon ferry and drive back to Clifden for a rest before heading out for dinner and more wonderful music. If weather doesn’t permit the voyage to Inishboffin, we will visit some other local sites and you’ll get to explore Clifden, and we’ll try our luck at visiting another island in Co. Clare.
Day 7. Wednesday, June 6, 2018
We’ll pack up and head south to County Clare. We’ll drive through some wonderful Connemara scenery and on to Galway City, Ireland’s third largest city, where we'll stop for lunch and a stroll up Shop Street -- a pedestrian mall with shops, cafes, buskers, bookshops and pubs. Leaving Galway, we’ll take a quick stop in Kinvara to see the wonderful Dunguaire Castle ruin. Then we’ll drive on to the quaint town of Doolin (http://www.doolin-tourism.com/), renowned for its traditional Irish music scene. Accommodation for your group will be at two B&B’s - Dunroman House and O’Connor’s Guesthouse, (http://www.doolinbedandbreakfast.com). After checking in and a rest, we will meet at 7:30 at McDermott’s Pub for dinner on our own followed by rousing Irish “trad” music.
Day 8. Thursday, June 7, 2018
Today we will start with one of Ireland’s most spectacular and well- known sites, the Cliff's of Moher, with breathtaking views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/).We will also tour the Burren region of County Clare (http://www.galway.net/galwayguide/visit/burren/) The Burren is a unique limestone landscape with plenty of historical sites including ancient tombs, stone forts, old churches and graveyards. We’ll make a stop at the Poulnabrone Dolmen (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Poulnabrone.htm) We’ll have lunch in the village of Ballyvaughn which is on the edge of Galway Bay, and then return to Doolin where we’ll meet at another local pub for more great music, food, and fun.
Day 9. Friday, June 8, 2018
Today is our last full day together. We’ll drive to an ancient ring fort, Caherconnell Stone Fort to visit the heritage center and we’ll also have a fun sheep dog demonstration (http://www.burrenforts.ie/). We’ll also have a stop at the Burren Centre in Kilfenora. In the evening we’ll have our last group dinner and a final “go around” of farewell thoughts on the tour, a few songs, many hugs, and possibly a few tears.
Day 10. Sunday, October 8
We head back to Shannon Airport in the morning. Be sure to let us know your departure time if you fly home, or whatever other arrangements you have made for the rest of your holiday.