A full 14-day self drive tour of west & southwest Ireland. Arrival and departure from Shannon Airport.
Expand our popular Southern Circle Tour by total immersion. Thirteen nights to see the west coast, with the diversity of staying in a castle, on an island and two city stops!
All the best of the west.
Drive north to the eclectic city of Galway. Your accommodation is by the shores of Galway Bay and walking distance from the old city. Be sure to check out the local market behind St. Nicholas’ Church…local flavour no visitor should miss! And join the locals in the evening to walk the promenade at Salthill.
(Drive Time: 2 hours)
Day 2 – Galway to Roundstone
Drive via the Connemara coast road through the traditional Irish speaking villages of Spiddal and Rossaveel to Ballynahinch Castle (near Roundstone). Your accommodation won’t be as draughty as the first inhabitants were accustomed to – the original castle was home to the 15th century O’Flaherty chieftains. The log fires are just as warm and welcoming.
(Drive Time: 2.5 Hours)
Day 3 – Roundstone to Clare Island
Wild and exciting countryside, dramatic loughs, lanes and landscapes. Visit Roundstone, Clifden, lunch at the Victorian Walled Gardens of Kylemore, climb on Diamond Hill at the Connemara National Park and visit the Cultural Centre at Leenane. Drive though the stunning Dhulough valley to Louisburgh and take an afternoon ferry to Clare Island, home to 200 inhabitants and as traditional an experience as you could hope for! Overnight on Clare Island, fortress of Granuaile the Pirate Queen.
(Drive Time 2.5 hours)
Day 4 – Croagh Patrick & Clew Bay
Explore Clare Island on foot or by bike. Return to the mainland and visit Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain, overlooking drumlin studded Clew Bay. The climb is arduous but the views are worth it. Continue to the colourful 17th century port town of Westport, with carefully planned streets and canal.
(Drive Time: 1 hour)
Day 5 – Westport to Doolin
From Mayo to Clare there is lots to see today, Ballintubber Abbey, Ashford Castle and the village of Cong. See Galway Bay at its best on the journey to Doolin through Kinvara and Ballyvaughan. Round off the day with a sunset trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
(Drive Time 4 hours)
Day 6 – Explore The Burren
Explore the Burren by car and foot. This truly amazing landscape holds surprises in every nook and cranny; arctic flora, geological and Neolithic wonders and everywhere the moonscape of the limestone plateau. Or for sheer exuberance take a boat from Doolin Pier to the Aran Islands – wild flowers, limestone ridges, island communities, fishing currachs, stone forts, Gaelic culture. Alive and well and awaiting you…
Day 7 – Doolin to Dingle
From county Clare cross the Shannon River by car ferry to Kerry. The heritage town of Listowel is home to Ireland’s famous playwright, John B. Keane. Near Tralee is the Jeannie Johnson centre and famed windmills at Blennerville. Continue with great views of Tralee Bay and cross spectacular Connor Pass to the fishing port of Dingle, nestling between hills and sea. This is a Gaeltacht region; deep seated Gaelic language and culture, alive in every day life.
(Drive Time: 4 hours)
Day 8 – Slea Head Drive
Explore the western extremity of Ireland on the circular Slea Head drive from Dingle. Our earliest Christian heritage remains are littered here, coupled with breathtaking Atlantic views. Gallarus Oratory, Kilmalkeadar Church, Riasc Monastic settlement, Loch a Dúin…it was a busy place in the 6th century! Or take a boat trip to the Blasket Islands, uninhabited since 1953. The source of the lyrical literature of some of the best Gaelic authors. Sit amongst the ruins of their homes and watch the Atlantic dance below you.
Day 9 – Dingle to Waterville
Your route takes you to the Iveragh Peninsula and the famous Ring of Kerry, with breathtaking views of Dingle Bay. Visit a 5th century ring fort near Caherciveen and the Heritage Centre of British military design which should have been in India… The Skellig Experience Centre in Portmagee offers a fascinating insight to life in the area since the first Christians in chose here as their home. And don’t miss dinner in Paddy Frog’s!
(Drive Time 2.5 hours)
Day 10 – Valentia or Skellig Islands
Visit the lovely Valentia Island, site of the first Atlantic Telegraph. A back road tour through the most beautiful scenery. A good walk takes you to top of Geokaun hill on the island, just to see the Atlantic at its best! Or take a boat trip of a lifetime to the World Heritage Site of 5th century monastic remains on the remote Skellig Rock. Nearby Little Skellig is home to 20,000 pairs of breeding gannets, as well as puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes and storm petrels.
Day 11 – Waterville to Killarney
Complete ‘The Ring’ along the spectacular southern section. Visit the market town of Kenmare before ascending to Moll’s Gap and descending to Killarney via Ladies View and Muckross House. Enjoy the view of the world renowned Lakes of Killarney from one of the 365 windows and decide for yourself which you like best! Your town centre accommodation affords ample opportunity to explore – and walking distance from a wonderful world of shopping! Overnight Killarney.
(Drive Time: 2 hours)
Day 12 – Gap of Dunloe Tour
A free day to explore Killarney by foot, by pony & jaunting cart or on your own wheels. One suggestion is a Gap of Dunloe Tour. A coach will take you to Kate Kearney’s Cottage from where the ascent to the Gap is on foot or by traditional jaunting car. Through the Gap descend to Black Valley (the last place in Ireland to be electrified in 1967) and lunch at Lord Brandon’s cottage. A boat trip across the Lakes of Killarney returns you to Ross Castle from where a coach will return you to Killarney.
Day 13 – Killarney to Bunratty
Drive to Adare, one of Ireland’s prettiest villages, boasting within two square kilometers; Lord Dunraven’s thatched terrace of houses, three separate ruins of abbeys, a 12th century church, 15th century Adare Castle and an 18th century Manor House. Stop at the 2000BC Stone Age settlement of Lough Gur – forts, stone circles, standing stones, burial tombs. Visit 12th century King John’s Castle in Limerick and the Hunt Museum. On to Bunratty and the world famous castle, the award winning Folk Park and perhaps a medieval banquet to complete the tour?
(Drive Time: 3 hours)
Day 14 – Departure from Shannon Airport
Return hired car at Shannon airport and depart.
Pricing, Dates & Booking
- 12 nights accommodation in quality B&B/Guesthouse accommodation
- 1 night accommodation in 4*** castle hotel (Roundstone)
- All breakfasts
- Day by Day suggestion guide including route notes
- Local maps and guides
What’s not included:
- Meals other than breakfasts
- Entries and excursions
August 2012 – Colin & Mike, Toronto, Canada
I have been meaning to write to tell you that my friend Mike and I really enjoyed the walk on The Kerry Way. After some rain the first few days, it started to clear up, and there was sunshine and blue skies for the last couple of days. The scenery along the trail was fabulous, and the trip to the Skellig Islands was quite an adventure. All of the B&Bs were very good, but special note goes to Mrs. Morris at Failte Farmhouse. She was very welcoming and even offered to do our laundry! All in all, it was a great trip. Thanks very much!