Ireland: Wild Atlantic Way

Ireland: Wild Atlantic Way

From remote Achill Island to the lively city of Galway, feast your eyes on the untamed beauty of Ireland’s western coast, a stunning seaside stretch dubbed the “Wild Atlantic Way.” Nestled along the green hillsides and rugged terrain, you’ll discover inviting villages, historic abbeys and ancient monuments on this seven-night adventure. See the moors and mountains of Achill Island, admire Connemara’s glacier-carved landscape and stroll through the picture-perfect village of Cong. Watch border collies command their herd during a demonstration at a family-owned farm. Visit Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery and walk among the 5,000-year-old tombs into Ireland’s Stone Age past. In Galway, sample sweet and savory artisan treats on a culinary tour. Learn about the poetry of Yeats, Ireland’s artistic heritage, and more with local experts. Enjoy first-class accommodations at your home base in welcoming Westport along with an extensive meal plan, including wine at dinner.

Trip Itinerary:

September 19 Depart the U.S.

September 20 Shannon, Ireland | Westport

Arrive at Shannon Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to Westport Plaza Hotel. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Discovery: Westport.
Activity level: Moderate
Your journey to County Mayo combines spectacular scenery, wonderful food and rousing music! Kick off your adventure by joining a short walking tour to get acquainted with the charming town of Westport.

Tonight, at the hotel, join your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception and then gather together for a Welcome Dinner.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service and dinner

September 21 Achill Island

Each morning at the hotel, begin your day with a satisfying, Irish-style buffet breakfast.

Enrichment: A Vision of Ireland.
A local artist and art history lecturer shares how Irish culture and history are reflected in the works of the country’s major artists.

Discovery: Ireland’s Rugged Beauty.
Activity level: Moderate
Explore remote Achill Island, the largest off County Mayo’s Currane Peninsula, and witness the magnificent, untamed beauty that has long inspired writers and artists. As you wend your way along the Atlantic Drive, admire the wild, verdant scenery of rolling mountains and peatlands, as well as the powerful waves crashing against the dramatic, rocky cliffs. Visit the Deserted Village at Slievemore, a haunting reminder of Ireland’s pastoral history, with more than 80 abandoned stone cottages. Used as temporary summer dwellings by migrant farmers who brought cattle here to graze, the cottages are a moving testament to the harsh realities of agricultural life and the effects of the Famine.

At lunch, taste some of the fresh local specialties in the village of Keel on Achill Island.

In Mulranny, learn how to make Irish coffee and then sip your delicious drink while enjoying stunning views over 
Clew Bay.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

September 22 County Sligo

Discovery: Sligo and William Butler Yeats.
Activity level: Moderate
Head northeast to County Sligo, known as “Yeats’ Country,” to discover the majestic Irish countryside that so enthralled the legendary poet and Nobel Prize winner.

Discovery: Megalithic Ireland.
Activity level: Moderate
Visit the intriguing, otherworldly Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Ireland’s largest Stone Age burial site with 30 surviving tombs. Contemplate what life must have been like for Ireland’s ancient inhabitants as you gaze at monuments they constructed over 5,000 years ago.

Savor a delicious lunch at a restaurant in Sligo town.

Enrichment: W.B. Yeats.
Learn about the poetry of Yeats during a presentation by a Yeats Society Fellow.

Marvel at the breathtaking coastal scenery along the Wild Atlantic Way on a scenic drive to Mullaghmore. At Drumcliff Cemetery, in the shadow of the Benbulben mountain, pay a short visit to the final resting place of William Butler Yeats before returning to the hotel.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

September 23 Westport

Discovery: Irish Folklife.
Activity level: Moderate
At the County Mayo branch of the National Museum of Ireland, rural traditions come to life through fascinating exhibits that reveal the heritage of Irish farming, trades, hunting, crafts, domestic life and more. Get additional insights from a museum staff member during an engaging talk, and then enjoy free time to wander through the museum on your own.

Enjoy a hearty lunch at a local pub.

Free Time: The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. The town is filled with historic landmarks, locally produced goods, book stores and more! Don’t miss the opportunity to walk around and discover colorful shop fronts and picturesque scenery throughout Westport.

Discovery: Ireland’s Music and Dance.
Activity level: Mild
Delve into Ireland’s artistic heritage during an interactive exchange with music and dance.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

September 24 Galway | Cong

Discovery: Taste of Galway.
Activity level: Moderate
This spirited city exudes a youthful energy, brimming with live music, street performers and students from the National University of Ireland/Galway. With an expert guide, take a culinary walking tour to visit local artisans, such as chocolatiers, cheese makers and craft brewers, to sample their tasty creations. Afterward, explore the city’s vibrant network of medieval cobbled streets on your own.

Discovery: Cong.
Activity level: Moderate
Journey to Cong, the setting for picturesque village for the classic 1952 movie, “The Quiet Man,” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Meander through the splendid grounds of the Augustinian abbey in Cong, founded in the early 12th century by Turlough O’Connor, High King of Ireland. The 12th- and 13th-century remains of the abbey typify Gothic architecture and masonry.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Breakfast

September 25 Connemara

Discovery: Connemara.
Activity level: Moderate
Oscar Wilde once described Connemara’s beauty as “savage.” Travel through this scenic region and marvel at the starkly beautiful landscape shaped by ancient glaciers. See Croagh Patrick Mountain, where St. Patrick is said to have fasted for 40 days in the fifth century, and the poignant National Famine Memorial by sculptor John Behan at the mountain’s base.
Then visit a family-owned farm, Glen Keen, and watch frisky sheepdogs bound through the fields as they expertly maneuver the flock during a demonstration. Afterward, enjoy a brief chat about sheep farming with a member of the family.
Continue to the captivating Kylemore Abbey, a romantic, 19th-century castle overlooking a beautiful lake. Its creation is a love story in itself. In the 1840s, Mitchell Henry, the son of a wealthy English cotton merchant with Irish origins, brought his new bride, Margaret, to Connemara on their honeymoon. They were both enchanted by the beauty of Connemara, and Mitchell eventually purchased the property to build a magnificent castle there as a love token to her.
In 1920, Benedictine nuns purchased the castle and established a convent, as well as a school, which educated local girls and international students from 1923 to 2010. Walk through the Abbey’s restored rooms, stroll along the paths of the Victorian Walled Gardens and step inside the tiny neo-Gothic church, featuring Irish marbles from the four provinces 
of Ireland and a statue of Jesus by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie.
Conclude your day with a trip to the quaint town of Clifden, known as the “Capital of Connemara,” situated picturesquely between the foothills of the Twelve Bens and the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy free time to browse in the local shops, or relax and savor the ambience of the bustling Market Square. Return via scenic Inagh Valley.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Breakfast

September 26 Westport

Free Time: Spend your final full day in Ireland at leisure. Hike the stunning countryside of County Mayo, take a harbor cruise from Westport Harbor or rent bikes for a leisurely ride along the Great Western Greenway. Other options include a journey to North Mayo to see the Ceidi Fields or a short ferry ride to Clare Island, listed as one of the top 10 activities on the Wild Atlantic Way by National Geographic.

This evening, share the highlights of your Irish adventure with your fellow travelers at a festive Farewell Reception and Dinner, featuring local dancers and musicians.

Accommodations – Westport Plaza Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and dinner

September 27 Depart for Gateway City

After breakfast, bid farewell to Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way.

AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Shannon Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast and appropriate in-flight meal service

NOTE: Itinerary may change


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