The magic begins with your journey through some of the West's most breathtaking scenery en route to the town of Clifden, capital of Connemara. Here you will be greeted as you make yourself at home in the luxury of Abbeyglen Castle or nearby Guest House. In the evening the Abbeyglen restaurant will serve a five-course gourmet experience that's sure to please and the warm singsong atmosphere of the piano bar is the perfect way to end your first day.
After a hearty Irish breakfast our coach leaves for Killary Harbour passing en route the Erriff Valley and Leenane Village. Our six mile Killary Harbour walk begins along a road dating back to 1846. It was built during the Great Famine to give relief work to locals in return for food. Killary is truly spectacular and is the only fjord in Ireland and the British Isles. Midway through our walk we'll stop for a picnic lunch, before setting off to meet our bus at the far end of the fjord. By the early evening we'll arrive at Cleggan Harbour, where the Captain will welcome us aboard his boat, and following a short voyage we arrive at the island of Inish Bofin. There a bus will transfer all luggage and the less enthusiastic walkers to our Hotel/Guesthouse where we shall have dinner at around 8.00pm.
After breakfast we set off to walk to the west end of Inishbofin. This remote island, with a population of just 180, has many sights and places of interest to take in. We'll see everything from cliff forts and monastic sites to the great sandy beaches and even a Cromwellian Castle. There's the island's seal colony to view and a deep sea cave and arch system which you can actually climb into. At around lunchtime we stop for a picnic lunch and later set sail for Port Island. Landing on the island is subject to tide and weather conditions. Port Island is a tidal island which hosts the site of a Cromwellian Barracks constructed in 1656. It was the prison used for the Catholic Clergy during penal times before they were eventually shipped off to the West Indies. We will depart from the Westquarter of Inishbofin by currach. The currach is the gondola of Connemara. This trip will be led and hosted by Declan O'Halloran, who is a native of Inishbofin and is also very proud and knowledgeable of the island. Declan's family have been building and fishing with currachs for many years. On this part of the tour visitors will get a great opportunity to learn about the currach and its construction and lobster fishing. After visiting Port Island we again set sail, this time for the island of Inishturk in Co. Mayo. We will be greeted on the island by a local family and taken to our Guest House. Here we will be treated to a traditional island dinner followed by a traditional evening of Irish music, song and dance.
After breakfast we will set out on a walk of the island. You will find Inish Turk a truly unique experience - as there is no daily ferry to the island any visitors that do arrive are made to feel very welcome indeed. It's an island wholly dependent on the traditional activities of farming, fishing and local craft businesses such as currach making, etc. In the early months of the Summer we are often lucky enough to spot Puffins breeding on the west cliffs of the island. Our walk ends at the mouth of the harbour where we drop in to one of Ireland's longest surviving Shebeens for a little light refreshment. Later we shall explore another route and return to our accommodation and rest before dinner.
Our morning breakfast is followed by a short sailing to Clare Island. Clare Island is synonymous with Grace O'MalIey, the formidable ruler of the Clew Bay district during the second half of the 16th century. One of the most interesting places on the island is the remains of a late 15th century Cistercian Friary, founded by the monks of Abbeyknockmoy in Co. Galway. According to local folklore, following the death of Grace O'Malley in 1600 her remains were interred in the decorated O'Malley Wall tomb in the friary. The chancel vault was once covered in fresco painting, patches of which still remain. Connemara Safari will guide you through the island to the Light House. Later in the day we shall have lunch before catching our next boat to Roonagh Pier. Here a bus will await us and take us back to Abbeyglen Castle where we shall say our final goodbyes.