COVID 19       During this difficult time for us all, we have decided to continue providing Tour Services.    Our vehicles are always regularly serviced and cleaned but we are taking extra precautions during The Corona Virus outbreak.  All the vehicle door handles, seat belts, and other points of contact are being sanitized before, during, and after each tour.  Sanitized wipes will be provided for you in our vehicles.    We understand, and appreciate, that many people will have justifiable reservations about booking a tour and yet want to be able to tour with us on arrival in Ireland so we are making temporary changes to our booking arrangements.  We are only taking a deposit of €75 regardless of the size of the vehicle or the duration of the tour. For bookings made now that subsequently need to cancel because of Corona Virus, we will refund 95% of the deposit provided we receive a minimum of 72 hours notice of cancellation. We will make the refund of 95% to you, or at your discretion hold the full deposit against a future booking.

The Burren is an area of about 500 square kilometers of Lunar-Like Landscape that some have described as one of the Wonders of the World. It's a destination to be experienced on a guided tour. Its apparent barrenness is host to an internationally famous flora. Its scenery is magnificent and The Cliffs of Moher definitely have to be experienced rather than described.

The Burren has a farming history that dates back to the Stone Age, some 6000 years ago. The Burren has a sense of Spiritual Peace, has an extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, megalithic tombs, and monuments that are older than Egypt's pyramids.

This, in our opinion, is the ultimate guided tour of The Burren incorporating The Cliffs of Moher. It encompasses several aspects of the region from rugged coast to barren wasteland to the breathtaking mountain, coastal, and lake scenery. It gives the opportunity to see some of the regions from the sea as well as from on land. Our tours average about seven and a half hours but this one does take longer, but it is definitely worth it for those who want to pack as much as possible into one day in The Burren.

Tour itinerary

 Oranmore was a village outside of Galway less than a lifetime ago, now it is a suburb of one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, yet has managed to maintain its own character including a thatched pub.  Clarinbridge is famous for its Oysters and every year since 1954 it hosts the well-known International Oyster Festival.

Next, we go to Kilcolgan where we turn off the main southbound road and head into The Burren. Kinvara is derived from the Gaelic "Cinn Mhara" which means "Head of the Sea" a name that gives us an insight into its history. It has long associations with the sea and its past is recalled in the Annual Festival "Cruinniu na mBd" or "The Gathering of the Boats" Probably the most famous landmark in the area is Dunguaire Castle, built in the 1500s and was occupied until Lady Ampthill sold it in 1976. it is open to visitors from May to October and holds Medieval Banquets.  Some of our customers conclude their guided here get dropped at the Castle to enjoy the banquet.  We can arrange return transport to your accommodation if you so wish.

Ballyvaughan has seen many changes over the years, once a small fishing village it is now a thriving tourism center and has a definite air of prosperity about it. It's a location at the edge of The Burren and the discovery of the nearby Aillwee Caves have certainly been major factors in its development.

We progress from Ballyvaughan on to Ailwee Cave for a magnificent view with options to visit the cave, walk some of The Burren, enjoy a Birds of Prey show and even do a Hawk Walk.

 Although one of the oldest in Ireland, Aillwee Cave is a fairly recent discovery. Before local herdsman, Jacko McGann, discovered it the entrance was only a chink in a cliff face. The Cave was opened to the public in 1976 and you witness great caverns, stalactites, stalagmites, and subterranean rivers. The Cave is basically a single tunnel burrowing a kilometer into Aillwee Hill. Originally it was an underground river fed by the melting snow of the Ice Age. When the river dried up Cave Bears moved in and used it as a hibernating place. You can see evidence of this in "Bear Haven" as part of the Show Caves.

 The next step on your guided tour is the Megalithic Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen which is an ancient stone tomb dating between 2000 - 2500 B.C. It is one of the most famous and most photographed Irish dolmens. Poulnabrone translates from Irish as 'The Hole of the Sorrows'. You can stand at a structure that pre-dates the Egyptian Pyramids.  Or, get your modern digital photo of an ancient site.

Next, we come to Leamaneh Castle. If you look carefully you will see that there are two parts joined together. The original house was built around 1480 and the second part was added around 1640. The most impressive features are the intact stone window frames and "The Murder Hole". This was the home of the famous (or infamous) Maire Rua !

 

 From here your chauffeur takes you to  Kilfenora an area renowned for its Traditional Irish Music. Kilfenora's main claim to fame is its ruined Cathedral and associated High Crosses. There were five High Crosses originally, but one was removed in 1821. The best-known is the Doorty Cross with three bishops and a double-headed bird on the east side; on the west is (possibly) a carving showing Christ entering Jerusalem. Kilfenora is located on the edge of the Burren.  The Burren Display Centre, a co-operative local enterprise, has many exhibits displaying features of the Kilfenora locality.

 Our next stop is at Lisdoonvarna, a Town that is comparatively new by Irish standards, dating from the early 19th Century. It is the only active Spa Town in Ireland and Lisdoonvarna developed almost entirely because of its Health Spa. The Town is also famous for its matchmaking and this activity peaks in September at the end of the harvest when bachelor farmers come to find a wife! Lisdoonvarna has a Fish Smokehouse which you can visit.  The town holds its well-known annual  "Matchmaking Festival" in September.

Your guide now takes you on to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. In terms of visitor numbers, it is second only to the Guinness brewery! At this point, we can visit Doolin and take a sea trip which takes us around "The Needle", home to thousands of birds, and you sail under the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs rise from Hag's Head in the South reaching a height of over 700 feet just north of O'Brien’s Tower. On a clear day the view is truly spectacular: The Aran Islands in Galway Bay to the Hills and Valleys of Connemara in the West Galway. At the edge, you can hear booming far below as the waves eat into the soft sandstone and shale. You can also hear many bird sounds as The Cliffs of Moher are home to many species including razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, gannets, kittiwakes, shags, ravens, choughs, and puffins.  O'Brien’s Tower offers a superb view of the awesome face of The Cliffs. It is advisable, even in Summer, to bring some warm clothing as you will be at a considerable height on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Do bring plenty of films, or nowadays, memory!

Your guide can arrange a ferry trip from Doolin (weather permitting) that brings you right under the Cliffs of Moher and gives magnificent sea-level views of the cliffs and "The Needle", home to thousands of several different nesting seabirds.

Lahinch is a pretty seaside village that has been in existence since the 18th century but the area can trace continuous human settlement to Pre Historic times. Lahinch is famous for its Golf Courses. Golf started there as far back as 1892 when officers of the Scottish Regiment "The Black Watch" brought the game to the area. In 1943  Lahinch hosted one of the most successful Irish opens in 2019. An American Liberator Bomber made a forced landing on the beach. The entire crew managed to escape injury.  Lahinch is also a surfers paradise and is regarded by many as "The Surf Capital of Ireland"

We now head back to Galway on the coast road. We progress to Black Head at the southern entrance to Galway Bay, Black Head is also known as Burren Head and legend has it that it was once the home of "The Banshee Brónach". This route has some lovely views of Galway Bay and passes through the lovely area and beach at Fanore.

 The above itinerary covers the main route and does not include the hidden gems that we have discovered over the years.

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"We toured Ireland West Tours and are so glad we did. Jim suggested that we see the Cliffs of Moher from the water, and it was a wonderful experience. Thanks so much for a wonderful day."

Barbara, Georgia, USA

 

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Satisfying the customer 

Over the years we have had several compliments on our drivers from many of our satisfied customers. Click on the link to "Tripadvisor" below to read, in full, the reviews of some of our many happy customers.

"We have travelled quite a bit and taken many tours. This tour is top notch and Jim is a master tour guide. And yes, we fed gorgeous Connemara ponies and adorable donkeys. It's incredible value, makes a great use of your time and is like hanging out with an old friend."

Mfarquar, Massachusetts, USA

 

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IRELAND WEST TOURS

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