14 Day Islands of Ireland self-drive tour






Inclusions

Price Includes:

  • 13 nights sharing a double/twin room in Bed & Breakfasts
  • Return ferry to Cape Clear
  • Return ferry to Garnish Island
  • Return ferry to Blasket Islands
  • Return ferry to Inishmore from Doolin
  • Day Trip to Inishbofin
  • Heritage Island Guide
  • Service Charges & taxes at exiting rates

B&Bs:

  • Dublin – 2 nights in 3 or 4* B&B
  • Wexford – 1 night in 3 or 4* B&B
  • Cork – 2 nights in 3 or 4* B&B
  • Kerry – 3 nights in 3 or 4* B&B
  • Clare – 1 night in 3 or 4* B&B
  • Galway – 2 nights in 3 or 4* B&B
  • Mayo – 2 nights in 3 or 4* B&B

Itinerary

 

Day 1 – Welcome to Ireland

Welcome  to  Dublin.

After you pick up your car at the Car Hire desk, transfer to your city centre hotel. Spend the remainder of the day soaking up the atmosphere of this exciting city or visit some of its many attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College or Old Jameson Distillery.

Overnight: Dublin area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 2 – Dublin to Wexford 

Depart Dublin this morning and head south towards Wexford. On the way enjoy the Wicklow Mountains and the wonderful scenery awaiting. Known as “the Garden of Ireland” the region features all the various types of scenery that makes Ireland so beautiful. The coastline is bordered by charming sea resorts such as Bray or Greystones. In the heart of its gentle and rounded hills are nestled Enniskerry and Avoca, both very picturesque villages. Discover its romantic and quiet beauty, the deserted mounts where nothing but heather grows, the small forests and the lush prairies illuminated by yellow gorse in spring. On the way stop at Glendalough, where St. Kevin ~ son of the king of Leinster founded a monastery in the 6th century. From a simple beginning the site grew to become famous as a centre of learning throughout Europe. Standing for 600 years it was destroyed in 1398. Much of what is to be seen today dates from the 10 to 12th century. One of the most attractive features is the fine 34m high round tower. A cathedral, stone churches and decorated crosses also survived albeit as ruins. Glendalough has an excellent visitor’s centre and display area, which is located at the entrance to the Valley. It houses a very comprehensive exhibition on Glendalough detailing the history, archaeology and wildlife of this area of Wicklow. Continue to Wexford.

Overnight: Wexford area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 3 – Saltee Islands

Today, go and explore the Saltee Islands, situated approximately 5km off the coast of Kilmore Quay. A visit to the Saltees is thanks to the generosity of the O’Neill family who are the owners of the Islands. Only “one boatman” is allowed to land on the Saltees. The island slopes to a sandy beach on one side and the other sides of the island is surrounded by high cliffs. The trip to the Saltees involves a boat trip of about 40 minutes followed by transfer to a dingy. You are then rowed to within 20 yards of the shore. Visitors wade through the sea to the beach for the last part of the journey. The boat will only sail in good weather and the boatman will know the weather conditions one to two days in advance. The boat usually leaves Kilmore Quay about 10.30am and returns after 4pm. Trips need to be booked at least one day but preferably two days in advance. Bring a picnic. It is wonderful. The Saltees themselves lie off the Wexford Coast just off Kilmore Quay. They are one of the most important ornithological sites in Europe. They are at their most special from the months of April to July when thousands of sea birds are nesting on the cliffs. The variety and activity of the birds is amazing. After a day of exploring the island, go back on the mainland and continue towards Cork.

Overnight: Cork area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 4 – Cape Clear Island

This morning travel West towards Baltimore, where you will board on a ferry to Cape Clear Island. Those with a sense of adventure, and who like walking, will enjoy a trip to the Irish- speaking (Gaeltacht) island of Cape Clear, or Oilean Chléire, the most southerly inhabited land in Ireland. The voyage by ferry from Baltimore, West Cork only takes 40 minutes and you get a superb view of the indented coastline on the way. Wild romantic scenery with heather, gorse, and wild flowers covering steep rugged hills, sparkling harbours, and spectacular cliffs all contribute to the charm of Cape Clear. The 170 ‘Capers’ have always depended  upon  the sea and the elements for their living, but have managed to maintain the difficult balance between adopting the better aspects of modern living and retaining cultural and traditional values. On arrival you can visit restaurant, shops, pubs, a pottery and a fascinating museum. You might also like to visit the bird observatory to find out if there are any rare birds about. It’s a very steep climb out of the harbour, but the Atlantic view from the top is breath-taking. St Kieran’s Church, dating from around the 12th century, is near the harbour and there are a number of prehistoric sites. The O’Driscoll castle of Dún an Óir is on the western side. Return to Baltimore at the end of the day.

Overnight: Baltimore area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 5 – Garnish Island 

This morning, continue your trip towards Bantry, where you can visit Bantry House. It is superbly situated overlooking Bantry Bay. A family called White purchased the property in 1765, which was enlarged by his son Richard, the 2nd Earl of Bantry. The house is filled with a unique collection of French and Flemish tapestries, furniture, carpets and art treasures, collected by the 2nd Earl from all over Europe in the 19th Century. The magnificent gardens and grounds are home to many sub-tropical plants and shrubs – reflecting the best in European design and style.. In the afternoon travel to Glengariff and board on a ferry to visit Garnish Island. Garnish Island (Ilnacullin Garinish or Garnish) is located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, in Southwest Ireland. Garnish is world renowned for its gardens which are laid out in beautiful walks and it has some stunning specimen plants which are rare in this climate. The Gardens are the result of the creative partnership of Annan Bryce and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. The island was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953, and was subsequently entrusted to the care of the Commissioners of Public Works. Travel to Kenmare at the end of the day.

Overnight: Kenmare area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 6 – Valentia Island

This morning continue onto the Ring of Kerry, where you will stop at Cahersiveen to board on a car ferry for Valentia Island, or at Portmagee where a road bridge links the island to the mainland. With its population of 600 the island is best known as the site for the first transatlantic telegraph cable, which when eventually laid (after 5 attempts) in 1858 it put Caherciveen in direct contact with New York. A fossilized footprint of a marine creature dating back 365 million years was discovered in 1992 close to the Island’s lighthouse. With vantage points over some of the most exceptional sights along the Wild Atlantic Way, nestled in the Southern Peninsulas, a trip to Valentia Island and it’s Lighthouse is a serene slice of island life. Valentia Lighthouse at Cromwell Point is also one of The Twelve Great Lighthouses of Ireland. It was opened to the public by Valentia Island Development Company with support from The Commissioners of Irish Lights, South Kerry Development Partnership & Kerry County Council and Fáilte Ireland. On a guided tour of the lighthouse you will discover more information about Irish Lights and their international humanitarian obligations under SOLAS. On the tour you will access the Lighthouse tower and balcony , where you’ll encounter astonishing panorama of the Wild Atlantic sea , Begnish Island (local folklore claims was a former home of The Vikings ) and the remote, wave-thrashed Blasket Islands.

Return to Cahersiveen in the end afternoon.

Overnight: Kerry area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 7 – Blasket Island 

This morning, move on to the well-known and wonderful Dingle Peninsula. In Dingle don’t miss the Blasket Island Visitor Centre where you will learn everything there is to know about the fascinating history of the island and its inhabitants. After learning everything there is to know about this wonderful part of Ireland, board on a ferry and go see the island for yourself! Watch out for Fungie the dolphin at the entrance to Dingle Harbour, then sit back and soak in the scenery as you round Slea Head and approach the Blasket Island. The island evacuated in 1953, was home to many famous Irish writers including Peig Sayers. Walk the 1100 acres of unspoilt largely mountainous terrain, relax on the beautiful beach or explore the abandoned village and the fascinating cultural and literary history of the island. Return to Dingle.

Overnight: Dingle area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 8 – Dingle to Doolin 

Today stay on the main Island to continue your trip on the West of Ireland. From Dingle travel North towards county Clare. To shorten your day, do not hesitate to take the Shannon car ferry. Once in county Clare, a trip to the Cliffs of Moher is inevitable. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. To the south of the cliffs is Hag’s Head and was once the site of a castle. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’ Brien’s Tower. Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle), built a Tower at the cliffs in order to enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The Tower is adjacent to the sea stack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife. Continue to Doolin.

Overnight: Doolin area (full Irish Breakfast)

 

Day 9 – Aran Islands 

From Doolin, board a boat towards some of the most famous islands of Ireland, the Aran Islands. The three Aran Islands, Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore, are located off Galway Bay. Geologically akin to the Burren, they have no bogland, no lakes and hardly any trees. Today, their inhabitants live on fishing and tourism mainly. Old gaelic customs are still very important for them and the Irish language is spoken on the islands. Inishmore is the largest island, it is covered with stone walls and known for its majestic cliffs and its neolithic fort Dun Aengus, one of the most impressive of  its kind in Europe . A visit to the islands is a fascinating experience. A trip to the Aran Islands is a step back in time, especially Inishmor, the largest of the three Aran Islands. Life on the Gaelic spea king Aran Islands has resisted today’s technology, and fishing is still the main source of employment. Visitors may avail of the minibus tours of the island, which features a visit to Dun Aengus fort. Visitors will also enjoy a trip to “na Seacht dTeampaill” (Seven Churches) consisting of ruined churches, a monastic house and some fragments of a high cross dating from the 8th or 9th century ~ helping the visitor to trace the islands monastic history. After the island tour, enjoy some free time in Kilronan, capital of Inishmor, before boarding the return ferry back to the mainland. Continue then towards co. Galway.

Overnight: Connemara area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 10 – Inishbofin Island 

Today, visit another island off the coast of Galway, Inishbofin. It is a special area of conservation and a special area of protection. The island is a breeding area for many species of birds. The rarest or most threatened species breeding on the island at present are the Corncrake. The Corncrake have been nesting and breeding on Inishbofin for many years. For the adventurous there are exciting mountain walks, hill climbing and excellent shore angling. Inishbofin has become an important centre for traditional Irish music and song with its own Ceilí band. Inishbofin plays host to many visiting musicians and artists. It is estimated that Bofin was inhabited as far back as 8000–4000 B.C. The first documented history of the island dates from early Christian times. As you sail around the tower and signal light into the harbour you will notice Cromwell’s 16th Century Barracks. It was used as a prison for catholic priests from all over the country after the English Statute of 1585 declared them guilty of high treason. At the end of the day return to your accommodation in Connemara.

Overnight: Connemara

 

Day 11 – Connemara to Westport

 Enjoy today to tour the wonderful region of Connemara. Connemara, is a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains. A land of small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language and where little has changed little since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland. Connemara is a vast peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south ~ a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages. On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secret, with spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas. Connemara is a real paradise for Nature lovers and those in search of strong emotions. On your way, don’t miss Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey is located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. A Mitchell Henry built the House in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area. The architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period. One of Kylemore Abbey’s most famous features is its miniature cathedral, built in 1870 and known locally as the Gothic church. Today, the abbey is home to the Irish order of Benedictine nuns. They bought the house in 1920, having fled their convent in war-torn Belgium in 1914. They established a private school for young girls, which today is the renowned Kylemore Abbey International School for young girls. Continue your trip towards Westport.

Overnight: Westport area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 12 – Achill Island 

This morning depart for Achill Island, the last island you will see on your trip, but by far not the least beautiful! Achill Island is one of the few Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking) areas left in Ireland. Along with beautiful views over the sea, the Island itself is full of heather bogland and mountains. Achill is the largest island off the West Coast of Ireland, linked by a bridge, and the island measures 22km wide and 18km long. The word Achill comes from the Latin word Aquila meaning eagle. There is a landscape of mountains, bogs, lakes, beaches and bays. A haven for those who like outdoor sports. Its activities    include bathing (for the courageous) on its ten sandy beaches, wind surfing, canoeing, boating, sea and fresh water fishing, tennis, golf, hand gliding, sub- aqua diving and mountaineering. Places to visit on the Island are Kildownet Castle, the Deserted Village, the Megalithic Tombs, the Seal Caves, the Atlantic Drive, Keem Bay, Minaun Heights and of course the local pubs for a real flavour of the Island.  At the end of the day, return to Westport and your accommodation.

Overnight: Westport area  (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 13 – Westport to Dublin 

Today return inland travelling to Boyle, where you can visit Lough Key Forest Park, which is located in a scenic and historical area of Roscommon and consists  of approximately  350 hectares. It comprises of forested areas and open parkland. You can also visit the nearby Strokestown  Park House, which was built in the 1660s and was recently restored. The Famine Museum – housed in the stable yards of Strokestown House – commemorates the Great Famine of the 1840s. The Museum, using extensive estate papers, explains the historical and social significance of the famine nationally. Continue on to Dublin.

Overnight: Dublin area (full Irish breakfast)

 

Day 14 – Depart Dublin

Travel to Dublin Airport for return flight home

 

 

Prices

 

Islands of Ireland

9 Night Packages 3* & 4* Hotels (excluding transport)

Twin Per Person

Child (3-12 years) Single Supplement

Triple per person

April, May & October

1493

1125 561

1450

June to September

1645

1125 561

1601

Note: Accommodation on the islands is not included. Please contact us for a quote including accommodation on the islands, subject to availability

 

 

Please note: car hire, fuel, additional vehicle insurance, departure transfer, items of a personal nature, etc are not included in the above price.
Prices are correct at time of publishing, 11/09/17, and may change due to exchange rates, taxes, etc.  
Price is in Australian Dollars.