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14 Night Itinerary

Hi All. My husband & I are heading back to Ireland for the 2nd time in mid-September & decided to venture northwest. Different from our last visit in Oct 2018, we plan on longer stays, 3-4 nights, avoiding 1-2 night stays, & venture out on day-trips. Your advice is much appreciated.

Day 1 (Fri): Arrive early am in Shannon; Stay overnight in Shannon
Day 2 (Sat): Galway
Day 3 (Sun): Galway (Trad on the Prom)
Day 4 (Mon): Galway (Aran Islands for the day)
Day 5 (Tues): Galway (Ashford Castle for the day)
Day 6 (Wed): Clifden
Day 7 (Thurs): Clifden (visit Westport)
Day 8 (Fri): Clifden
Day 9 (Sat): Donegal
Day 10 (Sun): Donegal
Day 11 (Mon): Donegal
Day 12 (Tues): Sligo
Day 13 (Wed): Sligo
Day 14 (Thurs): Shannon / Day 15 (Fri): Home

Posted by
5011 posts

Aran Islands are better done with an overnight stay (two if possible) IMHO. I'd gladly trade a night in Galway (and probably a second night stolen from somewhere else, maybe Donegal?) for a second night on Inish Mor. Fly and skip the ferry to maximize your time.

Caveat: I have not been to the NW. That said, last summer we did the west and southwest (from Galway to Dingle to Skelling Michael to Kenmare) and the two nights and full day (plus one 1/2 day upon arrival) on Inish Mor was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. At first I had been planning to do Inish Mor as a day trip; helpful people here suggested it was worth a night or two. They were right. Two nights there was perfect.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you for your thoughts & suggestions. At first we were thinking about revisiting the SW hitting spots that we have missed or would have liked to explore more in depth. Due to illness during our 1st stay in 2018, we missed our visit to Inishmore & Ashford Castle (Halk Walk & Tea) so that's why we're heading N instead of S this time around. Our 2 favorite B&B hosts were in Shannon & Galway, & we're looking forward to staying (visiting) w/ them again!

Posted by
5089 posts

Our second Ireland trip was Sept. 2018, and we also headed northwest from Galway, then around the Northern Ireland cost and down to Dublin. We mostly did 2-3 night stays. We stopped briefly one day in Sligo, but headed to a B&B just northwest of Donnegal for a couple of nights, opting for the scenic Donnegal area instead of Sligo.

For the Ashford Castle falconry’s Hawk Walk, do an Extended Walk, which includes time with their owl, in addition to your own Harris Hawk flight session with a guide/trainer.

On our first trip, our ferry from Inishmor stopped for lunch at Inisheer, so we had time on 2 Aran Islands that day, but we’d spent the night before on Inishmor, and arrived back at the mainland south of Doolin, a circular route after taking the ferry to Inishmor from Rossaveel. Having time on more than 1 island in a day could be difficult. On our second trip, we flew. The planes are much, much faster than ferries, and aren’t affected by the rough waters that sometimes delay or cancel ferry crossings. Even for just Inishmor, flying’s the way to go.

Posted by
242 posts

It looks good. Donegal and Sligo tend to be ignored by many visitors who never get further than Kerry and Dingle. They are quieter but have some wonderful scenery, particuarly Donegal. Make sure you visit Sleive League cliffs which are the highest sea cliffs in Europe. (Be warned the drive up them isn't for the faint hearted!)

Rather than taking a day from Clifden to visit Westport, consider visiting it on your way to Donegal as you will be going past it anyway. Use that day to see more of the area. Make sure you do the Sky Drive in Clifden which on a fine day is one of the best short drives in teh world. Also visit the Roundstone area with its dharbour and one of the best views of the 12 Bens.

Alternatively take outa night from Clifden and use it to spend a night on the Aran Islands!

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you all for the suggestions! Please keep them coming! We really like the idea of spending a night on Inishmore. I feel a little skittish about taking a puddle-jumper over, but the inexpensive cost and flying time are incredible.
Thanks too for the tip on visiting Westport on our way to Donegal and for the site/drive suggestions. Planning for a trip of this magnitude is so much fun, but can be daunting!

Posted by
5011 posts

puddle-jumper...

An understatement there. The plane has 8 seats total - including the pilot, and the lucky passenger who gets to sit next to him, in the co-pilot's seat. Ask for it, if you get lucky and they put you there, you'll never forget the view and the experience (just don't grab the flight controls in your lap).

Posted by
28 posts

LOL!! I just looked up the airline's safety record, and it appears that they've only had 2 incidences/accidents in 19 years, both w/o any injuries. We're seriously thinking about it!!

Question re: Westport... Is it the kind of town/village that one would want to spend an entire day visiting or small enough to spend just a few hours to grab some lunch and stroll a few blocks before heading on our way to Donegal? I ask because during our last (first) visit to Ireland, we stopped for a few hours in Cobh, spending the time visiting the Cobh Heritage Center, instead of walking around the village. I felt like we didn't have enough time there, and I don't want to end up feeling that way this visit.

Your thoughts are really appreciated!

Posted by
5011 posts

This is the airplane they use: Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander.

If you get lucky (ask for it, and you have a better chance of getting lucky) and you get the right seat up front, your view from your seat will be like this (but with big, panoramic windows above the instrument panel and to your right - like sitting in a bubble):
BN-2 Cockpit

This is a completely thrilling, totally exciting, fun fun fun 10 minute flight. It's also crazy cheap, and avoids a long, slow ferry, getting you extra hours on the island (and beating the crowds). What a hoot!

FWIW, I'm a licensed pilot and aircraft owner. This is a stout, sturdy, simple, tough little plane, very safe. This kind of flight is exactly what it was designed for. It's perfect for this. The pilots do this flight many times every day, it's their "milk run", it's routine, they know it well. It's as safe as any machine. This is a rare opportunity to fly something like this. Don't miss it!!!

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you, David! Your reply has really put my nerves at ease, and convincing me that this is truly a YOLO experience! The links are great! I enjoy ferries, but I don't want to run the risk of reserving overnight accommodations only to have to cancel at the last minute due to rough seas or having to stay for an unexpected extra night for the same reason. Low/No stress vacation is the goal! Thanks again!

Posted by
28 posts

Cyn - Thank you for your input re: the extended Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle. I am definitely signing up for that experience!