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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Our May 2018 tour of Ireland will conclude with either a trip to the Aran Islands or free time in Galway.  Earlier this month I posted some information on the Aran Islands trip, but if you prefer to see more of the mainland, here are some great suggestions for how to spend that free day in Galway and the surrounding area:

  1. Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errilly Friary day trip:  Take a ride through some of the most beautiful countryside Ireland has to offer in the Connemara region.  You’ll stop at a well preserved Franciscan Friary and visit Kylemore Abbey along with its Gothic style chapel and walled Victorian gardens.  You’ll also visit the village of Cong where The Quiet Man (starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara) was filmed.
  2. Wild Atlantic Way Horseback Ride:  Do you love horses and sand?  Take a half-day guided horseback ride along Omey Beach.  You’ll see Courthoor Lough, Omey Island and some Connemara ponies along the way.
  3. Tour Galway:  This beautiful city has a wide variety of tours to choose from or combine for a full day of fun and exploration.  Take a two-hour food and wine tasting tour, enjoy a three-to-four-hour bicycle tour of the city or opt for the flexible hop-on hop-off bus tour of Galway.;;
    photo courtesy of
  4. Take some great part-day tours near Galway:  You can enjoy some time in the city and still fit in some short excursions for nearby experiences.
    • Killary Fjord Boat Tour:  This short tour allows you to explore the only fjord in Ireland.  You may even see some dolphins.
  5. Brown Trout Fly Fishing day tour:  Enjoy an 8 hour fly fishing trip on Lough Corrib in County Galway.  The tour includes a guide and boat hire.  Take a lunch break at one of the numerous islands in Lough Corrib and just enjoy the Irish countryside and wildlife on this relaxing tour.
  6. Connemara Walking tours:  Whether you want a gentle walk through the countryside or some more strenuous hiking or hillwalking, there are a wide variety to walking tours through the breathtaking Connemara region.  Group tours can be booked or individuals can join already scheduled tours with guides and equipment included.
  7. Kayaking Connemara:  You can even take a more adventurous scenic tour of the Wild Atlantic Way with a half-day, guided kayak tour.  Visit local salmon farms and navigate sea caves and arches as you make your way along the Connemara coastline.
If you have sites you especially want to see in the west or northwest of Ireland, you can also join a planned tour or hire a guide for a customized day tour.  I’d suggest checking out Emerald Isle Tour’s day tours page for ideas:

And for more information on Galway, check out 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Last month I focused my posts on Dublin as we’ll have two afternoons forth of free-time there.  This month, I’d like to offer posts with some information and ideas for free-time at the end of our tour.

On day 8 of our tour we will be in Galway with a tough choice to make!  On one hand participants can choose to have a full day of free-time in the Galway area, and on the other there is an optional excursion offered that day to the Aran Islands.
photos courtesy of

For me it’s an especially tough call as Galway is my favorite city in Ireland, and the region surrounding it is absolutely breathtaking and packed with places I’d love to revisit or see for the first time.  So, of course, I have tons of suggestions for those who choose the free-time option (but those will have to wait for another post later this month).

However, the Aran Islands is such a unique experience (and something new for me as it was not offered as part of our last tour) that I’m planning to join that optional excursion.  Thus my first April post is on the Aran Islands optional excursion.

Excursion to the Aran Islands
Take a seat aboard a minivan for a tour led by a driver/guide well acquainted with the history of the Aran Islands and the way of life of its inhabitants.
Windswept, yet never touched by frost, Inishmore, like the other Aran Islands, is a paradise for wildflowers, with hundreds of varieties. These islands are also renowned for their crafts, in particular the famous Aran knitwear. You may want to begin your explorations at the Aran Heritage Centre, Ionad Arann, located near the port of Kilronan. A tour of the center will present two millennia of this Celtic island's history, language and traditions.
Visit the stone fort of Dun Aenghus, one of Europe's finest prehistoric monuments, located in a spectacular setting at the edge of a cliff, some sixty feet above sea level.

The Aran Islands are the perfect site to explore for those who have an interest in the Irish language, cycling, walking, nature, Irish music and crafts, archeology and history.  The day 8 excursion is $70.

photos courtesy of

Want to know more about the Aran Islands before deciding to join our optional excursion?  Enjoy these great links!

photos courtesy of