Horses on Aran Islands, on Ireland's West Coast Horses on Aran Islands, on Ireland's West Coast

West IrelandTravel Guide

West Ireland

The West of Ireland - home of Galway, Connemara, Mayo, Clare and the revered Croagh Patrick. A rugged coastline, splintered by the Atlantic's timeless persistence, is peppered with peninsulas, ports and tiny islands.

Visitors to the West of Ireland will marvel at its natural beauty, and will cherish its memories as fondly as they do the friendliness of the locals. Come here to find some of Ireland's best evening entertainments and folk sessions, perhaps a little more authentic than you might find in the most tourist-friendly haunts of Dublin and Killarney. Before you know it, you'll be singing along!

Know where you're going? Skip to what interests you most

Dive straight into the attractions and destinations, that interest you most, in the West of Ireland using these quick links.

Top Attractions in West Ireland

Ireland's west coast hold some of Ireland's most loved attractions.

The Cliffs of Moher
Top Attraction
Bring your Camera

The Cliffs of Moher

They are one of the most popular and frequently most hyped attractions on any of our Ireland Tours, and the views will not disappoint. Rising to a height of 203 metres, these sheer vertical cliffs hold a steady, undulating line against the tireless advance of the Atlantic below. A better view of the sea and setting sun on any Ireland tour you will not find.

  • The Cliffs of Moher Details

    They are one of the most popular and frequently most hyped attractions on any of our Ireland Tours, and the views will not disappoint. Rising to a height of 203 metres, these sheer vertical cliffs hold a steady, undulating line against the tireless advance of the Atlantic below. A better view of the sea and setting sun on any Ireland tour you will not find.

    Another thing you will not find is the visitor centre; at least, until you get close, you won't find it. Designed very cleverly to blend into the local landscape, this extensive attraction is all but invisible as you approach the cliffs themselves. Inside, it is large, modern and informative.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Country Galway
Top Attraction
History & Culture

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is not only one of Ireland's most attractive buildings, since 1920, it has also been home to the Sisters of the Benedictine Order in Ireland. Even today, Kylemore continues to operate as a working Abbey: here, the sisters live, work and pray, as well as welcoming visitors from across the globe.

  • Kylemore Abbey Details
      Kylemore Abbey

      Among Kylemore's many notable attractions are the unmistakable Victorian Walled Gardens, restored in 2000 and now open to the public. As a heritage garden, this beautiful space only uses Victorian gardening methods. Only seeds and strains from the 1800s are ever planted here.

      The building of Kylmore Castle was inspired by Margaret Henry, to whom the Gothic Church still stands in tribute, serenely secluded in Kylemore's woods. It was Margaret's husband Mitchell Henry who produced, from little more than desolate bog land, the beautiful attraction we now know as Kylemore Abbey. Following Margaret's death in 1874, Henry returned to Kylemore to live, and he remained here until his passing in 1903.

    • www.kylemoreabbey.com
    • Find on Google Maps
Galway City
Top Attraction
Shopping & Souvenirs

Galway City

Galway, City of the Tribes, is one of Ireland's most popular tourist destinations, known for its charming cobbled streets, its friendly residents, and its pervasive sense of history. Visitors are drawn to the brightly-painted pubs, teeming with activity and traditional Irish folk music; the legendary street performers, enchanting the crowds; and the countless festivals which take place in Galway every year.

Westport, County Mayo
Top Attraction
Good for Families

Westport

Westport is a charming town in County Mayo. Located about 1hr 30 mins from Galway, this remote area of Ireland retains all of its rugged beauty. There's plenty to see and do around Westport including the Great Western Greenway, Achill Island, Clare Island, Clew Bay with its 365 Islands, Westport House and Croagh Patrick.

  • Westport Details
    • Westport

      Westport is a charming town in County Mayo. Located about 1hr 30 mins from Galway, this remote area of Ireland retains all of its rugged beauty. There's plenty to see and do around Westport including the Great Western Greenway, Achill Island, Clare Island, Clew Bay with its 365 Islands, Westport House and Croagh Patrick.

    • Find on Google Maps
  • Our Own travel
Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
Top Attraction
History & Culture

Clonmacnoise

Perched on the banks of the River Shannon, Clonmacnoise is perhaps the foremost of Ireland's many monastic cities. For those interested in early Christianity, it is a must-see destination. Enclosed within the ancient city walls are various ecclesiastical ruins including a cathedral, seven ancient churches, three high crosses, round towers and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe - all remarkably well preserved and fascinating to anyone, not just those with a special interest in Ireland's religious history.

  • Clonmacnoise Details
  • Insider's Tips

    Head first for the museum, an interactive multimedia experience housed in three conical huts designed to mirror the early dwellings of the region. The audiovisual presentation lasts 20 minutes but will provide important context for the rest of your time in Clonmacnoise.

    The cathedral is perhaps the next logical stop-off point. Built in 909AD, it has been significantly altered over the years. The 15th Century Gothic doorway with carvings of St Francis is worth a few minutes of closer scrutiny.

    Clonmacnoise's small churches are known as temples; a derivation from the gaelic teampall. Each has its own distinctive character, and states of preservation vary significantly. Giving each of these sites the attention they deserve, not to mention the many sites outside the city walls, will not be easy for those bringing young families. But, for grown-ups interested in history, Clonmacnoise is a fascinating and vivid realisation of Ireland's past. Clonmacnoise is visited on many of our escorted tours of Ireland.

Delve Deeper into Ireland's West

Especially for returning visitors, it is well worth going beyond the world famous destinations of Ireland's West to see some of it's lesser known charms. Here, we have listed just a few of the best.

Flaggy Shore, on the coast of County Clare
Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

Flaggy Shore on Google Maps

Flaggy Shore Co. Clare

Found in one of the most northerly parts of County Clare, Flaggy Shore is a geologist's dream. Made up of mainly grey limestone there are also the remnants of glacial rock from the last ice age, over 12,000 years ago, in the form of granite and limestone. Fossils of creatures from over 330 million years ago have also been found in the limestone. For us non-geologists of the world, Flaggy Shore is also just a simply beautiful sight.

Kilmacduagh Monastery, County Galway
Great for Returners
Religion & Spirituality

Kilmacduagh Monastery on Google Maps

Kilmacduagh Monastery Co. Galway

Kilmacduagh Monastery is located just outside the town of Gort in south west County Galway. Today only the ruins remain. Saint Colman is said to have founded the monastery in the 7th century. Legend has it that as Saint Colman was walking through the woods of the Burren when the belt from his robe fell to the ground. Saint Colman took this as a sign that this was to be the location of his monastery.

It was also said that in the village of Kilmacduagh, no man will die from lightning. This myth was tested when a man was struck by lightning and send over a ditch, into the neighbouring County Clare, where he was declared dead. It is not known if he died when he was stuck or after he crossed the border, so the myth lives on.

Keem Bay in County Mayo
Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

Keem Bay on Google Maps

Keem Bay Co. Mayo

Another of Ireland's best kept secret beaches, found on the western shores of Achill Island in County Mayo.

See our page on Irish Islands for more hidden treasures.

Downpatrick Head, off the coast of County Mayo
Great for Returners
Religion & Spirituality

Downpatrick Head on Google Maps

Downpatrick Head Co. Mayo

Located just north of the village of Ballycastle in County Mayo, Downpatrick Head is a heritage site which gives visitors a unique view of the Atlantic ocean. The Dún Briste sea stack lies close by, which looks like a chunk of Downpartick Head that has been cut away from the mainland. Also found on Downpartick Head are the ruins of a church founded by Ireland's patron saint Patrick, a holy well, a stone circle and nesting sea birds.

Bluebell Wood, County Roscommon
Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

Bluebell Wood on Google Maps

Bluebell Woods Co. Roscommon

Dereen Woods, also known as Bluebell Woods, is located outside the town of Boyle in County Roscommon. Each year, from the start of April to the middle of May, the woods are carpeted with Bluebells. Bluebell Woods, during these months, is one of the most unique sights in Ireland.

Caves of Kesh, County Sligo
Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

Caves of Kesh on Google Maps

Caves of Kesh Co. Sligo

The Caves of Kesh are 16 caves, some of which are interconnected, found in the village of Keash, County Sligo. Remains of humans and animals dating back to as far as 10,000 B.C have been found in the caves during excavations in the 20th century. Amazingly, remains of reindeer were found on top of burnt charcoal, suggesting that the animal had survived in Ireland until the human period.

The Spanish Arch, Galway City
Great for Returners
History & Culture

Find on Google Maps

The Spanish Arch

The Spanish Arch arguably stands out more because of the vibrant atmosphere which pervades the surrounding area, particularly in summer when visitors and locals mingle together, eating out in the sun and enjoying the buskers and street performers. The arch itself is thought to be part of the original medieval city walls.

Cong Abbey, County Galway
Great for Returners
History & Culture

Find on Google Maps

Cong

The location of the 1951 John Ford film The Quiet Man (starring John Wayne), Cong offers a step back in time. Those who are less interested in The Quiet Man Museum should head for the more historical attractions of Cong Abbey and Ashford Castle.

Killaloe, County Clare
Great for Returners
Bring your Camera

Find on Google Maps

Killaloe & Ballina

Situated on the Clare and Tipperary banks of Loch Deirgeirt respectively, Killaloe and Ballina offer a tale of two cities ... well, two villages, perhaps. Close enough to be considered one destination, they have quite distinctive and different characteristics. Pack your camera before you head to Killaloe, the epitome of beautiful County Clare; then use it to get some foodie snaps over dinner in Ballina, where you will find fantastic pubs and restaurants.

Connemara National Park, County Galway
Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

Connemara National Park

Comprising three thousand hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and woods, Connemara National Park is a nature-lover's paradise; home to countless native species including red deer, wild ponies and peacock butterflies. The park is also home to several of the famous Twelve Bens, the unmistakeable range of mountains which gives such character to the landscape of this part of Ireland. Dedicated walkers will find plenty of challenge here, but easier strolls can also be found on nearby Diamond Hill.

Trad on the Prom
Music & Show
Great for Returners

Trad on the Prom

If Riverdance did festivals...? This showcase of Irish traditional folk music and dance combines the best of Irish trad culture with a great open air festival atmosphere. Featuring world-champion dancers, as well as some of the Riverdance cast, the show has met with near-unanimity in its positive reception among visitors. The price tag might rule it out for some, especially larger families, but those who go are in for a treat. Be sure to book well in advance: shows sell out months ahead.

Essential Services in West Ireland

West Ireland Accommodation

West Ireland Transport

  • Airports
    • Shannon Airport
    • Ireland's 3rd largest airport, behind Dublin & Cork, Shannon Airport is the closest airport in Europe to the U.S. It is located in Shannon, County Clare and is the main airport for the cities of Limerick and Galway as well as the town of Ennis in County Clare.

    • 02890 939093
    • www.shannonairport.ie
    • Find on Google Maps
  • Train Stations
    • Galway Railway Station
    • Serving the city of Galway, Galway Railway Station is located in Eyre Square which is in the heart of the city.

    • Find on Google Maps
  • Bus Stations

Food & Drink in West Ireland

Other Regions of Ireland

Find the attractions and destinations of the other regions of Ireland here.

Dublin
  • Visit here for:
  • Guiness Storehouse
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Trinity College
East Ireland
East
  • Visit here for:
  • Glendalough Monastic Site
  • Castletown House
  • Brú na Bóinne
South East
  • Visit here for:
  • Kilkenny City
  • Rock of Cashel
  • Tintern Abbey
South West
  • Visit here for:
  • Cork City
  • Blarney Castle
  • Ring of Kerry
Giant's Causeway
Northern Ireland
  • Visit here for:
  • Belfast City
  • Titanic
  • Giant's Causeway
Irish Music
North West
  • Visit here for:
  • Belfast City
  • Titanic
  • Giant's Causeway