From delicious food, to outdoor activities, to local Irish culture and heritage, you will be amazed at how much you will discover as you uncover all that makes this region so unique. You’ll feel at one with nature during the day and the friendly Irish people will help you feel right at home as you embrace rural life. And by the time you leave, you’ll have had a taste of Irish life that is guaranteed to leaving you wanting more.
Mayo is still a relatively untouched & undiscovered part of Ireland. It treasures many of our iconic landscapes & continues to be a photographer’s haven for those promoting Ireland. It is here that you can still find so many of our more typical stone houses, untouched landscapes & traditional farming habits. It is best known for Ireland’s most sacred pilgrim mountain – Croagh Patrick – that iconic “cone” that dominates so much of the landscape in this region and is still one of our most climbed & popular “pilgrim days” – especially on “Reek” Sunday!! Mayo’s maritime history is long & fascinating, its ancient habitations date back to the time of the Egyptian Pyramids & everywhere you turn – there is more to discover, stories to hear & more beauty to be enthralled by.
Achill Island is Ireland’s largest island & was first inhabited 5,000 years ago. Now accessible by a bridge from the mainland, it is simply oozing with great walks, amazing scenery & history in abundance. Famous for its soaring mountains and dramatic cliffs and seascapes you will relax into island life before you realise you are doing so as you explore the hidden treasures of this place.
Moving south, you reach the gaily painted Westport town & make your own pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s most famous pilgrim mountain. With breath-taking views over Clew Bay, dotted with a sparkling array of islands, on a clear day you can see north to Achill and south across Connemara. Visiting the largest of these islands, you will have one day on the magnificent Clare Island before undertaking your pilgrimage.
Your holiday then takes you south to another island - Inishbofin. Off the shore of Connemara, lies the beautiful island of Inishbofin (the island of the White Cow), a special area of conservation and protection. This island has been inhabited for over 6000 years and has a wonderful history. It is a fascinating place with an enthralling history, a peace & tranquillity that will infiltrate your soul, leaving you refreshed, relaxed & ready for life as you make your return journey home from here.
You arrive to the capital of Mayo – Castlebar town. Here, your Guide will meet you at 16.00 hours, introduce you to your other group members & whisk you away to the western reaches of this glorious region to reach Achill Island. This is your base for your next 2 nights and your Guide will brief you on the coming days of your holiday & ensure you are properly prepared for each day. You will then walk to a nearby restaurant to enjoy your first dinner together & experience island nightlife!
After a scrumptious breakfast and armed with your picnic lunch, you will depart from your accommodation to start your walk, discovering the delights of this wonderful region – the “deserted village”, an old signal tower and some idyllic hidden lakes. Returning to your accommodation later that afternoon, you will be rewarded with a wonderful demonstration on how to make the perfect Irish Coffee. Your choice of walks today is:
From your accommodation, you walk up an old “bog” track to reach an old deserted village. With tales of the famine, and a traditional way of life long gone from Ireland, you then continue, passing an old Signal Tower and mining region, to reach the village of Dooagh. From here, those with energy enough can continue along the coast to see just what is was that so enthralled the famous painter Paul Henry to capture so many of the wonderful sights on this island.
Leaving your accommodation, you reach a magnificent lake hidden in the mountains in an idyllic setting which supplies most of the island with its water. From there, you continue across open mountain, moorland & bogland with no defined tracks as you continue to the northern coast of this island.
Here, you discover the delights of more hidden lakes, known only by the birds & keen walkers, as you follow across the hillsides to reach an old signal tower. Continuing on, you reach an old deserted village before re-joining your minivan & returning to your accommodation.
After your walk, you will have the opportunity to learn how to make the perfect Irish Coffee before enjoying your dinner & overnight.
Leaving this beautiful island, you then continue south east to reach the town of Mulranny. Just east of here, you will follow a wonderful track to the town of Newport. From here, you then continue south to reach your accommodation just outside the town of Westport. This is where you will be staying for your next 3 nights.
Before leaving Achill, your Guide will take you to see the beautiful Keem Beach – voted Ireland’s best beach!! With glorious views across the island, the Wild Atlantic & south to Clare Island, you will be fascinated by the beauty of this region. From here, you start your walk just east of Mulranny and follow a beautifully prepared track to reach the town of Newport.
While you have time to enjoy some refreshments here, your Guide will collect your minivan & then return to bring you on to your accommodation for your next 3 nights. Dinner & overnight in Westport.
Also starting your walk just east of Mulranny, you follow a beautiful track into the foothills of the Nephin mountains – close to the amazing Ballycroy National Park. From here, you will then continue you circuit to enjoy the final part of your walk on a well prepared trail. Return to your minivan & continue to your accommodation in Westport for your next 3 nights. Dinner & overnight in Westport.
Your day starts today with a glorious drive around the shores of Clew Bay to then reach a small harbour on the western tip of these shores. From here, you take a small ferry across to the magnificent Clare Island. This is a legendary place – once home to our famous Pirate Queen – Grace O’Malley.
Discovering some of the delights of this island, you then return to Westport for an evening at your own leisure. If for any reason weather prevents this trip – then your Guide will take you on a lovely walk into the wilderness that few discover east of Croagh Patrick.
Following some of the little roads or “boreens” around the island, you will have the opportunity to reach the northern tip of this beautiful place with glorious views across Mayo & north back to Achill. History abounds here & you will learn much about the tales and heros that have made this place so famous.
Walking west from the pier, you will climb to the highest point of the island with wonderful 360 degree views all around. This is the largest island on Clew Bay and the western side of the island protects so much of the land from the ravages of the Wild Atlantic storms. With views south to Croagh Patrick & north to Slievemore on Achill, you will be spoilt with beauty.
Return to your accommodation in Westport for your overnight & a free evening at your leisure.
Today is your day for experiencing a pilgrimage as you hike the iconic mass of Croagh Patrick. No trip to Mayo is complete without a journey to the “Reek” and as it dominates the landscape, so it features in so much conversation around the locality. It is a glorious hike, and those that manage to complete it will have a huge sense of achievement. You have a choice of the following walks today:
Travelling south from Westport you reach the ancient woodlands of Brackloon. From here, you follow “Tochar Phadraig” part of the old pilgrim route from the monastic settlement at Aghagower. From here, you follow through woodlands and back country roads to reach the foothills of Croagh Patrick.
With a tough, short hike across moorland you then reach your highest point to then follow around the north eastern flanks of the mountain & finish at the Visitor Centre at the base of Croagh Patrick. There, you can enjoy some well-earned refreshments and read some of the history of the mountain if you wish.
Ascending across open mountain, you will be following the main Pilgrim Route that most people use from the northern shores of Croagh Patrick. Taken slowly, this is a wonderful route giving terrific views across Clew Bay.
Reaching the top of the mountain, you will find the famous Church there, have time to enjoy your triumph & then continue west to descend along a different route if weather allows. Returning by minivan to the base of the mountain, you may wish to enjoy some refreshments here before returning to your accommodation.
Driving back to your accommodation, you can enjoy the bustling town of Westport at your own leisure this evening.
Today, you travel south through a wild & untouched region of mountain and bogland to reach the village of Leenane at the eastern end of Ireland’s only fjord – Killary Harbour. Discovering the delights of this wilderness region your choice of walks is as follows:
Under the shadows of the Sheffry Hills is a land that is untouched, untamed & unblemished by the test of time. Here, your Guide will take you on a beautiful walk, through forestry & beside a stream to emerge into open countryside with views that will literally take your breath away. Sometimes short & sweet walks are the best type you can encounter & we believe this is one of them. Returning to your minivan, you then continue west to the coast.
South west of Westport & on the southern foothills of Croagh Patrick, there is an expanse of blanket bog that is full of history. This in turn gives rise to the Sheefry Hills & it is in these foothills that your Guide will take you to discover some of the riches of this region. A super walk brings you closer to the village of Leenane and on re-joining your minivan, you then continue west to the coast.
At the end of your walk, you will have time for some light refreshments near Leenane, before continuing on through Connemara to reach Cleggan Pier. From there, you take a small ferry to the beautiful island of Inishbofin – awash with history, tradition & wonderful people. With time to discover some of the islands delights, you then have your dinner & overnight on the island. (PLEASE NOTE: early & late season holidays may not be able to achieve all of this due to ferry times. If your earlier walk is not possible – you will have all the more time to discover the delights of Inishbofin).
Your final day takes you around Inishbofin Island on a day of discovery as you enjoy a circular walk around this historical island. With fortresses dating back to the time of Cromwell and a rich mythological history, you will be enthralled by the beauty of this island. If time allows, it may be possible to reach the smaller Inishark Island as well, depending on weather & tide times. (This will be an optional extra trip).
Today is a day for one walk only and should you prefer to take some precious time to wander and enjoy nature away from the group – this is the day to do it as you soak up all that is wonderful around you in the most idyllic setting possible.
At the end of your walk, you return to your accommodation. Your final farewell dinner together is a great way to compare stories, reminisce and enjoy some great music before your onward journeys tomorrow.
After your final and substantial Irish Breakfast, you will take the ferry back to the mainland & transfer by minivan to reach the bus & train station in Galway. From Galway, you can then avail of the excellent bus/train service to all major airports, cities & ferry ports in Ireland. Your estimated arrival time to Galway is approx. 11.00am. (Please ensure any flights are booked for 17.00hrs earliest).
Please note : - It is extremely important that you read & understand the WALK DETAILS for each day & that you are able to achieve this. If you would like to discuss your Walking Ability with one of our experts – please arrange a telephone conversation & we will be delighted to assist you with your holiday choice.
Should you require extra night’s accommodation before or after your holiday, please advise us at the time of booking.
Please visit www.irishrail.ie or www.buseireann.ie for public transport in Ireland
Please note that Ireland can be a bit ‘damp’ both underfoot and overhead, with some liquid sunshine! Irish weather is unpredictable and the nature of hikes can change quickly and dramatically because of the weather. This is one of the many pleasant aspects of hiking in Ireland. Benny's Ireland Vacations,Inc. reserves the right to alter this itinerary due to weather conditions or the walking ability of each group.
Not Included: Any boat trips, personal drinks, entrance fees to theatres, parks or museums etc., medical expenses or gratuities.
Comfortable: Terrain varied & occasionally wet underfoot. Best suited to people capable of walking up to 12kms (7.5 miles) daily. You encounter uphill & downhill sections with a max. height of 600 metres (1,950 feet) approx. Ideal first walking holiday or less experienced walkers.
Moderate: Takes you across open-mountain & bogland (wet conditions). Terrain is varied each day with uphill & downhill hiking, some of which may be steep. Max. height is 950 metres (3,100 feet) approx. Suitable for people with good level of fitness & capable of walking up to 20kms (12.5 miles) a day.
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I've lived most of my life on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. My Itineraries demonstrate my knowledge of Ireland. which is why you will be in the best hands.You will be assured that your vacation will be most memorable. Benny's Ireland Vacations is proudly partnered with the most able, reliable & experienced ground handlers in the business in Ireland, The Abbey Group.
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