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FOUR DAY WEST COAST DRIVING TOUR - Galway


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TOWN ROUTE DISTANCE (miles) TIME hr/min ROUTE CHANGE
Galway   0 0:00  
Moycullen N59 7 0:18  
Oughterard N59 16 0:36  
Maam Cross N59 26 0:55  
Recess N59 34 1:10  
Clifden N59 47 1:34  
Letterfrack N59 55 1:49  
Leenane N59 66 2:11  
Westport N59 85 2:49  
Newport N59 92 3:02  
Mulrany N59 103 3:23  
Srahnamanragh Bridge N59 115 3:46  
Bangor N59 122 4:00  
Crossmolina N59 141 4:36  
Ballina N59 148 4:50  
Dromore West N59 163 5:19  
Ballysadare N59 179 5:50 N59 -> N17
Sligo N17 185 6:00  

Distance & times are do not allow for stops
or visiting areas of interest

Site Index

This is a proposed 4-day tour itinary covering the West Coast of Ireland and the River Shannon. The tour is optimised with four starting points which will enable you to begin your tour from you own location. This tour will allow you to follow a leisurely pace, seeing as much as possible of the area as your time allows. Many suggestions will be made for each area which will allow you to plan your activities.

Starting points:     Limerick    Galway    Sligo    Carrick-on-Shannon    Photo Gallery   Index

Starting Point 2 - Galway

Galway City is the capital of the west and will take a day to explore on its own. This is covered in the separate Galway City Walking Tour. During the day , the pedestrian streets always have a bit of music or street actors for your entertainment. Good seafood restaurants are common, but traditional and international tastes are also well catered for. There are many shopping centres in Galway, both in Eyre Square and also on the outskirts of the city. A few places to visit in Galway City are:

  • Galway City Museum: located at the Spanish Arch, this museum contains a cross section of material relating to life in Galway since the city's foundation.
  • Spanish Arch, Galway: erected in 1594 to protect the quay where Spanish ships unloaded.
  • University College, Galway: founded in 1845, this Tudor-style building was designed by Joseph D. Keane. Contains Galway municipal records from 1485 to 1818 and many rare books. Became a constituent college of the National University in 1908.
  • Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, Galway: erected in 1320, the shell of the original church is incorporated in the present structure. Tradition holds that Columbus worshipped here before setting out on his famous voyage.
  • Franciscan Abbey, Galway: built in 1826 on site of a 13th century friary. 17th century gravestones at rear.

    Flights are available from Galway airport to the Aran Islands and would be a highly recommended daytrip. Ferries are also available to reach the islands. The Aran Islands are one of the last places in Ireland where the "true" Irish language - Gaelic - is spoken as part of daily life. It will take you a full day to explore the islands. The main island is Inishmore and the two smaller islands are Inishmaan and Inisheer. Inishmaan School and Inisheer Fort: on these islands there are so many individual antiquities to be seen that it would not be possible to list them in full. They include churches, pillar-stones, ring forts, castles and ancient wells. The most outstanding of all is Dun Aonghus, a large stone fort covering 11 acres. Call Galway Tourist office for ferry and visitor information. 091-568903.

    The R336 heads west out of Galway past Salthill, heading towards Spiddle and the Gealtacht, (Irish Speaking Area). Salthill is styled on the "English Resort Town" and has a long promenade, beach and life guard supervised swimming / diving area. Taking a drive to Spiddal, a colourful Irish speaking village, you'll notice the roadsigns and shop fronts are increasingly written in both Irish and English. Curraghs are commonly seen on piers or pulled up on sandy beaches along the way. On a clear day the Aran Islands can be seen across Galway Bay.

    We recommend returning along the same route from Spiddal, and then taking the N59 to Oughterard along Lough Corrib which since time began has held untold wealth for fishermen , being world famous for its trout and salmon. The route is very scenic, passing by dozens of small lakes on your left , in a typically Irish setting with rolling hills in the background and sheep grazing on the patchwork of fields between the lakes. Numerous small roads on the right will lead down to Lough Corrib.

  • Inchagoill, Lough Corrib: Early Christian remains on this picturesque island include the 5th century St. P atrick's Church, Teampall na Naomh and some inscribed stones.

    Continuing until you reach Maam Cross, the 12 Pins are in view , with heights reaching 720m and higher these mountains appear like 12 seperate domes and are popular with walkers.

    Passing through Recess, site of one of Irelands many bird sanctuaries, take a break when you reach the Connemara Visitors Centre , here you'll get the opportunity to visit a Crannog (a traditional bronze age Irish village). This is a visitor centre, where you can see how family communities lived hundreds of years ago.

  • PLACES
    of
    INTEREST

    Co. Galway
  • Galway City Museum: located at the Spanish Arch.
  • University College, Galway.
  • Spanish Arch, Galway.
  • Kilmacduagh Churches and Round Tower.
  • Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, Galway
  • Franciscan Abbey, Galway.
  • Inchagoill, Lough Corrib.

    Co. Mayo

  • Ballymote Castle.
  • Turlough Round Tower.
  • Strade Franciscan Friary.
  • Round Tower at Balla.
  • Ballintober Abbey.
  • Cong Abbey.
  • Dry Canal, Cong.
  • Meelick Round Tower.
  • Kilgeever Abbey, Louisburgh.
  • Achill Island, Kildavnet.
  • Downpatrick Head.
  • Doonamo Fort.
  • Inishglora Island.
  • Inishkea North and South Islands.
  • Westport House.

    Co. Sligo

  • Sligo County Museum.
  • Lissadell House.
  • Sligo Abbey.
  • Formoyle.
  • Carrowmore.
  • Drumcliff.
  • Queen Maeve's Mound, on Knockarea Hill.
  • Still on the N59, the next stop is Cliften , called the capital of Connemara. The town is located at the base of a steep hill, there is a great view, especially for photographers and painters as the restaurants and houses of the town below are very colourfully painted. The picture postcard view of Clifden can be easily reached by taking the Sky Road, past the hotel, stop your car at the first available place about 1 mile up the road and enter a gate that leads through a wide field. Go to the end of the field towards the town and you will see the town below. Further along the road, park your car at a castle gate entrance. Walk on the path until you can see a large castle / manor on your right overlooking Clifden Bay. The path is not suitable for shoes when wet, but it is well worth while walking along for the views. On the 15 June 1919, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown were the first men to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean, they crash-landed in a bog at the Marconi station at Clifden, having mistaken the soft ground for hard ground. They landed 16 hours and 27 minutes after leaving St. John's in Newfoundland. Their aircraft was a Vickers Vimy biplane powered by two Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines of 350 horse power each. The average speed during the flight was 115 miles per hour. Today a plaque marks the site of their landing. See also in Co. Galway

  • Kilmacduagh Churches and Round Tower: one of Connacht's greater early monasteries, dating from c..AD 600. Founded by St. Colman Mac Duagh and created a diocese in the 12th century. Remains include several churches, including a cathedral. Church of St. John the Baptist, 'Glebe House', O'Heynes Church and St. Mary's Church. The fine 11th-12th century round tower inclines from the perpendicular.

    More information on Co. Galway

    Return to the N57, heading for Westport to see Kylemore Abbey. This abbey is one of Irelands greatest treasures and still lived in by monks to this day. The abbey and its grounds are open to visitors. Its location is spectacular being located on a hillside surrounded by trees overlooking a lake. There are walks including a very hard "penance" circuit which the monks used to follow for hours. A large visitor / tourist centre is open beside the carparks.

    Only 20 miles to Westport, you'll pass by the 13km long Killary harbour, Irelands only fjord. This harbour is connected to the Erriff River into which Croagh Patrick (mountain) drains. This Mountain is 720m high, every year, especially in summer, many climb this as a pilgrimage walk. It is said that St. Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland while on top of this mountain. More recently, it was found that the mountain contained very rich gold deposits, but thankfully it was decided to retain the natural beauty that this mountain brings to the area. The mountain also overlooks Clew Bay , known as the 1,000 island bay because of the many islands scattered thoughout it. If the weather is fine, climbing this mountain (following a clearly marked trail) is recommended.

    On passing Leenaun, famous for the part it played in the movie" The Field" by John B. Keane, another 10-15mins will bring you in to Westport. Westport is a well designed town and the Mall lined with lime trees was laid out by the local landlords. Westport House is a grand Georgian mansion with its own zoo which is open to the public in summer. Again Westport is also known for its sea-angling and there is great entertainment at night. Follow the N59 around the edge of Clew Bay to Newport, this makes an excellent base to explore the Nephin Ranges, but is better known as a fresh-water angling centre having many lakes and rivers in the area.

    Achill Island which is joined to the mainland by a bridge at Mallaranny is the largest island on the Irish coast; it is an amazing, beautiful and wild place to be. Perhaps the best beach in Ireland is at Keel, ending in the spectacular 800 foot high Minaun Cliffs. Dooagh is a lovely little village with many amenities and is the last village on the road to Keem Bay. At the end of the island there is a challenging hike up the 2192 feet of Croaghan with four miles of cliffs running along the other side which form a precipice nearly 2000 feet high, these are the highest cliffs in Europe.
    Places of historical interest worth visiting in Mayo include;

  • Ballymote: has the ruins of a massive castle built I 1300 by Richard de Burgh, Red Earl of Ulster; and also of a Franciscan friary where the Book of Ballymote was compiled in 1391.
  • Turlough Round Tower: a well-preserved tower with a 17th century church standing beside it.
  • Strade Franciscan Friary: remains of a 13th century friary, featuring a beautiful 15th century tomb and a fine figured altar.
  • Round Tower at Balla: this broken tower is located in an old graveyard in the village.
  • Ballintober Abbey: the only royal abbey in Ireland in continuous use of over 750 years; founded in 1216 by Cathal O'Connor for the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. Despite suppression by Henry VIII, divine worship continued within the Abbey walls. The building was damaged by the Cromwellians in 1653. A magnificent restoration of the church was completed in 1966, the year of the Abbey's 750th anniversary.
  • Cong Abbey: dating from the 12th century, this Abbey has an impressive door of four courses with medieval stone carving. The east window is also worth seeing.
  • Dry Canal: 4 miles (6.5km) long with cut-stone banks and locks. The canal's porous bed rendered it a complete failure soon after its ceremonial opening in the mid 19th century. Situated at Cong.
  • Meelick Round Tower: marking the site of an early monastic foundation of St. Broccaidh, this capless tower is 60 ft. (18m) high.
  • Kilgeever Abbey: located near Louisburgh, this ancient church and holy well has a long tradition as a pilgrimage centre.
  • Achill Island: there are notable chamber tombs at Slievemore to the north. Kildavnet in the south is the site of an ancient castle and church.
  • Downpatrick Head: remains of St. Patrick's church and holy well.
  • Doonamo Fort: stone fort set on cliffs.
  • Inishglora Island: has 6th century monastic remains of St. Brendan the Navigator. These include a monastery, nunnery, chapel and beehive hut. Some early cross slabs and stones.
  • Inishkea North and South Islands: located on the north island are the extensive monastic remains of St. Colmcille (died 58). Further Early Christian items on nearby Inishkea South.
  • Westport House: home of the Marquess of Sligo. Georgian mansion with plasterwork by James Wyatt. Overlooks Clew Bay. Collection of pictures, silver, furniture etc.

    More information on Co. Mayo

    Keeping on the N59 the road follows a very scenic route north and then east through Mayo to the town of Ballina. An alternate route from Westport to Ballina, would be following the N60 through Castlebar. (The capital of the county, Castlebar, is a flourishing commercial centre, the town and its countryside offers many amenities including walks and fishing. There are many pre-Christian ring forts and monastic sites nearby that the traveller can visit.) This road (N58, N57) follows a network of valley rivers and lakes through Foxford to Ballina. The town of Foxford is a must with its woollen mills and as it is situated on the Moy there is more excellent fishing for the angler. For excellent shopping and good restaurants Ballina is the principal town in the area and the largest in Mayo. From Ballina, the N59 continues on to Sligo where this days tour ends.
    Places of historical interest worth visiting in Sligo include;

  • Sligo County Museum, Stephen Street, Sligo: folklife, archaeology, history, paintings, rare painted books, manuscripts, section on W.B.Yeats.
  • Lissadell House, 8 miles (13km) north of Sligo on Bundoran Road (N 15); former home of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz and still home of the Gore-Booth family. Many associations with W.B.Yeats.
  • Sligo Abbey, Sligo town: Dominican abbey founded 1252 and destroyed by fire 1414; the present ruin dates from the rebellion of 1641 and the sack of Sligo; beautiful examples of Irish medieval stone carving. The most ancient of Sligo's churches is the 17th century St. John's Church.
  • Formoyle, 4 miles (6.5km) east of Sligo: immense megalithic tomb of Leacht Con Mhic Ruis.
  • Carrowmore, 2 miles (3km) west of Sligo: a low hill with the largest group of megalithic remains in Ireland - dolmens, stone circles and cairns with sepulchral chambers.
  • Drumcliff, 4 miles (6.5km) north of Sligo: ancient cross by roadside with particularly good panel of Adam and Eve; close by is a lower portion of a round tower. In the nearby churchyard is the grave of W.B. Yeats.
  • Queen Maeve's Mound, on Knockarea Hill, 4 miles (6.5km) west of Sligo: a gigantic cairn said to commemorate a queen of Connaught in the first century AD.

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