All posts by Orla Spencer

10 Top Things to Do in Mayo – 2018

Mayo is a hidden gem of a county on the Wild Atlantic Way situated on the Western Seaboard of Ireland.  It has lots to offer to all visitors with its stunning landscapes and diverse range of scenery it has many points of interests. It is steeped in history and culture. This below is some recommendations of the “Top 10 Things To Do in Mayo” and why it is a place to put on your itinerary to visit this coming 2018 in Ireland.

Mayo offers a range of outdoor activities ranging from exploring the Greenways by cycling or walking. Also excellent opportunities for, angling, mountain climbing,  and water sports such as surfing or paddle boarding. One of the hidden gems of Mayo is Achill Island with its breath-taking landscapes, its people, and natural fauna – This Island will not disappoint you with lots things to do and explore.

Source: Dream Culture by Kevin MacLeod

10 Top Things To Do in Mayo

The Great Western Greenway

This is the perfect way to explore the area, be it walking or cycling part of the Wild Atlantic Way with 42km of Greenway along the old Westport to Achill railway line. What better way to escape the urban life and travel the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in Ireland. Perfect place to start this trip is from Westport and it takes you to villages of Newport, Mulranny and finishes up in Achill Island.

The Great Western Greenway
The Great Western Greenway

Atlantic Drive on Achill Island

This is a first-rate way to see the natural beauty of Achill Island. It is a special mystical drive that takes in the rugged scenery of the island with beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs with excellent opportunities to stop off and take some panoramic pictures. The island is blessed with many nice traditional pubs, restaurants serving beautiful nutritious traditional Irish food. Achill Island is perfect for a day trip or overnight stay.

Achill Island
Achill Island


Westport name comes from Cathair na Mart meaning “stone fort of the beeves”. It is situated on the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. The current town center as it stands today was designed in Georgian architecture style in the 1780s by James Wyatt. The town layout was urban design incorporating medieval principles. Westport is famous for its collection of traditional Irish bars, selection of quality restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts.  Combined with a vibrant friendly local population it makes for the perfect place to stay.

Westport Town Centre
Westport Town Centre

Westport House and Garden

Westport House is one of Ireland’s most loved heritage attractions. It is possible for visitors to view one of the finest places built in the 16th Century in Ireland with 30 rooms available to tour. This house dates back to Grace O Malley the Pirate Queen of Connacht who ruled the land and sea around the estate. The original foundations of Westport House were built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke, Grace O Malley’s great – great – granddaughter.

Westport House & Gardens
Westport House & Gardens

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick is locally known as the “The Reeks” situated 10 km from the town of Westport. If hiking or hill walking is your interest this is a mountain that will not disappoint. The mountain is regarded as Ireland’s Holy Mountain. The mountain offers spectacular views of Clew Bay, Achill Island, and surrounding areas.  It is best advised to climb during the summer months between (April – September). The mountain rises 762m above sea level and generally takes approximately 4-5 hour round trip.

Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick
Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick

National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

Knock Shrine in Gaelic Cnoc Mhuire “Hill of Mary” is a very important holy place in the village of Knock. It is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage and National Shrine where it has been observed that there was an apparition of Saint Joseph, Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and Jesus Christ in 1879. During the time that this happened Ireland had been coming to the end of the great famine and the 1870s saw the beginning of land reform which changed Irish rural life with the events of Knock happening at the beginning of the Land War.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock
National Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

Ballintubber Abbey

This is one of the earliest church to be founded after Saint Patrick came down from Croagh Patrick established in 1216 and it is only the church in the Irish state founded by an Irish king that is still in use. This abbey has quiet the history, the abbey was burned by the Normans, seized by James I and suppressed by Henry VIII. To add to this historic abbey, the roof was burned by Oliver Cromwell soldiers in 1653 and not fully restored until 1966 but even so, there was no roof, the mass was continued to be said. It is some feat to have the abbey celebrating mass continuously for the past 800 years which is the only church in Ireland to do so.

Ballintubber Abbey
Ballintubber Abbey

National Museum of Country Life – Castlebar

This is an award-winning Museum of Country Life and is home to the National Folklife Collection.  This museum is spread out over four floors showcasing rural Ireland in the hundred years between the Great Famine and the end of the 1950s. One learns about traditional clothing of the Aran Islands, folklore objects and a selection of photographs depicting the living environment of the people working on the land and sea. Also, visitors get to learn about the resources people used in that time and the skills that were required to live in rural Ireland.

National Museum of Country Life – Castlebar Things to do in Mayo
National Museum of Country Life

Fishing on the River Moy

River Moy is one of the most productive river systems in Ireland. It is approximately 100km long which drains the catchment of over two thousand square kilometers. Within this river fishing system is some excellent lough such as Conn and Cullin with also streams and lakes. The Moy river is famous for being one of Ireland’s premier Salmon rivers and the great thing about it is that it offers a great range of quality angling to suit all tastes and budgets. The Moy estuary is also excellent for sea trout that can exceed four pounds and can be caught on fly and bait. The fishing season is from February 1st – September 30th and it is important to check with ghillies and owners to confirm the local rule.  If you are interested in sampling Ireland’s world-renowned fishing, the River Moy offers you all this and more.

Fishing on the River Moy
Fishing on the River Moy

Surfing in Blue Flag Beaches

If water sports are something that gives you the idea of your dream holiday, Mayo has this in abundance and more. Mayo gives ample opportunity to enjoy the renowned Irish waves and a chance to surf them. There are waves for all levels of surfers from beginners up to experienced.  Beatra beach an arm of land extending into Clew Bay not far from Westport is an excellent place to surf and many surf schools in operation in these places too. If going off the beaten track and away from the masses then Bellmullet or Achill Island is the place to be. Enjoy the windswept beaches and try and bag a big wave in Keel Strand in Achill Island.  There are lots of other options too such as paddle boarding or windsurfing to enjoy. Bring or rent a wetsuit, as Irish waters are quite cold!! Definitely one of the memorable things to do while in Mayo

Surfing on Achill Island
Surfing on Achill Island

Get in Touch-

The best way to learn about Mayo in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today – We can tailor your itinerary around what we have to offer in Mayo alongside our Wild Atlantic Way Self Drive or Chauffeured tours. We can customise your trip to suits your needs and wants & create your own unique experience in Mayo and the Wild Atlantic Way that will make it your dream holiday to Ireland.

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

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Love Golf? Best Golf Courses in Ireland

This month’s blog focuses on what Ireland has to offer to the golfing world! Boasting some of the best links courses that can be found, Ireland is a must visit for any golf fan. While we have included seven  of the best golf courses in Ireland on our list, there are dozens of other excellent courses located right throughout Ireland for you to play during your trip.

Here at Irish Tourism we offer a wide variety of golf tours suitable for players for all abilities that are customised to what you want to fit in during your time in Ireland.

Now for the list!

Ballybunion (Old Course)

Ballybunion - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
Ballybunion Golf Course, Kerry

Considered by many to be one of the finest courses around, every single facet of your game is challenged throughout these 18 demanding holes. Founded in 1893, the course has attracted legendary players throughout the years including Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and former U.S president Bill Clinton. In 2005 Golf Digest ranked Ballybunion as the seventh best course in the world outside the United States further increasing Ballybunion’s fame.

Royal Portrush

Royal Portrush - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
Royal Portrush, County Antrim

This prestigious club, situated on the north coast of County Antrim is home two links courses, Dunluce (championship course) and The Valley Links. The Dunluce course hosted the Irish Open in 2012 and is due to host the Open Championship in 2019. Two famous faces to keep an eye out for are major winners Darren Clarke who resides in Portrush & Graeme McDowell who is a member.


Portmarnock - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
Portmarnock Golf Club, County Dublin

Located just half an hour’s drive from Dublin City Centre and fifteen minutes from Dublin Airport, it is the perfect place to start/end your trip to Ireland. Surrounded on three sides by water and with no two successive holes playing in the same direction Portmarnock will require you to use all of the tricks that you have in your locker!


Lahinch - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
Lahinch Golf Club, County Clare

Set right on the Atlantic Coastline, this is the perfect place to tee up if you are staying in Doolin or in the Western region. The course is often referred to as the “St Andrews of Ireland” as it was originally designed by Old Tom Morris. In the 1920’s the course was redesigned by Alister MacKenzie who later would co-design Augusta National. The sublime work of these prestigious course designers has defined Lahinch as one of the best golf courses in Ireland.

The European Club

European Club - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
European Club, County Wicklow

Situated just an hours drive south of Dublin in County Wicklow, the European club is one of the most famed courses on Ireland’s east coast. Perhaps one of the more unconventional links in Ireland, certain features give an added charm to the course such as the two extra par 3’s to having the longest green in the world (127 yards from back to front).

Old Head of Kinsale

Old Head of Kinsale - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork

Located on the south coast of Ireland in County Cork, the old Head of Kinsale is a spectacular course that is at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean. Cliffs over 300 metres high run off the edge of fairways providing you with breath taking views however it also means that wayward shots must be kept to a minimum!


Ballyliffin - Love Golf? Ireland has some amazing golf courses
Ballyliffin, County Donegal

Last but certainly not least we come to Ballyliffin. Located at the Northern tip of Donegal, the course is due to host the Irish Open in 2018. Ballyliffin has been described as one of the best kept secrets in Irish golf. Recent work completed by Nick Faldo has received much acclaim and has served to further enhance the reputation of the links.


Get in Touch-

If you are interested in playing some of the best golf courses in Ireland contact us today on the below numbers or through our enquiry form. One of our experienced travel advisors will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.

USA & Canada 1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone 0800 096 9438

International +353 69 77686



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Top 10 things to do in Ireland

Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Ireland that we get asked for consistently over and over again. It is important not to try and visit too many places in Ireland on one trip, talk to our sales representatives about how you can make the best of your time here so that you can visit the places that are important to you but also not go home feeling like you need another vacation! There is so much to see & do in Ireland so please do not limit yourself to just these attractions however these are the places we get asked for a lot;

Top 10 things to do in Ireland

  1. Visit Dublin & The Guinness Storehouse
Things to do in Dublin - Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

2. See the Cliffs of Moher

Places to visit in county Clare Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

3. Drive the famous Ring of Kerry

View-from-Molls-Gap Ring of Kerry
View from Moll’s Gap, Ring of Kerry

4. Take a boat trip to the Aran Islands

Horse and Trap, Inisheer (Inis Oirr), Aran Islands
Horse and Trap, Inisheer (Inis Oirr), Aran Islands

5. Tour the Stunning Connemara Region

Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park

6. Check out the Festival City of Galway

Galway Pub, Top 10 Things to do in Ireland
Galway Pub

7. Visit the famous Giant’s Causeway & Causeway Coast

Giant's Causeway, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Giant’s Causeway

8. Visit Belfast City & Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast, Belfast

9. Visit Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle, Cork

10. Visit the Boyne Valley & Newgrange

Newgrange, Boyne Valley, Top 10 things to do In Ireland
Newgrange, Boyne Valley
Get in Touch-

Learn more about the top 10 things to do in Ireland by taking your own trip here! Contact us today to arrange your own vacation in Ireland including some or all of these fantastic locations!

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

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Wonderful Waterford!

Waterford is located in Ireland’s Sunny South East, and is one of Ireland’s oldest cities. Founded by Vikings in 914 A.D., a part of its ancient walled core still remains. The city is most famous for one of its exports, Waterford Crystal, a legacy of the city’s glass making industry.

Before you set off sightseeing in Waterford you might want to sample a Blaa, a large, soft, and fluffy bread roll that is exclusive to Waterford!

Waterford Viking Triangle is the city’s Cultural and Heritage quarter and many of its visitor attractions are here. The quarter is characterised by narrow streets, atmospheric public spaces and a collection of cultural & historic attractions.

On your travels you may wish to pay a visit to;

Reginald’s Tower

This landmark building is the only monument named after a Viking. Situated at the apex of the Viking Triangle, the tower was originally part of the cities defences. The building was once used as a mint, a prison and military store; it now displays an exhibition on Viking Waterford.

Reginalds Tower Waterford Ireland
Reginald’s Tower
The Bishops Palace

The Bishop’s Palace is located in Cathedral Square and gives the visitor an insight into the Georgian and Victorian periods in Waterford.  The first two floors are laid out as a historic house with displays of 18th century glass, silver, furniture and paintings.  The oldest piece of Waterford Glass in the world is a highlight.

Bishop Palace Museum Waterford, Ireland
Bishop Palace Museum
The Medieval Museum  

The Medieval Museum is located between Cathedral Square and the Bishop’s Palace in the heart of the Viking Triangle. The Museums main architectural features include two medieval chambers, a 13th century Choristers’ Hall and a 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault. One of the museum’s most precious artefact is the only surviving piece of clothing worn by Henry VIII, a cap of maintenance.

Medieval Museum Waterford Ireland
Medieval Museum
Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal is locally referred to as “the people’s theatre” and has been the traditional venue in Waterford for the arts throughout generations. The theatre is the home of several amateur societies and has hosted the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera since its foundation in 1958.

Theatre Royal, Waterford, Ireland
Theatre Royal, Waterford, Ireland
House of Waterford Crystal

The origins of crystal production in Waterford date back as early as 1783 when George and William Penrose began producing extremely fine flint glass that became world-renowned. Waterford Crystal continues this tradition and its facility in the city offers visitors the opportunity to take guided tours of the glass making process from start to finish.  The on-site crystal store showcases the world’s largest collection of Waterford Crystal.

09-Waterford Crystal 3

Get in Touch-

The best way to learn about Waterford in Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

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10 Castles in Ireland to Visit

There are thousands of Castles in Ireland, Some of them you can even Stay In! You will see ruins randomly scattered around the Irish countryside as you make your way around. Many of them are ruins or on private land so you may not be able to visit, but there are plenty that open their gate to prospective visitors:

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Castles In Ireland to Visit - Bunratty
Bunratty Castle, County Clare

Bunratty Castle is one of the most fully furnished castles in Ireland. You can walk through several of the rooms inside and they appear to be left as they would have been by the MacNamara family who built the castle back in 1425. Outside the castle walls there is a folk park which recreated rural life as it was in the 19th century. Make sure to leave a few hours to visit the castle and all of the surrounding cottages.

Blarney Castle & Gardens

Blarney Castle , County Cork
Blarney Castle , County Cork

Blarney Castle is probably the most famous of all the Castles in Ireland. According to legend if you climb the ramparts to kiss the Blarney Stone it is said to bestow the gift of eloquence, otherwise known as ‘the Gift of the Gab’.

Dublin Castle

Castles in Ireland to visit - Dublin Castle, Dublin City
Dublin Castle, Dublin City

Dublin Castle was constructed in 1204 and was until 1922 the seat of the British Government administration in Ireland; it played a pivotal role in the 1916 Easter Rising. Today it houses The Chapel Royal, The Chester Beatty Library which displays artistic treasures from around the world and the State Apartments;  the venue for Ireland’s Presidencies of the European Union, Presidential inaugurations and prestigious functions.

Kilkenny Castle

Castles in Ireland to visit. Kilkenny Castle,  Kilkenny City
Kilkenny Castle,  Kilkenny City

Probably one of the most charmingly located castles in Ireland; Kilkenny Castle sits aside the River Nore. The ‘Long Gallery’ has a stunning 19th century hammer beam and glass roof and the gardens are lovely for a picnic on a fine day.

Trim Castle 

Castles in Ireland to visit - Trim Castle, County Meath
Trim Castle, County Meath

Trim Castle is the largest and most-preserved Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland.  Trim got its name from the Irish phrase ‘The Ford of the Elder Trees’, signifying that this was an important crossing point of the River Boyne.  Braveheart fans may recognise the castle from scenes in the film.

Dalkey Castle

Castles in Ireland to Visit. Dalkey Castle, County Dublin
Dalkey Castle, County Dublin

Situated 10 miles South of Dublin city centre the town of Dalkey has a 10th Century church and two 14th Century Norman castles, one of which houses The Heritage Centre. Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company runs live theatre performances involving visitors so it’s a fantastic castle to visit for families.

Cahir Castle

Castles in Ireland to Visit. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary
Cahir Castle, County Tipperary

Once the home of the powerful Butler family; this castle remains mostly complete, you can see its impressive keep, the tower and a lot of its original defensive structure with moat and portcullis still intact.

Glenveagh Castle  

Castles in Ireland to Visit. Glenveagh Castle, County Donegal
Glenveagh Castle, County Donegal

Situated in the midst of Glenveagh National Park on the edge of Lough Veagh is Glenveagh Castle, a late 19th century castellated mansion, built as a hunting lodge. Its construction in a isolated mountainous setting was inspired by the Victorian idea of a romantic highland retreat.

Carrickfergus Castle

Castles in Ireland to Visit - Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim
Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim

Besieged in by the Scots, Irish, English and French, this castle played an important military role as far as 1928 and to this day remains one of the best preserved castles in Ireland.

Ross Castle

Castles in ireland to Visit - Ross Castle, County Kerry
Ross Castle, County Kerry

Another scenic gem sitting prettily by the edge of Lough Leane in Killarney.  This Castle is a typical example of a stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages. It is enclosed by a fortified bawn, its curtain walls defended by circular bordering towers, two of which remain.

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these castles today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

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10 Castles in Ireland to Stay In

If you are interested in Castles to Visit in Ireland there are plenty but there are also some great castles in Ireland to stay in. Many of them offering an authentic Castle experience.

Check out our Castles & Manors Tours for ready made packages that include many of these great castles and learn more about each property below:

Dromoland Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Dromoland Castle
Dromoland Castle, County Clare

Dromoland Castle is one of the finest castles in Ireland to stay in, a 5-star luxury hotel located near Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare. It was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, who are one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland in the eleventh century.

Ashford Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Ashford Castle (5)
Ashford Castle, County Mayo

Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that has been extended over the centuries and turned into a 5-star luxury hotel near the village of Cong, on the shore of Lough Corrib. The castles history stretches back as far as 1228!

Adare Manor

Adare Manor, County Limerick

Adare Manor is a manor house located in the village of Adare, County Limerick. The Castle was the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. Although the present house was built in the early 19th-century, it retains some of the walls of the 17th-century structure. It is now the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, a luxury 5-Star resort hotel.

Ballynahinch Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Ballynahinch Restaurant 3 300mm Hi Res
Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway

Ballynahinch Castle located in Recess in the wilds of Connemara has an interesting history – it was built at some point between the end of the 18th century and the first decade of the 19th and is now a luxury 4-Star hotel and one of the loveliest castles in Ireland to stay in.

Markree Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Markree Castle Hotel
Markree Castle, County Sligo

Markree Castle, in Collooney in County Sligo is the family seat of the Cooper family, partially moated by the River Unshin. Today it is a small family-run 4-Star hotel.

Lough Eske Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Lough Eske Donegal Night
Lough Eske Castle, County Donegal

Lough Eske Castle is a 5-Star Castle Hotel near Lough Eske in County Donegal, Not far from Donegal Town. In 1861 the new Lough Eske Castle was built on the location of the old Brooke manor, which was itself a rebuilding of an original Jacobean house.  

Waterford Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Waterford Castle
Waterford Castle, County Waterford

Waterford Castle is located on an enchanting Island surrounded by the River Suir and this site was the ancestral home of the Fitzgerald Family for 800 years. The castle is now a delightful 4-Star hotel and a great option for a castle stay in Ireland.

Ballyseede Castle  

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Ballyseede Castle Hotel
Ballyseede Castle, County Kerry

 Ballyseede is a 4-Star Castle Hotel set on 30 acres of pasture and gardens, just a few minutes’ drive from the town Tralee. This castle is a great base to explore Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula.

Kilronan Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Kilronan Castle
Kilronan Castle, County Roscommon

Kilronan Castle, known previously as Castle Tenison, sits on forty acres of parkland on the shore of Lough Meelagh in County Roscommon. It is now a fantastic 4-Star hotel.

Cabra Castle

Castles in ireland to Stay In - Cabra Castle 1
Cabra Castle, County Cavan

The 4-Star Cabra Castle in Kingscourt in County Cavan was constructed in the first decade of the 19th-century. This building was formerly called Cormey Castle, after the local townland where it was built.

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these castles today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

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Some Improvements to our Northwest Knitting Retreat

We have Improved our Northwest Knitting Retreat: More Knitting, No Extra Cost!
Knitting at Glencolmcille Folk Village left & Glenveagh Castle right (Both featured on Northwest Retreat)

Knitting at Glencolmcille Folk Village left & Glenveagh Castle right
(Both featured on Northwest Retreat)

Our 2017 Knitting Tours are almost full but we still have some seats left on our Northwest and Southwest Retreats. We have made some changes to our Northwest Knitting Retreat to make it even better!

Our Northwest Knitting Retreat is based primarily at Harvey’s Point on the banks of Lough Eske in Donegal. The ideal location for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern living. This Hotel was voted ‘Best Hotel in Ireland’ by TripAdvisor users for three years in a row!

This tour also includes some fantastic optional touring including a trip to the gorgeous Glenveagh Castle and the stunning Slieve League Cliffs. You will also visit Carrickmacross Lace and the Ulster Folk Museum.  On your retreat stay you will have the company of one of our most loved knitting instructors; Edel MacBride working on knitting projects that have been designed especially for this knitting retreat by Edel.

The retreat now includes a Spinning Demonstration on a traditional Donegal Spinning Wheel and an afternoon knitting at Glencolmcille Folk village with some of the ladies from the locality – here tour members will be going through a Fair Isle pattern with Rita who received it from a local woman who had it in her family for several generations.

Don’t miss out – Contact us today to book your place!

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686 

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Skellig Islands: What to Know Before You Go

What you should know about the Skellig Islands before you plan your trip

About the Skellig Islands            

The Skellig Islands are two small extremely steep and rocky islands situated about 13km west of Bolus Head on the Ring of Kerry. The larger of the two islands Skellig Michael is open to the public, the smaller one is not but can be seen and photographed from Skellig Michael. A Christian Monastery was founded on Skellig Michael between the 6th and 8th century and remained occupied until the 12th century. The remains of the monastery, and most of the island, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Recently the island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Skellig Islands Hut
Skellig Islands Beehive Huts
How to Get to the Skellig Islands

You can only take a boat trip that docks on the island in the summer season which is between May 12th and October 2nd and the boat trips are always subject to weather conditions on the day. Outside of this time period it may be possible to do a perimeter boat tour which allows you to see the island close up but won’t stop to let people off.

The crossing takes about 40 minutes to an hour but can take longer depending on weather. There are contact details for the local boatmen that have a permit to run Skellig Island trips on the Office of Public Works website. The Skellig Experience Visitor centre also runs cruises around the island without landing on it.

Before you go to the Skellig Consider the Following:
  1. It’s a seriously hard climb! There are more than 600 steps to the summit and they are extremely steep. There are no handrails and the rocks can be dangerous, especially if wet.
  2. If you decide to go, then you really have to make the climb or you will be waiting at the bottom with no shelter for the boat to return.
  3. Along the climb there are intermittent little plateaus where you can take a rest but they are not really suitable to wait for long periods of time.
  4. There is no toilet on the island or on the boats. Go before you go!
  5. What to bring? Good walking shoes or boots, a jacket, some food, water and sunscreen.

Please watch the following safety video produced by the office of public works:

Skellig Experience Visitor Centre

If you can’t make it to the Skellig Islands we recommend that you visit the Skellig Experience located just off the bridge from Portmagee to Valentia Island. Here you will find exhibitions on all aspects of the Skellig Islands as well as a 14 minute film presentation.

Contact the Irish Tourism Group –

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit!  Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

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10 Stops to Make on Your Ring of Kerry Tour

The Ring of Kerry, a 180km circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s southwest, is quite possibly Ireland’s most well-known driving route. Superb Mountains and coastal settings combined with vibrant towns and villages will make this tour one of the highlights of your Ireland vacation.

All of our Self Drive tours include a detailed suggested itinerary which will help you decide what to see or what to leave out. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route.

The 10 Stops to Make on your self-drive or Escorted Ring of Kerry Tour are;


  1. Killorglin

Killorglin is the first town you will meet when you begin your Ring of Kerry Adventure! Home to the famous ‘Puck Fair’, Ireland’s largest and the world’s oldest market fair. The town has some nice restaurants and shops and pretty riverside views.

Rosbeigh Strand, Glenbeigh, Ring of Kerry
Rosbeigh Strand, Glenbeigh, Ring of Kerry
  1. Glenbeigh & Rosbeigh Beach

The mountainous backdrop here is glorious, and the half circle of hills from Seefin to Drung Hill, nicknamed the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe” is one of Kerry’s finest mountain walks.  Near to Glenbeigh Village you will find Rosbeigh Beach with its lovely sand dunes and shale walks.

  1. Cahersiveen

This is the principal town on the Ring of Kerry and birthplace of the famous Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’ Connell. Pay a visit to ‘The Barracks’, Cahersiveen Heritage Centre which gives an insight into the life and times of Cahersiveen.

Geokaun Valentia Island Ring of Kerry
Geokaun, Valentia Island
  1. Valentia Island

You can reach Valentia  by the car ferry from Cahersiveen from April to October. Outside of this time take the bridge across to the island from the pretty harbour village of Portmagee.  There are a few places to visit on the island including the village of Knighstown with its beautiful period buildings, Valentia Island Lighthouse and Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs; Valentia’s highest point and a superb spot to enjoy 360 degree views of the island and beyond!

  1. Skellig Experience Visitor Centre & The Skellig Islands
Skellig Islands, Ring of Kerry
Skellig Islands, Ring of Kerry

Skellig Michael also known as the Great Skellig is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. At the summit of the 230m high rock there is a 6th century Christian monastery and stone beehive huts which the monks who inhabited the island lived in. Boat trips to the islands can be taken from Portmagee pier. Trips to Skellig are not for the feint hearted  however as there are 670 stone steps to climb before you reach the top! You can learn more about the Skelligs at the Skellig Island Visitor Experience which is located on Valentia Island near the bridge across to Portmagee.

  1. Ballinskelligs

Ballinskelligs or “Baile na Sceilge” is one of the few remaining Irish speaking areas in this region of Kerry. Southwest of the village you will find Bolus Head, which looks over St. Finan’s Bay and the Skelligs. The ruins of Cill Rialiag, an early Christian monastic settlement are located nearby. Ballinskellig Beach known locally as Ladies Beach is a stunning place to relax or take a long beach walk!

Charlie Chaplin Statue, Waterville, Ring of Kerry
Charlie Chaplin Statue, Waterville
  1. Waterville

Waterville is a lovely little village overlooking stunning Ballinskelligs Bay and nestled on the beautiful Lake Currane.  The town was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family who used to holiday here. They first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years.

Derrynane House Ring of Kerry
Derrynane House
  1. Caherdaniel and Derrynane House

Caherdaniel is small but striking and perhaps set in one of the most scenic locations on the Ring of Kerry, on the shore of Derrynane Bay. Derrynane House is the ancestral home of Daniel O’ Connell, a 19th century politician who achieved Catholic emancipation for the Irish people. The house is now a public museum.

  1. Kenmare

Kenmare town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre.  One of the most striking features of the town is its colourfully painted houses and shops. There are lots of nice restaurants, pubs and craft shops here also.

View-from-Molls-Gap Ring of Kerry
View from Moll’s Gap, Ring of Kerry
  1. Moll’s Gap

Moll’s Gap is a pass on the road from Kenmare to Killarney. Here you will find unrivalled views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. Nearby you will find Avoca Handweavers which sells Irish giftware and local food produce.

To discover these locations and more on your own Ring of Kerry tour, contact us today:

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Saint Brigid’s Day in Ireland

Saint Bridgid’s Cross

Saint Brigid is the Patroness of Ireland, also known as ‘Mary of the Gael’. Her feast day, Saint Brigid’s Day, is the 1st of February, the start of the Spring season. Traditionally Saint Brigid crosses like this one are made from rushes on her feast day and hung in the house for the rest of the year to ward off evil and danger from fire.

Saint Brigid’s Day is believed to have come from the pagan festival ‘Imbolc’ which literally beans ‘in the belly’ and celebrates spring and the arrival of longer days. In pagan mythology, Brigid was the goddess of fertility.

In some parts of Ireland St Brigid’s Day is celebrated with the ‘’Brideog’’, a handmade doll traditionally fashioned out of straw and dressed in white. The Brigeog is taken from house to house and usually at each house the visitors play traditional Irish music and dance.

The Brideog Doll (Image credit Doolin 2 Aran Ferries)
The Brideog Doll (Image credit Doolin 2 Aran Ferries)

Saint Brigid is associated with County Kildare and is sometimes referred to as ‘Brigid of Kildare’. According to legend Brigid founded a monastery at Kildare on the site of an older pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, served by a group of young women who tended an eternal flame. In the 6th century, a monastery was erected on the same site. The original monastery no longer exists but a new Cathedral was built on the site during the 13th century. This Cathedral still stands and the sisters of St. Brigid (nuns) reside there.

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation  –

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