The Burren is an area of about 500 square kilometres of Lunar-Like Landscape that some have described as one of the Wonders of the World. Its apparent barreness is host to an internationally famous flora. Its scenery is magnificent and The Cliffs of Moher have to be experienced rather than described.

The Burren has a farming history going back to the Stone Age, some 6000 years ago. The Burren has a sense of Spiritual Peace has an extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt's pyramids.

This, in our opinion, is the ultimate tour of The Burren incorporating The Cliffs of Moher. It incorporates several aspects of the region from rugged coast to barren wasteland to the breathtaking mountain, coastal and lake scenery. It gives the opportunity to see some of the region from the sea as well as from on land. Our tours average about seven and a half hours but this one does take longer, but it is worth it for those who want to pack as much as possible into one day.

Tour itinerary

 Oranmore was a village outside of Galway less than a lifetime ago, now it is a suburb of one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, yet has managed to maintain its own character including a thatched pub.  Clarinbridge is famous for its Oysters and each year since 1954 it hosts the well known International Oyster Festival.

Next, we go to Kilcolgan where we turn off the main southbound road and head into The Burren. Kinvara is derived from the Gaelic "Cinn Mhara" which means "Head of the Sea" a name that gives us an insight into its history. It has long associations with the sea and its past is recalled in the Annual Festival "Cruinniu na mBd" or "The Gathering of the Boats" Probably the most famous landmark in the area is Dunguaire Castle, built in the 1500's, it is open to visitors from May to October and holds Medieval Banquets.

 

Ballyvaughan has seen many changes over the years, once a fishing village it is now a thriving tourism center and has a definite air of prosperity about it. It's a location at the edge of The Burren and the discovery of the nearby Aillwee Caves have certainly been major factors in its development.

We progress from Ballyvaughan on to Ailwee Cave for a magnificent view with options to visit the cave, walk some of The Burren, enjoy a Birds of Prey show and even do a Hawk Walk.

 

Although one of the oldest in Ireland, Aillwee Cave is a fairly recent discovery. Before local herdsman, Jacko McGann, discovered it the entrance was only a chink in a cliff face. The Cave was opened to the public in 1976 and you witness great caverns, stalactites, stalagmites, and subterranean rivers. The Cave is basically a single tunnel burrowing a kilometer into Aillwee Hill. Originally it was an underground river fed by the melting snow of the Ice Age. When the river dried up Cave Bears moved in and used it as a hibernating place. You can see evidence of this in "Bear Haven", part of the Show Caves.

 

From here we visit the Megalithic Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen which is an ancient stone tomb dating between 2000 - 2500 B.C. It is one of the most famous and most photographed Irish dolmens. Poulnabrone translates from Irish as 'The hole of the sorrows'. You can stand at a structure that pre-dates the Egyptian Pyramids.

 

 

Next we come to Leamaneh Castle. If you look carefully you will see that there are two parts joined together. The original house was built around 1480 and the second part was added around 1640. The most impressive features are the intact stone window frames and "The Murder Hole". This was the home of the famous (or infamous) Maire Rua !

 

 

From here we go through Kilfenora an area renowned for its Traditional Irish Music. Kilfenora's main claim to fame is its ruined Cathedral and associated High Crosses. There were five High Crosses originally, but one was removed in 1821. The best-known is the Doorty Cross with three bishops and a double-headed bird on the east side; on the west is (possibly) a carving showing Christ entering Jerusalem. Kilfenora is located on the edge of the Burren and the Burren Display Centre, a co-operative local enterprise, has many exhibits displaying features of the locality.

 

Our next stop is at Lisdoonvarna, a Town that is comparatively new by Irish standards, dating from the early 19th Century. It is the only active Spa Town in Ireland and Lisdoonvarna developed almost entirely because of its Health Spa. The Town is also famous for its matchmaking and this activity peaks in September at the end of the harvest when bachelor farmers come to find a wife! Lisdoonvarna has a Fish Smokehouse which you can visit.

 

We now head on to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. At this point, we can visit Doolin and take a sea trip which takes us around "The Needle", home to thousands of birds, and you sail under the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs rise from Hag's Head in the South reaching a height of over 700 feet just north of O'Brien’s Tower. On a clear day the view is truly spectacular: The Aran Islands in Galway Bay to the Hills and Valleys of Connemara in West Galway. At the edge, you can hear booming far below as the waves eat into the soft sandstone and shale. You can also hear many bird sounds as The Cliffs of Moher are home to many species including razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, gannets, kittiwakes, shags, ravens, choughs and puffins.  O'Brien’s Tower offers a superb view of the awesome face of The Cliffs. It is advisable, even in Summer, to bring some warm clothing as you will be at a considerable height on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Do bring plenty of film, or nowadays, memory !

You can take a ferry trip from Doolin that brings you right under the Cliffs of Moher and gives magnificent sea-level views of the cliffs and "The Needle", home to thousands of different nesting seabirds.

Lahinch is a pretty seaside village that has been in existence since the 18th century but the area can trace continuous human settlement to Pre Historic times. Lahinch is famous for its Golf Courses. Golf started there as far back as 1892 when officers of the Scottish Regiment "The Black Watch" brought the game to the area. In 1943 an American Liberator Bomber made a forced landing on the beach. The entire crew managed to escape injury.  Lahinch is also a surfers paradise and is regarded by many as "The Surf Capital of Ireland"

 

 

We now head back to Galway on the coast road. We progress to Black Head at the southern entrance to Galway Bay, Black Head is also known as Burren Head and legend has it that it was once the home of "The Banshee Bronach". This route has some lovely views of Galway Bay and passes through the lovely area and beach at Fanore.

 

The above itinerary covers the main route and does not include the hidden gems that we have discovered over the years.

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"Jim was punctual, kind, knowledgeable, and very perceptive in his ability to know just what would appeal to us as a group. While Jim did the driving, we were able to see fantastic scenery. We went places we never would have found, heard unique stories and had a fabulous day!"

Liz D., New Jersey, USA

 

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Satisfying the customer 

Over the years we have had several compliments on our drivers from many of our satisfied customers. Click on the link to "Tripadvisor" below to read, in full, the reviews of some of our many happy customers.

"Paul seemed to know just the right amount of time to stop and see things and was very knowledgable and interesting. Even though we had a long day, we wish it lasted longer and felt like we were saying goodbye to a friend when he dropped us off."

Beanie, New York, USA

 

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IRELAND WEST TOURS

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