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The west of Ireland lives up to its image, a traditional, rural, sparsely populated land, with its own sort of beauty. The mountains are windswept the countryside speckled with low stone walls and peat bogs. The rugged Atlantic coastline of the West has been occupied for over 5,000 years. It is rich in prehistoric sites such as ancient Celtic tombs called dolmans and ring forts.

The region’s religious influence is still apparent in the pilgrimages to Croagh Patrick mountain, of which you too, will have a chance to climb. The West is a hearty area and has survived much. During the Great Famine, the West – especially County Mayo – suffered most from emigration, a trend that continues to this day. In spite of this, strong Gaelic traditions have survived and you will often hear people speaking Gaelic as their first language.

The town of Westport makes a wonderful base for exploring this area, with cozy pubs and access to the scenic islands. Nature lovers and historians will enjoy the variety of scenery, flora and fauna on Clare Island and in Connemara.

Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain is named after the national saint and is one of Ireland’s best known landmarks. The mountain seems cone shaped but this is quickly dispelled as you climb to the summit with its flat peak. This quartzite mountain has a history of pagan worship since 3000 BC. However, in AD 441 St. Patrick is said to have spent 40 days on the mountain fasting and praying for the Irish. Since then, penitents, often barefoot, have made the pilgrimage to the summit in his honor.

Special highlights of this walk include a trip to Clare Island with its history stories of the famed pirate Grace O’Malley, resistant to the English rule until her death. As well, a walk through the Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey will prove to be very scenic and intriguing to walkers of all ages. This vacation is for 7 nights, with 5 days of walking trips.

Dates: May 6-13, June 10-17. July 8-15, July 22-29, Aug. 19-26, Sept. 2-9
Rates: $995.00 USD (Single Supplement: $135.00 USD)

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