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An island of contrasts and fabled history, Ireland has many different sides worth getting to know. Goway’s Europe expert Channa Jayasinghe recently spent some time exploring the Emerald Isle with a small group, particularly focusing on Western Ireland.
A bit about you and where you went.
Having lived and worked in the travel industry in Europe (Germany / France) for over 10 years, I had covered most of the destinations in Europe. Ireland was one country that had always eluded me for whatever reason. Probably because I wanted to see more of the destination than a mere stopover. Ireland’s history and heritage, enriched by the Celtic and Viking influences over the centuries already promised to make a visit to the Emerald Isle something to be excited about. It was great to explore Dublin before the start of the tour (unfortunately, I didn’t have time to see the places where James Joyce used to hang out). But the tour I did was in my opinion, the best for the time we had available. A small group tour through Ireland is something I’d recommend to anyone who is keen to see the main highlights of the country within the span of about a week. That the tour is operated as a small group of up to 16 pax makes it quite special. You can always communicate directly with the driver-guide and get more information about the country including its history, way of life, and the logistical options in each city.
Highlights: Dublin city, Clonmacnoise Abbey, Galway medieval town, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren National Park, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Torc Waterfall, Blarney Castle, Kilkenny
What cities did you visit?
What was your highlight and why?
Galway Town. I loved the stone-clad buildings, cathedrals and their medieval old town by the ancient harbour which I found very atmospheric. The evening we arrived in Galway they had their annual Halloween festival going on and that added to the impression we had about Galway.
Which were your favourite properties and why?
Jury’s Inn, Galway: Right next to the medieval town of Galway. Very centrally located. Spacious and cozy rooms, good 4* standard with sumptuous breakfast. – The Fairview Hotel, Killarney: Right in the heart of Killarney. A boutique hotel with very comfortable rooms and delicious breakfast.
You travelled on one of a small group tour to West Ireland. Name 2 things that surprised you about the experience?
The quality of the tour, experience and the sites that were covered within the span of 5 days more than met my expectations.
What are some interesting excursions or itineraries that you would recommend (touring or independently)?
As the time available to explore some of the sites in detail was limited when traveling with a group, there are many things that can be seen in Ireland provided you have more time. I’d recommend a day to explore the Skellig Michael, visit Aran Islands, or hike along Cliffs of Moher.
Top tip for agents selling Ireland?
Small group tours up to 16 pax! Both the hotel option and the guest house option offer great experiences, and the driver-guides are very passionate about the destination. If clients have only about a week in Ireland, Escape to the West + 2 nights in Dublin before the tour will give them a great intro to this beautiful destination.
Did you learn anything new, or did anything surprise you about the destination?
I knew quite a bit about history and geography already but to visit the destination and see some of the attractions really buoyed my confidence about it. The only surprises were happy ones!
If you go back, what would you like to see/do?
Spend more time in the Galway, Ring of Kerry, and Dingle areas (Skellig Michael for sure), and head toward the north and east (Derry, Belfast, Giant’s Causeway etc).
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