Cynthia – Quebec, Canada
“Where peace comes dropping slow…”
“As an author, I went to Ireland to do a little research for a few stories I’ve had on my mind, while enjoying a “working vacation.” On a personal level, I was looking for peace, a healing after a tragic loss in my life—the loss of my dearest friend, the friend who’d promised to show me Ireland.
I found both on my Wild West Signature Tour.
Our B & B host, Geraldine, made us feel so very welcome. She and I shared a love of books and history that made for some wonderful conversations. Our driver/guide, Senan, was lots of fun, and every one of the “guest guides” was a fount of knowledge, whether it was about the passage tombs at Carrowmore or the Spanish Armada at Streedagh Beach. Our tour included a Holy Well, a Mass Rock, a Rag Tree, and a tiny village deserted since Famine times. In sharp contrast, we visited both a fairy glen (where I could almost feel the presence of “someone” watching us) and a mass grave where unknown numbers of men, women and children desperately and vainly sought sustenance. These are places you could never find in a guidebook.
Of course, being in “Yeats Country,” we paid homage to the Great Man himself, stopping at Drumcliffe Church and taking a cruise around Innisfree, complete with Irish music and readings from Yeats.
There’s a certain magic in the Irish air. Perhaps it’s the way the soft, pearlescent light streams gently through the banks of the clouds, or the mist that seems to hang over the sky. Maybe it’s the welcoming smiles of the people, or the music that filters through their voices. Wild West Irish Tours offers history, mythology, mist and magic all in one unbelievable jam-packed tour that nonetheless leaves you time to yourself. I highly recommend a Wild West Irish Tour. You’ll find the real, hidden Ireland…and you might just find yourself!”
Charles and Margaret Ann
“My husband and I had an absolutely wonderful time on our Wild West Irish tour! This was Charles’ first trip to Ireland and we are already talking about when we can go back- of course as Wild Westies! The highlight for Charles was the music- arrangements were made for him to play in a couple of pubs with other prominent musicians and for me the best part was seeing where The Quiet Man was filmed. The conscious effort to make sure everyone had their interests met was above expectations. We will be back…” Well, Charles and Margaret Ann are indeed coming back for the Wild Atlantic Causeway Coast Tour!!
Judy Williamson, Director, Napoleon Hill World Learning Center & Executive Director, OG Cares Foundation
As writer Paul Tournier wrote, in words that speak to both the armchair traveler and the traveler leaving home for fulfillment and adventure, “The real meaning of travel, like that of a conversation by the fireside, is the discovery of oneself through contact with other people.”
When I decided in short order to travel to Ireland with Wild West Irish Tours it was because I was looking to leave home and have some engaging yet superficial entertainment that would occupy my mind due to the recent passing of my husband, Robert. In the months proceeding his death, I had been very busy with out-of-state hospitals, doctors, health professionals, insurance companies, two jobs, and care giving at home prior to his almost four week hospitalization ending in death. I was in need of some quiet time following the ordeal that I and my children had been through. Two best friends — husband and wife — agreed to travel with me on the spur of the moment, and together we set out for something unknown. I had been to Ireland numerous times, but never on a pilgrimage and never one on Celtic Spirituality. Our group was small, but self-contained in a van and a car, as we left on our adventure from the hotel. In due time, we were introduced to our first innkeeper, Geraldine, who became not only a hostess but trusted traveling companion as well as the other traveling companions and group leaders Michael and Tricia on our journey. Others had experienced loss in their families and were recovering in their own way. Interchanges during our drives, and reflection during our “classes” caused me to look within to consider change, and then to return to the present moment with group members. Visiting the Burren, Celtic spiritual worship and burial sites, John O’Donohue’s gravesite, roadside parks with gorgeous waterfalls, and the seaside were all memorable stops. But enjoying a seaweed bath experience, having daily “family” meals with the group, and spending time by the fireside as we learned about Celtic customs for the home and hearth, having an up close and personal dance performance, being graced with the presence of a shamanic healer who guided us in a healing circle, watching a video on Connemara narrated by John O’Donohue, visiting a Celtic Park, and being adjacent to two humongous bonfires wherein we cast our concerns, all melded this unique experience into a unique whole.
By the last day, all of us were more than acquaintances — we have all bonded because we were part of the human family. I would recommend this trip to anyone traveling single or as a couple since every moment you are looked after. The education at times can be subliminal, but profound, and the healing is a nice accompaniment.
Another writer, Mason Cooley, wrote, “Travelling carries me to the surface, away from the deeps of home-thoughts.” When I began the journey, I was traveling away from my heartache. By the time I because part of the group, I was acknowledging my loss and being given wisdom by those who traveled the road before me and also from the ancestors. I hold the experience dear in my heart and hope to travel with upcoming groups for Wild West Irish Tours again. If you release the thought of what you are expecting, and just be in the present moment you too will find this experience one-of-a-kind, and valuable indeed.
Mary Ellen, Sebring, FL
“Truly the most wonderful trip you can take. It is a gift to yourself to do this. I have traveled to many places but this Wild West Irish Tour, stands as the most wonderful experience of all. there was friendship, history come alive, outrageous scenery, laughter, and peace. the scenery is wonderful for doing some introspection and finding your inner peace. There are no words to truly give justice to these trips. I truly believe that we came as guests and left as friends. Where else could you have a wonderful history guide jump in your car and drive around the route of the Spanish Armada for a few hours? Seriously? I still have trouble believing we experienced this. And let us not forget singing and dancing in Ellen’s Pub (400 year old thatched pub) that Friday night!!! I never wanted to leave. I have had a deep longing in my heart since returning home and I know that I must return to Ireland. It is in my heart and soul, the birthplace of my grandmother. So, in august 2017 I will be one of the lucky ones to experience another Wild Westie tour. I am counting the days. The most unforgettable adventure ever and I just smile to myself every time I think of it or look at the stunning photos. Thank you so.”
Jody Lux Smith, Richmond
“This picture of my 7-year- old granddaughter expresses more than I could possibly say about our family’s Wild West Irish Tour. For 10 days, Michael and Trish, the owners, escorted us through back roads and natural beauty, finding just the right spot to please all 8 of us – my husband, daughter and her husband, son and his wife and my two granddaughters. We chose his trip to celebrate my 70th birthday, and it was definitely one to remember! It isn’t easy to keep 3 generations engaged and happy for that long, but it was a total success. We spent the first 4 nights at an exquisite B&B within walking distance of memorable pubs and restaurants in a quaint village. While there, we visited Norman castles and a Celtic Garden – a special favorite with the girls. As we returned to the B&B for the night, we encountered some sheep on the road, and my daughter and I started talking about how fascinating it would be to see a sheepdog at work. Next morning, Michael surprised us with a visit to a working sheep farm, where we watched a sheepdog demonstration, complete with a shearing at the end. The girls were enthralled – especially since there were 5 puppies to hold and play with. That afternoon, we set off in a boat to a Castle with its beautiful gardens, a perfect place to catch a photo of our “family tree”.
That evening, Michael arranged for a concert by Don Stiffe and Mirilla Murray, of Cherish the Ladies, that turned into a true ceilidh with other musicians and villagers all participating, ending in a rousing version of Happy Birthday. We moved on to our next destination for the next four nights – a perfect jumping off spot to enjoy the beautiful Cliffs. We also were able to learn a lot about Irish history and culture as we visited a castle and Folk Park.. We spent our last afternoon on an ancient beach – a magical, mystical experience. I think Michael had plans to continue on to other sites, but when he saw how thoroughly we were enjoying our time there, he allowed us to just live in the moment and each say our individual goodbyes to Ireland. Ah, the special joys of an individualized trip. Happy birthday to me!”
Samantha, Boston, MA
“To put to words what this (Wild West Irish Celtic Pilgrimage) experience meant to me would be trying to weave a tapestry from fairytales and stardust. Less poetically and with more practicality, this tour [and that word does this event so little justice it’s almost insulting] defied all expectations and shattered all preconceived ideas of what an exploration of the Wild Irish West could be. Never in my life have I been treated with such love, respect, & understanding– nor enveloped so completely and comfortably by total strangers [most of whom became close personal friends] and what felt like the entire country of Ireland. There is such a sense of camaraderie & good-natured sincerity about Michael, Trish, Geraldine and the whole adventure. The wildness is less about the rolling fields and prickling forests, but rather, about letting go of one’s inhibitions and fully experiencing what the Waugh/Jenkins and their friends have to offer. To celebrate this Celtic quest is to become kin with the land and her people. WWIT is no exception, albeit, exceptional in that.
There is nothing I wouldn’t give to return again and again as guided by Michael & co. Everything about the trip was harmonious, well-thought- out, and encouraging for the soul. I felt healed to be there; blessed, and thankful.
You simply must go yourselves to understand what I’m trying to say. I could write a dozen sonnets; pen a novel, scrawl a hundred songs [typical writer’s procrastination notwithstanding],and it still would never be enough to fully express the jubilation and exhilaration that was my tour of the Wild Irish West. Thank you all so much.”
Nancy Fitzgerald, Pennsylvania, USA
“The West of Ireland is a magical, mystical place, and I’m so grateful to Michael and Trish, (owners of Wild West Irish Tours) and tour guide Senan—and their team of home-grown guides—for showing it to us. The ancient Celts called the West a “thin place,” where the veil between heaven and earth seems to disappear, and as we trudged across the Burren in the path of a sixth-century saint, it was easy to see why. I’ll always treasure our walk to St. Colman’s cave on a gray, misty morning, making our way across rocks and through mud, to find a holy place that seemed to transform all of us in simple, subtle ways. Thanks to Pius, retired schoolteacher, indefatigable guide, and very cool guy, for bringing us off the beaten track to this lovely corner of the world where we drank cold, clear water from a primeval well. We’d never have found any of it on our own. And as if that weren’t enough, after lunch it was off to a megalithic portal tomb, sitting unceremoniously in the middle of a field.
We’re not sure where Michael finds these fellows, but somehow he does: A sturdy Galway man named Rory, friends with the farmer on whose land the O’Shaughnessy castle sits, grabbed the skeleton key hanging in the farmhouse kitchen– the one with the cardboard tag marked “castle”-and walked us across the fields to a storybook castle built a thousand years ago. It may have been a ruin, but it was a glorious ruin, and later the farmers’ children told me that as little kids it was their constant play-place. How cool is that—to have a medieval castle sitting in your backyard, with cows grazing around it. Bonus: Rory also provided a demonstration of the Irish sport of hurling and some good conversation. I could go on and on: There were plenty of castles, and a ride across Lough Corrib to an ancient monastic settlement, and a wobbly seafaring voyage to the Aran Islands, where a Gaelic-speaking man took us around in his pony cart. And a visit to a sheep farm, where we watched in amazement as border collies’ way smarter than me herded hundreds of sheep up and down craggy hills to graze. (And then there was Bob, my new favorite dog.) Oh, and the music! Michael started us out with a bang, on our first night in Oughterard, with a world-class trad performance in an ordinary little pub. And the music continued everywhere we went, in every pub where we had a pint. One highlight: Charles, one of our fellow Westies, grabbed his guitar and joined in on a music session in O’Connor’s in Doolin. Happy to have made good friends, and so many good memories. Our Wild West Irish Tour was the trip of a lifetime, and a great way for Gary and me to celebrate a special anniversary. Thank you, Mike and Trish! Go raibh maith agat!”
Jacqueline, Janelle, Joanie and Rusty, Baltimore, Maryland
“To fully understand what an amazing experience we had with Wild West Irish tours, I feel I need to share why we chose Ireland and why we chose WWIT. When I graduated college, my parents told me that I could go on a trip anywhere in the world with my younger sister to celebrate graduating a year and a half early. After talking to my sister, we both quickly decided that since she would be getting the same offer a year later, we would much rather travel with our parents and not just their money.
Once that decision was made, the destination was an easy choice. Ireland has always been a top travel destination for my family as we knew it would offer something spectacular for each of our vastly different interests. None of us were interested in doing a mass marketed tourist experience. My mom wanted to get a taste of history, our dad wanted to be emerged in nature, my sister wanted to enjoy the pubs, and I wanted to hear traditional Irish music.
A month after the trip has ended and each one of us is still amazed at what all we got to experience. WWIT magically incorporated every single we wanted to experience and so much more.
We were able to see a little slice of Heaven in Inishmurray that would have been inconceivable with a large tour group. Nature took center stage as we wondered through a Fairy Glenn most locals don’t know about. History came alive as local authors, community leaders, and scholars shared with us their stories and passion about the land they call home. Music and dancing was literally brought to our doorstep as we got to witness traditional Irish dancing and take part in a pub jam session.
All of this and so much more made our trip what it was. Being part of a small group allowed everyone’s “bucket list” items to be checked off and be immersed in a trip that gave us so much more than we bargained for. Michael, Senen and Geraldine took us under their wings to show us their magical home and imparted in us things words cannot describe. From all of us, thank you and sláinte!”
Marcy McCann, Strasburg, VA
“The general consensus is that this Wild West Irish Tour excursion was at least four times more than we expected. The culture, the history, the scenery, the many many many to many stops for delicious food, The innkeepers, Senan, (our main guide) The various tour guides and locations we visited, The hiking and the horse rides were all more than any of us expected. The ladies from Connecticut don’t want me to tell anybody how magnificent the trip is because they’re afraid that too many people come and they won’t be able to book again. Now we understand why so many Westies go on multiple trips. You (Michael) and Trish (owners of WWIT) have truly created something that far exceeds any other tour company of any caliber.”
Sheila Feldman, Northern Virginia
“From the time Michael of Wild West Irish Tours, picked our group up at the airport last July until he brought us back there, everything was done for our enjoyment and comfort. The accommodations were the best and the van we toured around in was very comfortable. We weren’t rushed through anything that we went to. The itinerary is flexible. The additional tour guides were not only knowledgeable, but they could answer questions about other areas of interest to us. Although I had previously been to some of the sites, I was able to learn more about them and enjoyed revisiting them. It was a wonderful trip, and I hope to return. Thanks Michael & Trish.”
Fairlee Fischer and Jim Fischer, New York State
“O the places you will go and the people you will meet. If you are looking for large big buses filled with people waiting in lines to see typical tourist’s spots of Ireland along with heavy late night partying, this is not the tour for you. But if you want to see Ireland, or rather experience Ireland on a very personal level, then Wild West Irish Tours is the only way to go. My husband has Parkinson’s Disease and Michael and Trish, the owners, along with their people, were so accommodating as were the small group of wild. Great people. From a small pub having a local Irish jam session, a song sung for us as we celebrated our anniversary. A wonderful cup of tea and a scone on a boat listening to Yeats. Finding a glorious green meadow with rolling hills and the peace surrounding it. Walking with the surf pounding, finding shells. The light filtering thru the ferns in the fairy glen. The laughter of new found friends on a road less travelled.
Donkeys in a pasture, a kind farmer and his wife. Sheep grazing on the cliffs of Slieve League, spectacular. The tears rolling down my face as we entered Donegal Harbor, listening to Donegal Rain playing by Vince Gill. A young talented Irish dancer performing in the living room of our B&B. The walk-through Rhododendron to a bog where peat was being cut. Lunch besides a bubbling brook. Tea at Kathleen’s cottage by the sea. Horseback riding on a beautiful beach. A relaxing seaweed bath and the best ice cream ever! A wondrous magical, blessed time. The warmth, generosity and caring I felt from every person I met from the moment my feet touched down. This is the tour if you truly want to experience Ireland. My soul is refreshed and renewed. I fell in love with the Ireland I had only dreamed of. But I have left my heart in Ireland, not San Francisco. I awoke this morning thinking I was in Ireland, so looking forward to the kind friendly people, only to realize I was back in New York and the hurry and hassle. I will truly try to keep my spirit Irish. Feeling blessed a thousand thank yous!”
“A Great Big Thank You to Michael & Trish, owners of Wild West Irish Tours, for a fantastic trip of a lifetime! It was unbelievable from start to finish. When my friend called me and asked about going to Ireland again and going on a tour I jumped at the chance. Never in my wildest dreams would I believe this trip would be one that will last a lifetime in my heart and mind!! I was brought to tears a few times just because of the sheer beauty we were seeing and exploring first hand. I always thought Ireland was a land of beauty but being the places that we visited showed more of the internal beauty that I realized that the country had. Each day I told Michael that he topped the day before but then the next day came around and it even topped that day before. We saw so many little unknown places I know the big bus tours would never see.. that was the great thing of the small tour group. We got to know each other very well and made some very good friends from it. I loved the little town pubs we went to to see how the local people enjoy your evenings and the music was great!! Even one of our very own tour group added to the music at times and did a wonderful job of it also!! Watching the sheep dogs do their work was amazing! They know exactly what to do and when to do it. Seeing the Burren area and the little chapel, the stone cave and the Healing Well and just walking on the very land where people walked so many years ago totally amazes me. Others may like big cities and lights and crowds but I will take the barren Burren lands any day and the mountains and grassy green fields edged in all those old stone walls!! The carriage ride on the Aaron Islands was great too and the boat ride up to the very bottom of the Cliffs of Moher was a once in a lifetime experience also. Loved all the castles and old churches we visited and seeing how far some the dates go back on the gravestones.. AMAZING!!! Like I said… Each day just topped the one before, I can’t pick out a favorite day because I LOVED them ALL!!! I hope someday to be able to do another tour with The Wild West Tours.. got to save up those pennies. But it is worth every single cent. I can’t say enough Thank You’s for the great, fantastic, wonderful, amazing time that I had!! Our other tour driver was excellent also as was the guides we had for two days of our exploring…. Great people all of them! A job well done and hope to do it again someday!! Ireland still has a piece of my heart over there!!”
Mary Jane, encouraging a person to take a WWIT as a solo traveler
“The general consensus is that this Wild West Irish Tour excursion was at least four times more than we expected. The culture, the history, the scenery, the many many many to many stops for delicious food, The innkeepers, Senan, (our main guide) The various tour guides and locations we visited, The hiking and the horse rides were all more than any of us expected. The ladies from Connecticut don’t want me to tell anybody how magnificent the trip is because they’re afraid that too many people come and they won’t be able to book again. Now we understand why so many Westies go on multiple trips. You (Michael) and Trish (owners of WWIT) have truly created something that far exceeds any other tour company of any caliber.”
Katie Quinn, Long Island, N.Y.
“Not being the writer some of my fellow Wild West Irish Tours “pilgrims” are, I can only express that this Celtic Pilgrimage was one of the best experiences of my life. It taught me how to look at and see things in a very different way. The people we met and who guided us through this journey were the best of the best. To be able to see Ireland in this way will forever be in my mind and heart. Many thanks to all of you who were with me on this pilgrimage.”
Lisa Chamberlain, Minnesota
“Our Wild West Irish Tour was amazing! It was historical, cultural and fun for me, my daughter and husband. The people we met were so nice and filled with information about the places we visited. It wasn’t until I got back when it sunk in, the enormity of it all. It wouldn’t have happened without Michael and Trish! (Owners and operators of Wild West Irish Tours) Thanks again!”
Jim TeVogt, Wadena, Minnesota
“My daughter Darcy and I have just returned from our Wild West Irish Tour. This was my 10th visit to Ireland and it was one of the most enjoyable trips I have been on. The weather was beautiful for the whole time. Our guide/driver, Senan, was great taking us to all of the interesting places we visited without making us feel rushed and answering all of our many questions. If he didn’t happen to know the answer to a question he looked it up that night and gave us the answer in the morning. I enjoyed touring with him and hope I will have another opportunity to have him as a guide. And Geraldine, what can I say about her. She was a charming hostess, a wonderful cook and went out of her way to look for information for me on my ancestors from Leitrim. She showed me where they had lived and allowed me to spend some time with their memories. We enjoyed meeting Michael, owner of WWIT, when we went to see the Cherish the Ladies show and again in Dublin where he took us to the airport. Thank you and everyone involved for a wonderful experience.”
“There are many words that come to mind to describe Ireland. Three such words for me are soulful, poetic, and magical. WILD WEST IRISH TOURS embodies the soul, poetry, and magic of the West of Ireland. Our interaction with the local people including authors, story tellers, musicians, artisans, an anthropologist, and a naturalist, make Ireland come alive with richness and depth. We started out as six strangers in a van and ended up having a wonderful Irish experience with Michael and his friends all of whom welcomed us with a smile and a feeling of inclusion. We went to so many places in West: all things to do with Yeats, castles, Lough Gill, pubs, Inishmurray Island, monuments and statues, music sessions, archaeological sites, walks and hikes, horseback riding, story telling, seaweed bath, good restaurants, and good B&Bs with delightful innkeepers. Oh, there was time for shopping too. One can not come home without an Irish sweater. It was an amazing trip, one which we will not forget. Mostly we will not forget Michael and his tour leaders, who were patient and brought us to the people of Ireland. Ireland is a place that exists in the heart and mind; it calls to us as we sleep; it inspires us to become a part of the timeless enchantment that envelopes what we know of that land. Maybe this is pure fantasy, but any place that can cleanse the spirit and cause the heart to beat faster with devotion, must be termed magical.”
Phil and Margaret Hitchcock, Michigan, USA
“Margaret and I had never gone on tour travel before since we have always avoided cattle cars, pedigree tags hanging around our neck, corralled by fences and gates. Mooooo! Your tours are a wonderful alternative to going with the masses. Anyone would love a tour of yours who wants to experience Ireland up close and personal, in out of the way special places, mixing with the locals. Your tour was truly memorable.”
Nancy, Connecticut, USA
“I just returned from my Wild West Irish Tour and thought a lot about what I should say, and realized I can’t put the experience into words. Every day the four of us said “it doesn’t get any better” and every day it just got better! My heartfelt thanks to Geraldine and Michael, Senan, Laura, Martin Feeney, Michael, Kathleen and Dennis, Eddie. Thanks also to all the musicians at Ellens Bar, the horse stables, the seaweed bath spa, the Curators at Sligo Abbey, Carramore tombs and to everyone I forgot I headed to Ireland knowing that all of my great grandparents immigrated to America. I left with the knowledge of why, their struggles and my heart full of love for this beautiful country and people I can now call my own! Lastly thanks to Michael and Trish, owners of Wild West Irish Tours, for this magical, mystery tour! You have it all in one package! AMAZING!!”
Piper Call, Gainesville, FL
“Our Wild West Irish Tour was magnificent and mystical. Our local tour guides were knowledgeable, fascinating people, who were always flexible with the needs of our small group. Our guides gave us wonderful connections to the community and provided information and insight that I did not get on my previous trip to Ireland years ago. The options for activities seemed boundless from climbing Knocknarea to visit Queen Maeve, galloping my horse on the beach and learning about megalithic sites, to joining local dancers for a lesson and sets at the pub and the opportunity to dance some steps to top notch Irish musicians in a session. Every day was a wonderful adventure, like the surreal experience of looking out the car window at seaweed as we drove out at low tide to Coney Island, then getting to see a hunting falcon on the island. There is always a surprise, like visiting the Fairy Glen, and a gentleman comes walking up out of the glen and recites a bit of poetry Yeats wrote about the glen.
Our B&B hosts, were exemplary. They were warm, open, welcoming and always helpful and accommodating. We had wonderful discussions at breakfast to start our day, and our last night was very special as we shared spirituality, song, music, dance and poetry. If you want to go to Ireland GO WILD WEST! The experience was beyond anything I had imagined.”
Jackie, Chris and Amy, from Turner, Oregon
“Our family chose a Wild West Irish Tour because we wanted a personalized Ireland experience. We got that and more! Best of all, our traveling companions were fantastic and included another young person! The two girls got along like best friends from the moment they met, and Michael planned the itinerary with the girls in mind. Horseback riding on the beach, visiting a hidden faerie glen and exploring the magical island of Inishmurray were just a few of our wonderful adventures. We took a boat ride on Lough Gill and the captain let the girls steer the boat! We could not have asked for a more incredible Ireland vacation. Thank you, Wild West Irish Tours!”
Chuck Ryan, Baltimore, MD
“I’ve always thought the phrase “dream come true” to be an overused cliche. Then our 25th anniversary rolled around and I learned that dreams can come true. Bernadette and I decided that this was the perfect time to go on a trip to the Emerald Isle, and Wild West Irish Tours would be our guide. What a great decision! Michael showed us an Ireland that we had no idea existed! We hoisted a pint in a pub that has been standing since the 1600’s, we watched a bunch of local musicians enthusiastically launch into an American folk song classic during an evening “trad” session, we climbed a mountain to visit an ancient queen, and we saw the power of Mother Nature as she sprayed us with sea mist at Serpent’s head. The memories can be, and have been, overpowering as we try to remember the sound of the faerie glen, the smell of the sea air on the sea cliffs, or the taste of a freshly drawn pint of Guinness from one of the many wonderful pubs we visited. If we listen hard enough, we can almost capture the sound of the ship’s captain as he recites W.B. Yeats, and remembering the visit to the famine grave still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I feel we left a piece of ourselves in Ireland, but we brought home much, much more. Thank you, Michael, for allowing us to experience what I thought would never happen, a dream coming true.”
Kim Dolce, California
“It was a wonderful tour…I loved seeing the famine village, and all the other amazing places! The people we met were wonderful, including our Wild West Irish Tour guides, Geraldine and Senan along with Paul at the 1916 Easter Rebellion cottage house, and Auriel, Maritime Archeologist, and all the rest of the guides. I really didn’t want a big bus tour and I’m so glad I found WWIT. We all just loved it!”
Jane Talbot, St. Petersburg, FL
“Ireland is such a special place and I was fortunate to visit with a wonderful group of friends on an awesome trip with the Wild West Irish Tour. We took the Signature Tour and I was not sure what to expect. I have visited many places in Europe, the Americas and even India and never before went on a tour. However, Ireland is the type of vacation where if you don’t know about the hidden gems and are not interacting with the local residents, you will most definitely miss out. We did not miss out on anything.
We visited the most magnificent and special places, including a fairy glen where I expected Queen Maeve herself to appear out of the wood, magical islands with a full rainbow, ancient castles (we were looking for Jon Snow), we went horseback riding on the beach, we took a seaweed bath, we even went ghost hunting in graveyards and at a haunted house. We visited Slieve League and a folk village in Donegal, bought hand made sweaters and scarves, ate at local restaurants, drank at authentic Irish Pubs where I learned to love Guinness, visited Knocknarea and Carrowmore, Dooney Rock, and even the original Coney Island.
But the true the hidden gems are not hidden at all, the true joy is in the people we met along the way. With our local Wild West Irish Tour leaders, we learned about the real Ireland and her people, the stories, and how the Irish people feel about it all. We were granted a personal house concert with true Irish musicians both internationally and locally known, Cathy Jordan, (of Dervish) Rick Epping and others. What a joy that was! We were welcomed into the home of Kathleen and her husband from Donegal who make the most beautiful scarves, sweaters and such. We even learned about the very real sense of depression some feel in Ireland as we passed by a funeral on the street. And Geraldine, our hostess at the guesthouse where we stayed, went way over and above to help us feel welcomed. Thank you for the adventure of a lifetime, this tour comes highly recommended.”
Mark and Nancy Forrester, (Deputy State Attorney, Maryland) Baltimore, Maryland
“Aplomb: confidence and composure in all situations…that is Wild West Irish Tours. Their motto, “Expect Great Things in Simple Places” is surely an understatement: as a “Westie” you can expect “grand” things, in all places! The Westie crew will accommodate and provide you with an experience not available with any other tour option, no matter the changing weather, changing plans, or changing crew. You cannot appreciate Ireland until you have hiked to a remote meditative lake, attended a hurling match and learned to hurl, walked a mile on a farmer’s land to climb the steps of a remote tower house, or be overwhelmed by the fragrance of roses in a Catholic Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. And, let’s not forget the guest houses and pubs where you are welcomed as though you are a long lost relative, alive with music and terrific libations! If there is a single comment about Wild West Irish Tours, it is this: can’t wait to do it again!”
“Two summers ago I took my mom on the Wild West Irish Tours Signature Tour, and last summer my mom and I took the Wild Atlantic/Causeway Tour. I particularly enjoyed the Wild Atlantic/Causeway Tour primarily in Donegal, with excursions to Sligo, Derry, and Antrim. I would say that the Causeway Coast tour is a great fit for someone who wants a bit more nature and history, whereas the Signature tour has a very even breakdown of historically oriented and more modern activities. Three of my favorite experiences on the Causeway Coast Tour were walking on Malin Head, going into a souterrain, and going to N. Ireland. Malin Head is the most northern point of the Republic of Ireland, and absolutely stunning. They used to have a radio tower there that is quite significant in the field of nautical history. If you’re looking for an incredible ocean view, go to Malin Head. (But anywhere on the Wild Atlantic Way is gorgeous.) The excursions to N. Ireland was a great part of the trip as well I definitely wouldn’t strike out on my own and go to N. Ireland, despite how close it is to Donegal, so I thought combining it in this tour was great. My mom loved the shops in Derry’s craft village area, and I loved visiting the Giant’s Causeway (Antrim). The Giant’s Causeway is a great place for anyone who enjoys folklore or nature, as there is tons of information via the exhibit and audio guide about the legends. The ultimate moment of this trip, for me, was when a local guide (the same one who took us bogwalking to see neolithic and megalithic tombs which was awesome!) took us to a souterrain. I even got to go in! I found experiences like this to be a hallmark of the two WWITs: Michael/the guides, when they find out you might be really into something/some experience, will try to make it happen (setting them apart from a large tour bus on a tight schedule). A souterrain is an underground dwelling from the late Iron age. Despite my research trips, I have never before been in a souterrain they are 1. sometimes hard to find and 2. if you do find them, they might be filled in/covered up/on someone else’s property. I would hold this experience up in a heartbeat as my number one once in a lifetime experience”
Betty and Ted, Connecticut
“We knew that we wanted to visit Ireland. We also knew that we did not want to be a part of a big busload of folks being carted to all the touristy sites. When I found Wild West Irish Tours on-line it sounded just right for us. The first two couples we mentioned it to immediately wanted to come along. Our group of 6 friends consisted of 5 people and one lady.. Two other compatible, fun loving ladies joined us. We had such a wonderful time, The bed and breakfast was perfect: clean spacious rooms, plentiful tasty breakfasts and a friendly owner/hostess, who welcomed us as family. Her knowledge and love of Ireland and her countryside shone through.
We also had as guides acclaimed experts such as an anthropologist who shared with us the ancient Carrowmore Tombs, steeped in fascinating legends, in the area where he grew up. We took walks in the enchanted Dooney Woods and saw beautiful waterfalls and lakes, always taking in the special atmosphere while hearing the local stories that surround these places.
A spontaneous “hoolie” was part of a boat ride on The Rose of Innisfree, giving us a taste of the joy and enthusiasm found among the Irish people. We had another taste of Irish Music at a concert in a local music hall and at an evening of Irish dance just for us at the bed and breakfast.
Our visit to Coney Island never could have been attempted by a bus tour. We drove out to the island at low tide. The area is beautiful, with the mountains, especially Benbulben, in the background. It is pastoral with the grazing animals, historic with the ruined fort, nautical with distant sailboats in the bay, legendary with St. Patrick’s Wishing Chair, and welcoming with the tiny pub run by the only family still living on the island.
The visit to the Lissadell Alpine Garden was a great treat since May seems to be the best time of year for the vast selection of plants to be in bloom.
Oh, and the food was delicious everywhere!
This is just a sample of the adventure we had with our Wild West Irish Signature Tour, and we understand that every tour is a little different. Thank you Wild West Irish Tours!. We hope to see you again soon.”
Wild Westie Debbie Walker Spies
“Last April we headed back to Ireland, on my second Wild West Irish Tour, excited to be exploring the home counties of our family. We loved every minute of it. We had very little rain, and the brisk wind off the North Atlantic was exhilarating! We even had a couple of snow flurries, but nothing slowed us down. Northern Ireland and County Donegal are just breathtaking! The blue of the water and the beauty of the land are indescribable. I loved our B&B on the Inishowen Peninsula. It is an idyllic location with beautiful views, lovely rooms, delicious breakfasts, cordial hosts, noble farm dogs, and lots and lots of sheep. I could have stayed there forever.
Michael and Trish, the owners of WWIT, had arranged for us to have great local guides who made our experiences so rich. On our last day before going back to Dublin, we returned to Sligo so I could show my son some of the places I had enjoyed on my first WWIT trip, and we could attend a trad music session. We spent a night at the lovely B&B where the Signature Tour Wild Westies stay. It was so good to be in Sligo again!
How lovely it was to get to know this land of our ancestors more deeply. I truly felt like I had come home. And I know one thing for sure… no more big bus tours for me. WWIT’s small group tours are the best! Thanks for everything Wild West Irish Tours! I can’t wait to return.”
“Wild West Irish Tours – Expect the Unexpected!!!!!
If you are the one always making ALL the plans – well you need to turn over a new leaf and leave the planning and the driving to Wild West Irish Tours. Never in my wildest imagination did I expect to have one of the best Ireland experiences I have ever had…..but I just spent 8 days with great new friends on an experience of a life time. FINALLY, I was able to put my ‘feet on the ground’ in Ireland and see sights off the ‘beaten path’.
Thank you Michael, Geraldine and Senen for showing me the Ireland I have never seen…..century old monastic ruins, Inishmurray (never heard of that island before – a must see) 1610 Parke’s Castle on Lough Gill, The Glen hidden in Knocknarea Mountian to name a few. Then the very special times spent with storyteller Michael Roberts and historian/author Joe McGowan – Irish folklore and history are special gifts from these Irishmen. How special it was to be in Ireland during the 100 year celebration of the 1916 Easter Rising and to learn so much of the history and stores from those days of the beginning of Irish Independence. Thank you Wild West Irish Tours for the gift of leaving my watch at home and ‘living in the moment’ as Michael so aptly put it! and for trusting someone else to ‘make my day’…..You are the best!!!!”
Brenda Hudler Kennedy, Long Island, New York
“I never had any thoughts of visiting Ireland until I reconnected with my childhood neighbor on Facebook. After seeing his posts about Wild West Irish Tours, with the beautiful photos and rave reviews I realized that taking one of his tours was something I wanted to experience. I have been back home from my Clare, Galway, Connemara tour for a few weeks now and dream about the day I return again. The small group size, caring, knowledgeable guides, excellent B&B’s and innkeepers made my experience even better than I expected. We went places and did things that the big bus tours could not do. When our guides spotted a developing rainbow, they pulled over so we could get out to take pictures. A magical moment and a memory I will always treasure. At the end of each day I would think to myself how can tomorrow ever compare to this? Well each new day was as good or better than the day before! I am counting the days until I can be back in Ireland again with Wild West Irish Tours!”
Tara Accavello, Selden, NY
“Today I lived up to my name. The name Tara in Gaelic means “rocky pinnacle”. Today I climbed my first mountain and how fitting that at the top of the mountain there was truly a rocky pinnacle in the form of a cairn. The mountain was 1,075 feet high, steep and covered in uneven rocks. I was tired and frightened and had to make many stops and there were a few times I wanted to give up but I didn’t. When I got to the top I was greeted with cheers and hugs by people who were strangers just 6 days ago but who have become friends-my fellow Wild Westies…I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t even need my asthma inhaler I think most likely because the air here is so pure. On the way up you pick a stone and carry it in your hand and when you get to the top you cast in into the cairn and make a wish. I’m happy to say my stone and my wish are there.”
Nick and Debbie
“After a long day of standing in TSA and US Customs lines, waiting in airports, 10 1/2 hours in the air, and a two hour shuttle ride, we are home this morning. “Was it worth it?” you might ask. The answer is a resounding YES! Here is a photo of Nick and me with Michael, owner of Wild West Irish Tours, who went above and beyond to make sure we had a wonderful time. We saw wondrous scenery, learned so much about Ireland and her history, and spent time with local folks, which made the whole experience so rich. Thank you! Wild West Irish Tours has enriched our lives beyond measure!”
Debbie, and a bunch of great Wild Westies from Philadelphia
“When my friends and I were planning a trip to Ireland, we really didn’t know where to start, but we knew we didn’t want the same old bus tour staying in a different hotel every night. Then I came across this Facebook page and it sounded just what we were looking for . The four of us signed up, then I told my cousin about it and her and her husband signed up also. Well, Michael, the owner and guide, and Martin, our guide, didn’t disappoint. Our trip was absolutely perfect, they even took the time to customize and go out of their way to make us happy. It was wonderful!!!”
Bobbie, Charlottsville, VA
“I went to Ireland for the first time, having dreamed about it for years, and did the western counties tour (Galway, Clare, and Mayo) with Wild West Irish Tours. It was a deep experience; it was mystical, exciting, fun, and enlightening. This customized tour with just a few people made it possible to learn and experience a lot comfortably and without stress. I was fortunate in that I was connected with a friend of our tour leaders who took me away for a day to the town in county Mayo where my great greats were born and married. I felt that I had made a full circle, the first in the family to return home. It was amazing. Mike (the owner) made it happen. I treasure the memories of our B &B’s and our kind and lovely hosts, serving the most delicious and beautiful breakfasts. Speaking of food, I had no idea Irish food was so good. I fell in love with the landscape and the people of Ireland. Taking this tour was one of the best decisions I ever made. I look forward to my next Westie experience.”
Wild Westie Beverly Becker, Richmond, Va
“My Ireland Wild West Irish Tour was phenomenal! I have highly recommended it to dozens and dozens of people. It sparked a love of ‘all things Irish’. I think/talk of the trip often. In fact, just now walking my dog, a neighbor commented on my jacket (which, of course, had been bought for Ireland), and I waved to someone unknown. I now picture the older Irish men waving at everyone!
Thank you again. I certainly hope that your business continues to thrive — if only selfishly, so that I can take more trips with you!
I would love to see you again on March 26th at theCherish the Ladies in Concert! Presented by Wild West Irish Tours! to celebrate 5 years!”
Wild Westie Michael Frey, Supervisor, Fairfax County, Virginia
“Sometimes, when you love something so much and you go back for a second time, you wonder if it can possibly be as wonderful as the first time. Well, I did my first trip with Wild West Irish Tours in 2012 and had the time of my life. When I decided to take my sister this August and do the Mayo/Clare/Galway trip I did wonder if it could live up to the first. Never should I have worried – it was as wonderful, if not more so, than the previous trip. Michael was the same amazing host, the locals that helped were just fabulous and the southwest of Ireland was simply magnificent! I absolutely loved the small towns that we visited, and stayed in, and the natural beauty of the Connemara region. The history and culture in the area run so deep and we went places where we could truly explore.
I can’t imagine a better way to truly experience all that is Irish than with Michael and the Wild West Irish Tours. Whether it’s your first time or the second – or, who knows, maybe a third? – you will absolutely fall in love with the country and its people and you will definitely see the most beautiful places and meet the most wonderful people with Wild West Irish Tours. Thank you, Trish and Michael for the experience of a lifetime!”
Wild Westie, Lynn Ann Matos-Revels
“My friend and I took our second trip to Ireland in the past 2 years. The first was with a large tour group 15 or so and spent most of our time seeing the beautiful country side. Hours were spent in a bus. Ireland had so much more to offer but our time was not our own. That tour was more focused on meeting deadlines then taking stops along the way. Wild West Irish Tours was nothing like that. Our driver instinctively seemed to have known what we were interested in. The accommodation were wonderful spending our nights in a bed and breakfast run by dear people. Karen Andrews broke her knee cap en-route to Ireland, and I broke my arm a week before we were due to leave. Despite all this we had a wonderful time. Some of the activities Karen and I couldn’t partake in but the tour operators had us feel as if we didn’t miss anything. . Karen and I plan on coming back and I’ll bring my daughter Tiffany Cruz. I’m not a writer and, if I failed to convince anyone who is thinking about taking a trip to Ireland, whether it’s your first or second one, I highly recommend this tour group. Thank you Wild West Irish Tours.”
Wild Westies Randy and David, Hilton Head, S.C. USA
“When the Wild West Irish Tours website said “expect great things in simple places”, I never imagined that this experience would so greatly surpass my expectations! First and foremost, kudos to Michael Waugh, company co-owner and tour guide, for shepherding us (sometimes literally through the sheep) on all our adventures. From the planned to the spontaneous, every experience was a joy to the senses, the mind and the spirit. We were provided with knowledgeable guides to inform us about history, from megalithic times, to the famine to the recent past, geography ( oh the beautiful Burren) and archaeology. The arts and culture was represented by the amazing musicians, storytellers and even a little dancing! The accommodations and wonderful Irish breakfasts were delightful! We stayed in three different B&Bs, each one delightful. The scenery was magnificent with beautiful flowers , hills, lakes and ocean. The countryside just as I imagined, dotted with sheep, cows, horses and donkeys. The people we encountered were incredibly warm. We loved stopping for a cup of tea at the home of Michael’s cousins. There were planned places and time to just roam a bit. Loved the ride in a wagon on one of the Aran Islands and especially was thrilled by the exhilarating boat ride to get there! Most of all, I will always hold dear the friends we made, our tour mates. Because it was a small group, we really got close. Each of us had a story, a reason for being on this adventure. We came as strangers and left as good friends. Thank you for making this dream come true. Oh, if you haven’t already figured it out, We highly recommend Wild West Irish Tours!”
Wild Westie Carolyn Larsen, Grand Marais, MN
I decided long ago that my first trip overseas would be to Ireland.
Just after a year fighting Triple Negative Breast Cancer, at 43, I decided it was time to fulfill that goal. I had been following Wild West Irish Tours on Facebook and their website for a few years already, I knew that it was the tour for me. I traveled alone, and after the tour ended I met up with my 19 year old daughter in Louisburgh. Jordyn had come over with her college for spring semester, another great reason for me to make this trip of a lifetime.
Thank you Michael for your wonderful itinerary, I had a spectacular trip.
The music, the whiskey, the Guinness….the awe inspiring scenery, my hike alone up Knocknarea was breathtaking, and the mountain valley with the waterfall was unforgettable. The castles were my favorite, I’m sure I must have spent a past life in one, Lol ~ hopefully as royalty.
I love my sweaters and the wonderful visit and tea we had on our way to Slieve Leauge Cliffs.
Hopefully this trip will not be my last!”
Wild Westie x2 Claudia, from Brazil
“Great times at the County Mayo, Galway, Connemara, Clare tour. Inspirational and educational days passed by way too fast, on my second tour. As usual, hidden gems, great BnB’s, knowledgeable and fun local guides, and Michael’s kindness and ever accommodating disposition.
I truly enjoy Ireland.
Its beauty, cleanness, peacefulness, its friendly and fun people and their love for art. You guys got me hooked!
Thank you Michael and Trish, I am already planning my next trip back!
This is Michael and I at Sky Road in County Galway.
Yeap. This Dude does indeed knows the beauty in simple places.”
Jeff Lake, Richmond Virginia (photo of Jeff playing)
“I had the good fortune to become a Wild Westie in June 2015. The memories will stay with me forever. Expect great things in small places is much more than a tagline for Wild West Irish Tours. It is the very fabric of a WWIT. I have been to Ireland before, but I never experienced the pure joy of meeting the Irish people and many of the special places we visited. I was part of a small group and we had an absolutely brilliant time. WWIT Signature Tour was my best vacation ever. I met many wonderful and genuine Irish people throughout my time in the west of Ireland. To a person, they were gracious and often welcomed us to their homes and always a cup of tea was offered. Special thanks to Geraldine, Martin, Joe, and Kathleen who treated us to special times in their homes. And thank you to Aubrey and Michael for their knowledge and enthusiasm.The scenery was stunning – from climbing Knocknarea to the historic and evocative Island of Inishmurray to megalithic Court cairn temples to majestic mountain valleys,.. Stunning views of BenBulben from my room at my B & B. Michael and Trish (the owners of WWIT) have put together a ‘dream come true’ experience. This was my first, but will not be my last time as a Wild Westie.”
Wild Westie Jan, Titusville, FL
“I wanted to say what an absolutely awesome time we had on our trip – due to Wild West Irish Tours. From the local guides and historians that we met, to the places we stayed, to the stories we heard, to the local Irish folk that we met, we could never have experienced Ireland as it was truly meant to be experienced without WWIT and its owners Michael and Trish as as our guides! Not only did they plan an exceptional trip for us packed with many activities and places to see, I felt that we made some lifelong friends and kindred spirits! There was so much to see and do every day that I had to write everything down in a journal in order to keep track of it (all the time nagging Michael for how to spell everything)!
Our guide for the first day was Martin, told me there are two types of people that come to visit Ireland; those who come because they want to see “things” and be able to say that they have “been there” and those who want to “experience” Ireland and live in the moment. I am the second type and it was so nice to have someone who understand that and made it happen for us! There was so much of the “experience” quotient packed into the places where they took us throughout the tour. One of those such experiences was walking down a back country road in a mountain valley and letting the beauty and wonder of the mountain, waterfalls and rolling hills unfold in front of us – so peaceful and surreal, spectacular and just indescribable!
In reading some of the other stories that people have written about their trips with WWIT, I can see that each and every tour is different – not just the people on the tour but where you go and what you do and who you see. I love the way that Michael and Trish spend time personalizing each tour so you can keep going back and seeing something different with each new trip. We had two people on our trip that had been on WWIT tours multiple times!! I would dearly love to go back!
It was honestly the experience of a lifetime and I am so thankful for my daughter Alyson who accompanied this old lady and for the new friends we made. Anyone that wants to go to Ireland and see and experience it the way it should be, should check out WWIT. I heard about them from a co-worker and am so glad that I did!!!”
“Tonight is the last night with my new Wild Westie Friends. We are eight women, ages 40s to 60s, and our wonderful host Michael Waugh, co-owner of Wild west Irish Tours. This has been the most spiritual, enlightening, enchanting, magical, and fun trip! We laughed and sang our way from one breathtaking vista to another. We traveled across the water to a mystical island populated by the souls of the ancestors. I found it profoundly moving.
We helped each other over rocks to board a boat pulled up to said rocks. We climbed tall dunes and mountains to discover views that took our breaths away. We went places completely out of our comfort zones and did things we never dreamed we could or would. We met with locals who shared Sligo and Donegal history, some of it heartbreaking, some of it inspiring, all of it interesting. We were welcomed into the home of one of our guides, a gentle soul with a wealth of talents and knowledge. There we experienced a traditional music session with his family and friends and had such a lovely time. He took his fiddle everywhere we went, and serenaded us in many locales. It was perfect. We met a lovely lady, who, with her sisters, in a small fishing community in Donegal, knits the most incredible sweaters by hand (no knitting machine here). She welcomes those who find their way to her cottage with sandwiches, tea, scones, and a fabulous collection of knitwear to purchase. (I bought a red fisherman’s sweater which is a work of art.) I could go on and on.
Let me just say, Michael Waugh, you are a wonder! Your welcoming and enthusiastic personality made this trip so very special. What you and Trish have put together as Wild West Irish Tours is priceless! Your love for Ireland is evident in every step we took. I will never forget this week.“
“When I started planning my third trip to Ireland, I had to consider 3 other people- my husband and 2 friends. I felt a lot of pressure to find just the right trip. I stumbled upon Wild West Irish Tours on the internet. Everything about looked perfect. Small group tour with the personal touch. It sounded like we would get to meet some Irish people- not just visit the tourist places. I worried that it might just sound good and not meet my expectations. I showed it to the others and we decided to take a chance.
My third trip to Ireland turned out to be the trip of a life time. It far exceeded my expectations! We became part of a group of 8 with some of the greatest drivers/guides ever assembled. Aubrey drove us to Sligo. What a trip. He is a delightful Scotch-Irishman with hundreds of stories- got to love Aubrey! The B&B was fabulous. Great people in an absolutely amazing spot- just the view from the window was mesmerizing. Every day was an adventure. Every time I thought the next day couldn’t top the current one, it did. All of the Michael’s (Roberts, Bell, Quirke, Waugh) taught us a great deal while keeping us thoroughly entertained. Auriel (Sea Trails) was fabulous. After a great walk near the ocean, she served coffee and tea from the back of her car. And then there was Martin. Imagine walking through a lovely Irish forest learning about the flora and fauna with the notes from his fiddle turning the whole experience magical. The evening at his home and the group of musicians was the highlight of my trip. Of course I loved the night at Ellen’s Pub, and the castle, the boat trip, driving to Coney Island…… In fact, there was not a part of it I didn’t love.
We took a chance on a tour found on the internet and found a real gem. As the web site says- “Expect great things in simple places.” I would go again in a heartbeat! It truly was the trip of a lifetime.“
Margaret, New York
“I just completed a trip to Ireland that I would call “the stuff that dreams are made of.”
As a single woman I was a bit wary of a tour, feeling I might feel a bit isolated or not up to the rigors of the trip, but my fears were totally dispelled by my Wild West excursion.Our tour guide, Michael was one of the most approachable,welcoming and knowledgeable of people. He quickly put me at ease as did all the wonderful, sometimes quirky folks I met along the way. He knew all of them personally and so did we after being welcomed in one kitchen for a cup of tea or in another’s parlor for a little impromptu fiddle music.
My dream had always been to tour Yeats country and the highlight of the trip for me was being on a boat in the rain traveling to Innisfree while the white-haired captain recited poetry aloud with his lilting voice. The locales were breathtaking,the food was fantastic ,and the weather was as changeable as could be. It was often fairly cold outside(this was April after all) but my heart was warmed by the kindness and the gentleness of the people I met. I am so grateful I took chance and so thankful to Trish and Michael. It was life-changing!“
Debby, North Carolina
“My best friend and I visited Ireland a few years ago and rented a car, drove ourselves around, and saw enough to make us want to know more. We wanted to know more about the people, hear the stories, see the backroads and find the places that aren’t on the tourist maps. We watched the website and read reviews for Wild West Irish Tours for about a year before we booked our tour, which was in May, 2015. We were a little nervous because we are 60 and not in the best physical shape. But now I can say this was the best trip I’ve ever taken. Anywhere.
Michael Waugh, the co-owner of Wild West Irish Tours, is an expert. An expert on Ireland and an expert on people. He is a people person. He is a nut. He knows the area, the people, the places where you will want to take pictures, the places that have the best food at a price that won’t break your budget. He was with us almost everyday but he did have local experts guide us on a few days, which gave us a look at their Ireland through different eyes. People ask me what my trip was like and I am speechless. Mountains, beaches, cliffs, boats, fossils, cemeteries, famine stories, shopping, food, music, and the world’s best B&B.
We were eight ladies, ranging in age from 50 to 69 and we grew close – assisted each other, encouraged each other, appreciated each other. Michael didn’t mind making a “pit stop” when necessary, which was a concern. Having a wife and daughters made him a better host/guide than he may have been otherwise! He has such a wealth of knowledge and he knows so many people. Our heads were full but our hearts were even fuller. The thrill of finding out where we were going each day was exciting. It eliminated the stress of planning and we just had our breakfast each day and were ready at our appointed time and were whisked away to a new adventure. One of our guides invited us into his home to hear him and his friends play music that made you want to tap your foot and even dance to. Our hostess on a sea trail hike had hot tea for us at her car! We took a boat ride to an island that had ruins of a monastery that had been attacked by Vikings. We took another boat ride with a captain who could quote Yeats in a way that made you want to run out and buy the complete works of Yeats. We had tea on both of these boats also. We saw seals. We met Kathleen who knitted sweaters and sold them from her wee cottage by the sea (where we had tea, of course), on the way to see the highest cliffs in Europe. We learned of the great famine. We learned so much. We felt so much. We cried when we left our B&B We cried when we left each other.
People ask me what my favorite part of the trip was and I cannot answer. The depth of this tour is unreal. You see the beautiful land, you feel the stones that date back to 5,000 bc, you smell the peat burning in the stoves, you taste the local specialties, and you hear of the true Ireland, her history and her music, from HER people. The price of this tour is a bit more than we spent on our first one but considering what you get, it is very, very reasonable. A very personal, guided tour with the best of accommodations and the best of Ireland waiting for you, to welcome you.“
3 Timer Kay, North Carolina
“If someone had told me in 2013 I’d go on three trips in three consecutive years with the same tour company I’d have said, “I really doubt it.” And, if someone had predicted I would have an extremely excellent experience each of those three times, well, I would not have believed it. But I was proven wrong.
Wild West Irish Tours is a uniquely created business with built-in personal attention and a passion for delivering an unforgettable and meaningful travel experience. If you are considering taking a journey with Wild West irish Tours, don’t think about it too long. Just go ahead and book a tour. You’re welcome!“
Eileen, Rhode Island
“Usually everyone has some mystery in their life. Mine was the origins of my maternal grandmother, Theresa Griffin, who died when my mother was 7 years old. I knew she was from County Clare, Ireland, and I knew I wanted to stand on the same soil she did until emigrating to the U.S. as a young woman. What I didn’t know was the impact this trip would have on me. I was blessed to have been brought by divine intervention, I believe, to Wild West Irish tours. I was also blessed to be connected to Michael Regan Waugh, the company co- owner, who showed me and the other 6 people in my group the true essence of Clare as well as Galway and Mayo and the Wild West of Ireland.
Imagine being invited into someone’s home for a hoolie, an impromptu gathering of friends, family, neighbors with song, dance, stories and laughs. Imagine being introduced and brought to the home of your tour guide’s family in County Clare. Imagine staying at the ideal bed and breakfasts. Imagine your whole trip is planned out for you and all you have to do is enjoy the ride—even a ride from and back to the airport. Well I don’t have to imagine any longer. This was my dream trip made possible by Wild West Irish Tours.
So stop imagining and sign up for your trip of a lifetime. I plan on touring again with these Westies and I hope to meet you on the tour!“
Nicki, Cape Cod, MA
“How do I encapsulate the time I was in Ireland with the Wild West Irish Tour? Green?….yes/but not the essence. New friends?…yes/but not the essence. Caring and fun leadership, interesting sites and sights? Yes….but not the essence. The essence of the trip was filled with new understanding of the Irish lore and history and images, the people who have struggled and yet kept a place in the heart for love, a place filled with such beauty that one’s mind cannot even contain it…..and it created for me new thoughts and passions about the Irish and the wild west of Ireland.
Michael and Trish’s (owners of Wild West Irish Tours) efforts not only gave us a great “TOUR”, but also give us also a new sense of belonging to the land of Ireland and finding a place in our mind where it will always stay. Thank you so deeply for this gift that keeps on giving.“
Anne, Cape Cod, MA
“What an incredible trip we had. I thought, from the get go, that the trip was great. Super food everyday, unbelievable ancient sites, tours led by a diverse group. From a Scotsman, with Irish blood, that was a hoot, to a Wandering Minstrel, to an Anthropologist/Storyteller, all were so informative and fun. They took you back in time, gave you a taste of the locality like no one else could. The pubs with locals playing Irish Music, the castles, Naturalist, Marine Archeologist, made this an experience that was magical. I also should mention that I got over 1,400 photos to use for future paintings and that whoever was driving never minded me saying, STOP, I need to take this shot. Michael Waugh, the co-owner of Wild West Irish Tours, gets the biggest Kudos though.His compassionate actions pushed this trip, for me, over the top.
I knew that my Great Grandmother, on my Mother’s side, Annie Shaughnessy came from Galway. Getting to Galway for me, was closure so to speak, as my mom had passed away 2 years ago. I wanted to see where my ancestors lived. Mike knew how much it meant to me . What a surprise it was, when Mike said, Monday morning, that on Tuesday we would be going to Galway! Okay, I admit it, I bawled! (Artists are so sensitive).
The next morning I found out that Mike had found a man named Rory O’Shaughnessy, who would be meeting us, in the town of Gort, where the O’Shaughnessy clan began! What an extraordinary account Rory gave of my ancestors being knighted, snubbing attackers by playing their bagpipes in their castle while under siege, ( all 40 of the castle’s inhabitants were killed in the end. Probably not my brightest relatives).
Rory contacted a farmer who on his land, was on of the O’Shaughnessy’s castles. We walked out through the fields and reached the Fiddaun Castle, owned by my O’Shaughnessy ancestors. The farmer had given me the “key to the castle”, and I got to literally unlock the castle door , climb the spiral stone staircase, and explore. I was able to ask a million questions, as Rory was an expert on anything “O’Shaughnessy.”
Wild West Irish Tours, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You!!! This now,is on my top 5 events, of my life list! I should add too that my husband came home and said, ‘This was the best vacation that I have ever had.” (He and I are about as different as night and day as he is an Engineer) So, I guess you can say everyone, from every background, can have the best vacation ever with Wild West Irish Tours!“
“This was my second trip to Ireland and my second time with Wild West Irish tours. I had the most amazing time. Last year, I thought it was so wonderful that it could not possibly be better, but it was another amazing and wondrous experience.
The magical places we visited (including hoping a fence or two) were grand. From climbing Diamond Hill to the Aran Islands, to the castles, hills, The Burren…. it’s almost impossible to describe how wonderful the time was. The last evening at the Rambling House, listening to music and stories and sharing a cuppa tea was a fitting way to end the tour. It’s hard to believe this is an actual “tour” in the common sense of the word, the attention given to the guests is so personal. Even the hosts and hostesses at the B&B’s can’t seem to do enough for their guests. Thank you Michael and Trish for providing a special time and a stress free way to visit what I consider one of the worlds most beautiful places.“
Christine Crawford, Baltimore, MD
“I want to thank you Wild West Irish Tours for a fabulous experience that far exceeded my expectations ! From the mountains to the coastline……from the farms to the waterfalls…from the churches, abbeys, ruins and cemeteries to the authentic Irish pubs…everything was such an adventure. The genuine Irish hospitality was remarkable. It was a chance of a lifetime to experience Ireland as our ancestors knew it. Thank you so much.“
Edi Walker, Miami, FL
“I have just returned from my Wild West Irish Tours! As much as I looked forward to my first visit to Ireland, it surpassed all I could ever imagine. The trip ended on July 28th, but the memories of Ireland’s people, music and beauty remain in my heart. Michael and his special guides invite you to discover the richness, depth and purity of this magical place. Their warmth and humor and great knowledge of Ireland is truly a gift to you.
I encourage you to experience all the magic for yourself and go with Wild West Irish Tours! Sláinte!“
Debbie Wolfe, Tampa Bay, FL
“I just returned from my 2nd tour with Wild West Irish Tours, and my 7th trip to Ireland. I have gone with the big tour companies and done the self-drive with my family. I like the concept of the small tours the best ! The highlights of my very recent time in Ireland include:
- The excellent accommodations, from 4-star bed and breakfast, small country hotels and the bigger hotels in the larger towns. All were sparkling clean with friendly, helpful people and delicious breakfasts.
- The excellent local people who showed us around. Martin Byrne and Michael Bell were experts in their fields and developed a nice, comfortable camaraderie with us travelers.
- The exquisite, dramatic scenery of Horseshoe Glen, Connemara, and the Cliffs of Moher. This kind of natural beauty cannot be matched.
- Our excellent night of entertainment at Cawley’s in Tubbercurry. This was a traditional night of Irish singing and dancing. I think I speak for all in saying that this night was one to be remembered. 5.The beautiful towns of Cong and Ennis with quaintness usually only seen in travel brochures. There are many more memories I have and tried to capture them in pictures. My sincere thanks to Michael and Trish for working so hard to please everyone. I highly recommend Wild West Irish Tours for your next vacation on the Emerald Isle.”
Saoirse Charis-Graves, Golden, CO
“Sometimes your photos break my heart with the desire to be there. Yes, I have photos, from my Wild West Irish Tour too. Some good ones. And memories, all great, and small souvenirs. But most of all, embodied presence. Ireland, her people and her places, are with me. I’ll work on the photos, editing and labeling and such. I’ll carry some small touchstones … the carving from Michael Quirke, the jewelry from The Cat and Moon, the small white pebble from the path to the top of Slieve League. I’ll remember the ground where John O’Donohue lies at rest.
It is hard to share what my trip meant to me … my friends and family expect interesting stories. Yes, I have some stories from my Wild West Irish Tour. Of an Irish farmer with a deep passion for landscape archaeology, whose farm has been in his family for over 350 years. Of the ruins of a 9th century church with a still-active graveyard and the softest light through its altar window. Of fierce wind and kind people, of holy wells and poetry of the soul. Of mystery and gratitude and prayers for the ones “back home” who are suffering. It’s not the photos or the souvenirs that tell my story. It’s the heart and soul of Ireland that rests within me. It’s both the wildness and the peace. And as you can see, trying to capture that in words is difficult. I may find my way there, to the words, to the stories, to the photos … but for now, “IS D’ÉIRINN MÉ”… I am of Ireland.“
Shannon Baker & Megan Sinan, New York & Pittsburgh
“Best vacation ever!! Our Wild West Irish Tours “Sligo Live Tour” surpassed all expectations. I traveled with my niece on our first trip to Ireland. Our accommodations at Yeats Lodge were delightful. Our room was large, clean, and comfortable with private bath. Our hosts were two of the nicest people I have ever met. They were very accommodating, warm, friendly, fun, and caring. There were five women in our tour group, allowing for much flexibility in what we wanted to do.
Our guides were outstanding. They were knowledgeable, personable, and fun. We were there for the “Sligo Live Music Festival” and got to experience some wonderful live music. The greatest surprise was finding out our tour included tickets to see Sheryl Crow! It was a small venue and a super show. I truly enjoyed every adventure.
People keep asking me what I liked best. I tell them about climbing Ben Bulben Mountain, horseback riding on the beach, driving across the sea bottom at low tide to Coney Island, visiting castles, the live music in the pubs, the Donegal Cliffs, learning about Countess Markievicz and other Irish history, as well as the myths and legends that have been passed down for generations. But when I have to narrow it down to one thing… it is the truly wonderful people of Ireland. I can’t wait to return. I was so comfortable there, I think Ireland will always feel like going home.“
Tom & Kathie, Webster NY
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for an extraordinary tour. Everything we did far exceeded our expectations. Our B&B was awesome & Colm & Mary were exceptional hosts. Wild West Irish Tour guides Martin & Aubrey were both very informative & fun to be with. Myths and legends storyteller Michael Roberts & folklorist/historian Joe McGowan gave us amazing historical information.
The Pubs (Ellen’s in particular) were great fun. We truly enjoyed the boat trip to Innishmurray, the Castles, the Irish people, the Holy Well &, of course, the Smithwicks. Our very best to you. We intend to return in 2015 for the County Mayo/Galway/Clare tour.“
Jeff Noakes, Nashville, TN
“Two words come to mind about our experience on our Wild West Irish Tour.
If you have ever give thought to take a trip to Ireland this is the way to go. Michael and his staff went over the top to accommodate us on what we wanted to see, hear, and experience from this tour. It felt more like being on a trip with some good friends instead of a tour group. I would recommend this trip to everyone to see Ireland the way she really should be seen.
David Warsaw, New York, NY
“I am a 33 year old Manhattan guy who loves traveling. I can honestly say Wild West Irish Tours was one of the best trips I have ever had. I was a little nervous at first but this was one of the best decisions I ever made. Here are the top 4 things I enjoyed most from this tour beyond making great friends and having an amazing 10 days:
- Actual destination spots: we saw a tremendous mix of historic and stunning landscapes.
- The locals – our tour guides were so different and introduced us to some amazing local people.
- Flexibility – we had the freedom to do what we wanted come evening times.
- Our bed & breakfast – it was so clean, gorgeous scenery, and the owner of the B&B was so helpful with everything. She even drove us to town twice!! In short, I would highly recommend using Wild West. The price was right, the owner was spot on, and we all had so much fun together. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Lori and Earl Brown, West Chester, PA
“Dear Wild West Irish Tours – You exceeded our expectations and showed us parts of Ireland that were magical and mythical. Including the locals was brilliant and a perfect balance. Magnificent…horseback riding…the ocean, the mountains, the castle….just fantastic…wow!”
Slainte dear friends!“
John R, Maryland
“This was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I will definitely tour with Wild West again! We saw and did so much everyday, and had such magical moments all along the way…each day was better than the last! From being treated to spectacular sunsets & serenading by Irish troubadours, to having fine meals & even better Irish hospitality, this was truly the trip of a lifetime.
Thank you Wild West for making this such a wonderful, moving experience for us. It was so much more than a vacation, and the memories we’ve made will last a lifetime!“
Joan (Siobhan) Curry, Essex, Ontario, Canada
“Traveling with Wild West Irish Tours is truly a wonderful and unique experience. Michael is passionate about his Ireland and strives to convey this enthusiasm to his travel companions. He makes the tour very “un-touristy” and gives you a taste of Ireland’s history and culture as seen through the eyes of local interpreters, most of whom are also name Michael! He chooses excellent bed and breakfasts, where you can “rest” (not really) for several days at a time. The restaurants Michael selects are great – we even had dinner in a beautiful castle one night. I would highly recommend this tour.“