This was my third trip to Ireland, my second Wild West Irish Tour. I knew it would be amazing but I didn’t know that it would be so completely different from my other two trips.

There were seven people in our group so we were able to always sit together at restaurants and fit in a van, without being split up into separate groups. We bonded over delicious Irish food, foot-tapping Irish music and lovely fireplaces. We parted as friends, tearfully. We had great sympathy for the large tour buses as they drove by, pulling over for seconds as drivers pointed at the treasures we were exploring up close with a guide to share the history, the stories and significance of these most special places.

There were many places that were off the beaten path, places that no tourist would know about or be able to find. Places that were marked centuries ago, places that would take your breath away. I had seen mountains in Ireland but nothing that prepared me for the beauty of the Connemara area. I thought I had seen the burren when I did a self drive tour but the burren we were introduced to by our guide was in a while other world. I was not prepared for what I saw and learned.

Our boat ride across a lake to an inhabited island, so rich in history with awesome ruins, was a photographer‘s dream. Again, our guide gave us a wealth of information as we explored.

Our second boat ride was to an Aran Island, another photographer’s paradise, but then all of Ireland would qualify for that. There was so much to see on that small island as we rode along on our horse-driven cart. And the lunch we had there was amazing. One lady in our group bought a head wrap at a small shop and as she paid for it she found out it was designed and hand made by the mother of the young man that waited on us.

We left there and were able to see the Cliffs of Moher by boat-how special was that! We were amazed by the birds at the sea stack! There was so much more, beautiful castles, abbeys, waterfalls, lakes, seashores, sheep, the “Quiet Man” bridge, and medieval type villages and towns. And food? All of our food was fresh, locally grown and AMAZING! They don’t have Walmarts there, they have butcher shops so you don’t have the processing we have here.

And accommodations? We had two wonderful b&b’s which provided genuine, warm Irish hospitality. The breakfast each day was delicious, filling, and a great start to a day of exploration. Our schedule was relaxed and not set in stone so there was always time to make a stop to shop or slip down a local road to see another hidden gem.

Another highlight was the music. We had world known Irish musicians perform just for us and we also heard local musicians. One of my personal favorites was the sheep herding demonstration-it was so much more than sheep herding. The scenery itself at that location was so beautiful my husband didn’t believe I took the pictures I had. It’s THAT beautiful.

I left Ireland feeling full in spirit and overflowing with so many emotions. Thank you , Wild West Irish Tours, for providing us with the best.

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