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.“

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