My husband and I signed up to take the Wild West Signature Tour several months before it was scheduled to leave. I eagerly read every post and blog on Facebook I could about the tour, which whetted my appetite for our trip. But nothing could have prepared me for how truly wonderful and amazing it was.
Our experience in Ireland on the Wild West tour was above and beyond what we had wished for. It is difficult to capture the essence of our time in words, but I will try!
First, we saw places that were magnificent in beauty. We traveled to see gigantic cliffs that rose majestically from the sea.
Our wonderful guide took us to a local castle where we took an interesting tour. Our tour guide shared stories and trivia that brought the former occupants of the castle back to life. We followed the tour with a boat ride on a beautiful lough. Our captain quoted Yeats’ poetry and told us of his life in this region of Ireland. It was fascinating and loads of fun!
The most memorable and incredible place we went to was an uninhabited island. We sailed in a fishing boat in the open sea, passing a seal colony in our way there. Daryl, our captain shared stories with us of the sights we passed along our voyage of almost an hour! We were accompanied by Auriel, an archeologist who led us ashore once we reached the island. I cannot capture what that experience was like. What I can say is that several of our group was moved to tears once we reached the upper part of the island.
We were able to explore a monastery built in the 6th century. We entered structures where the monks slept and served mass 15 centuries ago. We saw ruins built by pagan people with Celtic crosses carve over the original symbols. It was incredible. Auriel taught us the significance of symbols and linked them to the history of both the island and of Ireland.
Alongside the monastery were the remains of a self-sufficient village of ten families who lived in the island until the 1940s! What stoic, hard-working people they must have been to live in such a harsh but surreally beautiful place.
One fun day we were led on the trail of a survivor of the shipwrecked Spanish Armada by guide Eddie O’Gorman. It was remarkable to know that someone made the trek on foot to the places we saw, including a beautiful waterfall. We had such fun reading poetry from Yeats and acting out a play about the events of so long ago.
There are so many hidden, precious gems we were taken to on our tour. Wonderful Geraldine, who was both our B & B host and guide took us to a holy well which had once been a site of worship for pagans and now houses a shrine to St Patrick. Nearby we saw caves in which Catholic priest served mass in hiding for fear of punishment from the English.
It is impossible to describe every place we saw in the scope of a trip review. Just know that, if you join a Wild West tour, you will see places that will forever change you. That sounds dramatic, I know, but to go to these sights is a deeply moving experience.
Our amazing guides would pull off the road in various spots and before we knew it we would be standing before an ancient site full of history and intrigue. Our tour guide and Geraldine shared their passion and love for Ireland with us in such a way that we fell in love with it too.
Our B & B was perfect. We had spectacular views of Benbulben from our room. Breakfast was amazing! Geraldine even arranged for a birthday cake for my husband on his birthday! And several nights we spent together watching an Irish dancer or hearing Dave play a traditional Irish harp and tin whistle. Out last night we had a visit from a Celtic woman who taught us about ancient Irish traditions and rituals. It was fascinating!
We were brought to wonderful restaurants, quaint tearooms and pubs for lunch. You must try a seafood pie and, of course, fish and chips – and bangers and mash! Simply delicious! A pint of Guinness goes down so nicely in the Wild West, too!
I would say that anyone who wants to really feel immersed in Irish history and culture should go on A Wild West tour. They will experience Irish music and lore from people of Ireland who truly love their country. Our guides love and pride for their heritage was palpable in their every word and action. Their knowledge of their country’s history was impressive. And their warmth and friendliness made it all the more wonderful.