If you've only got four days, how do you make a choice of which part of Ireland to sample, on your first trip? If you take the view that cities are pretty much the same all over the world, then you must head off the beaten track.
We chose to fly from London Stansted into Knock, sample the countryside, and fly back to London Gatwick from Shannon. Our overnight stops were in Westport, Galway and Ennis. We chose B&Bs in each location and were never disappointed.
After landing at Knock around 10am we drove up to Donegal for lunch. We toured the area, including Donegal Castle (now a conference centre), before heading south to Sligo and Westport.
Westport is a truly charming, and busy coastal centre for surrounding residents and farmers. There's a delightful river which splits the town, and some great shops, eating places and pubs.
Stopping for lunch in the fishing village of Leenane we continued along the N59, into an area known as Connemara. The hilly terrain through this area, looping west and then south, and then east to Galway is beautiful driving.
The drive goes through the Maumturk Mountains, which boasts Benbaun at 2993 metres.
The most amazing color along the way comes from flocks and flocks of wild Rhododendron, their pinky-purple blooms splash the countryside with color.
|Rhododendrons in the Connemara|
|Kylemore Abbey (photo Ireland Tourist Board)|
The harbour is a pretty sleepy place looking east towards Lar Connaght.
Then we headed south through an area known locally as The Burren, which is very popular with hillwalkers, photographers and lovers of the great outdoors. From here we headed to Lahinch for lunch. This area along the coast is mildly undulating, and ideal for golf courses. So much so, there are five located around Lahinch; consequently there are a number of golf shops in the town, and lots of American golfers in their plaid pants wandering around.
|Cliffs of Mohr|
Ireland may be a postage stamp, but if you visit soon, you'll really help the local economy!