Exploring Galway & Ireland’s Secret Hidden Heartlands

Based at the superb Shearwater Hotel Ballinasloe, this tour explores significant Irish history in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and mighty Wild Atlantic Way and the lovely city of Galway.

Day 1 Arrival
We arrive at our hotel in time for dinner.

Day 2 Birr, Shannon River Cruise & Clonmacnoise Monastery
This morning we make our way to the impressive Birr Castle Gardens, where we have time to wander around the 50 hectare, award-winning gardens, home to an abundance of rare plants collected by the Earls of Rosse on their travels around the world over the last 150 years. After free time for lunch in Birr, we enjoy a scenic 1 hour river cruise from Shannonbridge to Clonmacnoise, taking in the stunning natural beauty of the Shannon waterway as we relax. Upon arrival, we explore the spectacular Clonmacnoise Monastery. Founded in the 6th century, the ruins include a cathedral, two round towers, three high crosses, nine churches and over 700 early Christian graveslabs. The original high crosses, including the magnificent 10th century Cross of the Scriptures, are on display in a purpose-built exhibition area.

Day 3 Strokestown Park House & Gardens & Kilbeggan Distillery
For our first visit today, we discover Strokestown Park nestled in beautiful County Roscommon, where we take a guided tour of this stunning Georgian Palladian Mansion. The National Famine Museum is also within the grounds and we have the chance to learn the tragic history of the Great Irish Famine and the devasting impact in Irish history. There will be time for a stroll around the walled gardens. We finish off our day with a tipple or two! in one of the oldest licensed distilleries of its kind, Kilbeggan Distillery. Established in 1757 Kilbeggan has beaten the odds to survive today and we learn about its past as well as how this famous whiskey is made today, finishing our visit off with a tasting.

Day 4 Galway
We travel west this morning, to the vibrant, colourful city of Galway – named 2020 European Capital of Culture, and for good reason! Galway is an exciting, lively town
with something to interest everyone – from the beautiful colours of its portside houses,
to the infectious rhythms of the traditional Irish music found in almost every pub and
bar. We take a scenic cruise aboard the Corrib Princess from Woodquay, in the heart
of Galway city, along the majestic River Corrib and onto Lough Corrib. During our 90
minute cruise, we hear about Galway’s ancient past, Celtic mythology and stories of
Galway’s feuding families. We spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring attractions
such as the Spanish Arch, built to protect the city’s quays, and Galway Cathedral.

Day 5 Departure
After breakfast, we make our way home.

Shearwater Hotel & Spa

Ballinasloe, County Galway
This is a stunning four-star hotel in a convenient location off the M6 motorway in Ballinasloe Co Galway. All 104 bedrooms are to a modern and contemporary design, spacious and equipped to a great standard. All meals are served in the Canal bistro which offers a great standard of Irish cuisine. The hotel features a 20 metre pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi along with a range of spa treatments.  

Shearwater Hotel & Spa

Ballinasloe, County Galway

4 Nights Half Board

• Return ferry crossing UK - Ireland
• Entrance to Birr Castle & Gardens
• One way river cruise Shannonbridge – Clonmacnoise
• Entrance to Clonmacnoise Monastery
• Entrance to Strokestown Park House & Museum with guided tour
• Kilbeggan Distillery entrance, guided tour & tasting
• 90 minute Galway cruise

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Features of this tour