Experience the essence of Irish culture through the eyes of its people in Westport, County Mayo, and the surrounding region. During this charming cultural stay program, enjoy day trips to historic sites and iconic landscapes in northwest Ireland, from Sligo to Galway.

Starting at: $4,140 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Connemara's Kylemore Castle, later an abbey and school  Westport town center. Credit: Courtesy Ireland Tourism Bureau  Typical landscape in Ireland. Credit: Ireland Tourism  Traditional thatched cottage amid the landscape  Irish step dancers  Seascape of County Mayo  Carrowmore megalithic site, Country Sligo  Cultural traditions reflected in modern life  Connemara landscape with sheep  Achill Island seascape  Westport House  The village of Clifden. Credit: Courtesy Ireland Tourism Bureau  The lively streets of Galway  Lively music in a pub. Credit: Brian Morrison, Ireland Tourism

County Mayo

A One-Week Stay in Northwest Ireland

9 days from $4,140

Experience the essence of Irish culture through the eyes of its people in Westport, County Mayo, and the surrounding region. During this charming cultural stay program, enjoy day trips to historic sites and iconic landscapes in northwest Ireland, from Sligo to Galway.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Gorgeous remote areas were accessible through Smithsonian and came to life with the sharing of knowledge in an interesting manner by both the dedicated local tour guide, and the knowledgeable coach driver. I’m still Smiling!!!

- Debra, V.

Though this trip centers in Westport, it is a fabulous journey through time and space in Western Ireland, capturing the politics, poetry, history and beautiful landscape of the region.

- Mary Anne, M.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person on both our 2019 and 2020 departures when you book by July 19, 2019!

No single supplement for solo travelers! (Limited availability. Book early to ensure your place.)

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Experience the essence of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way, the rugged western coast, during a weeklong stay in beautiful Westport. Explore traditional folklife, and visit Achill Island to get a sense of Ireland’s natural isolation. Nourish your soul with fresh air and views of coastal cliffs, mountain peaks, and grassy meadows. Discover poetry and politics in neighboring County Sligo. Experience Ireland, seemingly untouched by time in rural County Galway, yet witness the country’s bright future reflected in the youthful city of Galway. Embrace Irish life past, present, and future. During this charming stay program, enjoy day trips to iconic landscapes and historic sites, always returning to your intimate small town and the comfortable Westport Plaza Hotel.

Highlights Include

  • Irish Traditions: From Westport, visit the National Museum of Country Life. Enjoy a local dance and music performance, watch craftspeople at work, and join local residents at the nearby pub.
  • County Sligo: Visit Yeats Country, where an expert will talk about this iconic poet and see Ireland’s largest cemetery of megalithic tombs at Carrowmore.
  • Achill Island: Experience this remote island that has inspired artists and writers like Graham Greene. Travel along the Atlantic Coastal route and witness more than 80 abandoned cottages in the deserted village of Slievemore, which was ravaged by the Great Famine of 1845.
  • Connemara: Explore one of Ireland’s most scenic regions known for its “savage” beauty. Stop at the National Famine Monument as you travel to Glen Keen farm to watch a sheepdog herding demonstration and later tour impressive Kylemore Abbey and gardens.
  • Galway: During a guided culinary tour, visit local food artisans, then enjoy time to explore this colorful city, often referred to as the “most Irish” of Ireland’s cities.

Gorgeous remote areas were accessible through Smithsonian and came to life with the sharing of knowledge in an interesting manner by both the dedicated local tour guide, and the knowledgeable coach driver. I’m still Smiling!!!

- Debra, V.

Though this trip centers in Westport, it is a fabulous journey through time and space in Western Ireland, capturing the politics, poetry, history and beautiful landscape of the region.

- Mary Anne, M.

2019 Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S.

Depart the U.S. on the overnight transatlantic flight to Shannon, Ireland.

Day 2 – Shannon and Westport

After arrival at Shannon International Airport, depart by motor coach for a drive through the Irish countryside to the upscale and centrally located Westport Plaza Hotel. A rest stop will be made in Kinvara for refreshments and to see Dunguaire Castle. Upon arrival, each traveler will receive a Welcome Kit with maps and general information about Westport and County Mayo.

Excursion: There’s time to unpack and settle in before joining fellow Smithsonian Travelers for a walking-tour of Westport. Westport is situated on the edge of the Atlantic inlet Clew Bay and lies against the backdrop of Ireland’s iconic pilgrimage mountain, Croagh Patrick. Hear interesting stories and learn about the local Pirate Queen and the rebellions that occurred here. 

Meet with fellow travelers this evening for a welcome reception and remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Afterward, enjoy a Smithsonian Journeys welcome dinner. (R,D)

Day 3 – Westport

A full Irish buffet breakfast is served each morning at the hotel.

Excursion: Start the day with a visit to the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, where you’ll learn about crafts, farming, domestic life, and local festivals. There’s time to explore the museum on your own.

Excursion: After lunch, travel to Westport House built in the 18th century and often referred to as one of the most beautiful houses in Ireland. Enjoy the splendid gardens and views overlooking Clew Bay, Anchill and Clare Islands and Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain. Westport House is privately owned by the Browne family, descendants of the “pirate queen” Grace O’Malley who was chief of the O’Malley clan and ruled the seas around County Mayo

This evening, gather in small groups for a Westport Dine-Around at local restaurants. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – County Sligo

Excursion: After breakfast, travel from Westport to Country Sligo and explore its cultural and historical highlights. Discover Yeats Country where the poet William Butler Yeats spent much of his time and the place he is buried at the foot of Benbulben Mountain. Spend time visiting the renowned Foxford Woolen Mills. Visit Lissadell House, a stately home built in the 1830’s and residence of Constance Markievicz, a renowned Irish nationalist, and the first woman to win a seat in the British House of Commons.

Travel to Sligo with a stop on the way at Drumcliff Cemetery, Yeats’ burial place.

Educational Focus: After lunch at Hargadon Bros. Pub in Sligo, attend a fascinating talk on Irish literature and Yeats by a Yeats Society Fellow.

On the return to Westport, make a stop at Carrowmore the largest complex of megalithic tombs in Ireland. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Achill Island

This morning join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an engaging presentation, then a local expert will give a talk, A Vision of Ireland, about Irish history and how it's reflected in its art.

Excursion: Achill Island lies off the rugged coast of the Currane Peninsula. Explore this rugged and remote island that has inspired artists and writers like Graham Greene. Travel along the Atlantic Coastal drive and visit the deserted village of Slievemore ravaged by the Great Famine of 1845-1848. See the nearby megalithic tombs. Lunch will be served in Keel and will feature local organic specialties.

Later, get together in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner for some lively conversation. (B,L)

Day 6 – Connemara

Excursion: Today explore one of Ireland’s most scenic regions known for its “savage” beauty. It’s a stark landscape created by the movement of ancient glaciers. Marvel at the beauty of Croagh Patrick Mountain where St. Patrick is said to have fasted for 40 days in the 5th century and see the National Famine Monument by sculptor John Behan.

Continue to Glen Keen Farm where you will see a fascinating sheepdog demonstration and talk about the history of the local family farm. Visit Kylemore Abbey, an old Benedictine convent that’s said to be the most romantic building in Ireland. Lunch will be served during your visit to the Abbey

On the return drive to Westport, make a stop in Clifden, a town situated between the foothills of the Twelve Bens and the ocean. Enjoy free time to shop, savor the ambiance of bustling Market Square, or visit a pub for a pint. Dinner this evening will be served in the hotel. (B,L)

Day 7 – Cong and Galway

Excursion: Start the day with a talk by a local expert about recent events that are shaping modern Ireland. Drive to the picturesque village of Cong, located on the shores of Lough Corrib. The village was the location for “The Quiet Man,” filmed in the 1950’s starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Explore Cong Abbey, an Augustinian Abbey thought to be found in the 12th-century by Turlough O’Connor, High King of Ireland.  

Excursion: Continue to Galway City to explore this unique university city. This spirited city exudes a youthful energy, brimming with live music, street performers, and students from the National University of Ireland/Galway. With an expert guide, take a culinary walking tour to visit local artisans, such as chocolatiers, cheese makers, and craft brewers, to sample their tasty creations. Afterward, explore the city’s vibrant network of medieval cobbled streets on your own. (B)

Day 8 – Westport

Independent Exploration: Spend your last day at leisure. Take a harbor cruise from Westport Harbor, hike the County Mayo countryside, or rent bikes for a leisurely ride along the Great Western Greenway.

This evening gather with fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers and tour staff for a special farewell dinner at the hotel featuring the rich heritage of Irish music, dance, and song! A farewell dinner will immediately follow. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Depart for the U.S.

Get an early start and transfer to Shannon International Airport for return flights to your gateway city. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2020 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 – Depart the U.S. for Shannon, Ireland

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Shannon, Ireland.

After arrival at Shannon International Airport, depart by motor coach for a drive through the Irish countryside. A stop will be made in Kinvara for refreshments. Arrive in Westport to begin your stay at the Westport Plaza Hotel. Upon arrival, you will receive a Welcome Package with maps and information about Westport and County Mayo.

There is time to unpack and settle in before joining a guided walking tour of Westport. The town is situated on the edge of the Atlantic inlet Clew Bay and lies against the backdrop of Ireland’s iconic pilgrimage mountain, Croagh Patrick. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner. (1R,1D)

Day 3 – Achill Island

A full Irish buffet breakfast is served each morning during your stay in the hotel.

This morning join a local expert for a presentation on A Vision of Ireland, about Irish history and how it's reflected in its art. Achill Island lies off the rugged coast of the Currane Peninsula. Explore this rugged and remote island that has inspired artists and writers like Graham Greene. Travel along the Atlantic Coastal drive and visit the deserted village of Slievemore ravaged by the Great Famine of 1845-1848. Lunch will be served in Keel and will feature local organic specialties. On the return drive to the hotel, stop at the charming Mulranny Park Hotel, dating from 1897, for an Irish Coffee. The hotel is situated on the Wild Atlantic Way and the Great Western Greenway. You’re free this evening to explore the restaurants in and around Westport. (B,L)

Day 4 – County Sligo

After breakfast, travel from Westport to Country Sligo to explore its cultural and historical highlights. Discover Yeats Country where the poet William Butler Yeats spent much of his time and the place he is buried at the foot of Benbulben Mountain. Continue to visit Carrowmore, the largest complex of megalithic tombs in Ireland. After lunch in Sligo, attend a fascinating talk on Irish literature and Yeats by a Yeats Society Fellow. Afterwards, make a stop at Drumcliff Cemetery, the place where Yeats is buried.

On the return to Westport drive via Mullaghmore on the Wild Atlantic Way. You’ll marvel at views of lush, green fields, rocky islands, ancient castles, and quaint Irish villages.

Dinner will be served at the hotel this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Westport

Today you’ll travel to Turlough village and visit the National Museum of Country Life, Ireland’s only national museum outside of Dublin. Discover traditional ways of life through Irish crafts, farming, sports, domestic life, and festivals. You’ll enjoy an informative lecture provided by a museum staff member, before having free time to explore on your own. Later, discover the heritage of Irish music, dance, and language during an informative, interactive session.

This evening, gather in small groups for a Westport Dine-Around at select local restaurants (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Galway and Cong

This morning, drive to Galway to discover this unique university city. Enjoy a guided walking tour that will introduce you to the city’s culinary scene. During the tour, you’ll sample the best of Irish food products. After free time and an independent lunch, drive to the picturesque village of Cong, located on the shores of Lough Corrib. The village was the location for The Quiet Man filmed in the 1950’s starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. There’s time to explore Cong at your own pace. Discover the Augustinian Abbey now located on the grounds of Ashford Castle and thought to be founded in the 12th century by Turlough O’Connor, High King of Connacht. In late afternoon join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Travelers Corner for a discussion of the day’s discoveries. (B)

Day 7 – Connemara and Kylemore Abbey

Today, explore one of Ireland’s most scenic regions known for its “savage” beauty. It’s a stark landscape created by the movement of ancient glaciers. Marvel at the beauty of Croagh Patrick Mountain, where St. Patrick is said to have fasted for 40 days in the 5th century and see the National Famine Monument by sculptor John Behan.

Continue to Glen Keen Sheep Farm, where you will see a fascinating sheepdog herding demonstration and talk about the history of this family-owned farm. Later, visit Kylemore Abbey, an old Benedictine convent nestled at the base of Duchruach Mountain on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul in the heart of the Connemara Mountains. The Abbey is said to be the most romantic building in Ireland. Lunch will be served at the Abbey. On the return drive to Westport, make a stop in Clifden, a town situated between the foothills of the Twelve Bens mountains and the ocean and often referred to as the capital of Connemara. Enjoy free time to savor the ambiance of the bustling Market Square, or visit a pub for a pint. (B,L)

Day 8 – Westport

Spend your last day at leisure. Take a harbor cruise from Westport Harbor, hike the County Mayo countryside, or rent a bike for a leisurely ride along the Great Western Greenway.

This evening gather with fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers and tour staff for a farewell dinner at the hotel. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Depart for the U.S.

After an early breakfast, transfer to Shannon International Airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)