Ireland’s West Coast

from £8495
excluding flights *
12 nights May

Overview

Perched on the edge of the Atlantic, Ireland’s rugged west coast offers a journey around hundreds of islands, enchanting peninsulas and fjords, soaring cliffs and crumbling castles. Along the way you’ll discover unique flora and fauna, hike through spectacular scenery and discover an ancient culture of storytelling, mythology and lives intertwined with the Atlantic. Highlights may include the chance to encounter huge colonies of nesting seabirds such as gannets, puffins and guillemots, and a visit to a 6th-century monastery on the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage-listed Skellig Islands.

Highlights

  • Discover a fascinating history of Celts, Vikings, monks and Stone Age settlements
  • Keep watch for an abundance of marine wildlife: dolphins, whales, otters, puffins, gannets and other seabirds
  • Visit the spectacularly rugged Skellig Islands, home to a 6th century monastery
  • Hike coastal landscapes, uncovering ancient myths and legends along the way
  • Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Giant's Causeway and Dublin, City of Literature
  • Raise a glass of Irish whiskey at the Dingle Distillery

What's Included

  • Dublin city tour & overnight hotel
  • Shipboard accommodation
  • All breakfasts, lunches & dinners on board the ship
  • Selection of beverages
  • Shore landings & Zodiac cruises
  • Presentations on board
  • Expedition jacket - yours to keep
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

Full description

This comprehensive exploration of Ireland's rich Atlantic coastline starts in its capital city, Dublin. After a tour of the city's highlights, you'll board the ship to head north across the border to the iconic Northern Irish UNESCO site of the Giant's Causeway. Rounding the top of the island you will stop at its most northerly point, Malin Head, and meet the locals on Tory Island. Historical sites and a wealth of birdlife will occupy your time as you continue along the Donegal coast  to Mullaghmore, a dramatic peninsula known to have provided inspiration - and a final resting place - for the poet W.B. Yeats.

County Mayo offers a 6000 year old Stone Age site and a 4000 year old preserved tree, among many other attractions such as prevalent birdlife and a colourful history of pirates and chieftains, whilst Galway opens up a breath-taking panorama of mountains, islands, and sheer sea cliffs. The area is hugely popular with birders, historians, hill walkers and photographers - there really is something for everyone. Cruise beneath the imposing cliffs of Moher and head ashore on the Dingle Peninsula, home to a plethora of archaeological sites and of course the famous Dingle Distillery.

One final highlight of your voyage is the chance to witness the remote, weather-beaten Skelligs, two rocky pinnacles surrounded by the might of the Atlantic Ocean. The island of Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed not only for its recent appearance in Star Wars, but also for its ancient monastery and prolific birdlife, whilst Small Skellig boasts an immense colony of gannets. From this wild and beautiful setting you will follow the south coast to the city of Cork, where your voyage ends.

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Prices & Dates

2021 Departures - prices are per person, based on a twin cabin

Departure Duration Vessel Activities Price from (pp)
19 May 2021 13 days Greg Mortimer £8,495

Activity Key:

Kayaking

What's Included

  • Arrival transfer from airport to hotel
  • Pre-voyage hotel accommodation with breakfast in Dublin
  • Half day Dublin city tour
  • Transfer from ship to Cork airport or downtown on disembarkation
  • Shipboard accommodation
  • All breakfasts, lunches & dinners on board the ship
  • Tea & coffee available around the clock
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner
  • All Zodiac transfers, cruising & shore landings
  • Presentations by the Expedition Team and guest speakers
  • Expedition jacket - yours to keep
  • Loan of rubber boots during voyage
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection »

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: Arrival in Dublin

Arrive in Dublin and transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this lively city.

Day 2: Dublin sightseeing & embarkation

A sightseeing tour is included this afternoon, taking in the highlights of Dublin, UNESCO City of Literature. After your tour you will embark the ship and set sail, heading north to cruise past the Giant’s Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking and stacked basalt columns that resulted from an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. The stunning geometric sculptural forms, a national nature reserve, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, resemble a man-made art installation. From the ship you may also see the ruins of medieval Dunluce Castle, located on the edge of a basalt outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 3: Inishowen Peninsula & Tory Island, Donegal

At the Inishowen Peninsula’s tip is Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point and a wonderful spot for bird watching as you meander along the pristine beaches of this deserted coastline. Continue to Tory Island, a place that seems to have frozen in time where people still talk of 'travelling to Ireland'. Tory's spectacular cliff scenery is complemented by a rich and varied history, and many ancient customs still survive, including the appointment of the island king or Rí Thoraí. Interesting historical sites include a round tower that once protected monks from Viking raids, the ruins of St Colmcille’s 6th century monastery and the intriguing Tau Cross that suggests early seafaring links to the Coptic Christians of Egypt. The island also boasts an abundance of rare bird life and wild flower species, but it is the friendly island residents themselves that leave the biggest impression on visitors.

Day 4: Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal

Slieve League Cliffs, on the south west coast of County Donegal, are some of the highest and finest marine cliffs in Europe. Hike to the top, 600 metres above the turbulent Atlantic Ocean, for fantastic views of the Sligo Mountains and Donegal Bay.

Day 5: Mulaaghmore, Sligo

The small but dramatic peninsula of Mullaghmore is backed by the dazzling landscape of jagged mountain peaks that inspired the work of Nobel-winning poet W.B. Yeats. Yeats’ grave can be found in the nearby Drumcliff Cemetry. Mullaghmore sits in the shadows of Benbulben Mountain, undoubtedly Ireland’s most distinctive peak which was formed by glacial activity during the ice age. Enjoy a leisurely hike through the Benbulben Forest, emerging onto the headland for superb panoramic views of Donegal Bay, Slieve League Cliffs, Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle. Later there may be time to land on one of the offshore islands to visit a wildlife sanctuary and a 6th century monastic, where the discovery of a cist burial and carved ‘cursing’ stones suggests prehistoric occupation.

Day 6: Céide Fields & Clare Island, Mayo

Visit Céide Fields, the remains of a Stone Age farming community dating back nearly 6000 years. It contains the oldest known stone-walled fields in the world, whilst the nearby interpretive centre is home to a 4,000-year-old pine tree unearthed from local bog land. Continue to Clare Island, a mountainous island guarding the entrance to Clew Bay in County Mayo. It is famous throughout Ireland as the hVisit Céide Fields, the remains of a Stone Age farming community dating back nearly 6000 years. It contains the oldest known stone-walled fields in the world, whilst the nearby interpretive centre is home to a 4,000-year-old pine tree unearthed from local bog land. Continue to Clare Island, a mountainous island guarding the entrance to Clew Bay in County Mayo. It is famous throughout Ireland as the home of the pirate queen Grace O'Malley (Granuaile), who was known as a tyrant of the ocean, clan chieftain, mother, wife, survivor and brilliant politician. Clare is the largest and highest of Clew Bay's many islands, with dramatic coastal cliffs and spectacular views of one of Ireland's best-known peaks, Croagh Patrick. Its spectacular cliffs are home to large numbers of nesting sea birds and its hills, bogs and woodlands make it ideal for hill walking. ome of the pirate queen Grace O'Malley (Granuaile), who was known as a tyrant of the ocean, clan chieftain, mother, wife, survivor and brilliant politician. Clare is the largest and highest of Clew Bay's many islands, with dramatic coastal cliffs and spectacular views of one of Ireland's best-known peaks, Croagh Patrick. Its spectacular cliffs are home to large numbers of nesting sea birds and its hills, bogs and woodlands make it ideal for hill walking.

Days 7-10: Connemara, Galway

Soak up some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery as you explore the Connemara coast. Highlights over the next few days may include the glacial-carved Killary Harbour, described as Ireland’s only true fjord. This sheltered inlet was once used as a hiding place for U-boats but today you are more likely to find dolphins, otters and a wealth of bird species including ringed plover, mute swan, whooper swan, mallard duck, tufted duck and barnacle goose. Enjoy some spectacular hiking through Connemara National Park, against a dramatic mountainous backdrop, and cruise amongst the Connemara Islands. Scattered out in the harsh Atlantic, these islands have been shaped by the sheer force of the ocean. Perhaps land at Inishbofin, one of the last Royalist strongholds to fall to Cromwell’s army. The ruins of Cromwell’s impressive star-shaped fort from 1656 still overlook the harbour. Inishbofin is also a breeding area for many bird species, such as the corncrake, Arctic tern, fulmars, shags, guillemots, Manx shearwaters and choughs. Continuing south, the Aran Islands are synonymous with traditional Irish culture, language, music and tradition. Famed for their wild landscapes, distinctive knitted jumpers and pretty thatched cottages, these picturesque islands never fail to impress. Inishmore (Inis Mór) is the largest of the Aran Islands and is home to over 50 different monuments of Christian, pre-Christian and Celtic mythological heritage, as well as the iconic Dún Aonghusa fort which perches on the cliff-edge. The geology on Inishmore is an extension of the famous limestone rocks of The Burren, where limestone pavements crisscrossed with grikes host a plethora of rare wild flowers such as gentian violets and orchids. As you continue your journey you will cruise beneath the towering Cliffs of Moher.

Day 11: Dingle Peninsula, Kerry

There are over 2,500 archaeological sites on the beautiful Dingle Peninsula, spanning a period from 6,000 BC through to 1700 AD. Take a closer look at the Blasket Islands where you may spot puffins, fulmars, guillemots, storm petrels and shearwaters. You may also encounter dolphins, whales, orcas and porpoise. Head ashore at Dingle to enjoy a guided tour of some of the Peninsula’s ancient sites, including the Ogham stones, monastic sites, beehive huts, ringforts, medieval churches, holy wells and the Gallarus oratory. Afterwards, visit the renowned Dingle Distillery to learn about the production process of their gin, vodka, and unique Dingle Whiskey.

Day 12: The Skelligs, Kerry

Off the coast of County Kerry two rocky pinnacles rise in dramatic fashion from the Atlantic Ocean. The Skellig Islands are world-renowned for their ornithological and archaeological significance – and more recently for their starring role in the Star Wars movies. Small Skellig is home to roughly 27,000 pairs of gannets – the second largest colony in the world, whilst Skellig Michael is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the extraordinary monastery that perches at its peak. Generation after generation of monks helped to hand-carve 600 stone steps to build a hilltop monastery 200 metres above the pounding waves. The monastery has six corbel stone beehive huts and two boat-shaped oratories. The survival of the terraces and drystone walls to this day are testament to the skill and dedication of the monks and a striking example of Early Christian architecture. After enduring several Viking raids, the monks eventually left the island in the 13th century.

Day 13: Disembarkation in Cork

On arrival in Cork this morning, disembark the ship and bid your fellow travellers farewell.

Notes

All voyage itineraries are intended as a guideline only - embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy of expedition travel. Actual routes and landings will be dependent on wildlife sightings and weather/sea conditions. A degree of flexibility is essential!

The Greg Mortimer

Multi-destination

Grade: Deluxe

Type: Expedition Ship

Brand new for 2019, the Greg Mortimer is a custom-built expedition ship featuring cutting-edge design, superior comfort and environmentally friendly technology.

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