Enjoy Day tours from Galway Pre or Post ISEH & ISEG 2016 Conference 

Optional Day Tour 1: CONG & ASHFORD CASTLE

Although most famous for being the location for the John Wayne movie The Quiet Man, there is a lot more to Cong, County Mayo. Situated in Ireland’s Lake District, Cong boasts beautiful scenery and ample fishing and boating opportunities, with many caves to explore.

Make the highlight of your vacation a stay at Ashford Castle, one of Europe’s premier hotel destinations. Now under the attentive ownership of Red Carnation Hotels, Ashford has been host to US presidents including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and movie stars such as Pierce Brosnan and Brad Pitt have chosen to sample its dramatic location and rich cultural heritage. After honing your golf skills on Ashford Castle’s golf course, try your hand at archery, or learn to fly hawks at the Irish School of Falconry, located in the castle grounds.

The ancient ruins of nearby Cong Abbey feature some of the finest examples of early gothic architecture, and curious visitors can marvel at the monk fishing house, built on a stone arch platform over the River Cong.

Optional Day Tour 2: MAYO & THE WEST OF IRELAND

Follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick by taking a trek to the top of Croagh Patrick, just outside the beautiful town of Westport, County Mayo. The mountaintop offers spectacular views of Clew Bay and the surrounding countryside, where pilgrims gather every year to pay tribute to Ireland’s patron saint. Legend has it that Saint Patrick fasted on the mountainside for forty days in the 5th century AD, banishing all snakes from the country in the process. Each March, Irish people around the world celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day to commemorate his contributions to Irish religious and cultural life.

Stretching 42 kilometres between Westport and Achill Island, the Great Western Greenway is a traffic-free cycling and walking trail that is the longest of its kind in Ireland. Passing along the shore of Clew Bay, nature enthusiasts can walk, cycle or hike the trail, visit pristine beaches and golf courses, and experience the atmospheric local scenery up close for themselves.

To watch master craftsmen at work on a traditional Irish skill, why not take a trip to Foxford Woollen Mills in Foxford, County Mayo? Foxford is one of the last working mills in Ireland, where visitors can watch as rugs, throws and scarves are handwoven before their eyes.

Optional Day Tour 3: CONNEMARA

Connemara in County Galway is a rugged landscape on the western edge of Europe, where Gaelic, the traditional language of Ireland, is still in widespread use. Connemara Ponies were bred to adapt to the harsh surroundings, and pony trekking is a popular activity among locals and tourists alike.

After trekking on a Connemara beach, a tour of the local countryside is a must. Nestling between the Twelve Bens and the Atlantic Ocean, Clifden offers numerous outstanding choices for accommodation. Explore the authentic restoration of Clifden’s railway station, station platform and engine house at the Clifden Station House Hotel, a distinctive combination of history and hospitality, with onsite dining and theatre.

Located just outside Clifden on the steep Sky Road, The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel provides a relaxing base for those wanting to explore all that Connemara has to offer. Step out on the terrace to view the beautiful sight of Clifden Bay, or marvel at the haunting wilderness of the Twelve Bens mountain range. The tranquil setting of Ballynahinch Castle, on the banks of one of Ireland’s leading salmon and sea trout rivers, offers equally majestic sights for visitors who wish to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Connemara, with fly-fishing, hiking, biking and shooting available onsite.

No visit to Connemara is complete without a trip to the Benedictine monastery at Kylemore Abbey, where visitors can tour the monastery and castle, explore the walled gardens, or take a guided mountain hike. For something different while in the area, see how sheepdogs are trained to shepherd Connemara Blackface sheep around the wild terrain in Joyce Country.

Optional Day Tour 4: CLIFFS OF MOHER

Sculpted by the wild Atlantic waves, the Cliffs of Moher provide visitors to Ireland with a magical view stretching from Galway Bay and the Connemara mountain ranges to the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. Standing 702 feet tall at their highest, the cliffs run for 5 miles along the County Clare coastline. The nearby Burren contains miles and miles of exposed limestone, providing a unique habitat for rare flora and fauna.

The coastal waters of Clare and Galway provide an abundant variety of world-class seafood, enjoyed year round by locals and visitors alike. Established over 200 years ago, Moran’s on the Weir in Kilcolgan, County Galway, is renowned for the quality of its seafood, Guinness and oysters, served in a traditional thatched cottage. Only 3 miles away, the picturesque village of Clarenbridge is host to an annual Oyster Festival, serving delicious oysters harvested from over 700 acres of beds in the nearby bay. Though the Oyster Festival is held each September, delicious fresh seafood and gourmet Irish cuisine is served in Paddy Burke’s Oyster Inn in Clarenbridge year round.

Optional Day Tour 5: ARAN ISLANDS

A trip to the Aran Islands is an ideal tonic to escape the pressures of modern life. If you are looking for a place to commune with nature, be inspired and find peace to envelop body & soul, look no further.

Whether you wish to bask on sandy beaches, sailboard, or just walk the quiet winding byways, the Aran Islands have it all.

Inishmore, or Inis Mór in Irish, is the largest of the islands and by far the most popular. With a population of approx. 1,000 people spread among 14 villages, it is well served by mini-bus tours, hostels, hotels & restaurants. The main attraction is undoubtedly the cliff fort of Dun Aonghasa, which can just as easily be accessed by renting a bike or walking.

Inismaan, or Inis Meáin in Irish, is the middle island and the least visited and therefore the most pristine, Irish can be heard spoken and the lack of tourists in comparison to the other two islands is noticeable. Pubs and people inhabit this island.

Inisheer, or Inis Oírr, is the smallest of the three islands coming in at approx. 3.2km by 3.2km, with a population of 300. The closest island to the mainland, it has more recently been made famous when the wreck, “The Plassey” which floundered off its coast appeared in the “Father Ted” television series.