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Cycling the Coast and Villages of Ireland’s Connemara

Program Number: 20946RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/17/2013 - 8/26/2013; 6/13/2015 - 6/22/2015; 9/5/2015 - 9/14/2015;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Ireland
Price starting at: $2,824.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Bicycling Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 16; 8 Breakfasts, 0 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

On quiet country lanes and paths along the rugged west coast of Ireland, cycle from seaside village to village in the area called “Wild Connemara.” Find an area rich with megalithic tombs, craggy mountains, moorland and loughs, with glittering islands of the Irish Sea never far in the distance. Learn how — in a land that has been inhabited for more than 6,000 years — the old ways live on in the crafts, language, music and stories the locals still love to tell.




Highlights

• Cycle alongside the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea with magnificent views of islands in the distance, as you learn about local life and history in quiet coastal villages of “Wild Connemara.”
• Discover places where Irish Gaelic is still spoken, hear riveting Celtic tales and plenty of traditional music.
• In Galway, find the cultural core of Ireland in its winding medieval lanes and traditional pubs.



Activity Particulars

This program is recommended for experienced cyclists who are comfortable biking up to 5 hours/day on varied terrain ranging from flat to moderately rolling. Participants will bike as a group 13-36 miles per day following the group leader at a rate of 10-12 miles per hour, with rest breaks every 25 minutes. Cyclists will be biking on paved and unpaved bicycle paths, in addition to biking on the LEFT side of paved secondary roads with moderate traffic when there are no bike paths available. Weather conditions, such as wind and rain may affect biking difficulty. Participants must bring and wear their own bicycle helmet.

Field trips and excursions require walking and standing up to two hours.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Shannon, coach to Oughterard, 1 night; bike to Furbo, 2 nights; bike to Carna Bay, 1 night; bike to Clifden, 2 nights; bike to Kylemore Pass, 1 night; coach to Galway, 1 night; coach to Shannon for departure.



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Shannon
Coach to Oughterard
1 night
Bike to Furbo
2 nights

Cycle through lush Irish countryside to Aughnanure Castle and be thrust back in time to learn about old Irish nobility. Gain insight into one of Galway's most infamous families during a lecture and expert-led walk through one of more than 200 crumbling tower houses built by the “ferocious” O’Flahertys. Participate in an Irish cultural immersion to gain insights on nature, heritage and music. Cycle alongside the Atlantic Ocean/ Irish Sea with magnificent views of the Aran Islands in the distance, as you make your way to the pristine seaside village of Spiddal, where Irish Gaelic is still spoken today. Hear a storyteller weave riveting Celtic tales and learn the significance of storytelling in Ireland.



Bike to Carna Bay
1 night
Bike to Clifden
2 nights
Bike to Kylemore Pass
1 night
Coach to Galway
1 night
Coach to Shannon for departure

Discover the origins of the Gaelic language. In the seaside village of Roundstone, marvel at the charms of this artsy bay town, notable for its “Galway Hookers” (uniquely Irish fishing boats). Sample fresh Atlantic smoked salmon during a lecture and fish-filleting demonstration at Connemara Smokehouse. Ride along the stunning “Sky Road,” which overlooks offshore islands, Inishturk and Turbot. Peddle to Kylemore Abbey, which sits at the base of the “12 Bens,” the more mountainous region of Connemara. Admire the grandeur of this historic estate during an expert-led talk and walk, which carries us through the Mausoleum, Gothic Church and Victorian Walled Garden that populate the manicured property. Learn about the medieval roots and complex history of Galway, including its Spanish Arch, Eyre Square, Galway’s “street of sin” and other notable public buildings.




Ireland

In 1801, the Act of Union merged the Kingdom of Ireland with the Kingdom of Great Britain. In the mid-19th century, the Irish experienced terrible famine and crowding that led to a spirited nationalist movement. With the Government of Ireland Act in 1920, five-sixths of the island began independent governance. Northern Ireland voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom, creating an island that today fosters two shared, yet opposite identities.



Accommodations
A variety of charming, local hotels, many with traditional pubs and music.
Meals and Lodgings
   Ross Lake House Hotel
  Oughterard, Ireland 1 night
   Connemara Coast Hotel
  Furbo, Ireland 1 night
   Carraroe Lodge
  Carraroe, Ireland 1 night
   Ostan Cuan Carna
  Carna, Ireland 1 night
   Foyles Hotel
  Clifden, Ireland 2 nights
   Ostan Cuan Carna
  Carna, Ireland 1 night
   Forster Court Hotel
  Galway, Ireland 1 night
 Ross Lake House Hotel
Type: Bed and Breakfast
  Description: Elegant bedrooms reflect the Georgian period, but provide modern comforts. Mature gardens with magnificent trees and rolling lawns surround the house.
  Contact info: N59 Clifden Rd., Rosscahill
Oughterard,   Ireland
phone: +353 (0) 91 550 109
web: www.rosslakehotel.com
  Room amenities: All rooms are ensuite with direct dial phone, TV and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, library bar, tennis court
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Contact the hotel directly. Should you wish to extend your stay prior to the start of the program, please contact the hotel directly for rates and to secure reservations.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Connemara Coast Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Panoramic views of Galway Bay
  Contact info: Spiddal Road
Furbo, Co. Galway,   Ireland
phone: +353 91 592065
web: www.connemaracoast.ie
  Room amenities: Shower, WC, Hairdryers, TV, Coffee/Tea Makers, Complimentary WiFi, Irons & Ironing Board
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Indoor Pool, Fitness Room, Tennis Courts, Spa Offering Massage & Beauty Treatments
  Smoking allowed: No

 Carraroe Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Situated in the heart of the village of Carraroe, this delightful lodge is family-operated.
  Contact info: Bothar Bui
An Cheathru Rua
Carraroe, Co. Galway,   Ireland
phone: +353 91 595 466
web: www.carraroelodge.com
  Room amenities: Shower, WC, Hairdryers on Request
  Facility amenities: Breakfast Facilities, Complimentary WiFi
  Smoking allowed: No

 Ostan Cuan Carna
Type: Hotel
  Description: Traditional Irish Music Sessions are held occasionally in the bar during the summer months.
  Contact info: Carna Bay
Carna, Connemara,   Ireland
phone: +353 95 32255
web: www.carnabay.com
  Room amenities: Shower, WC, Tea/Coffee facilities, TV, Hairdryers
  Facility amenities: Bar, Restaurant
  Smoking allowed: No

 Foyles Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: Main Street
Clifden, Co. Galway,   Ireland
phone: +353 95 21801
web: www.foyleshotel.com
  Room amenities: Shower, WC, Satellite TV, Coffee making facilities, Hairdryers, Telephone
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Breakfast & Dining Room, Bar/Lounge, Patio Garden
  Smoking allowed: No

 Forster Court Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Situated just steps from Eyre Square
  Contact info: Forster Street
Galway,   Ireland
phone: +353 91 564111
web: www.forstercourthotel.com
  Room amenities: Shower, WC, Coffee/Tea making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Telephone, Dry Cleaning Service, Iron & Ironing Board on request
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Free WiFi, Business Center
  Smoking allowed: No


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
9:30 AM transfer from Shannon Airport to first program site. You will be staying at Ross Lake House Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Early morning group transfer to Shannon Airport for independent flight departures. You will be staying at Forster Court Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. International Bicycle Tours Release & Assumption of Risk Form must be signed.
  Parking availability:
Parking is available at first program site.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Bus available. Review fares & schedules at www.buseireann.ie.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Oughterard
  Nearest airport:  Shannon Airport
  Transportation to site: On arrival at Shannon Airport take Bus Eireann (Route 51) to Ceannt Station in Galway. Departures are every hour at a cost of approximately 14.25 Euro per person. The transfer takes two hours. Fares and schedules may be reviewed at www.buseireann.ie. From Ceannt Station, take a taxi to Ross Lake Hotel in Rosscahill, Oughterard. Alternatively, take a taxi straight from Shannon Airport to the first program site in Oughterard. Taxi will cost about 150 Euro and distance is about 110 kilometers.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Galway
  Transportation from site: Take Bus Eireann (Route 51) from Ceannt Station in Galway to Shannon Airport. Departures are every hour at a cost of approximately 15 Euro per person. The transfer time is approximately two hours. Review fares and schedules at www.buseireann.ie. Alternatively, take a taxi from the hotel in Galway to Shannon Airport. The distance is 80 kilometers and taxi costs about 125 Euro.
Equipment Requirements: Participants are required to bring and wear a bicycle helmet while biking each day.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival Shannon Airport/Coach to Oughterard/Bike Fitting & Testing/Welcome Dinner
(Saturday, August 17)
   
 Morning: Arrival at Shannon Airport. Board a coach transfer to the center of Oughterard. Check-in at Ross Lake and deposit luggage.
 Lunch: Independent lunch.
 Afternoon: Once bicycles have been assigned, time to demonstrate your biking skills to assure that you are ready for your adventure. The balance of the afternoon is free for relaxation.
 Dinner: Meet your fellow participants at the welcome dinner in the hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Ross Lake House Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Safety & Corner System Lecture/Visit Aughnanure Castle/Bicycle through Moycullen to Furbo
(Sunday, August 18)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: After fueling up with a hearty Irish breakfast, listen carefully to lectures on safety, rules of the road and the IBT corner system. Then, mount those bicycles for the first cycle of the program and head toward Aughnanure Castle to be thrust back in time for a peek into olde Irish nobility. Gain insight on one of Galway's most notable lord families of Gaelic stock during a lecture and guided walk through one of over 200 crumbling tower houses, built by the "ferocious" O’Flahertys. Discover why the people of Galway regarded the O'Flahertys as "mountainous and wild people."
 Lunch: Sample local fare on your own en route.
 Afternoon: Continue bicycling through the lush countryside of Moycullen onto our seaside retreat in Furbo.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Connemara Coast Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Retirement in Ireland Lecture/Bicycle through Spiddal
(Monday, August 19)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Before venturing out for the day, learn about the quality of life of Irish retirees during a lecture covering topics such as healthcare, benefits, available activities as well as hardships endured by retired Irish citizens. Catching the distinct scent of salty ocean spray, it's time to cycle alongside the Atlantic until happening upon the small and pristine seaside village of Spiddal, where all signposts are in Irish, as is the language used by those who frequent the pubs or peddle their warm, handwoven sweaters.
 Lunch: Sample the local fare on your own en route.
 Afternoon: Continuing our journey, cycle in the soft afternoon sunlight that dances over the ocean, furnishing magnificent views of the Aran Islands.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Carraroe Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Excursion in Killieran/Bicycle to Carna Bay
(Tuesday, August 20)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Today is devoted to cycling! So, after a full Irish breakfast, bid the accommodating staff at Carraroe Lodge goodbye and depart on your two-wheeler toward "Cill Chiaráin" (Killieran in English), named after Saint Ciarán who resided in this small town.
 Lunch: Sample local fare on your own en route.
 Afternoon: Wind along secondary roads until reaching our dwelling for the evening. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore the quiet village of Carna and drink up the view of Carna Bay and Mweenish Island.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Ostan Cuan Carna
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Talk & Performance on Bodhrán Making/Explore Roundstone/Filleting Demonstration & Salmon Tasting at Connemara Smokehouse/Bicycle to Clifden
(Wednesday, August 21)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room
 Morning: A short cycle through Glinsk and we arrive at Roundstone Craft & Music for immersion into the beating bodhrán by the folksy Malachy Kearns, who conducts a presentation on the drum native of the Celts and so intrinsic to traditional Irish music. Upon our exit from Roundstone, whet your appetite and marvel at the charms of this artsy bay town, notable for its "Galway Hookers" (uniquely Irish fishing boats), which return daily with nets and crates brimming with lobster, crab, shrimp, mackerel and cod.
 Lunch: Sample local fare en route.
 Afternoon: Spirits now churning rhythmically, advance to Clifden to delight your taste buds with a sample of fresh Atlantic smoked salmon during a lecture and fish filleting demonstration at Connemara Smokehouse. From here, a quick ride and we roll into our home for the night.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room
   
Accommodations: Foyles Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Scenic ride along Sky Road/ Excursion to Streamstown Bay/Independent Exploration of Clifden
(Thursday, August 22)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room
 Morning: Embark on a scenic bicycle ride along the infamous and stunning Sky Road, which overlooks offshore islands, Inishturk and Turbot. A quick stop in Streamstown Bay affords a glimpse of untouched, rugged Ireland before we circle back toward Clifden.
 Lunch: Sample local fare on your own en route.
 Afternoon: Independent exploration of the old market town of Clifden, bustling with activity since its establishment by merchants two centuries ago, supplies the occasion to poke around craft shops or relish a pint of Guinness in any one of the old town pubs that line the village.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room
   
Accommodations: Foyles Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Kylemore Abbey Lecture & Field Trip/Bicycle to Carna Bay
(Friday, August 23)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room
 Morning: Pedal a short distance and arrive at Kylemore Abbey, which sits at the base of the "12 Bens," the more mountainous region of Connemara. Admire the grandeur of this historic estate during a guided talk and walk, which carries us through the Mausoleum, Gothic Church and Victorian Walled Garden that populate the manicured property.
 Lunch: Sample local fare at Kylemore Abbey.
 Afternoon: Loop back toward the familiar territory of Carna Bay, taking notice of the peat bogs that line the landscape along our final bicycling voyage. Upon arrival, bid your bicycle "slán" before spending the late afternoon relaxing with an independent stroll by the beach or perhaps a rejuvenating snooze at the hotel.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room
   
Accommodations: Ostan Cuan Carna
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Coach to Galway/Guided City Walk/Independent Exploration/Celtic Tales Storytelling Session/Farewell Dinner
(Saturday, August 24)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room
 Morning: Hop an early coach transfer to the cultural core of Ireland, and its 3rd largest city, Galway. Upon arrival at the hotel, partake in an enriching overview of this cultural hub of Ireland via a lecture and field trip of the city. The guided walk pulls us through the medieval roots and complex history of Galway into its present day allure: highlights include The Spanish Arch, Eyre Square/JFK Memorial Park, Galway’s street of sin and other notable public buildings.
 Lunch: Sample local fare on your own en route.
 Afternoon: Independent exploration supplies a wealth of possibilities: whether it’s being roused by dance and music at An Pucan Pub, engrossment in artistic expression at Galway Arts Centre or the Galway City Museum, or unwinding with a canal walk before the last evening of festivities.
 Dinner: Wish your fellow travelers farewell at dinner in the hotel dining room.
 Evening: Find a comfortable seat and allow a local storyteller to rivet your imagination during an animated presentation of Celtic Tales.
   
Accommodations: Forster Court Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Departure
(Sunday, August 25)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Board an early coach transfer to Shannon Airport based on Road Scholar flight departures.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Course Called Ireland


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Description: Not just a quest to play every seaside course in the Emerald Isle (60 by the time he got to Ulster), Tom Coyne's entertaining portrait of Ireland, its people, pubs and quirks illuminates "Uncommon Acts of Irish Hospitality."



A Pint of Plain


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Description: Drawing on the wit and wisdom of O'Brien, Joyce, Behan and Synge, the author explores Irish culture (and popularity around the world) from the vantage of the local pub.



A Traveller's History of Ireland


Author: Peter Neville


Description: From the Celts to the Norman invasions and modern-day Ireland, this short history is highly recommended for those who would like a brief overview of the Emerald Isle through the centuries.



Connemara Mollie, An Irish Journey on Horseback


Author: Hilary Bradt


Description: Bradt recalls her journey among the people of Galway, Mayo, Clare and Kerry in the 1980s.



Dubliners


Author: James Joyce


Description: James Joyce's unsurpassed collection of short stories depicting ordinary life in Dublin among the lower middle class -- a milestone in the history of prose fiction.



Eyewitness Guide Ireland


Author: Eyewitness Guides


Description: This superb guide is a wonderfully illustrated introduction to the country, featuring photographs, maps and short background essays on history and culture.



Fodor's Dublin's 25 Best


Author: Fodors


Description: Take along this handy pocket guide, which includes a map and information on city highlights.



For the Love of Ireland, A Literary Companion for Readers and Travelers


Author: Susan Cahill (Editor)


Description: Organized geographically, this rich anthology introduces Ireland through the words and lives of such luminaries as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Frank McCourt and Samuel Beckett.



How the Irish Saved Civilization


Author: Thomas Cahill


Description: This best-selling history tells the generally unknown story of Ireland's preservation of classical learning in the Dark Ages, revealing how the saints and scholars, monks and scribes labored to reproduce important texts and spread the learning as they evangelized Europe.



Ireland Map


Author: Michelin


Description: A colorful map at a scale of 1:400,000.



Ireland, A Traveler's Literary Companion


Author: James Mc Elroy


Description: Organized geographically, this anthology of short stories and tales by contemporary Irish authors captures the spirit, history and allure of Ireland.



Irish Fairy and Folk Tales


Author: W.B. Yeats


Description: Edited by the Nobel Prize-winning poet who spearheaded the Celtic Renaissance in the early 20th century, these enchanting stories introduce a cast of changelings, ghosts, mermaids, demons, saints, priests and fairies.



Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland


Author: Hugh Palmer (Photographer), Christopher Fitz-Simon


Description: With hundreds of color photographs, this illustrated portrait of Ireland, its landscape, architecture and people includes maps and a travel guide.



Opened Ground, Selected Poems 1966-1996


Author: Seamus Heaney


Description: The publication of Heaney's book North in 1975 changed Irish literature -- and poetry worldwide -- forever. Dive into the physical and emotional rhythms of Irish life in this volume, which chronicles the Nobel Laureate's best work from the last 30 years.



Sun Dancing, A Vision of Medieval Ireland


Author: Geoffrey Moorhouse


Description: This wonderfully inspired combination of scholarship and historical fiction, set at the monastery on Skellig Michael, carries the reader back to Ireland's early monastic tradition.



The Aran Islands


Author: J.M. Synge, Tim Robinson (Introduction)


Description: A much-loved turn-of-the-century account of the islands (as contrasted with mainland Ireland), drenched in the Celtic soul of the Irish.



The Book of Kells


Author: Bernard Meehan


Description: Written by the keeper of manuscripts at Trinity College, this book features 110 color illustrations, including enlargements, of some of the more spectacular decorations in this most famous of medieval manuscripts.



The Celts: A Very Short Introduction


Author: Barry W Cunliffe


Description: A concise, revealing social history of the Celts, by a reigning authority and popular writer.



The Hill Bachelors


Author: William Trevor


Description: No one writes better short fiction than William Trevor. This collection of 12 stories captures the life and people of rural Ireland.



The Truth about the Irish


Author: Terry Eagleton


Description: An irreverent A-to-Z guide to all things Irish by a native son and shrewd comic commentator, who casts aside many myths, starting with the first entry - A for alcohol (the Irish have the lowest per capita consumption of alcohol in the E.U., after Greece and Italy).





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