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Ireland Travel Guide

Best Places to Visit in  Western Ireland

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  Best Places to Visit in Ireland   Detailed Map  






Best Places to Visit in Ireland's West

1) Shannon    Limerick   Bunratty Castle    Dromoland Castle   Adare  
2) Galway    Cliffs of Moher     The Burren    Lisdoonvarna   Dunguaire Castle    
3) Connemara     Kylemore Abbey     Aran Islands    

Sunset over County Galway Read our recommendations on the best places to visit in Ireland.  Use the menu above (repeated at the bottom of the page), to find attractions on this page or others in our section on Ireland's West.

The West of Ireland has a different flavor than the rest of the country.  The weather is cooler and the influence of the Atlantic is pronounced.  The country seems wilder, almost barren and in a curious way inviting exploration.  If you have the time to tour the West, you will be glad you did.  There are a number of spectacular, scenic attractions, as well as several areas of cultural importance.

As you travel through Ireland, you will hear many reminders of the Irish Potato Famine (also known as the Great Hunger or "An Gorta Mór") that occurred from 1845 to 1851.  Blights infected the island's potato crop resulting in a failed harvest that lasted through several planting seasons. Over one million Irish lost their lives to starvation or disease associated with the famine during the Potato Famine.  An even larger group was unable to cope with the economic hardship of the famine, which lead to the Irish Diaspora.  As a result of the famine and subsequent migration, the population of Ireland decreased by half. 

The effects of the famine, according to many sources, were more pronounced in the West of Ireland than the rest of the country.  During your travels in the West, you will likely hear the story of the famine and great debates about the responses by the British and Irish governments (at the time the area now known as the Republic of Ireland was part of the British Empire).

If you are interested in more details, see this site for a comprehensive review of the famine.

A locator map showing the counties in the West of Ireland


















Limerick, Cliffs of Moher, Burren and Galway Bay Rail Tour from Dublin

From Viator Tours

Many visitors to the West of Ireland start their journey inShannon , as its airport is one of Ireland's principal ports of entry.  Shannon, however, offers little beyond its airport, so gather your rental car and head out from there.

Major attractions in the West can be found in County Limerick, County Clare (Cliffs of Moher and the Burren) and County Galway (the Connemara and the Aran Islands).  We will start our recommendations for the best places to visit in the south and proceed in a northerly direction (to Galway).



Bunratty Castle in County Clare offers medieval banquetsNearShannon, you will find Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.  The castle dates from the 15th century and was restored in 1954.  It has interesting decor and is located in an attractive setting.  The nearby Bunratty Folk Park is a re-creation of 19th century rural life in Ireland and is reasonably interesting to visit.   Finally, if you want  to attend the Castle's entertaining Medieval Banquet you will need to make reservations in advance.

Dromoland Castle near Shannon, now a hotel.

If you want to spend some time in a luxurious, castle-like setting, Dromoland Castle, which is now a hotel, is near Shannon. Dromoland is quite posh, featuring a 375-acre estate and  a well-received golf course that opened in 2004. Alternatively, you may prefer to fish, play tennis, shoot, boat, or take a spin at their spa. For more information, click here.

Limerick    a little further east is a magnet for those who have read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.  The city, once an outpost of the Vikings and later home of the Normans, has evolved into an industrial center that has limited attractions.

King John's Castle in Limerick dates from the 12th century.You might be interested in visiting King John's Castle , a 13th century edifice that was built to guard the city from invaders sailing up the Shannon River (which, by the way, is the longest river in Ireland and the British Isles). The castle today is a commercial venture, but tales of its history and associated displays (including the armory)  are reasonably interesting, especially to kids.  Click for more information from the official website of the castle





If you decide to make the journey to Limerick, you might want to detour to see Adare (around 18km from Limerick), which is widely touted as the most beautiful little village in Ireland and is an official Irish "Heritage Town".  We think Adare "tis" the prettiest, or a least one of top contenders. Although there has been a village here for quite some time, the "old" Adare was destroyed in the 17th century and rebuilt in its present style in the 19th century.


If you are looking for Irish cottages with thatched roofs and a good selection of souvenirs for the folks at home, this is the place.  Situated on the River Maigue in a woodlands environment, Adare is a pleasant place to visit. The town also has a number of pubs and restaurants, so you can quench your thirst after all that shopping.

If you are looking for luxury, you might be interested in Adare Manor, a hotel, spa and golf resort (Robert Trent Jones Sr.) that is often top-ranked in the list of best resorts in Europe.  Click here for the Manor's homepage.

Finally, you might be interested in seeing the only Holy Trinity Abbey is Ireland.  Originally constructed in the 13th century, it was later restored and is now a Catholic church.  The Trinitarian Order was founded in France in the late 12th century and existed to raise ransom for Catholics who had been enslaved in various locations around the world because of their faith.


More Places To Visit In Western Ireland

Click here for page 2 of our Guide to Ireland's West  featuring Galway, Country Clare, the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Lisdoonvarna and Kinvara

Or, Click here for page 3 of our Guide to Ireland's West, featuring the Connemara, Kylemore Abbey and the Aran Islands

Or, Click the jump bar at the bottom of this page to go directly to the descriptions of the listed attractions in Ireland's West

Or, use the link menu on the right-edge of this page to explore another of Ireland's wonderful regions.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index or Googling ThereArePlaces.

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Dublin and Vicinity

The Southwest
Cork, Killarney, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Blarney Castle and more.

The West
Galway, Connemara, Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Aran islands and more.

The Southeast
Waterford, Rock of Cashel, Jerpoint Abbey and more.

The North and Northern Ireland
Donegal, Sligo, Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Belfast and more.

Introduction to Ireland





1) Shannon    Limerick   Bunratty Castle    Dromoland Castle   Adare
2) Galway   Cliffs of Moher  The Burren   Lisdoonvarna           Dunguaire Castle  
3) Connemara    Kylemore Abbey   Aran Islands  
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