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Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1: Shannon to Galway & Galway Sightseeing Day 1

After you arrive at Shannon Airport proceed to pick up your rental car and begin your journey along the West and North West of Ireland. The trip from Shannon to Galway is one of the shorter trips that you will make throughout your time here in Ireland so you will have plenty of time to relax upon your arrival in Galway. On the outskirts of Galway City you can find Knitwits & Crafty Stitchers.

The store is the largest yarn and fabric supply store in Galway and you can purchase a wide range of knitting accessories from various types of yarn to knitting needles. Closer to the city centre you can call to the Ó Máille Original House of Style store. This family run business is over 75 years old and here you can buy unique product ranges from Irish designers along with traditional items such as Aran Sweaters.

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Day 2: Shannon to Galway & Galway Sightseeing Day 2

Galway City has a vibrant atmosphere for you to enjoy with its bustling pubs, talented street performers and cobbled streets all giving it a unique identity. Some of the most famous tourist attractions in and around Galway City include the Spanish Arch, The Galway City Museum and walking along the Salthill Promenade although this usually requires adequate weather to do so.
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Day 3: Galway to Donegal

Today you have the opportunity to travel from Galway City to Donegal. This is a scenic drive through the unspoilt natural beauty of Ireland’s western coast and even though it will be one of your longer drives you have plenty of potential stops to help you break up the journey.

Your first stop could be at Markree Wool Craft, located at Markree Castle just south of Sligo Town. Markree Wool Craft is run by Mary Cooper and at her small workshop you can see some of her hand made wool products close up. Shortly after you leave Markree you will come to the town of Sligo, the capital town of the county. Attractions that you can visit in the town include the ruins of Sligo Abbey, an abbey that was first built in the 13th century but was destroyed 200 hundred years later and a museum dedicated to the life and career of famous poet W.B. Yeats which can be found in the county library. There is also a fine selection of pubs and restaurants for you to choose from if you wish to have lunch in the town. As you leave Sligo you begin to be spoilt by some natural beauty with the imposing Ben Bulbin and Atlantic Shore coming into view. Continuing along your route you will soon arrive at the small village of Cliffoney where just off the main road you will find the Crafters Basket. At the Crafters Basket a wide range of craft supplies with plenty of yarn and knitting patterns are available for you to choose from. The North West is also home to an array of stunning beaches one of them being Mullagmore which is just a short detour from your route.

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Day 4: Donegal Sightseeing Day 1

For the day 4 & day 5 you have the option to go sightseeing around the southern part of Donegal. Donegal is considered to be a haven for craft lovers due to the volume of craft shops and studios throughout the county. You can see a full list of these shops and studios in your Irish Tourism itinerary.

Located in Donegal Town in the south of the county is Wool N Things, a craft shop that sells local hand knitting wool and unusual hand knit designs. Just outside Donegal Town you can visit Donegal Craft Village which is a showcase for contemporary arts and crafts from Ireland. One studio in the village is dedicated to hand weaving where you can see Donegal tweed being hand woven on a loom that is native of Donegal.

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Day 5: Donegal Sightseeing Day 2

Heading west from Donegal your next port of call could be to the fishing town of Killybegs. In Killybegs you may like to visit the Killybegs International Carpet Making & Fishing Centre which is home to the largest hand knotted loom in the world.

Carpets that have been made in Killybegs are known as Donegal Carpets and they have graced some of the finest buildings in the world including the White House, The Vatican and Buckingham Palace. Just outside Killybegs you have the opportunity to visit the Handmade Irish Sweaters Cottage run by Kathleen Meehan. Kathleen and her team hand knit and design all of the sweaters that are produced in the cottage. Travelling to the cottage will take you through a remote and beautiful part of Donegal. Continuing to travel west from Killybegs you will soon come to the small village of Kilcar where Studio Donegal is located. The tradition of weaving and woollen textiles in Kilcar dates back to the late 1700’s and Studio Donegal keeps this tradition going today. At the shop you can browse through products that have just been finished such as a Ruana Handwoven Wrap and Aran Vest’s. Just a short drive away from Studio Donegal is the Slieve League Cliffs which happen to be one of the highest cliff tops in Europe with their height reaching a colossal 600 metres. Travelling onwards from Slieve League your next stop could be at Glencolmcille Folk Village. At the folk village you are given an insight into what daily life was like in the North West of Ireland during past centuries with a cluster of small thatched cottages and a well-stocked craft shop being the highlight of the folk village. From here you can continue to the heritage town of Ardara which is famous for its tweed makers. There are a number of places that you might like to visit including The Donegal Designer Makers, a shop featuring a collection of craft makers from across the country, Kennedy’s of Ardara Knitwear or Handwoven Tweed a small hand weaving business run by local man, Eddie Doherty.

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Day 6: Donegal to Westport& Westport Sightseeing Day 1

Today you have the opportunity to travel from Donegal to Westport in County Mayo. Travelling back towards Sligo you will have another opportunity to stop at some of the attractions that were mentioned in day 3 if you were unable to stop on your journey to Donegal.

One of your first stops when you reach County Mayo could be at Foxford Woollen Mills. Although visiting Foxford requires a slight detour from your route to Westport, travelling to the mill is well worth the time for any craft enthusiast. At the mill you can take a tour which allows you to see first-hand the master craftspeople at work while the tour also explains the origins of the mill from the late 1800’s. From Foxford you could travel the short distance to Castlebar, the largest town in Mayo. Here you have the opportunity to visit the Museum of County Life, where exhibits displayed show the rural Irish way of life between 1850 and 1950. The displays at the museum focus on certain aspects of rural life in their times such as there working of the land and their trades and crafts. Departing Castlebar it is just a short drive to complete your journey to your final destination of the day, Westport. Located in the town centre of Westport is The Craft House, a popular shop with locals and tourists that sells locally spun and dyed yarn along with other authentic handmade gifts.

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Day 7: Donegal to Westport& Westport Sightseeing Day 2

Another attraction that you could pay a visit to is Westport House, a grand house that dates back to the 1500’s. The grounds which you can stroll around are dotted with waterfalls, sculptures and interesting antiquities. Having some lunch from one of the four food establishments on site is also an option.
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Day 8: Westport to Ballynahinch via Connemara

Today you have two options for your journey from Westport to Ballynahinch Castle. You can take the direct route from Westport to Ballynahinch Castle which will result in you arriving at the castle earlier in the day so you will have more time to take in your beautiful surroundings or you can take the longer scenic route with some marvellous stops along the way.

Your first stop of the day could be at Killary Sheep Farm, a fully operational farm where they run demonstrations such as sheep shearing and turf cutting so you can get hands on if you wish! In the nearby village of Leenane is The Sheep and Wool Centre, a museum that offers you an insight into the role that sheep and wool has played in Connemara in the past. Demonstrations are also held where spinning and weaving is practiced on looms that were used during the turn of the last century. Continuing on from Leenane and travelling deeper into the heart of the Connemara region, your next potential stop could be at the Kylemore Abbey Visitor Centre. Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 1920 but the building itself was built in the late 1800’s. At the visitor centre you can listen to one of the history talks and take a tour of the walled garden where if you fancy something to eat there is a café & tea house on site. A few miles before you come to the town of Clifden you will pass by Cottage Handcrafts, a knitwear and craft shop that have specialised in producing Irish knitwear and crafts for the past four decades while in the town of Clifden itself you can visit Lowry’s Sweater and Gift Shop where designer knitwear and sheep themed gifts are just a few of your many choices. From Clifden it is just a short drive to Ballynahinch Castle where you will stay the next two nights.

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Day 9: Day Trip to Aran Islands

As part of your tour, return ferry tickets to the Aran Islands from Rossaveal are included. Your day trip will be to Inis Mór, the largest and most western of the Aran Islands. The journey from Rossaveal to Inis Mór takes approximately 45 minutes each way. The Aran Islands are well renowned for their strong Irish culture with the Irish language being spoken fluently on all three islands.

When you arrive in Inis Mór you will disembark at the largest village on the islands Kilronan, this is despite the population of the village only being a paltry 300 people. A shop that you may like to pay a visit to in Kilronan is the Aran Sweater Market. The shop has a large selection of Aran sweaters, Aran Wools and knitting patterns for you to select from. Outside of Kilronan, Inis Mór also has many other tourist attractions for you to visit. Perhaps the most famous attraction on the island is Dun Aengus, a prehistoric hill fort that is situated on the edge of a 100 metre high cliff. In the centre and highest point of the island you will find a lighthouse called Dun Eochla. The lighthouse was built sometime in the early nineteenth century and on a clear day five counties can be seen, Clare, Galway, Kerry, Limerick and Mayo. In the evening time you will take the ferry back from Kilronan to Rossaveal from where you can travel back to Ballynahinch Castle.

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Day 10: Ballynahinch to Clare

Today you have the opportunity to travel from Ballynahinch Castle to the west coast of Clare. One of your first stops of the day could be at the Connemara Marble visitor centre in Moycullen which has been operating for over 150 years.

At the museum you can see a collection of antique furniture, pottery and carvings from 17th century Ireland. Also located in Moycullen is the Connemara Celtic Crystal visitor centre, a centre that describes the 40 year history of crystal production in the village. You can learn more about how the crystal is produced on the factory tour which includes a live glass cutting demonstration where the master cutter will explain the procedure step by step as he does it. After leaving Moycullen you will soon arrive in Galway City where you will have another opportunity to visit any attractions that you were unable to visit during your stay in Galway at the beginning of your tour. Departing Galway and travelling towards the west coast of Clare you have the option to take a trip to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs reach an astonishing 214 metres which provides you with a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean and Aran Islands on clear days. If you wish to acquire an even better view of the cliffs and its surrounding area, O’Briens round stone tower is located at the edge of the cliffs. The tower provides access to a viewing platform however it is at a separate cost to the entrance fee to the cliffs. Just a few minutes drive away from the cliffs is the seaside town of Lahich which is also home to the knitting store, Kenny’s Woollen Mills. A large selection of wool and knitwear is available for you to purchase while also located inside the store is an art gallery with work prominently by local and Irish artists.

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