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Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1: Shannon to Galway

Upon your arrival at Shannon Airport pick up your rental car and begin your journey along the West and North West of Ireland. Your first trip will be from Shannon to Galway City which is relatively short to ease you into your holiday 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.

As the store is the largest yarn and fabric supply store in Galway you have a wide range of knitting accessories such as yarn and knitting needles to choose from. While you are exploring Galway’s city centre you have the opportunity to call to another shop that specialises in knitwear, Ó Máille’s Original House of Style. Quality Irish produced products such as Aran sweaters, loomed sweaters and various types of yarn are available for you to browse through. Not alone is their just interesting craft shops, Galway City also has a vibrant atmosphere which attracts tourists in their droves. Famous attractions such as the Spanish Arch and the Salthill Promenade along with the city’s bustling pubs, talented street performers and cobbled streets all combine together to make the experience of visiting Galway an unforgettable one.

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Day 2: Galway to Donegal

Today you have the opportunity to travel from Galway City to Donegal. This will be one of your longer journeys in Ireland but the stops that we have suggested for you in your Irish Tourism itinerary will help break up the journey for you. Your first stop of the day could be at Markree Wool Craft, located in the grounds of Markree Castle.

Markree Wool Craft is run by craft enthusiast Mary Cooper and at her small workshop you can see items such as the Donegal Spinning Wheel which dates back to the 1500’s as well as her drop spindle which is even more historic. Just a short distance from Markree Castle is the town of Sligo. As one of the main towns along the western seaboard there are numerous attractions that you can visit in and around the town including the ruins of Sligo Abbey, an abbey that was first built in the 13th century but now lays in ruins and a museum in the town library dedicated to the life of world renowned poet, W.B. Yeats. If you have worked up an appetite through all of your sightseeing there is a mixture of pubs and restaurants for you to choose from if you wish to have some lunch in the town. As you head north out of Sligo towards Leitrim and Donegal you are spoilt by natural beauty with the striking Ben Bulbin and stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean sure to catch your attention. In the small village of Cliffoney you can find another craft shop called the Crafters Basket which supplies a wide range of knitting patterns and books on various craft subjects for you to choose from. A brisk stroll along one of the many beautiful beaches on the North West coast line is another way to take a welcome break from your driving today. Two of the most popular beaches in this region include Mullaghmore and Streedagh Strand, both of which are just a few minutes detour from your route.

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Day 3: Donegal Sightseeing Day 1

On day 3 & day 4 you have the option to go sightseeing around the most northerly county in Ireland, Donegal. Donegal is considered to be one of the cornerstones of the knitting industry in Ireland as a result of the high number of craft shops and studios throughout the county.

One such craft shop that is located in Donegal Town is Wool N Things, a shop that specialises in selling local hand knitting wool and unique hand knit designs. Also located on the outskirts of Donegal Town is Donegal Craft Village which displays contemporary arts and crafts primarily from Donegal but from throughout Ireland too. One of the studio’s in the craft village is devoted to hand weaving and here you can see Donegal tweed being hand woven on a loom that originates from Donegal.

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Day 4: Donegal Sightseeing Day 2

Travelling west from Donegal town your next port of call could be to the fishing town of Killybegs. An attraction that you might like to visit in the town is the Killybegs International Carpet Making & Fishing Centre where the largest hand knotted loom in the world can be found.

Carpets that are produced in Killybegs are commonly referred to as Donegal Carpets and these carpets have been used to decorate some of the most famous buildings throughout the world including the White House, The Vatican and Buckingham Palace. As you depart Killybegs you will have the option to visit the Handmade Irish Sweaters Cottage run by Kathleen Meehan which is just a few miles outside the town in a remote and stunning part of the county. To stay unique and differentiate themselves from other knitwear businesses, Kathleen and her team of knitters hand knit and design all of the sweaters that they produce at the cottage. The business has grown from just Kathleen knitting by herself over 15 years ago to becoming a small business today, employing local people. Continuing westwards from Killybegs you will soon arrive at the small village of Kilcar where the craft studio, Studio Donegal is located. The history of weaving and woollen textiles in Kilcar dates back to the latter years of the 18th century and Studio Donegal keeps this tradition alive today. At the gift shop in the studio you can look through garments that have just been finished such as the Ruana Handwoven Wrap and Donegal Jackets. Leaving Studio Donegal your next potential stop could be at the Glencolmcille Folk Village. The folk village provides you with an insight into what daily life was like in Donegal during previous centuries with thatched cottages and crafts from the respective era’s making it a surreal experience. From Glencolmcille you can travel to the town of Ardara which is most commonly known for its tweed makers. There are a number of shops that you might like to call to around the town including The Donegal Designer Makers, a shop featuring a collection of craft makers from across the country, Kennedy’s of Ardara Knitwear and Handwoven Tweed, a small hand weaving business.

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Day 5: Donegal to Westport

Today you will be travelling from Donegal to Westport in County Mayo. During your journey you will have the opportunity to visit some of the attractions from day 3 of your itinerary if you were unable to visit them previously. One of your first possible stops could be at the Foxford Woollen Mills. Although travelling to Foxford involves taking a slight detour from your route, visiting the mill is well worth the effort for any craft fanatic.

One of the highlights when visiting the museum is a tour that explains the history of the mill reaching as far back as the 1800’s while also taking you through the fully functioning mill where you can see the master craftspeople at work. From Foxford you could travel the short distance to Castlebar, the capital town of Mayo. In Castlebar you have the opportunity to visit the Museum of Country Life, where exhibits depict the rural Irish way of life between 1850 and 1950 with a focus on trades and crafts from this time period. From Castlebar it is just a short journey to your accommodation in Westport where you will be staying tonight. When you arrive in Westport, a shop that you may like to visit in Westport is The Craft House. The products stocked here are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike with the locally spun and dyed yarn amongst the most popular items sold. Another attraction that you might be interested in visiting is Westport House, a grand house that was constructed during the 18th century. The house is considered to be one of the finest historic homes open to the general public in Ireland as it enjoys a superb parkland setting with the lake, terraces and gardens providing you with magnificent views.

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Day 6: Westport to Ballynahinch via Connemara

Today you have the opportunity to travel from Westport to Ballynahinch Castle. There are two options for your journey, one is to take the direct route from Westport to Ballynahinch Castle which will mean arriving at the castle earlier so you will have some time to take in the elegant surroundings or you can take the longer scenic route with some extremely interesting stops along the way.

Your first stop of the day could be at the Sheep and Wool Centre in the small village of Leenane. The centre offers you an insight into how important sheep and wool have been to the people of Connemara in the past with many people from the region having depended solely on the sheep for their income. Demonstrations are also held where spinning and weaving is practiced on looms that were used during the turn of the last century. Located just a few minutes outside of Leenane is Killary Sheep Farm, a fully functioning farm where they run demonstrations such as sheep shearing and turf cutting so you can get your hands dirty if you like! After departing Killary Sheep Farm, you will begin to travel deeper into the heart of the Connemara region. Your next stop could be at Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery that dates back to the late 1800’s. At the abbey there is a visitor centre where talks on the history of the abbey along with tours of the beautiful walled gardens are provided. Just 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 forty years. When you arrive in Clifden, 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 7: Day Trip to Inis Mor Aran Islands

Included in your tour package are return tickets for the ferry from Rossaveal to the Aran Islands. Your trip today 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 most famously known for their spirit in preserving their native Irish culture, with the Irish language being spoken fluently on all three islands. Once the ferry arrives at Inis Mór you will disembark at the village of Kilronan, the largest village on the islands. A knitting shop in Kilronan that you might be interested in calling to is the Aran Sweater Market. The shop has a vast selection of Aran sweaters, Aran Wools and knitting patterns for you to choose from. Possibly the most popular tourist attraction on the island is the prehistoric hill fort, Dun Aengus. Situated on the edge of a 100 metre high cliff, it provides spectacular views, especially in good weather. However as it is on the other side of the island from Kilronan you may need to hire a bicycle or a pony and trap to visit the fort. On the highest point of the island you will find a lighthouse that was constructed in the early 1800’s. Known as Dun Eochla, it is said that from the lighthouse on a clear day five counties on the mainland can be seen. This evening you will take the ferry back from Kilronan to Rossaveal from where you can travel back to Ballynahinch Castle.

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Day 8: Ballynahinch to Clare

Today you have the opportunity to travel to the picturesque west coast of Clare. After leaving Ballynahinch, one of your first stops could be at the Connemara Celtic Crystal centre in Moycullen. The centre which has been in operation for over 40 years offers a factory tour that explains the history behind the crystal as well a glass cutting demonstration where the master cutter will explain to you about the technique that is required to produce the crystal.

Another place of interest in Moycullen is the Connemara Marble visitor centre which can be found just off the main road through the village. At the centre you can learn more about the marble that has been produced here for over 150 years as well as appreciating a collection of antique furniture and carvings from 17th century Ireland. Soon after leaving Moycullen you will arrive back at Galway City where you will have another chance to visit any attractions that you were unable to visit during your stay in Galway at the beginning of your tour. After passing through Galway City you will be heading towards the west coast of Clare. Without doubt, the biggest tourist attraction in West Clare are the glorious Cliffs of Moher. At the cliffs you are provided with a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean along with the Aran Islands and Connemara being visible on clear days. Even though the Cliffs reach their peak at 214 metres you can get an even better view of the surrounding area at O’Briens Tower, a round stone tower located near the edge of the cliffs. The closest town to the Cliffs of Moher is Lahinch and in Lahinch you have the chance to visit Kenny’s Woollen Mills, a knitwear factory shop which is located just a few metres away from the seafront. The shop sells a large selection of wool and knitwear while also located inside is an art gallery with displays by prominent Irish artists.

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