This 10 day Ireland itinerary, covering the western province of Connaught plus Donegal in Ulster, highlights some of the very best aspects of traditional Irish culture, from live music sessions to woolen textiles and cottage museums offering glimpses into the old fishing and farming lifestyles.

Day 1

Fly into Donegal Airport (via Dublin), pick up your rental car (using Enterprise), and spend a leisurely day soaking up the wild beauty and lilting Irish Gaelic of Gweedore. Catch a traditional music session at Teach Hudí Beag.

Day 2

Drive south to Ardara to visit John Molloy’s tweed shop and Eddie Doherty’s handweaving studio, pausing for lunch before continuing south to Kilcar for Studio Donegal. Spend the night in Donegal Town.

Amidst the walls of Donegal Castle, a stone walkway cuts through a low lawn.

Donegal Castle. Photo © Camille DeAngelis.

Day 3

Visit Donegal Castle and the Donegal Craft Village before heading south to Sligo. Check out works by Jack B. Yeats and Sean Keating at The Model gallery.

Day 4

Make an early start for Westport in County Mayo, stopping for an early lunch before continuing on to Murrisk to climb Croagh Patrick in the afternoon. This is Ireland’s most famous (not to mention breathtaking) Catholic pilgrimage. Stay the night in Westport, catching a session at Matt Molloy’s.

A river cuts through the valley in Connemara National Park.

Connemara National Park. Photo © Camille DeAngelis.

Day 5

Take the N59 south to Letterfrack and go for an easy but visually rewarding ramble in Connemara National Park. When you arrive in Galway, you can return your rental car to any of the Enterprise locations in the city, and then you have another night of excellent traditional music to look forward to. Try Tigh Coili, The Crane, or Monroe’s.

Day 6

Take the Aran Islands ferry from Rossaveal to Inis Meáin and visit Teach Synge and Cniotáil Inis Meáin.

Day 7

Catch the morning ferry to Inis Mór and learn about traditional island culture at Ionad Árann, the Aran Heritage Centre. Hail a taxi to take you out to Dún Dúbhchathair, the Black Fort (or walk, if it’s still early enough in the day).

Waves crash along the cliffs of Inis Mór.

Waves crash along the cliffs of Inis Mór. Photo © e55evu/iStock.

Day 8

Dún Aengus first thing in the morning, pausing at the Kilmurvey Craft Village to shop for hand-knit Aran jumpers for yourself and your family. Catch a trad session at Tigh Fitz, Joe Watty’s, or Tí Joe Mac’s.

Day 9

Take the ferry back to Galway and spend a laidback afternoon popping into the shops and classic pubs of the charming old city center. Neachtain’s is a must for excellent pints and people-watching.

Day 10

Take the express bus back to Dublin for your flight home.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Ireland.