Things to see or do
- Day One: The tour starts as you travel from Dublin on the N6 through the rich farming countryside of the midlands. When you reach Ballinasloe, why not stop for lunch before taking the R355 towards Portumna and following the signs for Clonfert. Saint Brendan's Church of Ireland cathedral, is the oldest living church in Ireland with an unbroken history of public worship. It is dedicated to St. Brendan the Navigator who is buried here. You will find one of the most highly developed examples of Irish Romanesque architecture in the form of a magnificent sandstone doorway dating from c.1200, which contains intricate carvings, including zig zags, circular designs and feline faces. Inside the church is a beautiful 15th Century baptismal font as well as wooden carvings. The cathedral is normally locked, but a key can be obtained from the house at the right side of the building. Spend the night in Portumna, which is a fine Georgian town situated on the shores of Lough Derg. Aside from water based activities such as cruising and fishing, you can take a stroll through Portumna Forest Park or visit the 17th Century Portumna Castle and its recently restored walled kitchen garden. In the grounds of the castle are the remains of a 15th Century Dominican friary.
- Day Two: Leave Portumna on the N65 and then turn left onto the N6 until you arrive in Loughrea. It is well worth stopping to visit St. Brendan's Cathedral in Loughrea, which boasts a beautiful lakeside setting. The cathedral is a show case for the Celtic revival movement in Ireland. Its stained glass, wood and stone carvings are especially worthy of note. From Loughrea, travel on quiet country roads to the medieval walled town of Athenry which has been made famous through the song " The Fields of Athenry ". Here you can find a 13th Century Dominican friary, as well as the 15th Century Athenry Castle. Athenry is one of Ireland's best preserved Medieval towns. The streetscape has not changed since Medieval times and the town walls are still 80% intact. After lunch in Athenry, travel north towards Tuam, Claremorris and Knock where you will find Knock Shrine. The Story of Knock began on the 21st August 1879 when Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock parish church.The apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. Since then, Knock has grown to the status of an internationally recognised Marian Shrine visited by one and a half million pilgrims annually. Most pilgrims visiting Knock will visit the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, The Church of the Apparition or the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.
- Day Three: Spend the morning at your leisure in Knock before travelling west to Castlebar and then on to Westport. After a leisurely lunch in the bustling market town of Westport, take the road to Louisburgh until you reach Croagh Patrick, ' Ireland's holy mountain '. Croagh Patrick is an isolated quartzite cone shaped peak, rising to 762 metres on the southern shore of Clew Bay, 8km west of Westport. Known locally as ' the reek ', it is one of the most striking features on the Irish landscape. The national saint, St. Patrick, is said to have spent forty days and nights on the summit of Croagh Patrick, fasting and praying for the people of Ireland around the middle of the fifth Century. Since early Christian times, a national pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick has taken place on the last Sunday in July each year. Thousands of devout pilgrims, many barefoot, climb the mountain in the footsteps of St Patrick, where they undertake the traditional stations and attend mass in the oratory erected at the summit in 1905. The ascent begins at Murrisk and can be quite demanding in places, especially the upper side of the scree clad cone. If you haven't the energy for the ascent, it is well worth spending time at the visitor centre, craft shop and tea room at the base of Croagh Patrick before returning to Westport for your overnight stay.
- Day Four: Ballintubber's history goes back to pre Christian times, people came from the east through Ballintubber on their way to the holy mountain on the west coast, now called Croagh Patrick. When St Patrick brought christianity to Ireland in c.441AD, he founded a church at Ballintubber. The present abbey was founded in 1216 by King Cathal O'Conor. Despite the abbey's turbulent history, which included repression and burning, the abbey refused to die and now has the unique status of being Ireland's only royal abbey which has been in continuous use for over 780 years. Guided tours are available from May to September from 10am to 6pm, while off peak tours may be arranged by appointment. While visiting Ballintubber Abbey, it is worth spending some time at The Celtic Furrow Visitor Centre. This centre traces our cultural and spiritual heritage through the festivals of the Neolithic farmers, the cattlemen of the Celts, the early Christian period and eighty years ago through to the present day. The guided tour is supported by 3 dimensional models and other material. Finish the day by travelling south on the N84 to Galway City. This is a vibrant and historical city from which you can take day trips to the scenic areas of Connemara and The Burren.
Ireland West Ecclesiastical TrailPortumna Galway - Ireland West
Ireland West offers tourists a glimpse into Ireland's Christian heritage while travelling through rich and varied countryside. This suggested trail offers a wide selection of sites that can be visited in just four days. Some are internationally known, such as Ireland's "holy mountain", Croagh Patrick and the ever popular Knock Shrine. Others are slightly off the beaten track. For example, Saint Brendan's Church of Ireland cathedral in Clonfert, is a small church in a rural village of east Galway, but is so significant that it was recently listed as one of the top one hundred of the world's most endangered monuments. Relax and enjoy discovering this rich Christian heritage, while travelling through the stunning landscape of the west of Ireland !
ContactTelephone+353 (0)91 53 7700
Fax:+353 (0)91 53 7733
Address: Failte Ireland West, Áras Fáilte, Forster Street, Galway City, Republic Of Ireland