Walking vacations in the West and North of Ireland
Starting in Galway City, the hub of the West, Legend Quest tours will take you on a stroll that highlights the medieval remnants of Galway’s past including legends and mysteries. Led by Conor Riordan, historian and archaeologist, the route wends its way along Williamgate Street and a visit to the old city walls (now a part of the Eyre Square Shopping Centre), followed by castles, churches, cobblestone lanes, the medieval Spanish Arch and the Claddagh, a former fishing village known as the place of origin for the distinctive Claddagh ring. Tours depart from either the Meyrick Hotel or Jurys Inn.
Duration: 90 minutes
More information: tel. 087-778-2887; www.legendquest.ie
The award-winning town of Westport in Co. Mayo is another appealing choice for a guided tour. The route includes a stroll along the picturesque riverside Mall with its fine Georgian buildings, enlivened by a commentary about Grace O’Malley, the local pirate queen of the 16th century, and a visit to the Holy Trinity Church, built in 1868 and noted for its hammer roof, pencil spire, alabaster pulpit, decorative murals and mosaics, and a unique “rose window.” Tours assemble at the Clock at the top of Bridge Street.
Duration: 90 minutes.
More information: Westport Tourism Office, tel. 098-25722; or www.westporttourism.com
Some of Ireland’s walking tours have a distinctive theme other than local history, be it ghost walks, literary links or off-beaten-path strolls. One of the best examples is the Quiet Man Walking Tours of Cong, Co Mayo. Cong itself, a small village, could probably be walked in five minutes under ordinary circumstances, but the duration is stretched considerably on these tours which focus on the 1952 cinema classic, “The Quiet Man,” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.