West Ireland is a region of Ireland comprising County Mayo, County Galway, and County Roscommon. With around 453,109 residents, it’s one of the eight regions of Ireland for planning and statistical purposes, more lyrically named “IE042 – NUTS Level III”. It’s never been a local government unit, but it corresponds to the ancient Connacht Kingdom.
It was simpler to move livestock and people around this area by boat than slog across the region in bygone times, so settlements grew on the coast. One safe bay attracted so many Norman, Viking, and other incomers that it was called “Foreigners” – Galway or Gaillimh. Inland there’s a remarkable amount of fertile lowland, where religious centers and settlements grew up. Yet it’s evidence to the region in the 6th century CE that when Saint Jarlath set off in a gorgeous new chariot, he only got 3 km to the nearby Tuam, then the wheel shaft sadly broke; despairing of roadside rescue, he stayed and established a monastery.
Travel Guide – West Ireland
There is a vast amount of tourist attractions that you could explore while on a journey to West Ireland. The sights and sounds of this marvelous country will enthrall you like no other. If you decide to make use of a bus tour for this purpose, you can choose from a variety of routes. However, if you have the means of traveling by road, you can also consider a route that begins at the city of Dingle and then continues on to Galway City. From there, you can visit counties like Mayo, Kerry, and Donegal along the way.
Things to see in West Ireland:
Prehistoric villages: Rathcrogan near Roscommon is a perfect example, but the best can be observed on the Aran Islands. They’re beautiful, and you’ll take home numerous photos of settlements from the land before time.
- Castles: You can observe crumbling turrets everywhere; Athenry has a well-preserved medieval fortress of the battered track. They were too rat-ridden and cold for modern tastes, so their rocks were often recycled into plush Georgian mansions, leaving a charming stump.
- County Galway: Galway is full of historical significance, and a sightseeing tour of this impressive town will leave you awed at the beauty of the countryside. If you are interested in historical architecture, you can find bus stops along the route that will allow you to take a train ride back through time.
Things to do in West Ireland:
- Hillwalking: none of the summits are technically demanding, but they are noticeably wet. Some of the most attractive hikes are in Connemara, with the Twelve Bens and Diamond Hill.
- Pilgrimage: the shrine at Knock draws visitors worldwide, and there’s an annual pilgrimage from Ballintubber Abbey to the summit of Croagh Patrick near Westport.
- Gaelic games: each county has a GAA team, playing predominantly Gaelic football, and there are some 160 club sides across the region.
- Watch Rugby Union: Connacht Rugby is one of the four Irish professional teams playing in Pro14, the top European (predominantly Celtic) tournament. Their home stadium is in Galway city.
- Go to the races: there are tracks at Ballinrobe near Cong, at Roscommon, and in Galway. The “Castlebar Races,” however, were a famous humiliation of the British.
- The Wild Atlantic Way is a coastal itinerary from Donegal all the way to Kinsale near Cork. There’s no set route, but generally, there’s a main road near the coast which you loop off to fishing villages or across bridges to several islands.