Ireland, Galway - Clare Trail Ride
For six days you will be discovering Ireland’s beautiful nature and colourful history on horseback. Your horse will be carrying you about 150 kms from County Galway which is situated in the Midwest of Ireland westwards through the rural areas of County Clare into the unique Burren region and on to the rough Atlantic coast overlooking the spectacular Cliffs of Moher.
Along the way, you will pass old farms and ruins that tells a lot about the history of Ireland. Archaeological findings show that the area was populated as long as 5000 years ago.
At lunchtime you enjoy a nice picnic and in the evenings, it's nice to sit down and eat a delicious three-course dinner after 4-6 hours in the saddle. You will stay a few nights at the equestrian center and a few nights at small and friendly guesthouse.
This trail ride is named after the regions through which you pass. From Galway, you ride west to the farming areas in Clare and on to the unique Burren and the beautiful Atlantic coast.
Day 1 - Saturday - Arrival in Shannon Airport, Birdhill busstation or Portumna and transfer (if booked) to the equestrian center. Transfer from Shannon to Whitegate approx. two hours. You will be staying here for the first four nights. On the arrival day you can just relax and recover from your journey, or take a stroll on the walking trails around our property. For the more adventurous under you, there is also the possibility to go on a guided boat tour to the historical Holy Island with its monastic settlement of the 9th century. In the evening, you will get to know all your fellow riders for this week. You will have dinner in the tastefully restored 300-year-old farmhouse with candlelight and open turf fire.
Day 2 - Sunday - After breakfast you will be brought to the start of the trail, where your guide will allocate the horses according to your experience. Every rider can then get used to his horse for the week by brushing and tacking up - don’t worry there are always lots of helping hands around you! We will then leave for an easy ride across the extensive areas of bog land. There we might see local farmers cutting and drying the turf in the traditional way. A Neolithic dolmen - with the legendary name Oisin`s and Grainne`s Grave - beside the track proves that this area was already mystified about 5000 years ago. Much younger (about 9th century) are the ruins of the monastic settlement on Holy Island, which we can easily spot by the typical round tower. For the lunch break we will be back at the Riding Centre and riders and horses take a rest. In the afternoon we will head into the surrounding peaceful forests of the Slieve Aughty Mountains We leave our horses on a field where they stay overnight and we drive back to the An Sibin guesthouse for a relaxing evening.
Day 3 - Monday - Today’s ride brings us up over the hills of the Slieve Aughty Mountains with fascinating views over the majestic Lough Derg and River Shannon. Along the track we will be passing old farm ruins and miles of stonewalls and your guide will tell you about Irelands most significant incident in history: About 150 years ago many farms and villages where left because of the Famine. This was the time of the severe potato blight, which destroyed for a couple of years the sole source of food supply for the rural and poor Irish peasant and their livestock. In addition to that a Typhus- and Cholera epidemic enforced the disaster, leading to a flood of thousands of people emigrating to other countries. After our lunch break in the forest the horses will bring us through some rural farming land and the huge area of heather and bog land using the old tracks of the historical Sarsfield Ride.
Day 4 - Tuesday - Leaving the sheltered pasture we are heading this morning for the top of the hills overlooking endless woods and grazing land to the north, west and south. Long before we get there we can spot way under us the sandy shores of Lough Graney where we are heading for. After lunch our trail ride goes along the water and then we will be splashing right across the refreshing lake with our horses! The ride in the later afternoon takes us through the typical farmland of rural Ireland with its juicy green fields and the endless old stone walls surrounding the peacefully grazing sheep and cattle.
Day 5 - Wednesday - Today’s lovely wood tracks take us further westwards overlooking Glandaria (the valley of the Kings) the wide fertile valley of the River Shannon, where hundreds of years ago Irelands kings preferably used to settle. After the lunch break near a typical mountain river we will cross the boggy uplands. County Clare unfolds all around us up to the in the distance rising hills of the famous Burren National Park. On a clear day we will even get the first glimpse of Galway Bay. This afternoon our horses will be transferred by lorry across the main road, to tomorrow’s ride across the fascinating landscape of the Burren. You will be staying tonight in the charming village of Corofin with its countless pubs and great Irish music sessions.
Day 6 - Thursday - The totally different and unique scenery of the world renowned Burren will accompany us for the next two days. The moon like landscape of this limestone area bears not only an immensely colourful flora and fauna with a large number of very rare species, but also reveals a stunning variety of prehistoric settlements. Dolmens and Wedge Tombs line up next to Norman stone fort ruins and Celtic ring forts. With a beautiful view across the Burren landscape, we will enjoy our lunch. It is amazing how many eye-catching sites this at first sight so vast looking landscape can offer us. The next two nights you will be staying in the Lisdoonvarna area, which is famous for the traditional music in the pubs.
Day 7 - Friday - Today we head westwards through the Burren, learning about the impressive Poulnabrone Dolmen, and the extensive - and dangerous - cave systems in this special area. We rest for lunch overlooking the story telling rocky landscape. After the break we lead our horses up the last hill for the breathtaking view over the Atlantic Sea, the famous Aran Islands and the rugged Connemara Mountains. The extremely rough shore of County Clare stretches out way below us as we enjoy the last canters along the old stone walled tracks on Slieve Elva. In the glittering afternoon sunlight the impressive silhouette of the Cliffs of Moher rise in front of us. Near the ruins of the spooky looking Ballinalaken Castle our ride ends.
Day 8 - Saturday - After breakfast you will be transferred back to the airport for your onwards journey.
We reserve the right to make any changes to the program due to local circumstances beyond our control.