Ireland’s Romantic West Coast
|Resort:||Spirit of Discovery|
The jewel of the Emerald Isle
Become attuned to the rhythm and romance of Irelands unique Atlantic coast during this nine-night Saga cruise which is sure to be a treat for all your senses. Visit cities, towns and villages which are steeped in history, cruise past rugged coastlines and craggy outcrops and see majestic mountains glide by in the distance, draped in windswept fields edged by walls of dry stone. Sail into Galway to see why it was crowned European Capital of Culture in 2020. Make the majestic approach to Cobh Harbour, where youre guaranteed a warm welcome from the colourful houses that surround the quayside under the gaze of the towering St Colmans Cathedral. Sample the rich maritime heritage of Killybegs, enjoy the scenic surroundings and lush greenery around Glengarriff and uncover more than a millennium of history in Waterford, Irelands oldest town with its characterful Viking Triangle. Enjoy a cruise past the ancient Cliffs of Moher and see the remote Skellig islands. Look forward to receiving a cooking demonstration and talk from a VIP chef onboard, as well as hearing tales of mythical beasts and historical figures from experts in local folklore.
This morning you can look forward to a stunning arrival in Cobh pronounced Cove after cruising through Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world. The picturesque County Cork seaside town is renowned for its brightly-coloured waterfront buildings and the imposing sight of the Gothic Revival St Colmans Cathedral, which is perched on a steep hillside overlooking the town. Once a shipbuilding mecca and steel town, the port has served as a route in and out of Ireland for centuries and was the embarkation point for 2.5 million people who emigrated to America between 1848 and 1950. It was also famously Titanic’s final port of call on her ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912, and you can learn more at a Titanic themed attraction in the towns former White Star Line ticket office or visit the Titanic Memorial Garden. There are further displays in the popular Cobh Heritage Centre, which tells the story of life down the years in the town which was previously named Queenstown. As the colourful waterfront might hint at, Cobh and neighbouring Cork are also known for their creative communities, while the island of Sherkin has a thriving artistic scene, no doubt inspired by its stunning views over the Atlantic and its sandy beaches.
Bantry Bay , Ireland
As you glide towards the shore this morning you will be left in no doubt as to why Ireland is universally known as the Emerald Isle. The tiny village of Glengarriff is situated on the Beara peninsula, overlooking world-renowned Bantry Bay, where the Gulf Stream and a unique micro-climate allows lush vegetation to prosper in one of the countrys greenest parts. You might wish to head for the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve in the heart of the old Glengarriff valley. There are many paths and picnic areas, and several viewpoints within easy reach, including Lady Bantrys Lookout which gives a panoramic view across the bay and up to the Caha Mountains. Alternatively you might opt to take a boat to the Italian Gardens on Garnish Island, where you can enjoy more superb views from the top of the Martello Tower, or even take a kayak out onto the bay. If you prefer less adventurous pursuits, the local pubs are lively. As you set sail this evening to cruise north, be sure to keep an eye out over the port bow for one of Irelands stunning sunsets.
Galway , Ireland
Arrive in Galway, one of the most engaging destinations in the Emerald Isle. Youll discover the wealth of medieval heritage blended with contemporary style and culture which have led to it being named European Capital of Culture in 2020. In addition to being a popular seaside resort, boasting beautiful beaches and a long meandering seafront promenade, Galway also has a vibrant city centre. Perhaps seek out the Galway City Museum or just enjoy wandering through a maze of cobbled streets, browsing in quirky independent shops and taking a break in one of the inviting cafes, bars and pubs.
Galway was originally a small fishing village in the area where the River Corrib meets Galway Bay. It later became a walled town in the 13th century when the territory was captured by the English and French. It was not returned to Irish rule until the end of the 14th century. Galway became a thriving seaport with other European countries particularly Spain and Portugal delivering their wine, spices and fish to the city. Among the many arrivals at the bustling port was Christopher Columbus, who is said to have landed at Galway during his historic voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. In the late 16th century the Spanish Arch was added to the original walls, some of which can still be seen today. Another must-see is the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, founded in 1320, the largest and oldest medieval parish church in Ireland, and still in use today.
Your next stop is Killybegs, on the coast of Donegal. The largest fishing port in Ireland, Killybegs has a storied connection to the sea. Her people have long thrived here thanks to the fishing and processing industries and the exporting of species like herring and mackerel to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The clear waters and golden sands of the coast mean Killybegs is a popular seaside destination for locals and tourism is another of its important industries. It was once famous for being the home of the high-quality Donegal carpets and tapestries, examples of which can be found in stately dwellings around the globe, including Buckingham Palace and the White House. The tradition of weaving is now kept alive by local artisans after the closure of the Donegal Carpet Factory. You can learn more about two of the towns leading industries with a visit to the Killybegs International Carpet Making and Fishing Centre where you can see the largest hand-knotted loom in the world and even try your own hand at the skill.
Cruise around Liscannor Bay to see the rugged Cliffs of Moher, arriving around breakfast time before most of the crowds of tourists who make day-trips to the awe-inspiring 700-foot high cliffs. Another treat is in store around lunchtime when Star Wars Island will appear on the horizon. Skellig Michael served as the backdrop for the final scene in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and also appears in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.’
Waterford , Ireland
Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and you can immerse yourself in history during your visit. Viking raiders first established a settlement near the present-day city in 853 and developed Waterford into Irelands first city. It was eventually seized by the Anglo-Normans after a lengthy siege and in 1171 King Henry II of England landed in Waterford and declared it a royal city. It is perhaps best known for its crystal, a legacy of the citys historic glass-making industry. Examples of local handiwork can be found around the world, including in Times Square in New York City, where more than 2,500 Waterford Crystals decorate the famous ball which is lowered each New Years Eve. The city is made up of various cultural quarters, the oldest of which is the Viking Triangle the part of the city surrounded by the original 10th century fortifications. Reginald’s Tower is the oldest city building in Ireland and the oldest monument to retain its Viking name. Waterford Museum of Treasures in the Viking Triangle is accommodated in two museums on the Mall. Items from 1700-1970 are housed in the 19th-century Bishop’s Palace while the Choristers Hall adjacent showcases medieval history.