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Join Jim Gallagher on a Hiking Tour of the Islands and Coasts of Ireland's County Donegal on June 1 through June 12, 2003.  Take time to explore the magic, mystery and natural beauty of Ireland’s enchanting northwest coast in an expertly guided small group.

Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center, and the UW-L Office of Continuing Education and Extension

 

Please note the following changes that have been made in the tour itinerary:

1. Substituting a different B & B in the nearby town of Glenties for Woodhill House in Adara for the nights of June 7 to June 10.

2. Omitting the overnight in Dublin. So instead of leaving for Dublin on June 11, we will stay in Donegal (at Glenties) for an extra night and then drive directly to the Dublin airport from Glenties on the morning of the 12th. Our flight does not leave Dublin airport until 2:30 pm on the 12th. This will give us an extra day in Donegal on the 11th and Maeve has offered to set up a walk for us in the nearby Blue Stack Mountains for that day, or perhaps people would want to spend some time in Glenties or nearby Ardara, both lovely towns. We will make arrangements for whatever the group wants to do on that day.

3. Eliminating the archaeologist Michael Gibbons from the program.

4. Changing the minimum number of participants needed for the tour from nine to five people.

 

Printable (PDF) Version of Tour Brochure

Click here if you would like a printable (PDF) version of the Hiking Tour of the Islands and Coasts of Ireland's County Donegal 2003 brochure.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the tour brochure.  Click here if you want to download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

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Breathtaking Landscapes

Hikers near Lough Belshade

Hikers near Lough Belshade

County Donegal is a paradise for hikers, where you will find some of the last true wilderness and untamed landscapes in Ireland. There are lanes and pathways away from people and traffic where you can walk for hours and be surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, including dramatic lakes, soaring cliffs and mountains, magnificent glaciated valleys and glens, rolling heather-coated granite hills, bog lands, and a craggy Atlantic coastline. Our hikes will allow us to explore some of the small offshore islands and the stupendous sea cliffs overlooking the Atlantic.

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Fascinating History

The Grianan of Aileach, a Celtic age fort

The Grianan  of Aileach, a Celtic age fort

The northwest of Ireland offers a great variety and quantity of archaeological and historical monuments. For nearly 6,000 years, this mountainous coastal area has been occupied by a succession of fascinating cultures. You will visit archaeological sites and historic places ranging from the Bronze Age, the age of the Celts, the early Christian and Medieval periods, up to recent times relating to the more recent conflicts between Protestants and Catholics and ruins of the Famine Era. You will see everything from megalithic tombs to medieval walled towns and castles. Only a walking tour can give participants such an intimate connection with the history of one of the world’s most romanticized cultures.

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Abundant Wildlife and Beauty

The unique climate of Donegal will allow you to see a wide variety of exotic flora and fauna. A profusion of spring wild flowers abound, including wild orchids, heather, primrose, bluebell, foxglove and even the insectivorous sundews and pale butterworts. We will also see a wide variety of shore and sea birds including kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and many more, especially on our trip to Tory Island where in June the spectacular cliffs will be filled with nesting birds, including puffins.

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Unique Culture and Heritage

Our trip will be in the largest of Ireland’s Gaeltachts, places where Irish (or Gaelic) can still be heard as an everyday language. Not only is this ancient language alive and flourishing in this secluded corner of the world but also so are many other rapidly disappearing Irish customs and traditions such as peat cutting, hand weaving of wool, traditional music, storytelling, and others are flourishing. This region has a particularly rich heritage of ancient myths and legends, many of which are connected to places that we will be visiting. In the evenings, walkers have the option of touring various pubs, many of which feature traditional Irish music.

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What Others Say About Hiking in Donegal

Horn Head

Horn Head


From the Lonely Planet’s book Walking in Ireland:

For many walkers, Donegal…is second to none among Ireland’s generous collection of walking areas for its sheer wealth of places to explore – along the amazingly indented coastline, and inland among the remote and rugged mountains. Donegal’s mountains are quite modest in height…but they lack nothing in scenic quality and variety…. You will also find much of the best coast walking in the country, above the towering cliffs and headlands and around secluded bays and inlets.

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Carefree Travel

The small group size (limited to a maximum of just 14 participants) helps to ensure our personal attention and the friendly social interaction, which is part of the enjoyments of a trip such as this. Each day will be spent hiking along a variety of routes ranging from paths and quiet roads to fairly rugged hikes through trail-less mountain routes, all with plenty of stops to take photographs, view the scenery and smell the wild flowers. The walks are of a moderate to strenuous level, with occasional steep climbs of 2000 feet or more, and require a good measure of fitness and stamina. Transportation is provided to and from walking sites. Each day you will need to pack only the items that you will need for that day’s hike! No heavy packs!

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Comfortable Accommodations

While other tours seem to rush along from one hotel to the next, our leisurely pace allows you to gain more of a sense of place. We will stay at only two different lodges while we are hiking, both of which will provide comfortable accommodations and access to our hiking routes. All accommodations have private bathrooms with showers.

Gartan Outdoor Education Centre

Gartan Outdoor Education Centre

The Gartan Outdoor Education Centre is located west of Letterkenny right on the shore of Gartan Lough (Lake), in the Donegal highlands adjacent to Glenveagh National Park. The lodge is a beautifully restored and modernized stone building, formerly the stables of a large manor house, Lough Veah House, situated on an 87 acre estate. All of our spacious rooms in the lodge will have beautiful views out over the lake with Glenveagh National Park and mountains in the background. Just up the road is the hamlet of Church Hill with three charming pubs (which almost outnumber the houses) and a shop.

Woodhill House

Woodhill House

Woodhill House is an historic country house dating back in parts to the 17th Century. The three star guesthouse is situated in the center of an old estate with its extensive grounds, formal walled garden, and beautiful views of the Donegal Highlands. It is located one mile from the center of the coastal village of Ardara (Ardragh), an officially designated Heritage Town. Ardara is the center of Donegal tweed weaving, and an excellent base for exploring Donegal’s western seaboard. Woodhill House also features wonderful meals featuring French-based recipes and fresh Irish produce and seafood. John and Nancy will make you feel right at home! The peat burning in the fireplace heightens the enjoyment of the cozy bar.

Staunton’s on the Green is a three star guesthouse located in one of the best areas of Dublin. It is housed in one of the beautiful Georgian houses that surround the marvelous square of St. Stephen’s Green, one of the best known and beautiful parts of Dublin.

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Delicious Meals

A wonderful meal in Ireland!

A wonderful meal in Ireland!

It is often said "An army marches on its stomach." Well, so do hikers and walkers. You will be treated to wonderful meals on this trip featuring some of the finest restaurants and in the area. Evening meals will not only warm your weary body with delicious nourishment made of the finest local produce (especially lamb, seafood, and vegetables) but also provide a chance to enjoy the companionship of the group and recount the day’s adventures and highlights. At dinner each evening you will have a choice of fish, meat or a vegetarian meal, all prepared from the best fresh, local ingredients at our lodges or at great local restaurants. Wine will be available at an extra cost.

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Transportation Options

We are providing the following flexible options in order to accommodate the needs of our travelers and take into account different travel preferences.

A.You can fly over with tour leader Jim Gallagher. Jim leaves La Crosse, Wisconsin on June 1 on American Airlines traveling through Chicago to Dublin via Aer Lingus. That flight will arrive in Ireland on the morning of the 2nd of June and will be met by our Irish guide Maeve Kelly who will transport travelers by van to our first night’s lodging at the Gartan Outdoor Centre. To make arrangements to travel with the group please contact our group travel agent, Jo Ann Buening, Group Travel Coordinator at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, as early as possible. She can be reached, at 608 784 9820, or 1-800 657 4528, or JoAnn.Buening@carlsongolis.com. For your reference, Jim’s flight itinerary is printed in this brochure under "Other Notes".

B.You can make your own independent travel arrangements leaving and departing when and where you please, including using accumulated frequent flier miles. You can either meet us at the Dublin Airport on the 2nd at the time of Jim’s arrival and travel from there with the group, or meet up with the group at the Gartan Outdoor Centre on the afternoon of the 2nd (directions will be provided).

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Knowledgeable Guides and Specialists

Our small group size ensures that you will have wonderful access to a variety of specialists and guides at various stages of the trip:

Jim Gallagher in the Blue Stack Mountains, County Donegal

Jim Gallagher in the Blue Stack Mountains, County Donegal

Jim Gallagher, your tour director is an archaeologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. This will be the fifth tour Jim has led to Ireland. Jim has taught courses in Irish archaeology and made many trips to Ireland, most of which involved hiking. He is also the past Executive Director of the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (MVAC) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the sponsor of this tour. MVAC is one of the leading archaeology centers in the Midwest, and has a nationally recognized public education program.

Maeve Kelly

Maeve Kelly

Maeve Kelly will be our guide for the duration of the trip. Maeve is a native of County Donegal. She studied horticulture at the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin, graduating in 1990. In 1993 she changed careers and trained to become an Outdoor Education Instructor, teaching children and adults mountaineering, canoeing, and rock climbing. She has been a professional walking and climbing guide for the past five years and has led Irish hiking tours for Jim for the last two years. She is fantastic! To learn more about Maeve check out her Web site at: http://www.walkingbootstours.com/.

Michael Gibbons is a well-known Irish archaeologist. Gibbons resides in Clifden, Connemara where he also runs his own Irish guide service. You can learn more about Michael Gibbons at http://www.walkingireland.com/1.htm.

Niall Mc Ginley is a retired teacher of Irish and English and a fluent native Irish speaker. He has written three books relating to the history of Donegal and is especially knowledgeable regarding the history of the area around Gartan Lough and Glenveagh where he lives.

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Click on one of the following topics and learn more about the tour:

Preliminary Itinerary

Essential Information and The Fine Print

Registration Form

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*MVAC Educational Programs are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
*This project was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.