Dublin City & Midlands
Day 1 Dublin City
There are few more imposing places to begin any tour than Dublin. Explore College Green which contains two of the city?s most interesting buildings - the Bank of Ireland and Trinity College (where you can see the glorious Book of Kells, perhaps the most beautiful book in the world). Find time, too, to visit Dublin Castle, Pheonix Park, the National Museum, St Patrick?s Cathedral, the Custom House - the great domed Georgian masterpiece on the bank of the River Liffey, and Temple Bar, the citys liveliest and most innovative quarter.
Day 2 Dublin - Athlone 125 kms, 78 miles
Leaving Dublin, drive west along the N4 and you?ll quickly find yourself in rural Ireland. The landscapes of the Midlands are seductive - water, in the form of lakes, rivers and bogs, rolls out as far as the eye can see. At Kinnegad, follow the N6 towards Tyrellspass. Continue along the road through to Kilbeggan and if you have time on your side, make a diversion for a few miles along the N4 to Belvedere House & Gardens, which is in a beautiful setting, its terraces descending in three stages to the shores of low-lying Lough Ennel. Retrace your steps back to the N6 and then follow the road through Horseleap and Moate to Athlone, almost at the exact centre of Ireland.
Day 3 Athlone - Galway 86 kms, 53 miles
Even on a touring holiday, you should take to the water - on a trip up the Shannon to Lough Lee. There are regular depatures on the 90-minute trip throughout the summer. Back on terra firma, continue along the N6 as it loops its way through Ballinasloe and Loughrea all the way to Galway city, a thriving and lively place, thanks to its university and growing industry. The town centres around Eyre Square, with many of the bars and restaurants concentrated in the streets to the south and west. Take a look inside Kennys Bookshop on the High Street - a 15th century, four-storey building that is crammed floor to ceiling with old and new books, as well as paintings and pieces of sculpture. If you?re there during the last week of July theres another treat - the summer Race Week at the racecourse on a slope of a hill at Ballybrit, about four miles from the centre and overlooking Galway Bay.