Sailing from Dublin in May 2020, this one of a kind 13-day itinerary features some of the country's most spectacular coastal highlights, including Donegal, Clare Island, Connemara National Park and The Skelligs
Perched on the edge of the Atlantic, Ireland's west coast is characterised by soaring cliffs, dramatic peninsulas with medieval ruins and enchanting castles steeped in history. This breathtaking scenery will be revealed during expert-led wildlife walks, nature hikes and coastal kayaking tours. Daily trips by Zodiac will showcase breeding seabirds such as puffins, fulmars, guillemots, storm petrels and shearwaters.
Scattered along the west coast and carved out in the harsh Atlantic Ocean are a series of remote and private islands which hold the ghosts of a life, long lost. Hidden away and exclusively available on this voyage, these isles of savage beauty, forgotten in time, hold the archaeological gems of iron and bronze age sites, and early Christian monasteries dating back to 500-600 AD. Some isles were formerly home to pirates who ruled the seas, now they are peacefully occupied by birdlife nesting on the cliffs that dramatically rise from the seas.
Exploration starts at the wild and rugged Inishowen Peninsula, Ireland's most northerly point and the jewel in the crown of Donegal. Nearby Troy Island boasts an abundance of rare bird life and wildlife species. Gaelic is the islanders' first language and many ancient customs, including the appointment of the island king, endure today. Ceide Fields is home to some of the oldest stone-walled fields in the world, dating back 6,000 years, and on the Dingle Peninsula, passengers will find one of the richest concentrations of archaeological monuments in western Europe.
Given the moniker 'The Enchanted Island' the next port of call, Inishbofin, is set in the wild splendour of Connemara amid the magical beauty of sea, cliffs and mountains that make up the Galway-Mayo coastline. One of the most traditional and untouched parts of the country, the island is a breeding area for many bird species, the rarest or most threatened of which is the corncrake. On Inishbofin Aurora Expeditions offers three looped walks, all with stunning views of the island's beautiful scenery and birdlife.
Weather permitting the Greg Mortimer will also land at the World Heritage Site of Skellig Michael, in County Kerry. The monastic site is home to a sixth century “beehive” monastery as well as breeding seabirds including gannets, Arctic terns and a colony of orange-beaked puffins.
From the ship, passengers might catch site of dolphins, whales, orca and porpoise. There will also be an opportunity to tuck into a west coast meal of locally produced and foraged food from Connemara, and to enjoy an authentic 'trad session' of traditional music played by local musicians and Irish expedition team.
Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director of Aurora Expeditions commented: “The rarely-seen and forgotten islands along the Celtic west coast are intertwined with ancient culture, storytelling, mythology, history and wildlife and fit perfectly into Aurora Expeditions' portfolio. Our guests love to go in search of the unusual and authentic and this itinerary really delivers.”
Joining this trip is the Australian mountaineer and co-founder of Aurora Expeditions, Greg Mortimer, after whom the ship is named.
Aurora Expeditions' Historian and British Isle expert, Carol Knott, said “As an archaeologist and expedition guide, I find the remote corners of the west of Ireland constantly surprising and inspiring. Here we encounter a stunning combination of spectacular Atlantic scenery, indigenous wildlife, fantastic ancient sites and a unique living cultural heritage. What a rare opportunity to explore these little-known treasures.”
A 13-day Ireland's West Coast Voyage, 19th - 31st May 2021, from £6,975 per person twin share*
The voyage departs from Dublin and ends in the charming port town of Cobh.
Land extensions from Dublin can be arranged upon request.