Discover the Emerald Isle's beautiful nature and colourful history on horseback. Cover 140 miles across the west of Ireland, from County Galway, 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. The word "Burren" comes from an Irish word "Boíreann", meaning a rocky place. The Burren is one of the finest examples of a Glacio-Karst landscape in the world, with rich flora and fauna despite the rugged and bleak terrain. It also has a wonderfully vibrant culture, possibly captured best in the fascinating agricultural traditions that have evolved in the area over thousands of years. The physical evidence of this remarkable story of human interaction with a landscape still lingers in the Burren - a cultural resource of enormous significance.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from FC of on 27/08/2023
Day 1 - Failte to Ireland
Arrival at Shannon Airport and transfer to the guesthouse or hotel in the Whitegate/Mountshannon area on the shores of scenic Lough Derg. The transfer from Shannon to Whitegate approximately 1.5 hours. Guests will be staying here for the first four nights. On the arrival day riders can just relax and recover from your journey, or take a stroll on the well mapped nearby East Clare Walking Trail. For the more adventurous there is also the possibility to go on a guided boat tour to the historical Holy Island with its monastic settlement dating back to the 9th century (approximately 10 Euros). Enjoy dinner in the tastefully restored 300-year old farmhous with the fellow riders for the journey.
Day 2 - Binor Ride
After breakfast riders will be allocate their horses according to experience are transferred to the start of the trail,. Tack-up and take an easy ride through the extensive areas of bog land. See local farmers cutting and drying turf in the traditional way. Along the way riders will see a Neolithic dolmen named Oisin`s and Grainne`s Grave, dating back 5000 years Much more recent (about 9th century) are the ruins of the monastic settlement on Holy Island, which can easily be spotted by the typical round tower. Finish the first day's ride on a field where the horses stay overnight while the riders drive back to the An Sibin guesthouse for lunch. For the afternoon riders and horses take a rest.
Day 3 - Inis Cealtra Ride
Today's ride leads over the hills of the Slieve Aughty Mountains with fascinating views over the majestic Lough Derg and River Shannon. The track passes old farm ruins and miles of stonewalls . The guide will explain one of Ireland's most significant incidences in history, when 150 years ago many farms and villages were left because of the severe potato famine when disease destroyed the sole source of food supply for the rural and poor Irish peasant. This, coupled with a Typhus and Cholera epidemic lead to millions of people emigrating to other countries onto avoid starving to death. After lunch, head across the extensive areas of bog land in the afternoon, passing local farmers cutting and drying the turf in the traditional way. A Neolithic dolmen beside the track with the legendary name Oisin's and Grainne's Grave, proves that this area was already occupied about 5000 years ago. Much younger (about 9th century) are the ruins of a monastic settlement on Holy Island, which can be easily identified by the well kept typical round tower.
Day 4 - Lough Graney Ride
Today's ride leaves the sheltered pasture and heads for the hills that overlook endless woods and grazing land to the north, west and south. From here the riders will easily see the sandy shores of Lough Graney, the destination for the day. The beach invites riders to canter along the water's edge and along the trails across the lake. A late afternoon ride leads through the typical farmland of rural Ireland with its verdant green fields and the endless old stonewalls surrounding the peacefully grazing sheep and cattle.
Day 5 - Glandaria Ride
Today's ride heads west through lovely wood tracks to view Glandaria (the valley of the Kings), the wide fertile valley of the River Shannon, where h Ireland's kings used to settle hundreds of years earlier. After a lunch break near a typical mountain river , the route crosses the boggy uplands. As the scenery of County Clare unfolds, the rising hills of the famous Burren National Park all can be spotted in the distance . On a clear day riders even get a glimpse of Galway Bay. This afternoon the horses will be transferred by vehicle across the busy valley to tomorrow's start at the Mullaghmore Mountain in the Burren. Guests stay the night in the charming village of Corofin.
Day 6 - Mullaghmore Ride
Guests on the 6 day/5 night option will depart for the airport after breakfast. Those on the longer trail will immerse themselves in the world-renowned Burren. The moonlike landscape of this limestone area is home to colourful flora and fauna, and also a variety of prehistoric settlements. Dolmens and Wedge Tombs can be found next to the Norman stone fort ruins and Celtic ring forts. Stop for lunch at a fulacht fiadh, an ancient cooking site, Riders will stay in the Lisdoonvarna area for the next two evenings.
Day 7 - Atlantic Coast Ride
Today the ride heads westwards through the Burren, learning about the impressive Poulnabrone Dolmen and the huge, but dangerous cave systems in this area. Enjoy lunch overlooking the rocky landscape, before leading the horses up the last hill for a breathtaking view over the Atlantic ocean, the famous Aran Islands and the rugged Connemara Mountains. The extremely rough shore of County Clare stretches out, inviting riders for a last gallop. The ride ends near the ruins of Ballinalaken Castle where the impressive Cliffs of Moher rise up.
Day 8 - Slan Abhaile
After breakfast guests will be transferred back to the airport for the onward journey.
Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Clare-Burren Trail
5 Night / 4 Day trail riides can be arranged on request (Sat - Thur)
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Round Ireland With A Fridge - Tony Hawks
Culture Shock! Ireland - Patricia Levy
Bushmills Irish Pub Guide - Sybil Taylor
The Dubliners - J.Joyce
Mother Ireland - Edna O’ Brien
Barrytown Trilogy - R. Doyle
Woodbrook - David Thomson
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There is a wide variety of Irish bred horses and something to suit everyone, from schoolmasters to very forward going mounts. All are ridden in English tack. You are welcome to bring your own saddle although there is no guarantee that you can use it, it depends of course on the adaptability of the saddle and the fit on the horse you will be riding. There is a small amount of walking with your horse due to terrain, so good boots are an advantage.
You must be comfortable at all paces. The minimum age for this ride is 12 years old.
The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The overnight stops are either at the comfortable farmhouse at the start/end of the trail or in small hotels/B&Bs along the route. Breakfasts can be either the 'full Irish' or continental; picnic lunches are prepared each day ready for the rider to take with them. Evening meals will either be back at the farmhouse or in the villages where you stay overnight.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.
Passport and Visa requirements can change regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ireland
In the USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Ireland.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/ireland
Mild, but changeable, due to the modifying effect of the North Atlantic Drift ocean current; rainfall is plentiful, although highest in the west.The weather is very similar to the UK's in that it could be wet and warm or cold and bright any day in the season. It's best to bring clothes that can be layered and a good waterproof jacket.
COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Ireland and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
In Ireland the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Ireland, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa).
Light summer clothing is needed on summer departure dates, also waterproofs!
Riding helmets are required. The hosts do have some helmets available for guest use.
Two pairs of riding trousers, half chaps are recommended
Jersey, warm jacket (Spring and Autumn)
Long sleeve shirts, T-shirts
Waterproofs (no rain capes, please, as they can flap and spook the horses!)
Camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt
Lightweight riding boots. There is a small amount of walking with your horse due to terrain, so good boots are an advantage.
A small bag/bumbag for carrying items whilst riding, or you can bring your own saddlebags.
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available every Saturday from April to end September. The programme is also available as a 6 day/5 night trip with 4 days riding from Saturday to Thursday.
2023: 15, 29 (FULL) Apr; 6, 20 May; 3 (FULL), 17 Jun; 1, 15 (FULL), 22, 29 (FULL) Jul; 12 (FULL), 19 (FULL), 26 Aug (FULL); 2 Sept (FULL).
2024: 27 Apr; 11 May; 1, 15 Jun; 6, 20 Jul; 3, 17, 24 Aug.
(Saturday arrival and departures)
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||double pp||1,225|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||single supplement||135|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,705|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||185|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,789|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||185|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||double pp||1,385|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||single supplement||149|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,925|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||209|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||2,025|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||209|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||double pp||1,545|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||single supplement||169|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||2,149|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||235|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||2,259|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||235|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||double pp||16,405|
|2023 6d/5n||6d/5n||4||single supplement||1,779|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||22,799|
|2023 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,489|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||double pp||24,599|
|2024 8d/7n||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,549|
‘Around Ireland with a Fridge’ – Tony Hawks; ‘Culture Shock! Ireland’ –Patricia Levy; ‘Irish Pub Guide’, ‘Dubliners’-J.Joyce; ‘Mother Ireland’ –Edna O’ Brien; ‘Barrytown Triology’- R. Doyle and ‘Woodbrook’ –D. Thomson. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Walking; cycling; fishing; boat hire (on Lough Derg and the River Shannon); golf.
The world-renowned Burren region is famous for its glacial flora and fauna. An immense variety of flowers, shrubs and trees burst into bloom every year. The influence of the Gulf Stream with its warm, moist and "soft" air stream and the very small winter/summer temperature differential enhances the growth of many commonly known plants, as well as several rare kinds of flora. No wonder the local farmers praise every day as it comes "grand soft day today, thank the Lord!"
The diverse landscape offers great shelter and plenty of food supply for a large variety of animals. The common ones as deer, fox, hare and pheasant can often be spotted from the horse. More difficult to find are the badger and the pine martin. Ireland's large bird population is evident where ever you go. And if you are lucky you could even see some, like the grouse, which are getting dangerously close to extinction.
The showy butterflies with up to 30 species dance through the summer air.
The abundance of lakes and rivers in Ireland attract course and game anglers alike. Often you can spot the pike lying in the shallow waters, taking in the heat of the summer sun. In the clear waters the lively Salmon and Trout challenge every anglers skill.
The peat or bog land is one of Ireland’s great natural assets, not only as an energy source, but as some of its last wild areas. It can be difficult and dangerous to access. But as long as you stay on the old bog roads,you will be alright. In some places you could even spot the Celtic toughers still crossing the bogs.
Ireland is a land of almost mythical beauty, often wild and windswept it is said there are fifty shades of green in the landscape but none of them are jaded. The Irish seem to have been put on the earth to restore faith in humanity, their charm and delight in spinning a good tale will entertain you for hours.
The pub culture in Ireland is part of the national identity. The folk music traditional has been unhindered here and live, spontaneous music is actively encouraged- you will often stumble across a raucous singalong fired by Guiness and whiskey. The ban on smoking in public places is now in force in Ireland and, with fines of up to €3,000 for ignoring it, a lively sub-culture can now be found on the pavements outside Irelands plentiful watering holes huddled against the often biting wind.
They are famed for their love and skill with horses, in racing Irish trainers and jockeys are among the best in the world, and the wild ponies of the Connemara in Galway crop up in many myths and legends in Irish folklore. In some areas you will often see kids messing around on horses with nothing but a headcollar and a handful of mane.
Ireland is on GMT and they use imperial weights and measures, so inches, feet, pounds and stones. The international dialling code is +353.