Connemara Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Come, ride with us on our Connemara Riding Adventure and experience Ireland’s transfixing landscape from the regal position of an English-style saddle.

Discover the lovely companionship of the darling Connemara pony (the true show-stealer), a native to Ireland. It’s known for its athleticism, versatility, good disposition and photogenic selfies. 

Your days will be well spent roaming the Gaelic countryside’s verdant moors and velvet meadows, touring Victorian walled gardens, legendary castles, abbeys, sheep farms and an Irish Western movie set for good measure! 

Along the way, you’ll be properly pampered in sweetly-appointed accommodations like the secluded Curra Farm B&B and lakeside Renvyle House Hotel & Resort. Be prepared to indulge in irresistible menus designed by award-winning chefs and impromptu picnics in the enchanted forest with your pony by your side. By week’s end, a beautiful kinship with your pony and Connemara will be stitched into the fabric of your heart.

Explore Ireland’s vibrant history with the introduction to independent women like Grace O’Malley, the infamous 16th-century Pirate Queen of Ireland. From the age of 11, she was a fierce and determined seafarer. Despite her eagerness to join her father on an expedition, Grace was discouraged as her hair might tangle in the ship’s ropes. In retaliation, she cut off her hair and became known as “Gráinne Mhaol” or Bald Grace. 

Meet the ghost of Peg Plunkett, an Dublin brothel-keeper in the late 1700s who retired with vengeance. She responded to lazy debt payers by publishing three volumes of tell-all memoirs. 

Keep company with the likes of Margaret Ann Bulkley, an ambitious young woman from Cork who went on to hold the second highest medical office in the British Army. However, to do so she had to conceal her gender and lived as Dr. James Barry until her true sex was determined upon burial in 1865. 

In the indomitable spirit of Bald Grace, Peg and Margaret, we invite you to fearlessly explore the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland by horseback in the shadows of these powerful, unstoppable women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Connemara Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Come, ride with us on our Connemara Riding Adventure and experience Ireland’s transfixing landscape from the regal position of an English-style saddle.

Discover the lovely companionship of the darling Connemara pony (the true show-stealer), a native to Ireland. It’s known for its athleticism, versatility, good disposition and photogenic selfies. 

Your days will be well spent roaming the Gaelic countryside’s verdant moors and velvet meadows, touring Victorian walled gardens, legendary castles, abbeys, sheep farms and an Irish Western movie set for good measure! 

Along the way, you’ll be properly pampered in sweetly-appointed accommodations like the secluded Curra Farm B&B and lakeside Renvyle House Hotel & Resort. Be prepared to indulge in irresistible menus designed by award-winning chefs and impromptu picnics in the enchanted forest with your pony by your side. By week’s end, a beautiful kinship with your pony and Connemara will be stitched into the fabric of your heart.

Explore Ireland’s vibrant history with the introduction to independent women like Grace O’Malley, the infamous 16th-century Pirate Queen of Ireland. From the age of 11, she was a fierce and determined seafarer. Despite her eagerness to join her father on an expedition, Grace was discouraged as her hair might tangle in the ship’s ropes. In retaliation, she cut off her hair and became known as “Gráinne Mhaol” or Bald Grace. 

Meet the ghost of Peg Plunkett, an Dublin brothel-keeper in the late 1700s who retired with vengeance. She responded to lazy debt payers by publishing three volumes of tell-all memoirs. 

Keep company with the likes of Margaret Ann Bulkley, an ambitious young woman from Cork who went on to hold the second highest medical office in the British Army. However, to do so she had to conceal her gender and lived as Dr. James Barry until her true sex was determined upon burial in 1865. 

In the indomitable spirit of Bald Grace, Peg and Margaret, we invite you to fearlessly explore the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland by horseback in the shadows of these powerful, unstoppable women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY ONE: GALWAY TO CONNEMARA

We’ll meet at the tourist office in Galway City at 1pm and make a beeline for Moycullen, the gateway to Connemara. We will be staying at Curra Farm, a secluded equestrian haven (home to 30 Connemara ponies!) on the shore of Lough Corrib. Lough (Irish for lake) Corrib is the second largest lake in Ireland and is peppered with ruins and castles on the 1,327 islands that speckle the coastline.

Before our adventure officially begins we’ll have the opportunity to settle and refresh–it’s easy with all the amenities that the charming 5-bedroom limestone farmhouse offers. Soak away any lingering jetlag in the jacuzzi or stretch your legs out with a tranquil walk around the 40-acre property.

Over a light lunch, our guide, Cáit Goaley, will walk us through the Wild Women orientation–before we ride through it! Afterwards, we’ll head to the stable yard to meet our ponies and horses. They will be our trusty equine partners on this adventure! We will learn how to properly groom and prepare our mounts for riding. This is an essential element of the bonding process and will help us to build mutual trust and respect. Individual riding skills will be assessed in an enclosed arena to ensure the right match of horse personality to suit abilities and experience.

When everybody has found their perfect four-legged counterpart, we’ll take a short ride around the farm and lakeshore to help get over first date jitters and cement the bond further. This time will also help build up an appetite for a traditional Irish meal–it’s always best to arrive at every Irish table ravenous! Over the course of dinner, we’ll learn a few Gaelic words and phrases before retiring for a well-earned sleep. Feel free to dream in Gaelic or English!

 

DAY TWO: AUGHNANURE CASTLE

You’ll have the option to ease yourself gently into the day or to join the bright-eyed early birds to feed and check on our Connemara herd. After breakfast, we’ll head over to one of Gráinne Mhaol’s former homes, the 16th-century Irish Tower House known as Aughnanure Castle. 

Standing like a sentry on the rocky island, the castle’s banquet hall, watchtower, double bawn and bastions and dry harbour not only attract visitors but three species of bats as well! 

Later, we will stop at Connemara Marble to witness the rarity of the region’s precious natural mineral (known as “Irish Green”) being crafted into some of Ireland’s signature jewelry. 

We’ll return to the farm and spend the afternoon riding on nearby trails and country roads. Our picnic spot will be the shade of an enchanted forest that was formerly a village in pre-famine times.

Winding our way back to the farm via the lakeshore we’ll have the opportunity to bring our ponies for a cool-down splash in the water before we untack and tend to their needs with gratitude for their day’s work.

We will discuss the riding options for Day 3 this evening where the majority vote will rule.  We can  accept a team challenge of performing a synchronized musical ride at our lakeside arena or opt for another soul-restoring forest ride near Bridgit’s Garden, an 11-acre property dedicated to the Celtic cycle of seasons, ecology, mythology and history. 

Tonight, we’ll dine in a popular award-winning restaurant with a menu that steadily revolves around locally-sourced meat, fish and vegetables.

  • Riding Time: 4 hours

 

DAY THREE: BRIGIT’S GARDEN

Before breakfast, you will have the option of grooming your pony or having a lazy sleep-in. Hint: Your pony would appreciate you ponying up and choosing the grooming over zzzzzzzzzzzzz-ing!

Once we’ve decided on which ride we’ve opted for today, we will either ride the horses at the arena or truck the horses to the forest near Brigit’s Garden for a morning ride. After the ride, we’ll visit the blooming sanctuary that is Brigit’s Garden for lunch and a tour. The not-for-profit, charitable organization was founded by Jenny Beale and her desire to marry nature and education in a setting that encourages curiosity, meditation, artful expression, connection and the foundation of Celtic stories.

Brigit or Brigid, is the main female deity of the Celts. She made the land fruitful and animals bountiful. She blessed poets and blacksmiths. Brigid of Kildare, a celebrated figure of legend and Ireland’s only female patron saint. During the 19th century, she was regarded as the symbol of divine femininity–generations of Irish students still associate her with reed crosses. The powerful Abbess offered an alternative to the confines of domestic life to up to 14,000 women. She was a tough-as-nails negotiator who secured women’s property rights and freed trafficked women. If that wasn’t enough, Brigid of Kildare was also reputed to be an expert dairywoman and brewer. What have you done lately?

As our last dreamy day at Curra Farm draws to a close, we’ll shift to full-on relaxation. Find a spot on the deck or in the outdoor hot tub or recline on the sofas by the fireplace before tonight’s lavish dinner. After dinner, we’ll have time to pack and prepare for our next stop: Renvyle Peninsula in County Galway.

  • Riding Time: 3 hours

 

DAY FOUR: TO THE COAST

After breakfast, we’ll pack up people and ponies and head deeper into Connemara, through Oughterard. We’ll stop at Glengowla Mines, a former silver mine. Here we’ll be able to travel back in time and slink 43m (140ft) underground to see what daily life was like for industrious Irish miners centuries ago. 

After the tour, we will visit the onsite sheep farm where Keith (the owner) will give us an entertaining and impressive sheepdog demonstration. If time allows, we will visit the movie set of the modern Irish Western An Klondike (known internationally as Dominion Creek). The series unspools the story of the Connolly brothers, three Irish immigrants who travel from Montana to the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike gold rush, hoping to strike it rich.

Star-struck, we’ll continue on to the bog to learn about the magic of peat. We’ll actually cut some turf (not to be confused with cutting the rug, ‘turf’ is the peat), a century-old vital source of winter fuel for homes and whiskey distilleries alike. The earthy, comforting smell of burning peat is one that will be locked deep into your senses, long after you’ve left the island. However, it may be an endangered scent-–the carbon-rich fuel source is under fire with sustainable energy policies and bogland conservation programs. There’s a giant push to phase out Ireland’s reliance on peat harvesting sooner than later.

We’ll continue on the serpentine road to the Inagh Valley, snug between the quartzite summits of the Twelve Bens (or Twelve Pins) and the Maumturks (mam is Gaelic for mountain pass) to the 4-star Renvyle House Hotel & Resort. Established in 1883, the 150-acre estate on the Wild Atlantic Way is situated on a freshwater lake fringed by woodland.

After checking in and a quick tour of the hotel’s blueprint, we’ll go for a ride around the immaculate hotel grounds. There will be plenty of time to take advantage of the on-site facilities (like the outdoor heated pool or tennis, anyone?) or chill out in one of Renvyle’s cozy spaces before a spectacular dinner prepared by the hotel’s top chefs. If you’re looking for recipes, the hotel’s website reveals the secrets behind all the faves from the classic brown soda bread to the roast rack of Connemara lamb to the signature rhubarb and ginger crumble.

  • Riding Time: 2 hours

 

DAY FIVE: KYLEMORE ABBEY

After a typical giant Irish breakfast, we’ll visit the stunning Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden. Originally built in 1867, the Gothic Church, Abbey and surrounding property is a true marvel with 6-acres of gardens. This is the only garden in Ireland to be located in the middle of a bog! It’s so impressive that it’s been compared to London’s famed Kew Gardens. Only plants and vegetables which grew in Victorian times are grown in the gardens today–once upon a time, 21 glass houses were built to house exotic fruit and veg.

There will be time to visit the gift shop for something special to take home. You’ll find 100% lambswool throws, handmade Kylemore Abbey lavender soap, milk chocolate with Atlantic sea salt and peppermint foot cream made by the Benedictine Nuns who have lived in Kylemore since the 1920s. After a small shopping spree, we’ll return to the hotel to prep for today’s ride around the enveloping Renvyle Peninsula.

We’ll retrace the footsteps of our favourite Pirate Queen and visit another one of her castles. There will be an al fresco picnic lunch along the way before we continue on into the headlands and views of the islands (inish in Irish) of Inish Shark (Shark Island), Inish Turk (Wild Boar) and Inish Bofin (White Cow). If the day is clear enough, we will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Croagh Patrick (croagh is Irish for hill or mountain) and the Twelve Bens as we ride through the quiet lull of Tully Mountain along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Upon returning to our hotel for a recharging dip in the pool or lake, we’ll have time to kayak, play a little Serena vs. Venus, crack around the croquet ball or attempt a flawless fly fishing cast before dinner.

In the evening, we will be well-spoiled with an elaborate locally-sourced 4-course meal courtesy of the talented hands and taste buds of Executive Chef and Eurotoques Commissioner Tim O’Sullivan and his galley team at Renvyle House Hotel & Resort. The hotel has its own orchard and kitchen garden and the menu is a revolving, seasonal celebration. Add a pint of Guinness and sláinte!

  • Riding Time: 3.5 hours

 

DAY SIX: BEACH RIDE

Today, we will travel to Clifden Town (the ‘capital’ of Connemara) to visit the Connemara Pony Museum. Look for the saddle worn by Cannon Ball, part of the State’s first museum dedicated to the breed. When Cannon Ball, a renowned Connemara pony died in 1924, his body was carried into his owner’s kitchen on a stable door. He was honoured and remembered with a proper Irish wake. Throughout the night, locals came from miles away to pay tribute to the stallion. Cannon Ball’s son, Rebel, went on to win a medal at the Carna show–also part of the sentimental memorabilia and open love letter to the island’s beloved ponies. We should have time to visit a few of the indie artisan and tack stores in the area too!

Driving along the Sky road, we’ll take in uninterrupted views of the coastline before lunch at a lively local pub. Afterwards, we’ll meet our horses at the Aughris Peninsula. Bring your swimsuit if you’d like to brave a bracing dip in the Wild Atlantic Way or go for a swim with your pony. Don’t forget a change of clothes and footwear as you may get wet and go for an unplanned swim! A pony can have it’s own agenda too!

We will start with a ride around the peninsula before a trail ride across the vast expanse of sand that allows us to explore Omey Island at low tide. Returning from Omey,  we will have the opportunity to canter the length of the strand or simply take our horses for a splash. It’s the perfect (but heartrending) goodbye.

For those who are interested and feeling energetic, we can visit the national park’s museum and Diamond Hill for either a walk or a more challenging climb before retiring from this big, awesome day of experiences and landscapes. 

  • Riding Time: 3 hours

 

DAY SEVEN: ONWARDS

After breakfast, our guides will take us back to Galway City for our onward journeys and lingering hugs around 10:30am. 

Our expected arrival at the Galway City Tourist Office is 1pm. Please ensure that your departure flight is late afternoon (5pm or later). If you are extending your stay in Ireland, lucky you. Enjoy those extra bites of Irish brown soda bread and whiskey drams!

As the Wild Women crew rides (flies) into the sunset, it’s time to think about where next!

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!