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The Coast Trail has been run every year for more than 20 seasons. The trail route begins where the Connemara Trail ends and stretches from Toombeola, the heart of the Connemara, to Cloonabinia, just a few miles west of Galway City. It hugs the coastline for much of the way but features dramatic mountain climbs as well as miles of sandy beach riding. Riders also have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of a region which was gutted by the Great Famine in the 1840s but continues today as one of the great gaeltachts, or Irish speaking areas of the Republic of Ireland.

2015 Dates
All 6-day rides begin on a Monday afternoon and conclude Saturday evening.

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Riders meet at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern), Eyre Square, in the City Centre of Galway. Luggage is transferred, and riders are transported deep into the Connemara region to “Willie’s Mountain” at Shanndonnell. Riders and horses are matched according to the rider’s ability, weight, height, etc., and the group heads straight into the mountains for the long ride to Carna. Riders will see an old poteen still where “moonshine” whiskey was once brewed. The views of the coastline are fantastic, with the ride concluding at Willie Leahy’s beach house where the horses are pastured for the night.


Day two features spectacular beach riding. The Carna area is famous for its beaches, and the group will visit all of them. Riders can gallop on the firm sand and jump small stone walls and banks.  After lunch on the beach, riders return to the beach house and an opportunity for a swim with the horses—something which should not be missed.


Tide permitting—the water can only be crossed at low tide—the group wades through a shallow strip of sea which separates Finish Island from the mainland. More than two dozen families once lived on the island, and the abandoned stone cottages stand crumbling and ready for riders to explore. The beaches are fantastic for galloping, and the stone walls are perfect for optional jumping. After wading back across the bay and lunching on the mainland, the ride turns back into the mountains. At a home along the way, riders are treated to traditional music and dancing before the trail winds past the lovely Gowla Mountains and concludes at a roadside pasture.


The trail leaves the pasture and heads over mountain and bogland above the coastline. Riders can see small herds of Connemara ponies grazing on the mountain sides, past piles of turf stored for winter. Lunch is eaten beside an old mill where corn was once milled for the village. After lunch, the ride heads along the coastline past the awesome Gowla mountain range. The ride ends at Derry rush where the horses are pastured and the riders are transported to their accommodations.


The first half of the day follows the coastline and passes by the Screebe Lodge, a traditional fishing/hunting lodge. Following lunch, the group heads into the mountains, with riders having the opportunity to tour a traditional Irish home. The ride this afternoon is spectacular with many lovely views before heading into a forest at Shanafesten. A short ride takes the group to the horses’ pasture which is reached by fording a beautiful stream. Riders will then be transported to Oughterard for the evening.


The final day of the ride features many gallops along a woodland track. The landscape is totally different from the rest of the week and is a glimpse into the many shifting environments which make up the area known as Connemara. Following lunch, the riders will tackle one more short mountain trail before reaching the pasture near Oughterard and a welcoming rest for the horses. Riders are transported the few miles to Galway and a farewell visit to a pub with their guides.