We were limited to 1 day in Connemara and wanted to make the most of it. After much research we chose Ireland West Tours, and were fortunate to have Jim Parslow as our guide for the day. At the end of the day we were so thankful with our decision, and wouldn't have done it any other way. I had emailed Jim in advance a list of highlights we wanted to see if time was available. He was prompt picking us up at our hotel, and once in his vehicle went over the list with me, remembering every item. Jim grew up in Galway, and has a great knowledge of the Connemara region and many stories to tell. His main concern for the day was that we saw what we wanted to see, and had all the time we wanted to spend in each location. The drive out to Connemara was surreal with breathtaking views of the mountains, lakes, and of course sheep. Jim stopped any where we asked for photo opportunities. A photographer by trade, he took professional family photos of us as well at many of the stops. We began with stops at Quiet Mans bridge, followed by a 360 degree view of the panorama in the Peacockes Hotel viewing tower. A true highlight was driving down an old unpaved road in the hills of the Inagh valley with spectacular views of the the rolling hills, sheep grazing, mountains and lakes in the distance. So many photos were taken here. The best part is we were the only car on the road. Coach buses are unable to access this road, and it is an experience you don't want to miss. These are the roads you imagine when you picture Ireland in your mind. They are still here, just don't tell anyone. We stopped at Kylemore Abbey for photos but did not enter due to our limited time. Jim was helpful here knowing the best spots for photos of the abbey. Instead of touring the abbey we entered Connemara national park and walked the yellow trail. Here we met Connemara ponies, a baby lamb, and experienced more amazing views of the Diamond mountains. We wanted to see the Killary fjords, so Jim drove along the coast stopping at a beach and points along the way to view this natural spectacle. Amazing views, sights, and sounds. We covered everything on our list and more. I HIGHLY recommend Ireland West tour for several reasons. Jim's knowledge of the region and access to the backroads were undeniably a highlight to our stay in Ireland. He is a skilled driver, photographer, and story teller. Guides are not just drivers that drop you off at each sight to enjoy. Jim went everywhere with us, hiked the trail in Connemara park with us, and was just an overall pleasure. Every minute in his car was filled with so much information, and humor. I agree with other reviewers that 5 stars is just not enough.
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