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The strikingly beautiful landscape of Galway continues to the strikingly beautiful landscape of southern Mayo without fanfare. Like Galway, Mayo is marked by dramatic scenery, which terminates in rocky cliffs plunging down into the opaque blue waters of the icy sea.

If you head farther north, you'll reach the smooth pastures of County Sligo. The main appeal here is not its towns, which tend to be functional farm communities, but the countryside. This is the landscape that soothed W. B. Yeats's soul and inspired his poetry. Sligo's unspoiled marvels are still a healing tonic. The county is filled with fairy-tale castles and mysterious prehistoric sites, but its biggest gift to you is peace.

Heading inland from Sligo, you'll reach the upper Shannon River valley, with its sprawling lakes, promising fresh trout and salmon, and nearly limitless watersports in the summer.