Sitting on a sliver-thin isthmus between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, twee little Cong conjures up romantic notions of the traditional Irish village. Time seems to have been in reverse gear ever since the evergreen classic The Quiet Man was filmed here in 1951. In fact a lot of effort has been made to re-create Cong as it looked for the film. Across from the tourist office there's even a statue of Sean Thornton (John Wayne) and Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara).

The wooded trails between the lovely old abbey and stately Ashford Castle offer a respite from crowds; continue further and you find the Cong area is honeycombed with limestone caves, each associated with a colourful legend.

Look out for the gaunt roofless church with tower as you travel down through Ballinarobe on the way to Cong. From Cong, a gorgeous and straightforward car journey travels in a scenic loop around Lough Mask.