IRELAND. Just saying the word conjures up images of beauty, antiquity and fun-loving people. And that’s all true. Until you go, you have no idea just how much there is to see and do – and how much you’ll enjoy it. This itinerary will take you from north to south, east to west. And Ireland is small enough that you’ll visit almost every county in Ireland on this 11 day tour. There is tremendous variety as you go from region to region, but it’s all beautiful. We’ll include a visit into Northern Ireland, spend two nights in a lovely farmhouse, see the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher and so much more. So read on. This is Ireland the way it is meant to be seen – relaxed, with time, and comprehensively… not rushed through before heading to some other country in Europe.
And look at the price! 11 days in Europe including almost everything for $2,285 + air. You’ll want to get in on this one quickly as it fills fast each time we do it. So come with us as we “Meet the Irish!”
August 6: Depart USA
Today we meet at the airport to board our flight through Chicago to the Emerald Isle. Dinner and breakfast are included on the flight. We arrive on the morning of August 7.
August 7: Dublin
Upon arrival at Dublin airport, we’ll collect our luggage and proceed to the arrivals hall. Dublin is Ireland’s vibrant capital city. A local driver/guide will meet us and be with us throughout the tour. Before we check in, we’ll enjoy a tour of this wonderful European city and visit such sights as Trinity College which houses the ancient Book of Kells (fascinating), and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of Europe’s finest. We also see O’Connell Street and the old Irish House of Parliament, which is now the Bank of Ireland. After check-in you are free to rest and explore on your own. This evening, a special Welcome Reception provides us the opportunity to get to know each other better. We stay at the Cassidy Hotel in Dublin. B
August 8: Wicklow
Today our drive is through County Wicklow, also known as the “Garden of Ireland”. We will visit the fascinating ruined village of Glendalough, where St. Kevin founded his 6th century monastic settlement. The ruins are set against the green rolling hills and is an amazing site. We then drive a short distance to the lovely town of Avoca where the popular TV series Ballykissangel was filmed. We’ll see the woolen mill that has been making traditional clothing the old way for centuries (and again, the setting is magnificent). We return to Dublin for some free time in the late afternoon to explore this cosmopolitan city from our well located hotel. B
August 9: Dublin/Northern Ireland/County Donegal
Today we make our way north enjoying the countryside. Our local driver/guide is entertaining and informative as we travel through the countryside – and the views out your windows each day are highlights of being in Ireland. We will cross into Northern Ireland (part of the UK) after lunch and spend some time at a very interesting place. It’s called the Ulster American Folk Park (given 5 star reviews by almost all who visit) and it chronicles the Irish migration to America. Costumed guides will share traditional crafts, interesting stories and some local foods. You can board a full scale immigrant ship to understand the conditions faced by the MANY from this area that immigrated to America. Our hotel is in the quaint Irish town of Donegal. Dinner is included this evening at the hotel. B, D
August 10: Donegal Day Trip
Our day trip today takes us to the northernmost part of Ireland as we travel through the rugged and beautiful county of Donegal. Our drive takes us along Donegal Bay with castles, fishing villages and rugged coastline. We’ll also see the fields of peat moss and learn of its importance. We’ll have an hour to explore the quaint to the fishing village of Killybegs after passing through the charming towns of Ardara and Glenties (winner of Ireland's Tidy Town Award). In the afternoon we have included a visit to the medieval Donegal Castle. You’ll have some free time in the late afternoon. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. B, D
August 11: Knock/Cliffs of Moher/Bunratty
Today we make our south along the eastern coast of Ireland. We will make an interesting stop at Drumcliffe Church and learn about Ireland’s most famous poet, W. B. Yeats. Today involves a bit of driving, but again, driving in Ireland is one of the best ways to enjoy it. We continue along beautiful Galway Bay before arriving at one of the truly special places in Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher. You’ve seen pictures, but you have to see it in person to appreciate the majesty of these enormous cliffs going straight into the ocean. This evening we enjoy a Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle. We stay in a lovely four star hotel tonight. B, D
August 12: Adare/Killarney Lakes
This morning we will visit scenic Rathbaun Farm in County Cork. The thatched roof farmhouse sits in an idyllic rural setting. We’ll enjoy a sheep shearing and sheep dog display followed by a scone-making demonstration. They are delicious. We will make a stop at the “tidy-town” of Adare with its lovely parks and thatched-roof houses. We then continue to the town of Killarney, one of the highlights of the trip and one of Ireland’s gems with charming scenery unique Irish atmosphere. AND we are staying at the famous LAKE HOTEL KILLARNEY, overlooking the lakes in the national park (take a look at lakehotelkillarney.com- it is spectacular). The national park is adjacent to the town and you will fall in love with this charming and very traditional part of Ireland. B.
August 13: Dingle Bay Peninsula
The Ring of Kerry drive takes us along the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula and Dingle Bay, through the towns of Glenbeigh, Cahirciveen, Waterville and Sneem. Sit back in your seat and take in the beautiful scenery as we make our way through this dramatic scenery. At the halfway point, we’ll enjoy a lunch stop with views of the Atlantic Ocean from one of the highest points in Ireland. We return to Killarney via Ladies View, which offers lovely scenic vistas overlooking the Killarney Lakes. Dinner is included this evening in Killarney. B, D
August 14: Killarney/Kilkenny
By now, we have made it to the southwestern portion of Ireland as we continue our grand circle toward the east. This is among Ireland’s most pleasing countryside as we pass through rolling hills, beautiful farms (with a myriad of sheep) and ruined castles. As we come over the mountains of west Cork, we come to the village of Blarney where we’ll visit the Blarney Castle. The setting and the structure are magnificent – and this is your chance to ascend to the top and kiss the Blarney Stone to gain the “Gift of Gab”. We’ll also enjoy some wonderful shopping before we continue on to the town of Cahir to visit Cahir Castle which was used in the film Excalibur. Tonight we stay in the rural region of Kilkeneny on a breathtaking farm. This is a working farms that make some extra money taking in guests (like us). The accommodations are wonderful and the food is top-notch. The scenery is among the best in all of Ireland. For many, this will be the highlight of your trip. B, D.
August 15: Kilkenny/Waterford
Waterford City is our first stop today, with a special visit to the factory where the world famous Waterford Crystal is made. It is amazing what they make out of crystal – and it’s interesting to see it up close. After lunch on your own in the town of Waterford, we’ll make a stop in County Wexford where Patrick Kennedy, great grandfather to John F. Kennedy, boarded a boat to emigrate to the U.S. during the Potato Famine – one of many millions to do so. There’s a lovely tribute to President Kennedy. We then return to Kilkenney where there is plenty of time for a walking tour of the city including stops at the cathedral and a tour inside the stately Kilkenny Castle followed by a little free time for some shopping. We then return to our farmhouse for a farewell dinner with our interesting hosts. B, D
August 16: Dublin/USA
After breakfast at the farmhouse, we drive for about an hour which brings us back to the Dublin Airport for flights back home. We have completed our circle of this unique island and we’ll return home with magical memories of the people and places that make up the Emerald Isle. B