2014 Irish Classic 12 Days/11 Nights
Start in Dublin Airport with a group transfer to your hotel between 7:00 am and 12:00 noon. If your flight arrives later, transfer to the hotel at your own expense. At 2:00 pm tour Dublin to see elegant Georgian townhouses, pass St. Stephen’s Green and cross the River Liffey to view the Famine Memorial and drive along O’Connell Street. Take a guided tour through Dublin Castle, which was the seat of power and government for many centuries. In the evening meet your tour director over a welcome drink to discuss your trip.
Drive north to visit Down Cathedral to see St. Patrick’s reputed burial site, marked by a huge boulder. Learn about the many stories of his work, life and times in the nearby St. Patrick Centre and why he is so important in Ireland. On the outskirts of Belfast visit the Ulster Folk Park to see traditional town buildings of many types, including churches, a bank, police station and doctor’s office. Also see rural cottages set in gardens and fields and showing crafts, crops and farm animals. Drive to your hotel in central Belfast and relax before dinner.
This morning take a panoramic tour around central Belfast to see Victorian buildings, the imposing City Hall in Donegall Square and the shipyards where RMS Titanic was built in 1912. Visit Titanic Belfast to learn about this ill-fated famous liner through state-of-the-art displays. In the afternoon join a local guide for a walking tour around part of central Belfast and spend time on your own for shopping and dining.
Drive north along the scenic route of the “Nine Glens of Antrim,” for lovely views of mountains, valleys and coastline. Stop at the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity 60 million years ago. Continue to Derry and join a local guide for a short walking tour around the defensive walls that encircle the compact old city.
Travel through the rugged countryside of Donegal, renowned for heathery hills, sheep and the many tweeds made from their wool. In Ardara visit Triona Design to sample freshly-baked scones with tea and see demonstrations of spinning and weaving. Stop in Donegal town to browse around and pause at W. B. Yeats’ Grave in Sligo, a region that he loved to write about. Drive to Westport and enjoy free time before dinner.
Visit the stately Westport House, which contains a wealth of interesting portraits, furniture and silver. Travel around Clew Bay to Achill Island, joined to the mainland by bridge. Follow the Atlantic Drive to capture wonderful views of steeply-sloped mountains plunging into the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. See the Deserted Village, ruins of cottages abandoned during the 1840’s Famine.
Travel through Maam Cross in the heart of Connemara and visit the Connemara Marble Factory. Stop in Galway and drive through the Burren to view the majestic Cliffs of Moher, which rise 700 feet above the foaming Atlantic Ocean. Walk to O’Brien’s Tower for great views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands. At Bunratty check in to your hotel, right beside the Bunratty Folk Park and Durty Nelly’s Pub. Head to Bunratty Castle for a jolly medieval-style dinner where the lords and ladies serenade you.
Drive through the outskirts of Limerick and alongside the River Shannon to visit Foynes Flying Boat Museum. During the 1930’s and early 1940’s, aircraft landed on the River Shannon and the museum’s memorabilia recreates this era. Journey along the Dingle Peninsula for glorious scenic views. Stop in the town of Dingle and head to your hotel in Killarney.
Take a traditional horse-drawn jaunting car ride to Ross Castle for views of Lough Leane, Killarney’s largest lake. Drive to the delightful town of Kenmare where brightly-painted buildings are enhanced with flowers and savor a casual pub lunch. View spectacular mountain scenery at Moll’s Gap and visit a farm to watch trained dogs herding sheep. The evening is free in Killarney.
Travel to Blarney Castle to climb to the top and kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence.” Also shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills. Drive to Dungarvan to the Marine Bar for a creamy Irish coffee and an informal traditional music session. Continue to Waterford and after dinner join a local guide for a stroll around the historic streets of this old port city.
Visit the House of Waterford Crystal to see how molten glass is blown into shapes before being cut by hand by experts and view priceless trophies. In New Ross explore the Dunbrody Famine Ship which transported people to the U.S. during the 1940’s Famine. Stop at the nearby JFK Homestead where the ancestors of President Kennedy lived. In Dublin, this evening’s destination is Taylor’s Three Rock Pub for dinner with traditional Irish songs and intricate step-dancing.
Group transfers are provided to Dublin Airport to arrive at 6:00 am, 9:00 am or 12:00 noon.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner