2014 Irish Heritage & Dromoland Castle - 8 Days/7 Nights
Start your tour at Shannon Airport with a group transfer to your hotel in nearby Limerick, available between 7:00 am and 12:00 noon. If your flight arrives later than 12:00 noon, transfer to the hotel at your own expense. At 1:30 pm depart your hotel for a short drive around Limerick and visit the huge King John’s Castle, built in the 13th century on the banks of the River Shannon to defend the area. Join your tour director for a welcome drink before heading to the 15th century Bunratty Castle for a medieval-style dinner and entertainment.
Drive west through Ennis to see the Cliffs of Moher, which rise almost 700 feet above the pounding Atlantic surf. Then cross the wide River Shannon Estuary by ferry to Tarbert and travel along the river shore to Foynes. Visit the Flying Boat Museum, which recalls the early days of air travel, during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Irish coffee was first created here and you will learn how to make a perfect one and then drink it. Drive to the world famous town of Killarney and take a traditional jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park to view Ross Castle and some of the wonderful scenery. Check in to your hotel and enjoy free time before dinner.
Embark on Ireland’s most popular scenic drive, the Ring of Kerry, for great views of mountains, open Atlantic Ocean, beaches and cliffs. Enjoy plenty of breaks to admire the natural beauty and take photos. Cross to Valencia Island by bridge to visit the Skellig Experience and learn about early Christian monks who lived on the isolated, rocky islands and about the prolific bird life today. Pass through Waterville and the attractive village of Sneem and stop at Moll’s Gap for great mountain vistas.
Stop at a nearby sheep farm for more spectacular views as well as a demonstration of trained dogs herding sheep and see how sheep are shorn. Return to Killarney and in the evening head to the award winning Killeen House Restaurant for a warm welcome and a superb dinner.
Depart Killarney and travel through Macroom to visit the famous Blarney Castle where you may climb to the top to kiss the fabled “Stone of Eloquence.” Browse through the Blarney Woollen Mills for quality Irish-made goods. Bypass Cork city as you drive to the port town of Cobh. Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, which traces the history of emigration from Ireland to new worlds. Learn about travel conditions for the many Irish emigrants on early sailing ships and steam vessels. Follow the coastal route via the town of Youghal to Waterford and check in to your hotel. In the evening take a gentle walk with a local historian who will reveal Waterford’s Viking and medieval past.
This morning tour the House of Waterford Crystal to learn about glass blowing and cutting and see one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Leave Waterford and head north through the delightful scenery of the Wicklow Mountains on the way to Blessington. Take a guided tour around the stately Russborough House, a Palladian mansion filled with interesting treasures as well as noted works of art and early photographic collections. Continue to your next hotel, an elegant Victorian mansion, which overlooks Dublin Bay and Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Dine on Irish specialties at the Merry Ploughboy Pub, followed by a lively show of traditional Irish songs and intricate step-dancing.
Relax on a half-day guided tour of Dublin, originally founded by Vikings over 1,000 years ago. See elegant Georgian townhouses and brightly-painted doors and cross the River Liffey to view the wide thoroughfare of O’Connell Street with the General Post Office. Pause to view the gaunt figures at the Famine Memorial before visiting Glasnevin Museum, Ireland’s national necropolis, which is a who’s who of modern Irish history as the final resting place of Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Brendan Behan and other prominent people. The afternoon is free so that you may use your independent open-top bus tour voucher with a visit to Guinness or Jameson. Dine on your own this evening.
Leave Dublin and drive to the Irish National Stud to see some of Ireland’s finest horses and learn about breeding techniques. Also take a walk around the Japanese Gardens. Drive across Ireland to the imposing and deluxe Dromoland Castle Hotel. Relax in the elegant surroundings of this wonderful fairytale resort. Then savor a delicious farewell dinner in the oak-paneled dining room – a fitting way to spend the last evening of your Irish tour.
Transfer to nearby Shannon Airport where your tour concludes at either 7:30 am or 10:30 am to allow time to check in for your flight home.
B: Breakfast; D: Dinner