2014 Irish Tradition 12 Days/11 Nights
Your tour starts at Shannon Airport with a transfer between 7:00 am and 12:00 noon to your hotel in the charming marketing town of Ennis. If your flight arrives later than 12:00 noon, transfer to the hotel at your own expense. At 2:00 pm join a local guide for a walking tour around the main points of interest. Meet your tour director over a welcome drink to discuss your trip before dinner in your hotel.
Travel to the coast to view the Cliffs of Moher, a five-mile rocky wall rising above the foaming Atlantic breakers. See the rounded limestone hills of the Burren and the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a huge stone monument marking a Neolithic burial place. Take a panoramic tour around Galway city and continue to your hotel in the town of Athlone, set on crossing place of the mighty River Shannon.
Drive south to visit Clonmacnoise Monastic Site and see round towers, church ruins and elaborate Celtic crosses. Return to Athlone and in the afternoon tour 13th century Athlone Castle located at a strategic crossing point on the River Shannon. Close to the Castle visit Sean’s Bar, Ireland’s oldest pub, for an Irish coffee. Savor great food and a cozy atmosphere at Glasson Village Restaurant.
Visit the impressive ruins of Boyle Abbey, an early Cistercian community founded in the 12th century and mutilated during the 17th and 18th centuries. Drive to County Sligo to Broc House for a special lunch and talk on the writer W. B. Yeats. Take a drive with a local expert to see places associated with Yeats and continue through County Donegal to Stranorlar.
Travel into the heart of Donegal to Glenveagh National Park where Captain Adair evicted 225 tenants to build Glenveagh Castle in 1870. Learn about the history of the mansion, owners and guests as you tour the rooms and walk around the extensive gardens filled with exotic plants. Then experience the glorious natural beauty of the Grand Atlantic Drive, which winds through Downings and Rosapenna and around the coastline. Return to Stranorlar in time for dinner.
In Derry join a local guide for a walking tour to see medieval city walls, the Diamond and St. Columb’s Cathedral. Drive along the north coast, pausing for photos at Dunluce Castle. Explore the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. Experience wonderful scenery along the coastal “Nine Glens of Antrim” route and continue to Belfast.
Take a panoramic tour around central Belfast followed by a visit to Titanic Belfast to learn about the famous liner through state-of- the-art displays. Visit Down Cathedral to see the reputed burial place of St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. Also visit the St. Patrick Centre to learn about his life and times. Travel to Dublin and in the evening head to the Brazen Head Pub, Dublin’s oldest, dating back to 1198, for an evening of story-telling entitled “Food, Folk and Fairies.”
Tour Dublin city to see elegant Georgian squares with brightly-painted doorways; pass St. Stephen’s Green and shopping areas around Nassau Street; cross the River Liffey to O’Connell Street and view the General Post Office where the 1916 Rebellion started. Walk through the campus of Trinity College to view the 8th century manuscript of the Book of Kells. In the afternoon use your independent vouchers for an open-top bus tour all around central Dublin and a visit to Guinness or Jameson.
Drive through prime agricultural country and pause for photos at the impressive Rock of Cashel with medieval ruins. Visit a nearby sheep farm for freshly-baked scones with tea and find out about country living. Continue south to climb Blarney Castle and kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence.” Shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills or take a look around the village green. Continue to Killarney and your deluxe hotel overlooking the mountains and lakes.
Travel by horse-drawn jaunting car to Ross Castle for views of Killarney’s largest lake, Lough Leane. Head off on the Ring of Kerry, one of Ireland’s most popular drives with amazing scenery. Visit the Skellig Experience to learn about early Christian monks and enjoy a casual lunch. Drive through the villages of Waterville and Sneem and stop at Moll’s Gap for panoramic mountain views before returning to Killarney.
After a leisurely breakfast depart from Killarney and drive to the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. Learn about the early days of flight, during the 1930’s and early 1940’s, and this where Irish coffee was first created. Drive to Bunratty and visit the Bunratty Folk Park to see traditional cottages. You may like to spend free time in Durty Nelly’s Pub. In the evening head to 15th century Bunratty Castle’s Great Hall for a medieval-style banquet to carry you to the Middle Ages in spirit.
Your tour ends with a transfer to Shannon Airport to arrive at 6:00 am, 9:00 am or 12:00 noon, in good time to check in for onward or return flights.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner