2014 Jewels of Ireland 14 Days/13 Nights
Start your tour at 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 drive around central Dublin and tour Dublin Castle, which was the seat of power and government for many centuries. Back at your hotel enjoy a welcome drink.
In Kildare visit the Irish National Stud to see many lovely horses and learn about breeding and racing. Also walk through the charming Japanese Gardens. Return to Dublin where the afternoon is free for an independent open-top bus tour with a visit to Guinness or Jameson. Head to Taylor’s Three Rock Pub for dinner with traditional music, songs and step-dancing.
Travel south to the ancient port of Waterford. At the House of Waterford Crystal watch skilled craftspeople blow and cut crystal to create special trophies. Drive through Cork to Kinsale, a delightful old fishing town, which is now renowned for sailing and gourmet food. Join a local guide for a short walk around Kinsale’s historic streets.
Visit Blarney Castle to kiss the famous stone and shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills for quality Irish goods. Travel to Killarney and take a horse-drawn jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park to Ross Castle. Drive along the Dingle Peninsula and stop for an Irish coffee at the South Pole Inn before continuing to your hotel in Dingle, a lively and attractive town.
Explore the Dingle Peninsula to enjoy mountain and shoreline views. Visit the Blasket Centre in Dunquin to learn about the offshore Blasket Islands, inhabited until 1953 by hardy farming and fishing families. Return to Dingle and enjoy a casual pub lunch. The rest of the day is free to browse around this charming town.
Visit the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, which recalls air travel in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Check in to your hotel in the marketing town of Ennis. At 2:30 pm depart for the Cliffs of Moher, a dramatic wall of rock that plunges to the Atlantic Ocean. Drive a few miles to 15th century Knappogue Castle for a medieval-style banquet with entertainment.
Travel through the rounded limestone hills of the Burren to Caherconnell and watch skilled dogs work with a farmer to round up sheep. Stop for a look around the coastal village of Ballyvaughan and take a short drive around Galway before checking in to your hotel set on Galway Bay.
Head to Standun of Spiddal for coffee and a talk. Drive through Connemara to Leenane for a short catamaran cruise of Killary Harbour to view great scenery and traces of pre-Famine potato fields. Tour Kylemore Abbey, a splendid mansion set on a peaceful lake with a lovely chapel. Enjoy lunch and stroll through the Victorian gardens before returning to Galway.
Drive north into County Mayo to visit the pilgrimage town of Knock and in County Sligo view W. B. Yeats’ Grave. Tour the Belleek Pottery Factory, founded in the mid-19th century, to see craftspeople create the renowned fine china. Stop in Donegal town for free time before driving to your hotel two miles outside the town.
Drive along the coast to view Slieve League sea cliffs, the highest in Europe. The cliffs drop straight down to the wild Atlantic waves. Enjoy coffee or tea with home-baked scones. Visit Triona Design in Ardara for demonstrations of spinning and knitting. Stop in Donegal town for a tour of Donegal Castle, built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century and return to your hotel.
Take a walking tour with a local guide to see Derry’s medieval walls, the Diamond and St. Columb’s Cathedral. Pause for photos at Dunluce Castle before visiting the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. Continue along the scenic coastal drive of the “Nine Glens of Antrim” to your hotel in Belfast.
Tour Belfast to see Victorian buildings and the shipyards where RMS Titanic was built in 1912. Visit Titanic Belfast to learn about this famous liner through state-of-the-art displays. Learn about Ireland’s patron saint in the St. Patrick Centre before driving to Kingscourt to your lovely castle hotel, built in 1760. After dinner, watch a step-dancing display.
Visit the Battle of the Boyne Centre to learn about the 1690 conflict between King William III and King James II. Then travel into Drogheda for a walking tour around the historic town. Check in to your centrally-located hotel and in the evening enjoy dinner in the Wm Cairnes Gastropub with live musical entertainment.
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