2014 Leisurely Ireland 10 Days/9 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 than noon, transfer to the hotel at your own expense. At 2:00 pm take a short ride to historic Dalkey Village, now an upmarket suburb. Take a short guided tour through the village and visit the imposing Dalkey Castle where history will come alive for you. Marvel at Dalkey’s literary connections in the newly re-furbished Writers’ Gallery. In the evening meet your tour director over a welcome drink to discuss your trip and he will help you choose a restaurant to dine independently.
Relax on a half-day guided tour of Dublin to view 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 Trinity College’s campus and the Old Library to view the illuminated manuscript of the Book of Kells. The afternoon is free so that you may use your independent open-top bus tour voucher with a visit to Guinness or Jameson. Drive to the Abbey Tavern in Howth for a traditional dinner followed by a great show with Irish music and intricate step dancing.
Visit Strokestown Park House in County Roscommon. There are three parts to see – the 18th century mansion with its original furnishings; the four-acre walled Victorian garden, restored to look as it would have during the heyday of the estate; and the Famine Museum, which explains the circumstances of the 1840’s Great Irish Famine through a combination of original documents and images. Arrive in Westport and enjoy free time to browse around the town.
Drive around Clew Bay and cross by bridge to Achill Island. Follow the Atlantic Drive to capture wonderful views of steeply-sloped mountains and the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. Stop in Keel for lunch and see the Deserted Village, the remains of nearly 100 stone cottages abandoned around the time of the 1840’s Famine. In the afternoon visit the Museum of Country Life which recalls living conditions from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. Return to Westport for free time and dinner on your own.
Travel south past the pilgrimage mountain of Croaghpatrick and around the lovely Atlantic shoreline via Louisburgh. Take a short catamaran cruise to see pristine mountain areas, unspoiled by roads and development. You can see traces of ancient potato fields on some of the hilly slopes and also view the thriving salmon and mussel farms that create employment for local people. Return to Westport and spend an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the hotel facilities or explore the Georgian town, full of charming stores and cozy pubs.
Today drive via Maam Cross in the heart of the scenic region of Connemara. Here the constantly-changing cloud formations give granite hills, sparkling lakes and peat bogs an added dimension. Take a panoramic tour around the main areas of Galway city and enjoy a browse around on your own. View the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, which rise to almost 700 feet above the wild Atlantic breakers and stretch along the coast for five miles. Then head south for a short ferry ride across the River Shannon. In Killarney check in to your old-world hotel for a 3-night stay and explore the town or relax before dining in the hotel.
Take a traditional horse-drawn jaunting car ride through the Killarney National Park to stately Ross Castle on the shores of Lough Leane. Drive to the delightful town of Kenmare where traditional buildings are brightly painted. Join the Ring of Kerry route at the vantage point of Moll’s Gap for great views of mountains and valleys and visit a farm to watch trained dogs herding sheep. Just outside Killarney tour Muckross House to learn about the history of the owners and their illustrious guests and walk around the gardens. Return to Killarney for free time and dine independently.
Discover the glorious Dingle Peninsula with heathery mountains and sandy beaches. Drive to Slea Head at the westernmost tip of the peninsula to view more lovely vistas and early Christian monastic beehive huts. Stop in the town of Dingle to have a look around this attractive and compact town. Drive to the South Pole Inn for an Irish coffee and learn about the Antarctic explorer, Tom Crean. In the evening enjoy wonderful atmosphere and cuisine at the award-winning Killeen House Restaurant.
Drive through County Cork to Blarney Castle to climb to the ramparts and kiss the famous stone. Also visit the Blarney Woollen Mills where quality Irish-made products are gathered under one roof. Drive north to pause for photos at the stately Rock of Cashel, a limestone outcrop containing 12th century church ruins and continue to Dublin. Check in to your luxurious castle hotel, the origins of which date back to the 12th century, and enjoy a farewell dinner with your travel companions.
Take a group transfer from your hotel to Dublin Airport to arrive at 6:00 am, 9:00 am or 12:00 noon.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner