2014 Mystical Ireland - 8 Days/7 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, you will need to 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 parts of Dublin Castle, which was the seat of power and government for many centuries and today plays a leading role in European Union activities. 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.
Drive north to visit Down Cathedral to see St. Patrick’s reputed burial site, marked by a huge boulder. In the nearby St. Patrick Centre learn about his life and missionary work during the 5th century and about the many myths and stories that surround him. On the outskirts of Belfast visit the Ulster Folk Park. This attraction is divided in two parts – town and country life. See row houses, churches, a bank, police station and doctor’s office and businesses that flourished in 19th century towns. Also see farmhouses and cottages with gardens and many displays of traditional crafts and industries. Drive to your hotel in central Belfast and relax before dinner.
This morning take a panoramic tour around central Belfast to see the many ornate 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 find out more about life in this thriving city. Then enjoy some time on your own to browse around attractions or check out the many stores. The evening is free so you can select where to dine.
Drive north along the “Nine Glens of Antrim,” a scenic route with lovely views of mountains, valleys and coastline. Stop at the Giant’s Causeway, hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. The enormous rocks have spawned legends about the mythical giant, Finn McCool. Continue to Derry and join a local guide for a short walk around the compact old city and surrounding medieval walls. Learn about the long history of the city as well as 20th century events. Enjoy some free time for a look around on your own.
Travel through the rugged countryside of Donegal, with its lovely scenery of heathery hills and deep valleys. This region is difficult for farming but is renowned for 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 follow the coastline of Donegal Bay. Pause at W. B. Yeats’ Grave near the distinctively-shaped mountain of Benbulben in County Sligo, a region that he loved. Drive to Westport and enjoy free time before dinner.
Visit the stately Westport House, designed by Richard Cassels in 1731. The mansion overlooks Clew Bay and contains a wealth of interesting portraits, furniture, silver and porcelain. Travel around Clew Bay, which is reputed to have 365 islands, to access Achill Island by a bridge. Follow the Atlantic Drive to capture wonderful views of steeply-sloped mountains plunging into the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. Near Slievemore see the Deserted Village, the remains of nearly 100 stone cottages abandoned around the time of the 1840’s Famine. Also see stretches of windswept bogland and golden beaches.
Travel through Maam Cross in the heart of Connemara and visit the Connemara Marble Factory. Stop for a look around Galway on your own and drive through the limestone hills of the Burren to the coast. Walk along the majestic Cliffs of Moher, a rocky wall that rises nearly 700 feet above the foaming Atlantic Ocean. At Bunratty check in to your hotel, right beside Bunratty Castle, the Bunratty Folk Park and Durty Nelly’s Pub. In the evening head to 15th century Bunratty Castle for a jolly medieval-style dinner where the lords and ladies serenade you.
Take a group transfer to nearby Shannon Airport where your tour concludes at 10:30 am. Allow ample time for check-in formalities for your flights home.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner