2017 Elegant Ireland 10 Days / 9 Nights
Your Irish trip starts at 2:00 pm when you meet your tour director at your Dublin hotel. Take a guided tour of Dublin to see the most prominent buildings and memorials. View rows of elegant Georgian townhouses with brightly painted doors. Drive past the Bank of Ireland and General Post Office as well as the modern financial district. Join a student guide on a brief walk through Trinity College’s campus to view the Book of Kells. In the evening join your tour director over a welcome drink and head to the Merry Ploughboy Pub for dinner with a lively show.
Leave Dublin and journey across the rolling pastures of Ireland’s heartland to visit Clonmacnoise. This monastic settlement was founded in 545 AD by St. Ciaran and is set on the banks of the mighty River Shannon. See elaborate high Celtic crosses decorated with biblical scenes. Walk around the many church ruins and two round towers. Drive to Galway city and take a walking tour with a local guide to explore the narrow medieval streets. See the Claddagh, once a fishing village, where the famous ring originated. Check in to your hotel in time to relax before dinner.
Near Galway embark on the Corrib Princess for a cruise on Lough Corrib to enjoy the scenery and sip an Irish coffee. Then drive through Connemara to admire granite hills, sparkling lakes and peat bogs. Drive to Kylemore Abbey to tour elegant rooms in the mansion and the charming church, set beside a tranquil lake. Enjoy a casual lunch and savor more views of Connemara before returning to Galway where the evening is free to explore the city on your own.
Stop at Rathbaun Farm to see traditional farm animals and farming practices. Watch a farmer demonstrate how his trained dogs herd mountain sheep and then sit down to tea or coffee with some home baking. Travel through the Burren to view the Cliffs of Moher, an impressive wall of rock that plunges to the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs stretch along the coast for five miles and reach heights of almost 700 feet. Continue to your hotel in Ennis and take a walking tour around this charming town and visit Ennis Friary.
Cross the wide River Shannon Estuary on a short ferry ride and drive along the river shore to Foynes. Visit the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, which recalls the early days of air travel, during the 1930s and early 1940s, when Pan Am Clippers used to land on the water. Walk through a replica of a Clipper and see memorabilia in the museum. Stop in Listowel for a look around and lunch on your own before heading to your hotel in Killarney, located a few miles outside overlooking Lough Leane and the mountains. Dine in Killeen House Restaurant, renowned for a warm welcome and excellent food.
Explore the scenic Dingle Peninsula to experience wonderful views of heathery mountains, sandy beaches and rocky headlands. Visit the Blasket Centre in Dunquin to learn about the offshore Blasket Islands, inhabited until 1953 by hardy farming and fishing families. Stop in the town of Dingle to browse around a little and choose a restaurant for lunch on your own. In Castlemaine, birthplace of the “Wild Colonial Boy,” stop at the charming, old-fashioned Murphy’s Pub to savor an Irish coffee before returning to your hotel in Killarney.
Take a traditional horse-drawn jaunting car ride through the peaceful Killarney National Park and along the shores of Lough Leane, largest of Killarney’s lakes. Stop at the mighty Ross Castle to admire the unspoiled scenery all around. Drive to the delightful town of Kenmare for a look around on your own. Then drive across the Beara Peninsula and through Glengarriff, renowned for its palm trees and mild weather. Continue along the lovely County Cork coast and through the towns of Bantry and Skibbereen. Check in to your hotel in Rosscarbery.
Travel along the coast to view Timoleague Franciscan Friary, founded in 1240 by two prominent families, MacCarthys and de Barrys. Today view the picturesque ruins of the church and living quarters. Then head to Kinsale, renowned for medieval sea trade, fishing and yachting. In Kinsale, join a local guide to visit the huge Charles Fort on the coast before taking a gentle stroll through the town to see many old buildings and learn about the long history of trade and shipping with mainland Europe. A short drive will bring you back to your hotel where you will have time to relax before dinner.
Journey to Blarney Castle to kiss the famous stone. If you don’t fancy climbing to the top of the castle, you may admire the colorful gardens. Also visit the Blarney Woollen Mills where quality Irish-made products are gathered under one roof. Head north, stopping for photos at the stately Rock of Cashel, a limestone outcrop containing church ruins. Arrive at your luxurious castle hotel, located on the outskirts of Dublin. This property blends the elegant old mansion with state-of-the-art designed guest rooms. Enjoy a farewell dinner – a fitting end to your vacation.
Your tour ends after breakfast. The hotel is about 15 miles from either Dublin Airport or Dublin city center.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner