2017 Irish Gold Coach Tour 8 Days / 7 Nights
Your vacation starts at your Dublin hotel at 2:00 pm when you meet your tour director. Head out to see Dublin’s main attractions including O’Connell Street, St. Stephen’s Green, the seat of government at Leinster House and other public buildings. View Dublin’s famous Georgian squares and elegant town houses with elaborate doorways. Take a stroll through Trinity College’s campus in the center of the city with a student guide and in the Old Library view the priceless 8th century Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels. Your tour director will host a welcome drink with your fellow travelers and advise where to dine independently.
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 and join a local guide on a gentle walk through the city center before checking into your hotel. Your hotel is located within easy walking distance of lively streets with fun specialty stores, cafés and pubs. Enjoy free time to browse around on your own before dining in your hotel.
Today explore scenic Connemara to admire how constantly-changing cloud formations give granite hills, sparkling lakes and peat bogs an added dimension. While visually stunning, this area is not good for farming and only suitable for the sturdy mountain sheep that survive on the steep hills. Drive through the picturesque Inagh Valley to Leenane where you embark on a short catamaran cruise of Killary Harbour, a 9-mile fjord (Mar 26 – Oct 22 depts). Enjoy views of hills where traces of “lazy beds” of potato ridges from the 19th century and earlier can still be seen. 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.
Travel south around Galway Bay and through the Burren, a region of rounded limestone hills which has a curious lunar-like appearance. In Caherconnell watch trained sheepdogs obey their owner as they direct sheep through various obstacles. On the coast view the Cliffs of Moher, which rise almost 700 feet above the pounding Atlantic surf. Drive south to take a ferry across the River Shannon Estuary and head to Killarney. Drive through the Killarney National Park by traditional jaunting car to view Ross Castle set on the shores of Lough Leane with mountains forming a backdrop. Check in to your hotel in the center of the town and head to a cozy pub venue for an Irish Night featuring a lively show with dinner.
Set out on Ireland’s most popular scenic drive – the Ring of Kerry. The variety of scenery in such a small area will amaze you and there will be plenty of photo opportunities. The road winds between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains, and the heavily-indented Atlantic coastline. Cross to Valentia Island by bridge and tour the Skellig Experience to learn about the offshore island of Skellig Michael where early Christian monks lived. Savor a light lunch and take a break in the colorful village of Sneem and admire panoramic mountain views at Moll’s Gap. Head to Muckross House for a guided tour to see period furnishings and learn about its history. Stroll through the mature gardens before returning to Killarney where the evening is free for independent dining or checking out some of the pubs with live music.
Drive through the mountains into richer farming country on the way to Blarney. Climb to the ramparts of Blarney Castle to kiss the famous stone or, if you don’t feel like a climb, take a gentle walk through the lovely parklands and colorful gardens. Shop for Irish-made goods at the Blarney Woollen Mills before traveling along the coast to the Marine Bar in Dungarvan for a creamy Irish coffee and informal traditional music. Continue to Waterford and check into your historic hotel, located on the waterfront of this ancient port city. Tour the House of Waterford Crystal to watch the many stages of glass blowing, cutting and polishing by master craftspeople. At the end of the tour admire the huge display of magnificent trophies and you will have an opportunity to purchase elegant tableware and gift items.
This morning join a local guide for a fun walking tour through the narrow streets of the old city to discover Waterford’s long history and some of its colorful characters. Visit the nearby Medieval Museum, a modern building which incorporates a 13th century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault. Stop in Kilkenny for a look around the compact city center and have lunch on your own. Travel to your hotel in Dublin and in the evening drive to the popular O’Connell’s Restaurant where a warm welcome and superb cuisine await you.
Your program ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner