It is often said that each day in Ireland is like a festival. Ireland is after all a country bustling with activity. Activity that ranges from cultural to traditional and from music to theatre and dance. Ireland is also a country of ancient landscapes that are ever changing. In fact, it is a country that boasts “40 shades of green”.
Join us on a delightful journey to the Emerald Isle. Your visit will take you to some of Ireland’s most treasured landmarks: You will visit Dublin and Trinity College with its book of Kells; The Rock of Cashel, possibly the most photographed site in Ireland; Blarney Castle, famous for its Blarney Stone; The Ring of Kerry; the spectacular Cliffs of Moher; Bunratty Castle and Limerick. You will even visit Galway Bay!
You will be accommodated in good 3 star hotels. Breakfast and dinner are also included each day. Previous tours to Ireland sold out very quickly. Booking early therefore is your only guarantee of space on this holiday!
Day 1- OTTAWA TO IRELAND
This afternoon you will depart Ottawa for Montreal and your flight to Dublin.
Day 2- ARRIVE DUBLIN
Cead Mile Failte. Welcome to Ireland! Arrive into Dublin airport in the early morning where you will be met by your private driver/guide and escorted to your luxury motor coach.
Your drive today will take you west to Galway stopping for morning tea and scones en route. In County Offaly the group will visit Clonmacnoise. Saint Ciaran founded an early Christian site, one of Ireland’s most famous monastic sites, in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th – 13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. The original high crosses and grave slabs are on display the Visitor Center. There is an audio-visual show as well as a number of exhibitions.
Continue west to Galway where the group’s final destination is Galway City. Galway nestles at the neck of Galway Bay and is reputed to have been Columbus’ final point of departure on his epoch-making voyage of discovery. The city was founded on the east bank of the river late in the 12th century by the Anglo-Norman family de Burgo. It attracted many Welsh and Norman merchants who enclosed the city within a defensive wall. Under the control of the fourteen leading families, known as the ‘tribes’ an extensive trade developed, not only with the continent, importing French and Spanish wine, but also with the West Indies. Highlights of the city include Eyre Square, Lynch’s Castle, St. Nicholas’ Church, O’Brien’s Bridge, Spanish Arch, the Famous Claddagh, beautiful Galway Bay, Salthill Promenade, University College, Salmon Weir Bridge, Court House and the Municipal Theatre. Your final destination for today is Galway.
Day 3- CONNEMARA
After a hearty Irish breakfast the group will explore some of the beautiful countryside of Connemara, with its rolling hills, flowing rivers and coastal landscapes.
Connemara is a wild and beautiful region of mountains, lakes, tumbling streams undulating bog, unspoiled beaches and panoramic views. It is a Gaelic- speaking region and has attracted many artisans, who can be visited at work in their studios.
The centre of Connemara is composed of mountain peaks, the Twelve Bens or Pins which culminate in Benbaun (2388ft-728m). The sharp grey peaks of quartzite rock which is resistant to weathering are too steep and hard to be clothed in blanket bog. The region is now largely uninhabited, although in the past the more fertile lowlands were cultivated and the uplands were used as pasture for cattle and sheep.
Stop and visit Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey is the only home of the Benedictine nuns in Ireland. The Abbey was acquired by the nuns in 1920. Set in the heart of Connemara, this unique Abbey offers the warmth and hospitality of it’s peaceful environs. It’s enchanting history is interpreted in detail in rooms at the Abbey. It was originally built by Mitchell Henry, M.P. for County Galway (a native of Manchester city) 1864-1868 as a gift for his wife. The Gothic Church, set in the grounds of the Abbey, is the jewel in the crown of Kylemore. It has been lovingly restored and any visit would not be complete without seeing it.
Enjoy dinner and entertainment at Dunguaire Castle.
An evening of superb music, song and storytelling awaits you at Dunguaire Banquet on the majestic shores of Galway Bay, one of Ireland’s most picturesque locations. Mirroring the tradition of medieval ‘King Guaire’, guests are welcomed with a goblet of Mead, a traditional honey wine, in an inner chamber by the butler and ladies of the castle. After a short history of the castle and musical introduction guests climb the stairs to the Banquet Hall. A delicious four course dinner with wine is followed by a 40 minute entertainment program of music, song and dance including excerpts from famous literary writers associated with the Galway region, such as Yeats, Synge, Gogarty and Shaw. The castle’s superb artists inspire you with selected stories and excerpts to lighten the heart in this truly intimate setting.
Day 4- GALWAY – CLIFFS OF MOHER – BUNRATTY TO KILLARNEY
The group will bid farewell to the city of the Tribes and travel south to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. These are great dark sandstone cliffs (600ft) that rise sheer from the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 5 miles. Screaming sea birds throng the ledges or wheel and swoop about the waves. The best view is from O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1853 by Cornelius O’Brien.
Continue to Limerick and visit King John’s Castle. King John’s Castle is situated on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick City. The Castle overlooks the majestic river Shannon. It was built between 1200 and 1210 and was repaired and extended many times in the following centuries. The interpretative centre at the Castle contains an imaginative historical exhibition which tells the story of the Castle. Archaeological excavations have revealed pre-Norman settlements and evidence from the traumatic siege of 1642. The courtyard and the Castle display some of the trades and traditions of the 16th Century. The Castle offers panoramic views of Limerick City and the surrounding countryside. The sights, scenes and sounds of the Castle * and its environs all combine to recreate the atmosphere of the era.
Day 5- DINGLE PENINSULA
Today the group will explore the Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle peninsula is particularly notable in that apart from possessing the highest peak in the country after MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and some of the most magnificent coastal scenery in Munster, it preserves an unequalled series of Early Christian monuments, Iron Age fortifications and bee-hive huts which are now under the care of the state. Also a very large portion of the peninsula is a native Irish speaking area noted for its purity of its idiom. The town of Dingle enjoys a superb situation on its almost landlocked harbour, but the town itself has no traces of antiquity.
It was inevitable that the extraordinary landscape of the Dingle Peninsula would be captured on film, and it has played its part in the Ryan’s Daughter and more recently in Far and Away. As one proceeds from the town of Dingle to Slea Head, the road commands fine views of the Atlantic and the Blasket Islands which are a group of iron-bound islands, uninhabited since 1953. Visit Gallarus Oratory, one of the most perfect relics of early Irish Christianity probably constructed around the year 800. Visit Kilmalkedar where there is an interesting 12th century church consisting of a roofless nave with a good doorway and ornamented arch. In the churchyard there is an Ogham stone and an ancient sundial. As you proceed along this road view Mount Brandon in the distance en route back to Dingle town.
Dingle itself is an easy-going town where people of many nationalities meet at the height of summer, it has a number of fine restaurants that offer fare to please all palates. It is estimated that the town has over 50 pubs – from large and modern to pubs so small that five’s a crowd! One pub is a travel agency! Another sells wellingtons and another that sells everything from beds to bicycles. Dingle also has the Cafe Liteartha, the most interesting bookshop in Kerry, where the business of browsing among books can be combined with the equally serious business of drinking tea and eating.
Final destination for today is Killarney.
Day 6- RING OF KERRY
After a hearty Irish breakfast, the group will tour the Ring of Kerry. This is the name given to the scenic coastal drive around the Kerry peninsula, along the base of the highest mountain range in Ireland. Don’t panic about the narrow roads along the way – your driver will be able to negotiate this famous route – and the general unwritten rule of the Ring of Kerry is that all coaches travel around in only one direction – starting in Killarney. The 100 mile journey takes you through villages and towns depicting typical rural life in Ireland. As you descend into Killarney, you have a lovely view of the 3 Lakes of Killarney from ‘Ladies View’ passing Killarney’s National Park and the Muckross House Estate. You will stop to visit Muckross House and Gardens. Muckross House, is a 19th century manor house, beautifully situated close to Muckross Lake, second largest of Killarney’s three lakes. Now a major visitor centre, the House has two main themes, the environment of the National Park and the folklore of County Kerry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Skilled craft workers carry on some of the traditional crafts of Kerry as their predecessors did in bygone days. The gardens informal in size, are noted for their fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, extensive water gardens and an outstanding rock garden of natural limestone.
Return to Killarney for overnight with dinner.
Day 7- KILLARNEY-DUBLIN VIA BLARNEY AND ROCK OF CASHEL
Bid farewell to the Kingdom of Kerry and travel east to the village of Blarney in County Cork. Blarney is of course famous for its castle and the Blarney Stone, which has the traditional power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it. The word ‘Blarney’ means pleasant talk, intended to deceive without offending. The battlements crowning the castle keep are typically Irish in form. Having climbed more than 100 steps, the famous Stone is set in the wall below the parapet, and to kiss it, one has to lean backwards from the parapet walk of the battlements. You can also visit the Blarney Woolen mills for some fine quality Irish produce.
Travel north to Tipperary and visit the Rock of Cashel, a spectacular group of Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. Attractions include an audio-visual show and exhibitions.
The group’s final destination today is Dublin City. Dublin is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. Over a thousand years old, the turbulent history and rich traditions of the city have inspired writers, artists and musicians down the ages. Today, artists are still attracted by Dublin’s youthful enthusiasms and easy-going lifestyle and the city has become a thriving center of culture and enjoyment. The new wave of cafes and restaurants are meeting places for all ages while traditional Dublin pubs are rightly world-famous for their informal atmosphere and lively conversation. The city oozes atmosphere, not least in the heady scents that cling to it – the rich aroma of the hops being roasted in the Guinness brewery and the salty tang of the sea. Nighttime entertainment is a rich mix of world-class theater, concerts from classical to rock, jazz clubs, traditional music sessions and old-style cabaret. Dublin gets much of its energy from its young people and enjoys one of the best clubbing scenes in Europe. Above all, Dublin is a small city, where visitors can feel at home after even the shortest stay.
Tonight you will enjoy dinner at your hotel in Dublin.
Day 8- DUBLIN CITY
Today the group will explore Dublin City in earnest with a local guide. See the city’s scenic highlights on a narrated drive through Dublin City, including the River Liffey, the Customs House, O’Connell Street, the GPO (General Post office), the Four Courts, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green and Leinster House. Travel past Merrion Square, the heart of Georgian Dublin – Mapped out 250 years ago in 1762, it has fine Georgian Houses on three sides and the garden of Leinster House and The National Gallery and Natural History Museum on the 4th. Today many of the houses are predominantly used as office space but there is a wealth of history attached. Oscar Wilde lived as a child at 1 Merrion Square & there is now a statue of him in the Merrion Square park, while W.B Yeats lived at No 82, and Daniel O’Connell at No 58. See the Phoenix Park over 700 hectares (1752 acres) in area and is the largest enclosed public Park in any capital city in Europe. It was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660’s and opened to the public in 1747. A large herd of fallow deer still remain to this day.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse, the birthplace of the black frothy brew and get a taste straight from the barrel. NOTE: The Tour is self-guiding, commencing with an introduction on arrival by a member of staff. Enter the pint glass-shaped tower and make your way up through seven stories of interactive exhibits demonstrating the brewing process as well as the history behind this legendary stout. A treat for the senses, the self-guided tour allows guests to look at old ads, touch the barley, smell the hops, hear the waterfall and finally, to taste the finished product.
The group will also visit the The Book of Kells, situated within the grounds of Trinity College in the long hall of the Old Library. It is the principal treasure of the library and it is encased in glass in order to preserve this fine treasure. The book is a magnificently illuminated copy of the Gospels designed by unknown hands in the monastery of Kells in Meath about 800.
Overnight in Dublin.
Day 9- DEPART IRELAND
Alas it is time to depart. The driver will transfer the group to Dublin Airport and depart for home on your Transatlantic Flight to Montreal. A chartered coach will be waiting at the Montreal airport to return you to Ottawa.
Slan Abhaile ( Safe home! )
Itinerary subject to change.
Please note that you are required to have a valid Canadian passport with you. Non-Canadians may require a visa. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have such a document if required. Any other nationality other than Canadian persons must identify themselves to the booking agent for verification of documents required.