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; Blarney Castle, famous for its Blarney Stone; the spectacular Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle. You will even visit Galway Bay!
You will be accommodated in good 3 star hotels. Breakfast is 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 on your overnight flights from Ottawa to Dublin.
Day 2: Dublin Airport, Kildare & Kilkenny
Ceád Mile Fáilte – “One Hundred Thousand Welcomes” to Ireland!
Your tour commences at Dublin Airport where you will meet your local guide. Traveling south you will stop in Newbridge County Kildare where you will visit the Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre and the Museum of Style Icons. The museum boasts a world class collection of some of the greatest style and cinema memorabilia including garments worn by Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe & the Beatles.
Your final destination today is Kilkenny City. Located in the heart if Ireland’s Ancient East, the medieval city of Kilkenny is named after a 6th century monk called Saint Canice. His memory lives on in the beautifully preserved St. Canice’s Cathedral built overlooking the city in the 13th century.
Visit Kilkenny Castle – The Normans arrived in the 12th century and their legacy remains in the superb and fully restored Kilkenny Castle and in the thriving and cosmopolitan merchant city. The 17th century was a time of great social and political turmoil for Kilkenny. It was the seat of national parliament for a six year period. The famous Oliver Cromwell invaded the city in 1650 and Kilkenny College was attended by such luminaries as Jonathan Swift and Bishop Berkeley. The 20th century saw Kilkenny’s rise as a creative centre and the city is home to many craft and design shops, including the famous Kilkenny Design Centre and workshops located opposite Kilkenny Castle.
Day 3: Waterford, Middleton & Kinsale
After a full Irish breakfast, you will travel south to Waterford City. Waterford is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic cities. The walled city withstood siege on several occasions in the past but fell to the Normans in 1170 AD. It prospered under the Normans and emerged as the second city of Ireland after Dublin. The city was the chief port of Ireland throughout the middle ages.
Visit the House of Crystal, a prime location near the River Suir and the city’s main quay bordering the city’s Viking Triangle area. The factory tour gives you an up close and personal insight into the centuries old tradition of Waterford Crystal making. The House of Waterford range that is produced includes trophies for prestigious sporting events, bowls and vases from the museum, heritage and designer collections, and also the special order stemware collection.
In the afternoon visit the Jameson Experience at the Old Middleton Distillery, Cork. The original buildings at the Middleton Distillery date back as far as the 1800s, and were used to mature Cork Distillery Whiskey (now known as Paddy Whiskey). Visitors come face to face with original kilns and pot stills from that time and explore warehouses that have matured whiskey for more than 2 centuries. Enjoy a signature drink of Jameson at the end of the tour.
The group’s final destination today is Kinsale. The town is renowned for its fresh seafood and gourmet cooking, as well as its numerous ‘cozy’ pubs!!!
Day 4: Cork City & Blarney
This morning you will enjoy a panoramic tour of Cork and learn the history of Ireland’s third city known as the Rebel City. The city’s origins lie early in the seventh century when St. Finbarr, founder and patron saint, founded a small monastic community close to where Gilabbey Street now stands, and it grew into an extensive and wealthy establishment. It attracted the attention of the Viking sea-pirates who raided and burned the infa nt city, but returned in later years to settle and trade. The Anglo-Norman invasion in 1172 resulted in both the Danish lords and local MacCarthy chiefs having to submit to Henry II, but Cork has always had a reputation for independence and stubborn resistance – it came to be known as “Rebel Cork”.
In the afternoon visit Blarney and kiss the Blarney Stone, which has the traditional power on 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.
Overnight again at Actons Hotel in Kinsale. (B&B Basis).
Day 5: Bunratty, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Galway City
Travel to County Clare and visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Bunratty Castle is one of Europe’s finest. Pride of more than 100 castles built by the McNamara chieftains in 15th century Clare, it is faithfully restored and refurnished. Built in 1425, it is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland and contains furnishings, tapestries and works of art from the period. In the shadow of the castle is Bunratty Folk Park set on 26 acres, illustrating 19th century Irish life from grand manor houses to peasant dwelling and from farm activities to cobble-stone village streets.
In the afternoon visit the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 600ft above the ground at their highest point and 5 miles long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara.
Travel through the Burren – The Burren takes its name from the Irish word ‘bhoireann’ meaning, ‘a stony place’ or ‘a rocky place’, which is a good description for this 350 sq kilometres limestone plateau in North Clare. The rough, intriguing and attractive landscape was formed 320 million years ago under a tropical sea. Later it was shaped by ice, hard weather and, of course, man and his beasts. The many wedge tombs and megalithic tombs prove that people have been living in the Burren for more than 5000 years.
Continue to 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. See the famous Spanish Arch, located on the left bank of the Corrib, where Galway’s river meets the sea. The Spanish Arch was originally a 16th century bastion, which was added to Galway’s town walls to protect merchant ships from looting. Its current name “Spanish Arch” refers to former merchant trade with Spain, whose galleons often docked here.
Day 6: Connemara Tour
Today you can 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. 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 & Gardens. 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 its peaceful environs. Its 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) 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. Explore the magical 6 acre Victorian walled garden, where Victorian varieties of flowers and vegetables are grown. Vegetables and herbs from the garden are used in the café where they offer traditional home cooked food made to the recipes of the Benedictine nuns.
In 1951 John Ford’s greatest movie “The Quiet Man” starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald was made. It was set in the beautiful west of Ireland with filming being centered in the village of Cong on the Mayo-Galway border.
Overnight again tonight at the Ardilaun House Hotel. (B&B Basis).
Day 7: Midlands & the Royal County
Bid farewell to the City of the Tribes and travel east to the midlands of Ireland. Stop and visit the Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland. The Kilbeggan Experience offers a unique opportunity to see a fully operational traditional Irish pot still whiskey distillery, while enjoying a historical tour of the old distillery which includes the waterwheel and original distillery machinery. The old distillery has been maintained as a museum just as it was during John Locke’s ownership in the 19th Century. The current distillery contains the oldest working pot still in the world. The original whitewashed walls, weathered slate roof, brick chimney stack and creaking timber water wheel remain intact thanks to a labour of love from the locals. Each tour ends with a complimentary sample of the award-winning Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey.
Continue further east to Bru Na Boinne Visitor Centre –the name given to one of the World’s most important archaeological landscapes, dominated by the spectacular prehistoric passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Constructed during the late Stone Age, the passage tombs are over 5000 years old.
Later this afternoon, visit the historic ruins of Monasterboice in County Louth. The ruins are of an early Christian settlement founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buite who died around 521, and was an important centre of religion and learning. On the site, visitors can discover an old graveyard, two
churches and a sundial. Monasterboice is most famous for its spectacular high crosses especially the cross of Muineadach an outstanding example of high crosses of the early Christian period, noted as being the tallest in Ireland. It is monolith, 5 metres high, which features many detailed scenes from the Bible. The crosses stand in the shadow of a magnificent Round Tower, about 30 metres high.
Enjoy dinner tonight at the City North Hotel in Gormanstown County Meath (Dinner, B&B Basis).
Day 8: Transfer to Dublin Hotel
Transfer from County Meath to Dublin.
Overnight O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel (B&B basis)
Day 9: Free day in Dublin
Overnight O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel (B&B basis)
Day 10: Ireland to Ottawa
Alas it is time to depart. The driver will transfer the group to Dublin Airport and depart for home on your Transatlantic Flights to Ottawa.
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.