Ireland: Details & Itinerary
21 days (including flights) $5,415 all-inclusive (based on max. 20 people)
Single Supplement: $820
LAND PACKAGE STARTS IN DUBLIN
Monday, May 27, 2013 – Saturday, June 16, 2013
The most comprehensive tour of Ireland you will find anywhere!
This tour includes all first-class dinners, two banquets, and eight lunches.
This tour is not recommended for anyone with walking, heart, or breathing problems.
The tour is led by Margaret Rodgers.
Included in the price:
- Airport transfers for all those arriving with the group
- Accommodation and transportation (up to 35-seater coach) for 17 days
- Special transportation for "Banquet nights"
- All breakfasts and dinners, including coffee or tea with all hotel
- 2 banquets - no alcoholic drinks
- 8 light lunches - no drinks
- Transportation and City guides in Dublin and Belfast
- City guide in Londonderry
- Admission to all attractions
- Ferries to and from Aran Islands and tour of Inis Mor
- Porterage - one bag per person in and out of hotels
- Escort throughout
- Airfare and related taxes
- All Insurance
- Personal requirements, laundry
- All lunches not specified
- Alcoholic beverages
- Gratuities for driver and escort
Day 1/2 (Sun/Mon May 26/27)
SUNDAY, May 26 - Depart North America to arrive in Dublin the following day, May 27. Today will depend on arrival time, according to which flight we take. Irrespective, after check-in there will be some free time to explore the city as our hotel is wonderfully centrally-located near O'Connell Street, one of Dublin's most famous thoroughfares. (See Day 4 for suggestions).
First of 3 nights - Wynn's Hotel, Dublin. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 3 (Tue 28)
Our day starts with a tour of Dublin, capital of the Republic of
Ireland, seat of the Irish Government, and centre of art and culture. The city is split by the River Liffey which is spanned by ten bridges. We first visit the oldest university in Ireland, Trinity College, renowned for the Book of
Kells, a Latin manuscript of the four gospels with incredible artwork
around the borders of the text.
We next visit the Kilmainham Jail, built in 1792, one of the
largest now-unoccupied jails in Europe and scene of some of the most
heroic and tragic events in Ireland's life. After lunch (included) at the
Brazen Head, one of Dublin's most famous pubs, we visit Christ Church
Cathedral, one of the city's finest historic buildings (close to
Guinness - another major attraction!), after which the rest of the
afternoon is free to explore Dublin (see Day 4). www.sacred-destinations.com/ireland/dublin-christ-church-cathedral.htm
Tonight is Irish Night at the Merry Ploughboy, when we attend a
3-course banquet and show with typical Irish singing and dancing.
Second of 3 nights in Dublin. Lunch, Banquet, Bed & Breakfast
Day 4 (Wed 29)
Today you are free to enjoy what interests you most in
Dublin. Suggestions: you may stay in bed to recover from last night! Or
you may wish to take a walking tour of Dublin centre along some of its
famous streets near the river - O'Connell Street and Grafton
Street, to Temple Bar, the bohemian area, and where some of the
best-known pubs are located, such as Fitzsimmons traditional pub and the
Porterhouse pub. Or explore the Georgian areas famous for their attractive
doors (see the postcards!). There's an open-top bus from which you can pop
on/off for any attractions, such as the National Botanic Gardens,
the Iveagh Gardens, near St. Stephen's Green, the Zoo which
is one of the best in Europe, or the Viking World which houses an
exhibition charting the history of Dublin, the Guinness Brewery,
the National Museum, and the magnificent Art Gallery - not
to mention shopping!
There are also day tours and half-day available out of Dublin — to nearby **Newgrange, Powerscourt, or Malahide Castle (please contact me if you are especially interested to visit Newgrange as this has to be specially organized).
Last of 3 nights in Dublin. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 5 (Thur 30)
We depart for the border into Northern Ireland with a rest stop in Newcastle
"where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea" before
arriving at Downpatrick for lunch (included) and to visit the St
Patrick's Centre which tells the fascinating story of Ireland's patron
saint, and is one of the most-visited attractions in Northern Ireland. We
return to Newcastle to our fabulous resort hotel by the sea.
Overnight - Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle. Lunch, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 6 (Fri 31)
We start with a scenic drive along the shores of Strangford Lough to Mount
Stewart House and Garden which, according to all literature, "no
visitor to Ireland should miss!" The original garden was laid out in
the 1840's but was transformed to its present splendour in the early 1920's by Lady Londonderry, and is now known as "one of the brightest
jewels in the National Trust's crown."
Lunch (included) will be in Belfast at the ornate Crown
Liquor Saloon, originally built as a railway saloon in 1899, after
which we have a short tour of the city which is full of Victorian and
Edwardian buildings with elaborate sculptures over their windows and
doors. We will see the City Hall, which is surrounded by beautiful
gardens, St. Anne's Cathedral, and the historic Port and
Harbour, once the UK's largest shipyard.
We continue en route north via one of the most scenic coasts in the UK to Carnlough, a delightful small resort on the Antrim coast.
There is a great walk behind the hotel.
Overnight - Londonderry Arms Hotel, Carnlough. Lunch, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 7 (Sat June 1)
The Antrim coast road follows the coast closely, with towering cliffs
intersected with glens, waterfalls and small villages. Sandy beaches and
little harbours abound, and colonies of birds line the cliffs. We visit
the most famous glen of all, Glenariff Forest Park, known as
"the Queen of the Glens." Again we return to the coast with a
photo stop at Cushendun, a picturesque National Trust seaside
village, and a pub lunch (included) at Cushendall - the best salmon
I've tasted anywhere!
After lunch we drive through Ballycastle to the Giant's Causeway,
the most famous landmark of Northern Ireland and now a World Heritage
site. Up to 40,000 basalt columns, some approximately 40 feet in height,
form massive stepping stones rising out of the sea, each formed with
Overnight - The Lodge Hotel, Coleraine. Lunch, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 8 (Sun 2)
We depart for Londonderry, known as Derry, at the head of the
River Foyle estuary - the only completely walled city in the British
Isles. After a tour of the Old Town and a walk on the 18 ft. thick city
walls and a tour of some of the murals painted on buildings during the
war-torn years, we turn south for lunch at Mountjoy (included).
We next visit the Ulster-American Folk Park, an open air museum
that recreates the situations experienced by the flood of emigrants to
North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Our next hotel is a resort
overlooking the lake at Eniskillen.
First of 2 nights - Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen. Lunch, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 9 (Mon 3)
This morning we visit the Marble Arch Caves with their
spectacular underground formations; and then on to Florence Court,
the 18th-century former home of the Earls of Eniskillen, at the foot of
the Cuilcagh mountains. After our visit we return to Enniskillen
where the rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy
our resort by the lake.
Last of 2 nights in Enniskillen. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 10 (Tue 4)
We stop at Boa Island on the north side of the lake to visit
some strange double-faced, heart-shaped, pre-historic headstones, en route
for Belleek, home of the famous Belleek Pottery established in
1857. We continue for lunch at Sligo (with a popular visit to a
large supermarket!) en route for Westport, known as "Queen of the Bay
of Clews" where there is free time to explore this
delightful little town and see the 'coffin ships.'
Overnight - Carlton Atlantic Coast Hotel, Westport.
Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 11 (Wed 5)
Today we have one of the most spectacular drives in the whole of
Ireland - through wild and beautiful Connemara, with a stop at Kylemore
Abbey, a castellated neo-Gothic mansion, quoted as "an
extravagant medieval fantasy" in glistening white granite and
grey limestone, built in the 1860's. Although it is now an international
girls' school, part of it is open to the public.
We stop at the typical village of Clifden for lunch before
continuing through Galway towards our hotel which is located on the
attractive coastline just south of the Cliffs of Moher, and near the area
called The Burren, with its very special, and weirdly-eroded,
limestone landscape, where everywhere are traces of Megalithic Tombs and
ancient stone works. En route we have a photo stop at Dunguaire Castle,
Kinvara, which is noted as being the most photographed castle in
First of 2 nights - Imperial Hotel, Lisdoonvarna.
Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 12 (Thur 6)
We depart for Doolin to catch the ferry for a day trip to the Aran
Islands, whose raw beauty and charm lure visitors back again and
again. The islands give a glimpse into a way of life which has since
disappeared, with ecclesiastic ruins from early Christian times, medieval
castles, pre-historic stone forts, rich folklore, and wonderful scenery.
We have time for a wonderful hike to the stone fort of Dun Aonhasa
in its dramatic setting at the edge of the sheer cliffs.
Last of 2 nights at Lisdoonvarna. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 13 (Fri 7)
This morning we start with the majestic Cliffs of Moher which
extend for five miles down the coast, and ascend to over 700 ft. (213
metres) just south of Doolin. Their sheer drop into the Atlantic ocean
makes them a haven for thousands of sea birds.
We visit the Burren Visitor Centre at Killfenora which
brings to life the dramatic story of this unusual terrain through a film,
videos, models, and artifacts. After lunch (included) at the Burren
Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna, known as the "Match-making capital"
of the world! we visit the Burren Stone Fort at Caherconnell,
which attracts over 30,000 visitors a year. Here are some of the
most-photographed dolmens, or tombs, in their fantastic settings on the
limestone pavements of the Burren. Also look for some of the wonderful
flora which is special to the area.
Dinner tonight is a Medieval Banquet in Bunratty Castle, the
last of four castles built on the site which was originally a Viking
Trading Camp in AD 970. The present castle was built in 1425 by the
MacNamara family, but by 1475 it had become the stronghold of the
O'Brien's the largest clan in North Munster. It did not return to its
former splendor until 1954 when it was bought by Lord Gort who began
extensive restoration with the help of the Irish development boards who
realized that tourism was important! It is now the most complete and
authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland.
Overnight - Maldron Hotel, Limerick. Lunch, Medieval Banquet, Bed & Breakfast
Day 14 (Sat 8)
An early start to have time to stop in the scenic village of Adare
for photographs, where the main street is lined with delightful
thatched cottages, en route for Tralee and what many consider
to be the most scenic area of the Irish west - the Dingle Peninsula.
We stop to see the strange beehive houses of Fahan before reaching the
very west end of the peninsula to visit the Blasket Island Centre
for lunch and learn about the now uninhabited Blasket Islands and the many
famous writers who lived there.
There is free time to explore the lovely little town of Dingle, then a photo stop at The Inch beach where they filmed "Ryan's Daughter." Our hotel for the next three nights is located in the heart of downtown Killarney.
First of 3 nights - Randles Court Hotel, Killarney. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 15 (Sun 9)
Today we drive around the famous Ring of Kerry where our first
stop is The Red Fox Restaurant, known for its special Irish Coffee,
and then we see a sheep round-up at Kells.
After lunch (included) at The Old School House near Cahirciveen,
we visit The Skellig Experience where we learn about the works and
quite amazing lives of the Skellig monks of the early Christian period. On
a tiny, inhospitable, offshore island, just across the water from here,
they created a community which existed for over 600 years.
En route back
to Killarney we have stops at the attractive villages of Waterville
(favourite visiting place
of Charlie Chaplin), Sneem, and at Molls' Gap for the
magnificent view of the Killarney Lakes.
Second of 3 nights in Killarney. Lunch, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 16 (Mon 10)
A free morning in Kilarney. Everything depends on the weather for this day, so that we can get the best out of the beauty of Kerry. The possibilities for the morning are a walk (or you may prefer to rent a bicycle or ride a pony and trap) to the famous Gap of Dunloe, or just spend the time exploring the delightful little town of Killarney.
We meet up after lunch in Killarney to visit Muckross House and its
gorgeous Gardens, one of the highlights of the area, and known for
its magical parkland setting beside the lower Killarney Lake. Built around
1840 for Major Herbert, the M.P. for Kerry, it was designed by the great Scottish
architect, William Burn. When Major Herbert ran into financial
difficulties, it was bought by the Guinness family who rented it out to
wealthy hunting parties. Since the 1960's it has been magnificently
restored and is, today, one of the best-known attractions in the country.
There is a possibility of a special show-night in Tralee (not
Last of 3 nights in Killarney.
Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Day 17 (Tue 11)
Fortunately, there is a lot more to Blarney than just the Blarney Stone, located at the top of the tower in Blarney Castle! Today you may get your chance to kiss it and "never be lost
for words again" as the saying goes. Blarney Castle was
originally a hunting lodge built in the 10th Century, although the
present-day construction was completed in 1446. You can also visit the
nearby beautiful Rock Close and Gardens in the castle
grounds, which is laid out on a pre-historic Druid site with several
remains, such as a megalithic tomb, a sacrificial altar, and a
Lunch will be at the Blarney Woolen Mills Visitors Centre,
after which we continue to Kinsale, one of the most popular,
colourful, and picturesque fishing resorts on the south-west coast
of Ireland. With its maze of narrow streets close to the water, it
seems that little has changed here for hundreds of years. It has
earned a reputation as the gourmet centre of Ireland. The Battle of
Kinsale in 1601 was a turning point in Irish history. The afternoon
is free to enjoy this fascinating small town.
Overnight - Actons Hotel, Kinsale. Dinner,
Bed & breakfast
Day 18 (Wed 12)
We depart for Cobh (pronounced Cove), which is built on
Great Island, one of the three large islands in Cork harbour from where
the great Transatlantic liners used to sail until the 1950s. It was called
Queenstown for decades before reverting to its old Irish name in 1922,
thus we see the "The Queenstown Story" in the Cobh Heritage
Centre which tells how hundreds of thousands of hungry and penniless
Irish men and Women left from here to build a new life, especially after
the Famine years of 1844-48. On the quayside is a memorial to the victims
of the Lusitania which was sunk off Kinsale in 1915 by a German
submarine. It was also from here that the Titanic set sail on her fateful maiden, and last, voyage, the story of which is beautifully told in the Museum.
After lunch in Cobh we depart for Waterford to visit the famous Waterford
Crystal. At the Visitors Centre we see how the crystal is produced,
from molten crystal through to finished masterpieces.
First of 2 nights - The Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Kilkenny. Dinner, Bed & breakfast
Day 19 (Thur 13)
A short walk to visit Kilkenny Castle, the finest Norman castle
in Ireland. It was first constructed in 1172 as a wooden tower built by an
Anglo-Norman known as Strongbow during the Norman invasion of Ireland. In
1391, it was bought by the Butler family, the Earls of Ormonde, whose
descendants lived there continuously until 1935. This influential Norman
family had established an alliance with the English Crown in the
fourteenth century which continued throughout most of the 700 years they
inhabited the castle.
Sadly, in 1955, the Butlers decided to leave the Castle, and held a
great auction of all the interior items in the castle. After five days of
auction only the family collection of paintings and tapestries remained.
The castle was then abandoned for nearly 20 years until, finally, Arthur
Butler, the 24th Earl of Ormonde, handed the Kilkenny Castle over to the
National Castle Restoration Committee for the nominal sum of 50 Irish
After you have seen the castle the rest of the day is free
to explore Kilkenny, with its noted 'black abbey', two cathedrals,
and a very interesting Design Centre.
Last of 2 nights in Kilkenny. Dinner, Bed & breakfast
Day 20 (Fri 14)
This morning we visit Glendalough, set in a beautiful valley
with two lakes. This is where St. Kevin founded a monastery in the
6th-century, and from this beginning the site grew to become famous as a
centre of learning throughout Europe. The settlement continued to expand
for 600 years until it was destroyed in 1398, and the buildings which
remain date from that time, the most famous being the largest,
best-preserved, Round Tower in Ireland.
We depart for lunch (included) in Avoca, better known as TV's "Ballykissangel".
Here, we visit the Avoca hand weavers, established in 1723, and
Ireland's oldest business. This family-owned craft design company, which
now has half a dozen branches throughout Ireland, originated in Avoca
village, where you can watch the hand weavers who produce the lovely woven
woolen rugs and fabrics which became the hallmark of the company. You have
free time to explore until we must depart,
along the coast, for our hotel just north of Dublin.
Overnight - Carlton Hotel nr Dublin Airport.
Lunch, Dinner, Bed & breakfast
Day 21 (Sat 15)
End of Land Package.
Depart for Dublin Airport for return flights to North America.
Day 21 (Sat 15)
Please inquire about this if you are interested in an additional day at the end of the tour in order to have the Full-day tour to Newgrange, a World Heritage Site Megalithic passage tomb built over 5,000 years ago. The tour company could pick you up and deliver you back to the hotel.
2nd night at Dublin Airport Hotel
Day 22 (Sun 16)
End of Land Package.
Depart for Dublin Airport for return flights to North America.
**It could also be possible to fly in a day earlier and do this Full-day trip a day ahead of the tour, especially if you are doing the combination of The West Country Tour first. If you wish to spend the additional two nights in Dublin, Royal Heights is offering a special package between the two tours at a cost of $400 which includes airfare and two nights B&B in Dublin.