B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Wednesday, 3 July - Arrive Dublin; Welcome Reception
On arrival at Dublin airport, clear customs and transfer (based on arrival time) to your city center hotel. Following hotel check in the remainder of the afternoon is free to rest. This evening we will regroup and enjoy a welcome reception with light hors d’oeuvre and wine in your hotel. Overnight: The Academy Plaza Hotel. Dublin.
Thursday, 4 July - Dublin City (B)
This morning we tour Dublin - Ireland’s capital city on the banks of the River Liffey. You will see The Georgian Squares with their 18th Century houses, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Phoenix Park (the biggest town park in Europe), statue filled O’Connell Street and the fashionable Grafton Street. You will also see Trinity College which houses the Book of Kells. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Dublin on your own. You may wish to visit The National Museum, the National Art Gallery or browse through some of the city’s many interesting shops or just enjoy a Guinness and a chat in a local pub. Overnight: The Academy Plaza Hotel.
Friday, 5 July - Powerscourt House and Gardens; Glendalough; Avoca; Waterford (B,D)
This morning we depart Dublin and travel south to County Wicklow known as The Garden of Ireland. Our first stop will be Powerscourt House and Gardens. Powerscourt House, badly damaged by fire in 1974 has been refurbished and opened to the public. The gardens at Powerscourt were laid out when the house was rebuilt in 1731. From here we continue to Glendalough (Valley of Two Lakes) where you travel back in time to the 7th century with a guided tour of this remarkable early monastic settlement. Our tour continues through the beautiful Vale of Avoca to the Avoca hand weavers (the oldest in Ireland) and in a guided tour, experience this very old craft. From here, travel to Waterford City where we will check into the Granville Hotel and enjoy dinner this evening in the hotel’s award winning Bianconi Restaurant.
Saturday, 6 July - House of Waterford Crystal; Queenstown Story; Kinsale (B, D)
This morning visit the House of Waterford Crystal and see highly skilled local craftsmen demonstrate crystal blowing and cutting in the new state of the art visitor center. Continue along the southern coastline traveling through Dungarvan, Youghal and Midleton to Cobh. Cobh was one of the main points of emigration during the great famine and was also the last port of call of the Titanic. Here you visit “The Queenstown Story” which portrays the hardship of life on board ship as it sailed to the “New World”. Annie Moore, the first ever emigrant to be processed on Ellis Island when it officially opened on 1st January 1892 also left from Cobh with her two brothers. Next stop is Kinsale where we check into the Trident Hotel overlooking Kinsale Harbour. Kinsale is a historic fishing town on the southern coastline of County Cork. It has some old cobble stone streets and many interesting shops and pubs. It is also renowned for its restaurants and is known as the gourmet capital of Ireland. This evening we will enjoy dinner in the hotel’s Savannah waterfront restaurant.
Sunday, 7 July - West Cork – Mizen Head – Bantry - Killarney (B)
This morning depart Kinsale and travel along the southern coast line to Skibbereen. We continue to Ballydehob and from here to Mizen Head - the most southerly point of Ireland. Here we will visit the award winning Maritime Museum and Heritage Attraction. You can also take a ten-minute walk along the path, down the 99 steps and across the Arched Bridge over the crashing waves to the Lighthouse. Following this adventure, we travel to Bantry and continue over the Caha Pass to Kenmare. From here, we continue to Killarney taking in a 20-mile stretch of the famous Ring of Kerry. This evening we will check into our centrally located Killarney Plaza Hotel for a two night stay.
Monday, 8 July - Killarney – Muckross House (B)
This morning, you will travel in traditional style on board an Irish Jaunting Car to the Killarney National Park. Your journey winds its way through some of the oldest oak forests in Ireland and by the famous Lakes of Killarney to Muckross House and Gardens. Here you will have a guided tour of this Victorian Mansion built in 1843, and one of Ireland’s leading stately homes. This afternoon you are free to enjoy the town of Killarney which has a variety of shops, pubs and restaurants. Other leisure activities include bike riding, guided walks and more. Our coach will be available throughout the day for transfers to attractions.
Tuesday, 9 July - Dingle Peninsula (B,D)
Today you will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the Dingle Peninsula, once cited as 'the most beautiful place on earth' by the National Geographic. You will stop at the Brian de Staic studio in Dingle which specializes in Celtic jewelry, handcrafted and engraved with ancient Celtic symbols and the letters of the ogham alphabet, an ancient Irish form of writing. As you continue around Slea Head you will get some breathtaking views of the Atlantic coastline and see some beehive huts (early monastic settlements) dating back over a thousand years. Your tour will take you to the most westerly point of Ireland where you can view the Blasket Islands and visit the Blasket Center which tells the story of the Blasket Islanders, their culture and tradition. You will also see the locations for such films as Ryan’s Daughter and the more recently filmed Far and Away which starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Following some free time in Dingle, we continue to Tralee where you will check into the Ballyseede Castle Hotel. The castle is set on 30 acres of native woodland and is steeped in history dating back to the 1500’s. This evening we will have dinner while enjoying the magnificent surroundings of the castle’s restaurant. Watch out for Hilda the friendly ghost.
Wednesday, 10 July - Shannon Ferry – Cliffs of Moher - Galway (B)
This morning bid farewell to Ballyseede Castle and travel to Tarbert where we board the Shannon Ferry for a 25 minute crossing on the Shannon Estuary to Killimer. From here you take the coast road to the majestic Cliffs of Moher which rises to a height of 600 ft over the Atlantic Ocean. Following some free time to view the cliffs, your tour continues through the lunar type landscape of the Burren Region and along the shores of Galway Bay to Galway City. This evening we will check into our centrally located Hotel Meyrick overlooking Eyre Square for a two night stay.
Thursday, 11 July - Connemara (B)
This morning embark on a tour of Connemara. Connemara is made up of mountains, lakelands and boglands. Because of its wild and rugged beauty it has been the location for many films. “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O Hara and in more recent times “The Field” starring Richard Harris. The scenery is both magical and is a paradise for artist and photographer alike. Your tour will include a visit to Kylemore Abbey, built 1866 and from 1920 to 2008 was home to the Benedictine Nuns. You will visit the Abbey’s Victorian Walled Garden which is completely enclosed by a brick and limestone wall and the beautiful Gothic Church built by Mitchell Henry in memory of his wife who died four years after the castle was constructed. You continue to Cong which was one of the main locations for the Quiet Man film. In Cong, you will also see a 14C cross and the ruins of Cong Abbey founded in 1128. From here we travel along the banks of Lough Corrib, the largest lake in Ireland and return to Galway City. Overnight: The Hotel Meyrick.
Friday, 12 July - Galway City – Rathbaun Farm - Dublin (B,D)
This morning following a leisurely breakfast, you will have some free time to wander through the charming old cobbled stone streets of Galway City. You will experience the history and appreciate the blend of past and present with modern day shops housed in century old buildings. In the early afternoon you will travel to Rathbaun Farm. Here you will get a glimpse into the daily workings of a sheep-farm, see the animals, feed the lambs, talk to the family and explore the farmyard. The farm owner Fintan Connelly will also give a demonstration of sheep shearing and sheep herding. You can spend some time in the thatched cottage and smell the turf fire. Before you leave you will enjoy home baked freshly prepared scones, soda bread and tea. From here you travel across the country and return to the capital city of Dublin where you will check into the Academy Plaza Hotel. We gather this evening for our farewell dinner and bid farewell to everyone.
Saturday, 13 July - Dublin – Return Home from Dublin (B)
Sadly, it’s time to return home. Group transfers will be provided based on departure flight times.