Ireland’s beauty has inspired romantics, poets and dreamers for centuries. Its towns and villages exude unforgettable charm, cheer, and the rich tapestry of Gaelic culture. Explore storied pasts in magnificent castles that dot the landscape, discover mysteries along Ireland’s stunning seascapes, emerald lakes and moss covered bogs on this tour to Ireland. Visit Dublin voted the 3rd friendliest city on earth, marvel at Waterford Crystal, and feast on Irish hospitality – it’s a country where locals love a chat. Start your conversation on this small group tour of Ireland.
Day 1 - Depart for Dublin, Ireland
Transfer from Calendar House to the airport and check-in for the overnight flight to Dublin, Ireland.
Day 2 - Arrive Dublin
Arriving at Dublin International Airport, you will be met by your local guide and escorted to your awaiting motor-coach. This morning, you will enjoy a tour of Dublin City; originally founded as a Viking settlement, Dublin has been home to the Irish Parliament since the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. On your tour, witness Georgian Squares with their 18th Century houses, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College with the Book of Kells, Phoenix Park (biggest town park in Europe), statue filled O’Connell Street and the fashionable Grafton Street. Later, no visit to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Brewery founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness. Here, you will enjoy a guided tour which concludes with a leisurely pint of Guinness in the 360-degree roof top bar while enjoying some spectacular views of Dublin City. After, check-in to the Camden Court Hotel for our overnight stay and Welcome Dinner.
Day 3 - Waterford
After breakfast, we depart Dublin and travel south to County Wicklow, known as The Garden of Ireland. Your first stop will be Powerscourt House and Gardens. Powerscourt House which was 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, you 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. Your tour continues through the beautiful Vale of Avoca to the Avoca Hand Weavers (the oldest in Ireland). We tour the weaving cooperative and get our own chance to try weaving!
Day 4 - Killarney
House of Waterford Crystal awaits today! See highly skilled local craftsmen demonstrate crystal blowing and cutting in the new state of the art visitor center. After, continue along the southern coastline to Blarney where you will have an opportunity to visit and kiss the famous Blarney Stone - said to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who dare. Following this adventure, continue to Killarney for a two-night stay in the Killarney Towers Hotel.
Day 5 - Dingle Peninsula
Today, you will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the Dingle Peninsula, once cited as the most beautiful place on earth by National Geographic. You will stop at the Brian de Staic studio in Dingle which specializes in Celtic jewelry. This jewelry is 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. Plus, we visit the westernmost point in Ireland where you can view the Blasket Islands. 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. You will have some free time in Dingle for lunch before returning to Killarney.
Day 6 - Galway
This morning, you bid farewell to Killarney and travel to Tralee, capital town of County Kerry and famous for The Rose of Tralee Festival. You continue to Tarbert where you board the Shannon Ferry and cross the Shannon Estuary to Killimer. From here, you travel the coast to the majestic Cliffs of Moher, which rise 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, from the Irish word ‘bhoireann’ meaning, ‘a stony place’ or ‘a rocky place.’ This is the perfect description for this 350 sq. kilometer limestone plateau in North Clare. Later, you continue along the shores of Galway Bay to Galway City and check-in to the Galway Harbour Hotel where we have dinner.
Day 7 - Westport
Today you depart Galway and travel through Connemara with an abundance 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. Kylemore Abbey is our next stop. Built in 1866, it was home to Benedictine Nuns from 920 to 2008. You can also visit the Abbey’s Victorian Walled Garden which is completely enclosed by a brick and limestone wall and beautiful Gothic Church. From here, continue through the scenic Doolough Valley taking in a stretch of road known as the famine walk and follow in the footsteps of the many people who left their home in search of food during the great famine. You will visit Glen Keen Farm and enjoy some freshly baked scones followed by a sheep herding demonstration. From here you continue by the foothills of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain to Westport. We unpack here for our two-night stay at the Hotel Westport.
Day 8 - Achill Island
After breakfast, travel to Mulranny and cross the Michael Davitt Bridge to Achill, Ireland’s largest offshore island. We follow the coastline and experience breathtaking views on the island’s spectacular Atlantic Drive and visit the deserted village at Slievemore. This village consists of 80 - 100 stone cottages (booley homes) on the southern slopes of Slievemore Mountain. There is a pub stop on Achill Island for lunch before returning to Westport, where you will have the remainder of the afternoon free. Take time to explore this picturesque town with its cheerful, multi-coloured shop fronts and an attractive selection of pubs, cafés and restaurants.
Day 9 - Dublin
Bid farewell to Westport this morning as we travel to the town of Knock, where Our Lady appeared in 1879, and has since become a great place of pilgrimage with thousands of people visiting each year. Then, continue to Dunboyne Castle Hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day 10 - Depart Dublin
After breakfast, we transfer to Dublin International Airport with fond memories, newly acquired accents and many stories. Upon arrival in the USA, we transfer to Calendar House. (B)