Day 1, Fri, May 14: United States to Dublin. Depart your hometown and take an overnight flight with Liam Stapleton across the Atlantic. Enjoy in-flight entertainment and meal service as you travel to start your vacation.
Day 2, Sat, May 15: Dublin Arrival & Sightseeing
After landing at Dublin Airport, complete customs and immigration formalities. Then your tour driver/guide will welcome you to Ireland and escort you and your luggage to the coach. Take an orientation drive around Dublin city center with a local guide. Dublin is one of the liveliest capitals in Europe but there are plenty of historical places also. See the main thoroughfares of O’Connell Street and Nassau Street, the shopping streets and some lovely public parks. Visit Kilmainham Gaol to see what punishment was like during its years of operation from 1796 to 1924. Learn about political prisoners, especially from the 1916 Rising, detained here because of their efforts to shape Ireland’s history. Then drive to your hotel and check in. After settling in, join your fellow travelers for a welcome drink in your hotel followed by a free evening where you can choose from the many restaurants, theaters and pubs that Dublin offers. Overnight: Mont Clare Hotel, Dublin.
Day 3, Sun, May 16: Malahide Castle & Botanic Gardens
This morning drive to the north of the city to visit Malahide Castle, first built in 1185 by the Talbot family who lived there until 1975. The Castle has been remodeled over the years and today is filled with medieval artifacts and family portraits. Also take a stroll around the delightful gardens. Then visit the National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin, Ireland's premier botanical and horticultural establishment that attracts gardeners and non-gardeners alike. Occupying a beautiful forty-eight acre site on the banks of the Tolka River it contains over 20,000 different plant species and cultivars including many exceptional specimens. There are some lovely trees, many outstanding displays of shrubs and perennials and, of course, the famous glasshouses, including Turner's magnificent curvilinear range. Return to Dublin where your afternoon is free for independent activities. This evening drive to the town of Rathfarnham to Taylor’s Three Rock for dinner followed by a lively show of traditional Irish songs, dancing and music. Overnight: Mont Clare Hotel, Dublin.
Day 4, Mon, May 17: Rock of Cashel & Titanic Trail
Depart Dublin and see some of the countryside and farmlands as you drive through the center of Ireland. Drive through Kildare, the center for horse breeding and through some marketing towns to Cashel. Make a photo stop at the Rock of Cashel, a huge outcrop with many ecclesiastical ruins which trace the history of Christianity in Ireland. Continue your drive south past the gentle slopes of the Galtee Mountains. Stop Cobh, the harbor town for large ships. Enjoy a guided walking tour, the Titanic Trail, which will show you around the streets revealing locations and incidents directly connected to the Titanic and many other historical aspects. The actual building in which the White Star Line Office was will be visited as well as the very pier where Titanic passengers departed from. St. Colman’s Cathedral, the Holy Ground, and the site of the landing of Lusitania victims are all pointed out to the visitor and interspersed with a multitude of emigrant, military and maritime history. Drive a short distance to your hotel in Cork city. Enjoy some time to relax or explore before dining in the hotel restaurant. Dinner & Overnight: Kingsley Court Hotel, Cork.
Day 5, Tue, May 18: Blarney & Muckross Gardens
Today drive a few miles outside of Cork to Blarney to visit the Blarney Woollen Mills, which has an excellent range of Irish products of all types, and will ship and insure goods for you. You will also have time to browse around the village, charmingly set around a large village green. Then journey west through rugged countryside to Killarney, widely celebrated for its setting overlooking lakes and mountains. Visit the beautiful Muckross Gardens for a scenic stroll. Situated at Killarney National Park, the gardens are world famous for their beauty. Many tender and exotic trees and shrubs flourish in the mild climate and sheltered location of the gardens. As you stroll you will see a fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, an outstanding rock garden on a natural rock outcrop and beautiful tree fringed lawns. Head to your Killarney hotel with time to look around town before joining your group for dinner. Dinner & Overnight: Killarney Towers Hotel, Killarney.
Day 6, Wed, May 19: Dingle Peninsula & Blasket Centre
Today discover the beauties of the Dingle Peninsula, made famous by David Lean’s movie, “Ryan’s Daughter.” Drive along the south shore of the peninsula for plenty of vistas of heathery mountains, sandy stretches of beach and rocky headlands. There will be frequent stops at strategic locations to admire the views and take photos. Stop in Dingle before continuing to the western tip of the peninsula. Visit the Blasket Centre in Dunquin to learn about the Blasket Islands, inhabited until 1953 by hardy families who eked out a living by farming and fishing. Return to Killarney with some leisure time before dinner. Dinner & Overnight: Killarney Towers Hotel, Killarney.
Day 7, Thu, May 20: Bunratty Folk Park & Adare
Leaving Killarney and drive to the village of Adare, famous for its attractive main street of thatched houses and colorful gardens. Check into your hotel before you travel to the Shannonside region where many castles and Shannon Airport are located. Arrive in the village of Bunratty and visit the Bunratty Folk Park, which comprises a collection of farmhouses from different regions of Ireland and a 19th century village street with a pub, school, general store and many other buildings where traditional lifestyles and crafts are demonstrated. This evening drive to Athea, Liam’s hometown for an authentic and charming Irish night. Enjoy a fun filled meal at a local restaurant with your group. After dinner, join in some true Irish “craic” (good fun) by gathering a nearby pub for an after dinner drink and camaraderie. Overnight: Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel, Adare.
Day 8, Fri, May 21: Coole Park & Galway
Leave Adare traveling through Ennis and Gort. Stop to visit Coole Park. This was the site of Coole House, home of Lady Gregory, who was a founder of the Abbey Theatre. The house no longer stands but you can see the remarkable ‘autograph tree’, a copper beech where famous literary figures carved their initials. Continue north around the shores of Galway Bay to Galway, a bustling city with a unique Irish flavor. Then check into your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. You may choose to relax in your hotel or spend some time around Eyre Square, the hub of the city. Most of the shops are within easy reach and there are also many quaint pubs where Irish traditional music is played. Tonight join your fellow travelers for dinner in the hotel restaurant. Dinner & Overnight: SAlthill Hotel, Galway.
Day 9, Sat, May 22: Tour to the Aran Islands
Today visit the Aran Islands, which are located in Galway Bay 30 miles west of Galway city. Irish is still the vernacular in this isolated setting and the islanders retain many traditional ways of farming and fishing. The land is extremely stony and the islanders have formed dry stone walls to protect the windswept fields. The popular hand-knit aran sweaters evolved from unique patterns used by each family and the oiled wool repelled the rain. Take a ferry from Rossaveal on the mainland to Aran Mor, the largest of the three islands. Travel around the island by minibus with a local driver who will explain many of the island traditions to you. At the western end of Inis Mór visit Dun Aengus. This vast fortification is perched on the side of a cliff that falls to the Atlantic Ocean 300 feet below. The site consists of three concentric enclosures and dates back to 1,000 BC or earlier. Return to Galway in time for dinner. Dinner & Overnight: Salthill Hotel, Galway.
Day 10, Sun, May 23: Knock Shrine & Dunboyne
Drive north to visit the pilgrimage town of Knock, one of the world's leading shrines. On the 21st of August, 1879, Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. This Apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. From this miraculous occurance Knock has grown to the status of an internationally recognised Marian Shrine. The personal pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II in 1979, commemorating the centenary of the Apparition, inspired an even greater devotion to the Shrine and endorsed the indelible seal of Vatican approval. Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in June of 1993. One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually. After spending some time at Knock continue your drive through farming country and marketing towns to the village of Dunboyne, just to the north west of Dublin, where your delightful hotel is located. Arrive in time to enjoy some of the facilities and relax in elegant surroundings. In the evening join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner and entertainment at the hotel. Dinner & Overnight: Dunboyne Castle Hotel, Dunboyne
Day 11, Mon, May 24: Return To the United States. Transfer to Dublin Airport in plenty of time to check in for your flight, clear security and claim your VAT refund. You may do some last minute shopping at the duty free stores. Then clear U.S. Immigration before boarding your aircraft and fly west across the Atlantic Ocean back to the United States.
Prices: Air & Land Fare $2995.00.
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