“Sessions From The Hearth” 12 Day Escorted Heritage tour, along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
“Sessions From The Hearth” 12 Day Heritage along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
Discover Ireland’s Spirit & Experience the stunning and varied landscapes of our country.
Day 1 – Welcome to Ireland
Arrive at Dublin Airport. Meet with your driver/guide.Enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin City. Here you will discover the north and south side of the River Liffey. On the north side you will be gazing upon a variety of striking landmarks such as the GPO (General Post Office) on the city main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street as well as the Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe.
While on the south side you can admire the beautiful Georgian part of the city with its beautiful colourful doors and Merrion Square at the forefront.
It is here that you can still findOscar Wilde’s House (today owned by an American College) and for those looking for some retail therapy, Grafton Street and its quality shops can be found just around the corner.
This part of the city is also dominated by the students of Trinity College, where the famous Book of Kells is permanently exhibited in its library. The university is facing the medieval district where Dublin Castle and the two Anglican Cathedrals can be found.
Visit – National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
The Natural History Museum in Merrion Street was opened to the public for the first time in 1857. This museum of museums is famous for its Victorian cabinet style, which houses one of the world’s finest and fullest collections still to be seen today.
Two million species, of which roughly half are insects, live side by side with, appropriately for a natural history museum, decorated and sculptured panels depicting mythological figures.
This zoological museum encompasses outstanding examples of wildlife from Ireland and the far corners of the globe, some to be seen today and others long extinct.- Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight: Dublin (Dinner & Bed & Breakfast at the Gresham Hotel).
Day 2 – Blarney Castle & Kerry
Depart Ireland’s capital travelling to County Kerry via County Cork
Visit – Blarney Castle – Attracting visitors from all over the world, Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney village, 8 km from Cork city. An ancient stronghold of the McCarthy’s, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles as well as being one of the strongest fortresses in Munster.
Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, the Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend.
The Castle gardens covering 60 acres of land are under constant change and over the past few years, a water garden, fern garden and poison garden have been developed and are all open to visitors.
Visit – Blarney Woollen Mills – Originally established in 1823, Blarney Woollen Mills now houses a large selection of Irish products ranging from sweaters and woollens to crystal and china. This famous store has something for everyone, you are sure to find gifts or souvenirs for all the family.
This evening enjoy dinner on your own in one of the many restaurants or pubs in County Kerry. Overnight: Kerry (Bed & breakfast at The Brehon Hotel, Killarney)
Day 3 – The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry (166km) is the most famous and panoramic route in Ireland. The astonishing beauty of this large peninsula, Iveragh, comes from the great diversity of its scenery, which offers incessant contrasts.
En route around the Ring, take in spectacular scenery – mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean as one travels along the coast road. Leaving Killarney pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair, then to Glenbeigh where the cliff road affords panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay.
Continuing to Cahirciveen, you’ll pass the birthplace of our National hero, Daniel O’Connell. Next, continue on through peat bogs to the town of Waterville. Continue to Sneem Village, famous for its brightly coloured houses.
The road then continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View with superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney, Molls’ Gap is a spectacular photographic viewing point on the famous Ring of Kerry Tour.
The visitor is presented with a magnificent view of The Black Valley. Close by is the famous Ladies View viewing point with gives a different perspective of this magnificent countryside, with the 3 Lakes of Killarney all surrounded by the Kerry Mountains. \
Ladies View received its name from Queen Victoria, who was so impressed with the view that she insisted that her ladies-in-waiting should also visit here.
Killarney Jaunting Cars – Step aboard a jaunting car and discover areas of the National Park that you might not otherwise visit. Relax aboard a jaunting car as your Jarvey [driver] takes you through the magnificent scenery of Killarney National Park.
The scenery is stunning and the trap will stop as often as you wish to facilitate you taking photographs.
This evening enjoy dinner on your own in one of the many restaurants or pubs in County Kerry.Overnight: Kerry (Bed & Breakfast at Benners Hotel, Dingle )
Day 4 – The Burren & Cliffs of Moher.
Depart County Kerry travelling to County Limerick via County Clare.
Visit – The Cliffs of Moher – Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren region, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km 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.
The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’ Brien’s Tower built by Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, to entertain his lady friends. A visit of the tower is also possible. The sweeping view across the Atlantic has recently been ranked the best ‘cliff-view’ on the planet by Conde Nast Traveler. The respected travel publication has voted the world-famous landmark at the top of a new chart of ‘ Nine Gorgeous Cliff Views That Rival The Grand Canyon’.
Atlantic Edge is the exciting new interpretive centre at the Cliffs of Moher and is built into the natural landscape. The centre is a huge domed cave that contains images, exhibits, displays & experiences exploring different elements of the mighty Cliffs of Moher: Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man. The visitor centre has a restaurant, shop facilities and ample coach and car parking.
The Burren – The Burren landscape covers over 150 square kilometres and is one of Ireland’s 6 National Parks. The region is visually similar to a moonscape, yet shelters a mixture of flora and archaeological sites which have attracted visitors for centuries.
Man came here over 6000 years ago, cleared the forests and set in motion soil erosion. Centuries of weathering has produced a terrain of fissured limestone pavements, disappearing lakes, terraced mountains, and underground cave systems. For millennia man has left his mark, megalithic tombs and cooking sites litter the pavements, while medieval tower houses and churches guard the valleys.
Today man is absent from most of the upland, leaving behind ancient field systems, route ways and place names. Today’s visitors to the Burren will find Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants growing together.
Included Event: Bunratty Medieval Banquet – Bunratty Castle, was built on the banks of the Rathy River and for over 40 years the ladies of the Castle, aided and abetted by the Earl’s Butler, have welcomed guests from all over the world to join them at The Earl’s Banquet.
The evening begins with a welcome drink of Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur or a glass of mead. Guests are then invited to dine in this homely traditional venue, where a traditional 4 course meal is served with musical accompaniment. This is followed by entertainment by the world renowned Bunratty Castle Entertainers accompanied by harp & violin. Overnight: Limerick (Bed & Breakfast at the Woodlands House Hotel )
Day 5 – Galway City & Cruise.
Depart County Limerick travelling to County Galway.
Visit – Galway Cathedral – The largest catholic church in Galway, the cathedral is located on Nun’s Island, on the west bank of the River Corrib near Salmon Weir Bridge. It was the last large church in Ireland to be made from stone, and features a huge octagonal dome that complements the skyline of the City of Galway.
The cathedral combines many features from different styles and periods of architecture. There are many treasures of art inside and outside. Erected on the site of an old jail, the parking lot of the cathedral contains a white cross in the pavement. It marks the site of the prison graveyard.
Corrib Princess cruises – The Corrib Princess sails from Wood quay in the heart of Galway city, along the famous Steamers Line, which is the lakes traditional trade route. The journey takes passengers along the majestic River Corrib and onto the lake providing visitors with a guided commentary on the historic monuments and natural amenities on this waterway that leads to the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland.
There is an abundance of wild life and the Corrib has a peace and tranquility all of its own. Guests will get to enjoy some traditional scones with tea/coffee plus the added bonus of an Irish coffee demonstration and tasting during the cruise. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight: Galway (Bed & Breakfast at Jury’s Inn Hotel )
Day 6 – Connemara Day Tour
Today you will explore theConnemara Region, a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains. A land of small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language and where little has changed since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland.
Connemara is a vast peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south ~ a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages. On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secret, with spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas.
Connemara is a real paradise for Nature lovers and those in search of strong emotions. In 1951, John Ford’s great movie “The Quiet Man” starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald was made, and filming was centred in the village of Cong on the Mayo-Galway border
Visit – Connemara National Park Visitor Centre – Situated in the west of Ireland in County Galway, Connemara National Park is one of six such national parks in Ireland, with scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. The visitor centre features include exhibitions, the ‘Man and the landscape’ multi-lingual audio visual show and tea room.
Visit – Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Co. Galway
Kylemore Abbey is stunningly located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. Mitchell Henry built the House in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area. The architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period.
One of Kylemore Abbey’s most famous features is its miniature cathedral, built in 1870 and known locally as the Gothic church. Today, the abbey is home to the Irish order of Benedictine nuns. They established a private school for young girls, which was the renowned Kylemore Abbey International School. The school only closed its doors back in 2010.
Facilities at Kylemore include a visitor centre, an exhibition housed in the main reception rooms of the house and a video which takes the visitor through the history of the house and its occupants. The Gothic church is available to visit and as a venue for choir groups to sing in.
If time allows guests can also visit the Kylemore Abbey Victorian Walled Garden. The garden was laid out in 1867 and took three years to complete.
This evening enjoy dinner on your own in one of the many restaurants or pubs in County Galway. Overnight: Westport, Co Mayo (Dinner, Bed & breakfast at The Wyatt Hotel,)
Day 7 – County Donegal via County Sligo
Depart County Galway travelling to County Donegal via County Sligo.
Visit – Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery – Carrowmore Cemetery has over 60 stone circle and passage tombs making it one of the largest Stone Age cemeteries in Europe.
It is also among Ireland’s oldest cemetery of megalithic tombs, with monuments ranging from an amazing 5,500 to 6,500 years old. Archaeologists have recorded over 60 tombs of which 30 are visible. A restored cottage houses an exhibition relating to the site.
Visit – Belleek Pottery – The world famous brand of Belleek pottery has its home in an imposing Victorian building in the village of Belleek on the river Erne.
Awarded a 4 star visitor attraction grading in 2013 and ‘Best Visitor Experience Of The Year 2014’ at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, it features a museum, tearoom, video theatre and a showroom.
The guided tour covers all of the production areas offering guests the possibility of meeting with the craftspeople, observing their craftsmanship working on the different handmade pieces (no production on Sundays).
As you walk through the museum you will experience the journey through the life of the Pottery from the early earthenware days to the present day fine translucent Parian China. No tours available on Sundays. Overnight – Donegal (Dinner & Bed & breakfast at the White Hotel Group)
Day 8 – Giants Causeway and Belfast.
Depart County Donegal travelling to Belfast City via County Derry.
Martin McCrossan’s Derry City Tours – Based in the heart of the historic city, the award-winning Martin McCrossan Derry city tours showcase the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland. These famous walls which date back to the early part of the seventeenth century have been a place of several sieges.
There are fine views from the top of the walls, which encircle the old city, a circuit of one mile. By walking on Derry’s Walls, you have splendid views of cathedrals and churches, you will learn about the historical events that shaped the city and explore attractions such as The Bogside, The People’s Gallery: The Murals, The Diamond, the Tower Museum and the Guildhall.
Visit – Giants Causeway Visitor Centre – Encounter Northern Ireland’s favourite giant Finn McCool at the Giants Causeway Visitor centre on the North Antrim coast. According to legend Finn McCool created the Giants Causeway by building stepping stones to Scotland to challenge the Scottish giant Benandonner!
In the visitor centre you will get to explore the major themes of mythology, geology, landscape, ecology, culture and social history based on the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The causeway consists of 40,000 basalt polygonal columns formed 60 million years ago after a volcanic eruption. There are various interactive exhibits, short video presentations and a self-guided visit will culminate with a spectacular two minutes audio-visual projection of a volcanic eruption flowing over the walls and onto the floor to enjoy.
To enhance your visitor experience, a hand held audio guide which will bring the wider World Heritage Site to life and inform you of unique features to look out for across this amazing landscape will be available.
A Causeway Coaster shuttle bus will be available to transport you between the Visitor Centre and the Giant’s Causeway at regular intervals. It is worth noting that in 2015, Conde Nast Traveler magazine included hopping the stones of the Giant’s Causeway as one of the ’50 things to do in Europe before you die’. – This evening enjoy dinner on your own in one of the many restaurants or pubs in Belfast City. Overnight – Belfast (Bed & Breakfast at the Clayton Hotel Belfast)
Day 9 – Belfast – Titanic.
Panoramic Belfast City Tour – A guided city tour is an excellent way to discover Belfast City. The tour will take in the leaning Albert Memorial Clock tower (Ireland’s answer to the Tower of Pisa) and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. Your tour will pass by the City Hall, the Opera house, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queens University and the Botanic Gardens.
Your tour will take in a visit to the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard, where the Titanic was built and launched in 1912. A visit to the Shankill and Falls road will be of interest as it will give the visitor an indication of how life was in Belfast during the troubles.
Visit – Titanic Belfast – Located in the heart of Belfast, right beside the historic site of the original ship’s construction, the Titanic Belfast recreates the story of the world’s most famous ship. Opened in April 2012 to coincide with the centenary of its launch, the self-guided journey begins on entering the building’s giant atrium, where the visitor is surrounded by the four ‘ship’s hull’ shaped wings which house the Titanic Experience.
As you journey through the nine large galleries of the interactive exhibition, you will uncover the true story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900’s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and subsequent place in history.
Highlights include breath taking views to the slip-ways where the Titanic was launched and the Voyage to the bottom of the sea in the unique Ocean Exploration Centre with live links to contemporary undersea exploration. The centre includes restaurants and the Titanic Store for a shopping experience. – Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure in Belfast City. Overnight – Belfast (Bed & Breakfast at the Clayton Hotel Belfast)
Day 10 – Dublin City via County Down and County Kildare.
Depart Belfast City traveling to Dublin City via County Down and County Kildare.
Visit – Castletown House – Castletown is Ireland’s largest and earliest Palladian style house, and was built between 1722 and 1729 for William Connolly, speaker of the Irish House of Commons and the wealthiest commoner in Ireland. The façade was almost certainly designed by the Italian architect, Alessandro Galilei, while the Irish Architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce added the wings.
Included Event: Merry Ploughboy Irish Music Pub – The Merry Ploughboys live in concert is widely regarded as the best traditional music show in Dublin and also as a must see for any visitors to the city. The show is a highly entertaining performance of live traditional Irish music, song and Irish dancing. From start to finish, this is a show based on fantastic interaction between the performers and the audience. Overnight – Dublin (Bed & Breakfast at the Trinity City Hotel)
Day 11 – Book Of Kells & Christchurch Cathedral.
Visit –Trinity College – Book of Kells – Trinity was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory and is the oldest university in Ireland. It has had many famous students pass through it such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett who later became a lecturer in French at the university.
The Old Library built by Thomas Burgh in the 18th century houses one of Ireland’s most illustrious books, the 9th century “Book of Kells”. In 2015, the Conde Nast Traveler magazine included visiting the Book of Kells as one of the ’50 things to do in Europe before you die’.
Visitors will also be invited to visit the Long Room built in 1745, which was once the principal library of the University but now contains over two hundred thousand books and manuscripts of the Trinity’s oldest volumes.
Brian Boru’s harp said to be the “oldest harp in Ireland” and a copy of the 1916 proclamation, one of the most important documents relating to Irish history are also on display here.
Visit – Christchurch Cathedral – King Sitric Silkenbeard built Dublin’s first (wooden) church on this site in 1038. He was the first Christian Viking king of Dublin. The Anglo-Norman Richard de Clare (Strongbow) built the current building in 1172.
Ravaged by time it was almost fully restored towards the end of the 19th Century. Like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it is adorned with Funeral monuments, including the reputed tomb of Strongbow, its founder and Ireland’s first Norman Conqueror.
Unlike St Patrick’s, however, Christ Church possesses a crypt, which stretches under almost its entire length and much of the Cathedrals memorabilia is displayed here. Choral services are sung four times per week during term time either by the professional mixed-adult Cathedral Choir or by the Cathedral Girls’ Choir.
Audio-guides are available to hire, which give a detailed tour of the cathedral including excerpts of the cathedral choir singing. – Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure in Dublin City or optional visit to Experience Gaelic Games. Overnight – Dublin (Bed & Breakfast at the Trinity City Hotel)
Day 12 – Tuesday, May 29th. 2018 Farewell.
After a final Irish breakfast transfer to Dublin Airport for your departure flight home.