ALL OF IRELAND – SELF-DRIVE – 12 DAY TOUR
Tour Categories: SELF-DRIVE/PRIVATE TOURS WILD ATLANTIC WAY TOURS
THIS SELF DRIVE TOUR HAS YOU EXPLORING THE VARIOUS FACETS OF IRELAND & EXPERIENCING THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES OF THIS "EMERALD ISLAND"!
Welcome to Ireland
Transfer to your Dublin hotel under own arrangements. You are free to explore the city at your leisure this afternoon. Your hotel will be within walking distance of the city center.
Ireland’s Midlands, Blarney Castle & Kerry
Depart Ireland’s Capital traveling to County Kerry. En route stop in the town of Blarney to visit Blarney Castle. Here you will find the legendary Stone of Eloquence. Kiss it & you’ll never again be lost for words. Enjoy some time for shopping at Blarney Woollen Mills.
The presence of the Woollen Mills during the famine shielded Blarney from the worst effects of the famine, due to its employment of local workers. In 1976 Chris Kelleher, himself a mill worker, bought the old mill property.
Within a short period of time Chris & his family transformed the mill into what is perhaps the largest quality craft shop in Ireland.
The Ring of Kerry
Today you can enjoy a superb tour of the Iveragh Peninsula, which will give you the opportunity to discover the Ring of Kerry. Taking in spectacular scenery such as mountains, peat, bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Leaving Killarney pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair, then to Glenbeigh where the cliff road affords panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula & Dingle Bay. Passing through the peat bogs one arrives at the sea town of Waterville. Continue to Sneem Village, famous for its brightly colored houses.
Along the Ring of Kerry stop at a local farm for a sheepdog demonstration. Your visit starts with an overview of the different breeds of sheep, followed by an introduction to the farmer’s most important tools, his border collies.
Next you will see a superb demonstration of sheep herding as the farmer with his dogs demonstrate how, by working together, he can take a flock of sheep from the mountain top to the sheep pen close to the farmyard.
The road continues through the mountains to Molls Gap & Ladies View with superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney. Next today enjoy transportation of a different kind!
Optional : Jaunting Car Ride in Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park
A pony and trap (also known as a Jaunting Car) helps you discover areas of Killarney National Park that you might not otherwise visit. Relax aboard a jaunting car as your Jarvey [driver] takes you through the magnificent scenery of the National Park.
The Burren & Cliffs of Moher
Travel northwards to Tarbert & take a short boat ride across the mouth of the river Shannon to land on Clare’s shore at Killimer. Travel along the coast to the Cliffs of Moher, the most majestic cliffs in Ireland which rise from the Atlantic Ocean & extend for over 7km. On a clear day, you can admire the Aran Islands & Connemara Mountains. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’Brien’s Tower, built by the descendants of Brian Boru to entertain his lady friends. A visit to the tower is also possible.
Atlantic Edge is the exciting new interpretive centre built into the natural landscape in the cliffs. Enjoy a tour of the Burren Region. The Burren is a strange & unique region in Europe; it is a high plateau of porous limestone situated in Northern Clare. The limestone is bare with no trees growing here or land covering the stone.
But the Burren is not as deserted as we believe: the cracks allow different types of flowers to grow all year round. The rocks hide many caves like Ailwee as well as “Turloughs”, an interesting phenomenon which transforms lakes into fields during the summer. Continue to Limerick.
Banquet at Bunratty Castle. – Optional Extra
Bunratty Castle was built in the 15th century by the Earl of Thomond & stands on the banks of the Raite River in County Clare. The Earl was known for his generosity and his lavish entertainment & banquets.
The entertainment today is provided by the superb Bunratty Singers & is a fitting compliment to the lively mead reception, a four-course meal & of course good wine. Guests are invited to enjoy an unforgettable evening in the splendor of this magnificent castle & take a true step back in time to Medieval Ireland.
Galway City & The Lough Corrib Cruise
This morning travel to Galway City & get oriented with this beautiful place which has attracted many musicians & artists. Visit Galway Cathedral, one of the largest & most impressive buildings in Galway built between 1958 & 1965.
Next enjoy a cruise along Lough Corrib including scones & an Irish coffee.
This journey on the Corrib Princess takes passengers along the majestic Lough Corrib and onto the lake. Visitors will see unsurpassed views of the historic monuments & natural amenities that make this one of the most spectacular waterways in Ireland.
The cruise sails from Woodquay in the heart of Galway City & lasts approx. 90 minutes. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Today travel through the beautiful Connemara Region, a land of lakes & rivers, bogs & mountains, & small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language.
It is without doubt the wildest & most romantic part of Ireland. Enjoy some time at leisure in Connemara National Park. The park encompasses 2,957 hectares of rugged quartzite & schist terrain of north Connemara from sea level at Letterfrack to some of the peaks of the Twelve Bens Mountains.
Visit Kylemore Abbey, built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, and see its most famous feature the miniature Cathedral. It has been home to the Irish order of Benedictine nuns since 1920.
Next you will visit a bodhrán maker (traditional Irish drum). Roundstone Music and Crafts is located in a former Franciscan monastery in Roundstone, in the heart of Connemara.
It is here that you will find the workshop of Malachy Kearns, better known as Malachy Bodhrán, who is famous for the manufacture of bodhráns, the oldest instruments that accompany traditional Irish music. Malachy makes bodhráns for the world famous Riverdance troupe.
Sligo, Derry & Donegal
Today travel to Donegal via County Sligo. See the beautiful scenery which was an inspiration for W.B. Yeats, who is buried at Drumcliffe Churchyard, under loaf-shaped Benbulben Mountain.
Belleek Pottery Factory
Visit the Belleek Pottery Factory & see first-hand how this world renowned pottery is created. The factory tour allows visitors to see the pottery being removed from its molds, being fired & decorated by the Belleek artists. Continue on to Derry City.
Walled City of Derry
Upon arrival meet with your English speaking guide & enjoy a Walking tour of the Walled City of Derry. Founded in the 6th century by St. Columba, Derry is the 2nd largest city & port of Northern Ireland.
In 1613 the city was selected as a major plantation project, organised by the London livery companies. It was in this year that the walls of Derry were built to protect the town from the Gaelic chieftains in Donegal.
Donegal to Belfast
This morning depart Donegal and travel along the Antrim coast to Belfast, visiting the Giants Causeway en route.
The Giants Causeway
The Causeway was formed more than 60 million years ago when red-hot lava erupted onto the surface of the earth & was cooled by the sea to form the columns which make up the Giants Causeway.
Legend tells a different story however that Finn Mac Cumhaill built the causeway over the sea to Scotland in order to fight his arch enemy, Fingal, who had started his own path. The two had never met before & when Finn heard the heavy footsteps of Fingal he turned back.
Helped by his wife, Finn dressed up as a baby & when Fingal arrived & saw Finn, Fingal assumed the baby’s father would be much bigger. This scared him & he went running home, destroying the causeway behind him.
The Dark Hedges
Next stop at the Dark Hedges. This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century.
It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.
Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.
In fact, the iconic trees have been used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones®, representing the Kingsroad. Continue to Belfast and check into your hotel.
Belfast & the Titanic Experience
This morning enjoy a guided tour of Belfast City. This is an excellent way to discover Belfast City & will take in the leaning Albert Memorial Clock Tower (Ireland’s answer to the leaning Tower of Pisa) & the Opera House, as well as passing City Hall, the Crown Bar (dating from 1885), Queens University & the Botanic Gardens.
Some tours will also visit the Harland & Wolfe Shipyard, where the Titanic was built & launched in 1912. A visit to the Shankill & Falls road will be of interest as it will give the visitor an indication of how life was in Belfast during the troubles. Visit the Titanic Experience Belfast.
Located in the heart of Belfast, the Titanic Belfast recreates the story of the world’s most famous ship in a new iconic, six floor building right beside the historic site of the original ship’s construction.
Opened to coincide with the centenary, the self guided tour begins upon entering the buildings giant atrium where visitors are surrounded by the four “ship’s hull” shaped wings which house the Titanic Experience. You will uncover the true story of the Titanic from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900’s through her construction & launch, to her famous maiden voyage & subsequent place in history through nine large galleries full of interactive exhibitions.
Highlights include views of the slipways where the Titanic was launched & the voyage to the bottom of the sea in the unique Ocean Exploration Centre. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure in Belfast City.
This morning depart Belfast and travel to Dublin. En route visit Slane Distillery.
There could be no finer setting in which to discover the nature of whiskey than Ireland’s mythical Boyne Valley. Housed within the 250-year-old stables of the iconic Slane Castle Estate, the guided distillery tour uncovers a history like no other.
The new state of the art working distillery pays homage to the resilient nature of Ireland’s heritage and the surrounding lands. Take a trip back in time as storytellers guide visitors through the fabric of the Conyngham family tapestry, chapter by chapter and immerse guests into the wonderful world of whiskey. Discover the ancient art of Irish whiskey making.
Explore the whiskey distillery where three different types of Irish whiskey are made: Malt, Grain and Pot Still. Learn about the process behind the triple casked blend, the craftsmanship that goes into each of the three casks and the flavours and aromas that each cask contributes to the whiskey’s smooth yet full bodied character.
Complete the interactive, immersive tour with a tutored whiskey tasting that allows one to assess this character for yourself by enjoying a sample of the signature triple casked blend, Slane Irish Whiskey. Continue on to Dublin.
OPTIONAL EXTRA: Evening Entertainment at Taylor’s Three Rock or similar
Visit this lively pub in Rathfarnham, 30 minutes from the city centre, for an excellent night of music and dance. A ballad group will regale visitors with ballads both happy and sad and will (after a few pints) have visitors singing along with them. The music is interrupted for a short while to enjoy the best of Irish Dancing, guaranteed to get feet tapping. Visitors will leave with fond memories of a memorable night in a Dublin Pub.
Dublin’s Fair City
After breakfast with your English speaking guide, enjoy an orientation tour of the city. The North side of the river offers striking monuments such as the GPO (General Post Office) on the city’s main thoroughfare O’Connell Street or the Custom House along the quays, as well as Europe’s largest public park, the Phoenix Park.
The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian Squares, such as Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found, its colorful doors along with Grafton Street and its quality shops. This part of the city is also home to the house of Bram Stoker, Trinity College & the Medieval District.
Visit Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest University, founded in 1592 by Elisabeth 1st. Visit the ancient library, containing over 20,000 manuscripts & is home to the 9th century Book of Kells.
The 4 Courts overlooking the River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland
Last stop today will be a visit to Christchurch Cathedral. King Sitric Silkenbeard, the 1st Christian Viking King of Dublin, built the city’s first church on this site in 1038.The current building was built in 1172 by the Anglo-Norman Richard de Clare (Strongbow).
Similar to St Patrick’s Cathedral, it is adorned with funeral monuments, including the reputed tomb of Strongbow. Unlike St. Patrick’s however, Christchurch posses a crypt which stretches nearly its entire length & much of the Cathedrals memorabilia is displayed here. Attached to the Cathedral is Dublinia an excellent exhibition of medieval Dublin. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
Visit EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.
This is a state-of-the-art interactive experience located in the beautiful vaults of the 1820 Custom House Quarter building in Dublin’s Docklands, the original departure point for so many of Ireland’s emigrants.
It will inspire and guide you on a journey to discover the stories of Irish emigration around the world, from early times to the modern day.
Enjoy the rest of your final afternoon in Ireland at your leisure.