DISCOVER THE TRUE EMERALD ISLAND ON THIS GREAT IRISH MUSIC & HERITAGE TOUR ALONG IRELANDS WILD ATLANTIC WAY
Welcome to Ireland
Enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin City, discovering the north and south side of the River Liffey. This area offers great striking monuments such as the GPO (General Post Office) on the city main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street, or the Custom House along the quays, as well as the Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe.
The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian squares, such as Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found (today owned by an American College), its colorful doors, along with Grafton Street and its quality shops.
Not so far from St. Stephen’s Green, in Kildare St., you will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. 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 Trinity College
Trinity was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory and is the oldest University in Ireland.
The Campanile, erected in 1852, was built on what is believed to be the center of the monastery. Built to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families, restrictions were imposed to prevent Catholic from attending courses.
These restrictions were not fully lifted until the 1970’s. Trinity however admitted women in 1902, earlier than most British universities.
Most of the main buildings off the main square were built during the Georgian period, some of which replaced older buildings. Within its walls, you will be able to admire Parliament Square and its 18th Century edifices.
Trinity College has had many famous students such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett who later became a lecturer in French at the university.
The Inter-denominational Church is very much worth a visit, should it be open during our visit.
Visit the world famous Guinness Storehouse
Opened in 1904, the Storehouse was an operational plant for fermenting and storing Guinness. Today it houses a very fine exhibition dedicated to the Guinness story.
Visitors will discover what goes into the making a pint of Guinness – the ingredients, the brewing process, the time, the craft and the passion. The exhibition shows how the brew has been marketed and how it is today sold in over 150 countries.
Once the tour has finished our group is invited to the Gravity Bar to enjoy their pint of Guinness. Regular demonstrations on the art of pulling a pint of Guinness also take place in the Storehouse.
Launched on the fifth floor in 2011, “Five” at Guinness Storehouse, includes a small replica authentic Irish Bar, an 18th Century inspired Brewers Dining Hall, and a restaurant named Gilroy’s where guests enjoy a Guinness gastronomical experience driven entirely by the Irish tradition of wholesome local produce.
This area will host from time to time live cooking demonstrations using Guinness in the recipe and it includes an interactive recipe sharing bank that allows visitors to take Guinness recipe cards home.
Visit to Old Jameson Distillery
The Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield Village is located in the heart of Old Dublin.
This old barley storehouse, once the center of Distilling in Dublin, was renovated in 1998 and converted into a museum where all the secrets of Irish whiskey’s distillation will be revealed.
An audio-visual show will introduce the history of this spirit and it is followed by a guided visit which will take our group through the various stages of whiskey distilling from grain intake to malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation and finally bottling.
The visit culminates in the Jameson bar with an opportunity for all to taste the signature Jameson drink.
During the visit a number of volunteers are selected to take part in a tasting session to compare a Jameson whiskey with a Scottish Whisky and American bourbon. Participants will receive a Diploma for their achievement.
Enjoy a Musical Pub Crawl
A great way to experience the Dublin pub scene and the rich heritage of Irish music is to venture on the Musical Pub-Crawl.
The tour will be led by two professional musicians who will perform tunes and songs, while telling the story of Irish Music. The tours normally start in St John Gogarty’s Pub in Temple Bar.
This can be changed to suit our groups requirements. Lasting 2 hours approximately, the group will have plenty of time to enjoy the music while enjoying a drink (in each pub of course!). This evening join a session in Temple Bar
Kinsale with Rock of Cashel
Depart Dublin for Cork via Tipperary Visit to Rock of Cashel.
Possibly the most photographed site in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel towers over the town of Cashel from its perch on a 200-foot high outcrop of limestone.
Once the seat of the Kings of Munster. St. Patrick visited the rock in 450, while Brian Boru was crowned the first high King of Ireland here in the tenth century.
Granted to the church in the twelfth century, by the O’Brien clan, today the impressive stone walls enclose a round tower, a cathedral, a twelfth century Romanesque chapel and high crosses.
The Vicars Choral has been recently restored and its basement houses a small museum of artefacts found on the site. One of the leading visitor attractions in Ireland, in 2011 it was visited by Queen Elizabeth II on her historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland. A guided tour is strongly recommended.
Continue onto to Kinsale in Co. Cork, Check into our hotel. Spend an evening enjoying music in The Spaniard Inn.
West Cork with Garnish Island
This morning we depart Kinsale for Kerry via Skibereen & Bantry in West Cork.
Visit to Bantry House & Gardens (please note this is only open April – October)
Bantry House is the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry. The title lapsed in 1891 but the House is still owned and lived in by the direct descendant of the 1st Earl of Bantry, Egerton Shelswell-White and his family. It has been open to the public since 1946.
The House has an important collection of art treasures mainly collected by the 2nd Earl of Bantry on his Grand Tour. The treasures include a unique collection of French and Flemish tapestries, furniture, and carpets and objects of art.
The Garden is laid out in the Italian style over seven terraces, with the house sitting on the third terrace. A Parterre was created facing south surrounding a wisteria circle which again surrounds a fountain.
From there rise the famous Hundred Steps, a monumental staircase built of local stone, set amidst azaleas and rhododendron.
From the top garden at the top of the stairs, stunning views over Bantry Bay await the visitor. Bantry House hosts a number of events including classical and traditional music festivals, food festivals, outdoor theatre, and is a popular location for filming. A small café is open in the house during the season.
Continue along the Beara Pensinsula to Glengarriff.
Ferry ride to Garnish Island
Visit to Garnish Island (Ferry & Garnish Island only running from April – October).
The ferries are purpose built enclosed water buses which will whisk you to the island in safety and comfort. Garinish is a unique Island that plays host to a multitude of plant variations, and the blanket of Summer coloring which covers the Island creates a rainbow of color.
The Island has a wonderful history and its unusual micro climate allows a range of exotic subtropical plant species to flourish.
There are a number of walks and interesting buildings on the Island. On route to the Island you will enjoy the magnificent views of the bay and also pass Seal Island with its colony of harbor seals. The seals are very photogenic and are happy to pose for photos!
Continue on to Kenmare in County Kerry.
This morning we will explore the scenic area of Kenmare.
Visit to Star Outdoors for the Kenmare Bay Experience Cruise on Kenmare Bay – See seals, castles and get history of salmon from hatching on Kenmare River to Ocean & back. (Duration approx. 45 minutes).
Salmon Smokery Tour – Demonstration & including tasting (Duration max 30 minutes).
Lunch – Buffet of local Kenmare Bay fish products from mussels to white fish options, local meat products such as corned beef, black pudding etc, local cheeses, honey, brown bread.
Alcoholic and soft drinks, Tea / Coffee can be added at a supplement per person. (Duration 1 hour) Total time for full experience can be from 2 to 2.5 hours.
Dingle Peninsula via Ring of Kerry
Enjoy a short stop at two of the Ring of Kerry’s most spectacular beauty spots.
Molls Gap and Ladies’ View– Molls’ Gap is a spectacular photographic viewing point on the famous Ring of Kerry Tour. The visitor is presented with a magnificent view of Death 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. Continue onto Dingle Peninsula for lunch at Sammy’s Restaurant on Inch Beach – a long beach bordered by dunes and made famous by David Lean’s movie “Ryan’s daughter,” admire the Iveragh Peninsula and Rossbeigh Beach.
Some of the finest coastal scenery to be seen in Ireland can be found in West Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula, the most northern of the Kerry Peninsulas.
This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and Christian churches. It is also a ‘Gaeltacht’ (Irish speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved.
Dingle town itself is a thriving fishing town and offers plenty of opportunity for shopping or simply savouring the atmosphere of a typical country Irish town with its plentiful pubs, narrow streets and busy harbour.
The road around the Peninsula is truly spectacular. It passes through a chain of Mountains, called Slieve Mish… Enjoy an evening of entertainment in Dingle.
Dingle Peninsula – Slea Head
Free days coaching to explore the Dingle Peninsula starting with Slea Head – From Dingle, drive around the coast to Slea Head.
Here the blue of the marine landscape surrounds the Blasket Islands, deserted since 1953. In the distance are the two rocky Skellig islands, where the ruins of an early Christian Monastery can be found.
The Dingle Peninsula will charm you with its villages painted in bright colors and will bewitch you with the dramatic beauty of its landscapes.
Beehive Huts & Dunbeg Fort
The road between Dunquin and Slea Head is dotted with beehive huts, forts and church sites.
Prehistoric Dunbeg Fort is on a cliff top promontory with a sheer drop to the Atlantic and has four outer walls of stone.
Inside are the remains of a house and a beehive hut as well as an underground passage.
Beehive huts are circular stone buildings shaped like a beehive which was lived in by the Kerry monks.
Lunch at Paudi O’Se’s
Continue around the peninsula exploring some of Ireland’s nicest & picturesque local shops, pubs, cafes etc. Return to our hotel in Dingle.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Today we will depart Kerry towards County Clare.
En route to Clare, stop in Limerick for a visit and Irish coffee at Foynes Flying Boat Museum.
From 1939 to 1945 Foynes was the centre of the aviation world for air traffic between the United States and Europe. Located 35 km west of Limerick city on the Shannon estuary, the Foynes Museum recalls this era with a comprehensive range of exhibits and graphic illustrations.
The museum features the original Terminal Building including the authentic 1940’s cinema; the Radio and Weather Rooms, complete with transmitters, receivers and Morse code equipment. The exhibits feature an introduction to the first transatlantic passenger service from Foynes during the war years and the only full sized replica B314 flying boat.
Irish Coffee was invented in Foynes. Chef Joe Sheridan made the first in 1942 to warm up some damp and miserable passengers. Since then Irish Coffee has become one the most popular welcoming drinks in the world.
Continue onto County Clare for Lunch at Durty Nelly’s – One of Ireland’s most famous pubs!
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is one of the most complete and authentic medieval castles in Ireland.
Built in 1425 and plundered on many occasions, it was authentically restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendor and now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings and tapestries capturing the mood and the style of the times.
The castle hosts evening medieval banquets and takes the participants back to the time that the castle entertained its visitors with fine food, wine and song.
Within the grounds of Bunratty Castle is Bunratty Folk Park where 19th century life is vividly recreated.
Set on 26 acres, the impressive park features over 30 buildings in a ‘living’ village and rural setting. Meet and chat with the Bean an Ti (Woman of the House) and various street characters including the Policeman and Schoolteacher.
Enjoy the tastes, scents, sights and sounds of this enchanting place as you stroll from house to house or around the charming village complete with school, post office, doctors house, hardware shop, printers and of course the pub!
Music in local pub in Ennis.
Cliffs of Moher
Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, 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.
To the south of the cliffs is Hag’s Head and was once the site of a castle. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’ Brien’s Tower.
Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle), built a Tower at the cliffs in order to enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The Tower is adjacent to the sea stack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife.
Continue onto Doolin for lunch and a session.
Doolin is a charming small seaside village on the north-west coast of County Clare ~ set against the rugged Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by the spectacular bare limestone landscape of the Burren. Traditionally a fishing village, Doolin is now renowned world-wide as the traditional music capital of Ireland.
The Burren region
The Burren, part of which forms the 100 square km Burren National Park, is a unique place. It is a Karst limestone region of approximately 300 sq. km, which lies in the North West corner of Co Clare.
It is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern. This pavement is crisscrossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and rivers which suddenly flood when it rains.
The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 12th century.
You will discover small villages abandoned during the famine period and green roads on which you can walk for miles without ever seeing a car.
The flora on the Burren is a mixture Arctic and Mediterranean and rare flowers such as gentian, orchids and bloody cranesbill are the rule rather than the exception. The Burren is truly an exceptional part of Ireland.
Continue onto Galway for an evening of music in a local pub.
This morning you will explore the Connemara region.
Connemara is 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 little 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.
Visit to Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey is located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara.
A. 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 bought the house in 1920, having fled their convent in war-torn Belgium in 1914. They established a private school for young girls, which today is the renowned Kylemore Abbey International School for young girls.
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.
This afternoon we will depart Connemara towards Westport in County Mayo, through the coastal town of Clifden. Enjoy and evening of Music in Matt Molloy’s pub in Westport!
Strokestown Park & Famine Museum
Today we will depart Westport for Dublin via County Roscommon and visit Strokestown Park & Famine Museum.
Park was built by Thomas Mahon MP (1701-1782) on lands which had been granted to his grandfather, Nicholas, in the latter half of the 17th century for his support in the British colonial campaign.
It was the family home of the Mahon family until 1979.
The house provides a fascinating glimpse into the Anglo-Irish ascendancy. Many rooms are on show including a schoolroom and a child’s bedroom, complete with 19th century toys and mirrors.
The Famine Museum is located in the original Stable Yards of Strokestown Park House.
It was designed to commemorate the history of The Great Irish Famine of the 1840’s and in some way to balance the history of the ‘Big House’.
Whereas the landlord class had the resources to leave an indelible mark on the landscape, the Irish tenants lived in poverty and nothing of a physical nature has survived to commemorate their lives.
Continue to Dublin to enjoy an evening of music at a local pub.