JOIN US ON THIS AMAZING IRISH MUSIC & HERITAGE TOUR AROUND IRELAND WHILE TAKING IN BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES ALONG THE WAY
Welcome To Ireland
Visit to Strokestown Park & Famine Museum
Strokestown 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 Westport & Enjoy and evening of Music in Matt Molloy’s pub in Westport
Overnight, bed & breakfast at your hotel in Westport.
This morning we depart Westport for Galway via Clifden & Connemara. 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.
Continue onto Galway City for an evening of music in a local Pub
The Cliffs of Moher & Burren Region
Today depart Galway for Ennis via 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 criss-crossed 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 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.
This Afternoon we will explore The 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 seastack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife.
An evening of music and CRAIC in local Pub in Ennis
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
This morning we depart Ennis for Dingle, in Co. Kerry. En route visit 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 splendour 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 we 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! Lunch at Durty Nellie’s – One of Ireland’s most famous pubs!
Continue on for Dingle via Limerick
This afternoon stop 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 Dingle Enjoy an evening at leisure in Dingle
Free day on Dingle Peninsula with Slea Head
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.
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.
Enjoy 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 Co. Kerry and Rossbeigh Beach. Spend the balance of your day at leisure in Dingle & Enjoy an evening of music & craic in Dingle.
Kenmare Bay & Highlights of the Ring of Kerry
This morning we depart Dingle for Kenmare via Ring of Kerry and Lakelands of Killarney. We will 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 to Kenmare.
This afternoon visit 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 & 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.
Tonight we will enjoy an evening of entertainment in Kenmare.
West Cork & Garnish Island
This morning we will depart Kinsale along the Beara Pensinsula to Glengarriff and take a short ferry ride to Garnish Island.
Visit to Garnish Island. The Harbour Queen Ferries provides a regular service to the Gardens of Ilnacullin on Garnish Island. Ferries depart from Glengarriff Pier every 30 minutes during the season (April 1 – October 31). The ferries are purpose built enclosed waterbuses 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 colouring 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!
This afternoon continue on to Kinsale through Bantry Visit to Bantry House & Gardens. 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 cafe is open in the house during the season.
Arrive in Kinsale and enjoy an evening of leisure in Kinsale.
Kinsale to Dublin via Rock of Cashel
This morning we depart Kinsale for Dublin via Co. Tipperary En route visit 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.
Arrive in Dublin and check into our hotel. Enjoy an evening of leisure in the pubs of Dublin.
Overnight, bed & breakfast at our hotel in Dublin
Dublin’s Fair City
This morning we will explore Dublin – Ireland’s Capital City. 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 colourful 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 the first 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 centre 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.
Lunch – under own arrangements
Enjoy the balance of your afternoon at leisure in Dublin city centre This evening enjoy a night of entertainment in Temple Bar
Overnight, bed & breakfast at our hotel in Dublin
Today we go and drink Guinness and Jameson.
Guinness Storehouse. The Guinness Brewery in Dublin is Europe’s largest stout producing brewery and home to the 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 your 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.
Menus include local foods such as Ardsallagh goat’s cheese, Irish mussels from Carlingford and the Waterford Blaas bread supplied by MD Bakery in Waterford. 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.
Old Jameson Distillery.
The Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield Village is located in the heart of Old Dublin. This old barley storehouse, once the centre 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 you 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.
The Musical Pub Crawl
This evening enjoy the 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 is led by two professional musicians who 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 the group 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!).