Highlights include Dublin, Westport, Killary Harbor Cruise, Galway, The Burren, Dingle Peninsula, Irish National Theatre, Kinsale and more.|
Day #1 Overnight Flight - Begin your discovery of “Authentic Ireland,” and delve into the ancient and contemporary history, culture and scenic wonders of Ireland.
Day #2 Dublin, Ireland - Tour Begins - Your tour begins today in Dublin. Start your exploration of Ireland with a delightful panoramic sightseeing tour of Dublin. See O’Connell Street, Grafton Street, Trinity College and Dublin’s magnificent rows of Georgian town homes. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at The Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub, for a traditional Irish meal and an entertaining discussion on Irish folklore.
Day #3 Dublin - Croagh Patrick - Westport - Depart Dublin, traveling through central Ireland to Strokestown Park. A guided visit of the park features the restored 18th-century Georgian mansion and 4-acre pleasure garden with its famous herbaceous border, as well as the Famine Museum, which documents the hardships experienced by tenant farmers during the Great Irish Famine. Continue to the base of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain, where Saint Patrick fasted for 40 days in 441 AD. Learn about this pilgrimage site at the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre and see the nearby National Famine Monument. Overnight in the “heritage town” of Westport.
Day #4 Westport - This morning, enjoy a guided walking tour of Westport. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore Westport and its environs at your own pace. You may wish to return to nearby Croagh Patrick for a hike to its summit, plan an exciting cruise on Clew Bay where you can discover some of its 365 islands, or visit the Westport House and Park where you can explore this lovely manor house and its grounds. An optional guided excursion is available to nearby Achill Island.
Day #5 Westport - Killary Harbor - Galway - Enjoy a delightful day of sightseeing in the Gaelic-speaking Connemara region, known for its sweeping views of boglands, misty mountains and picturesque seaside villages where the locals maintain their Irish language and traditional lifestyles. Enjoy a delightful cruise* on Killary Harbor, the only fjord in all of Ireland. Next, visit the 19th-century Kylemore Abbey, home of Benedictine nuns. Continue to Spiddal where you will visit an Irish craft village featuring handicrafts including traditional instruments, jewelry, woodturning and Irish language-themed items. Your day ends in the lovely city of Galway.
Day #6 Galway - Aran Islands - Galway - This morning, a brief panoramic tour introduces “The City of Tribes.” Then, step back in time with a visit to the Aran Islands (weather permitting). Following a quick ferry ride, a guided sightseeing tour introduces the rich language, culture and heritage of this unique region. A visit is included to the prehistoric hill fort, Dun Aengus, situated against dramatic sea cliffs. This evening, spend some free time exploring Galway's lively pedestrain area.
Day #7 Galway - Limerick - Tralee - This morning, travel through the vast limestone landscape of the Burren, known for its stark beauty and Neolithic tombs. Visit Dysert O’Dea Castle and the Dysert O’Dea Archeology Trail, containing ruins that date back 3,000 years - including Romanesque churches, high crosses, tower houses, stone and earthen forts and holy wells. Your exploration of western Ireland continues with a panoramic tour of Limerick showcasing King John's Castle and Treaty Stone. Learn about the fascinating history of the "city of the violated treaty." Your journey ends in Tralee, renowned for its annual international beauty pageant, the Rose of Tralee, where all girls of Irish decent are eligible for the title. Tonight, relax by the fire during a Gaelic lecture.
Day #8 Tralee - Dingle Peninsula - Tralee - Travel one of the most majestic coastal routes in the world, the Dingle Peninsula. Spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean await you along the 32 mile Slea Head drive. See charming coastal villages such as Ventry, Dunquin and Ballyferriter. In the distance you will see the once inhabited Blasket Islands. Learn about the Blasket islanders and their unique literary achievements during a tour of the Blasket Island Centre.
Day #9 Tralee - Lough Hyne - Clonakilty - Kinsale - This morning, travel through one of the loveliest portions of the Ring of Kerry and the pretty town of Kenmare. Next, enjoy an eco-tour of Lough Hyne salt water marine lake and nature reserve. Discover the unique life forms that reside here in Ireland’s only salt pond. Continue to a farm house in the lovely town of Clonakilty on Ireland’s south coast where you will enjoy an Irish baking demonstration. Of course, you’ll get to sample the cook’s creation during a home-cooked lunch. End your day in the magnificent town of Kinsale, Ireland’s culinary capital, known for its fresh seafood.
Day #10 Kinsale - Enjoy a full day experiencing the charms of Kinsale. Begin your day with a locally guided tour of the town, including a stop at Charles Fort. Your afternoon is free to relax or perhaps enjoy one of the local pubs or superb restaurants. Explore the unique art galleries, antique shops and boutiques.
Day #11 Kinsale – Rock of Cashel - Kildare - Dunboyne - Depart the south coast today and head to the Rock of Cashel for a visit to the historic spot where St. Patrick preached and, as legend has it, rid the Emerald Isle of snakes. Continue to County Kildare to visit the Irish National Stud. The tradition of pedigree horse breeding dates back centuries in this region. Your visit includes a guided tour of this historic home to the world's finest thoroughbred horses, as well as the Japanese Garden. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner with your traveling companions in the village of Dunboyne just outside of Dublin.
Day #12 Dunboyne - Tour Ends - Your tour ends today in Dunboyne.