This vacation is ideal for first-time visitors to the Emerald Isle who have limited time to spare. Begin in Dublin with an overnight and an orientation drive that includes O’Connell Street, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Trinity College. Heading west, stop in Kildare at the Irish National Stud, in St. Patrick’s Cashel, and in Tipperary, made famous in the wartime marching song. On to Limerick for an orientation drive, then stop in Ennis for two nights. From here, an included excursion shows off stunning views from the Cliffs of Moher. Also enjoy Irish hospitality at Rathbaun Farm, where you’ll see a farmer shear a sheep and use a sheep dog to move his flock. Next, ferry across the Shannon estuary and travel around the famed Ring of Kerry. Spend the night in Killarney and stop in Blarney, famous for its magical Kissing Stone. In Waterford, visit the House of Waterford Crystal, see Ireland’s oldest handweaving mill at Avoca, cross through the Wicklow Mountains, and take a guided tour of St. Kevin’s 6th-century center of Irish Christianity in Glendalough. Return to Dublin for the conclusion of your Irish journey.
Day #1 Arrive in Dublin, Ireland. Céad míle fáilte! A hundred-thousand welcomes! Check into your hotel. At 3 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for an afternoon orientation drive through statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College. Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner at your hotel. (D)
Day #2 Dublin–Kildare–Limerick–Ennis. Horse-racing country this morning. Drive across the Curragh to visit the IRISH NATIONAL STUD at Kildare, whose fine thoroughbreds command respect on the racecourses of the world. Lots more to see: the Rock of Cashel, where St. Patrick preached; Tipperary, made famous in a wartime marching song; and Limerick, where an orientation drive acquaints you with St. Mary’s Cathedral, King John’s Castle, and the stone where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. Tonight’s suggestion for a very special night out: attend an optional banquet at Bunratty Castle. (B)
Day #3 Ennis. West Coast Excursion. Your day excursion along Ireland’s spectacular Atlantic coastline begins with a drive to the 668-foot CLIFFS OF MOHER, where you savor the breathtaking panorama of the Clare coast. A scenic route across the limestone plateau of The Burren takes you to Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with cobblestone streets, colorful shops, and a busy café and bar culture. This afternoon, a special treat: at RATHBAUN FARM, watch the farmer shear a sheep and maneuver a flock with the help of a sheep dog. Then, enjoy a [LF] TRADITIONAL TEA in the 150-year-old thatched farmhouse. (B)
Day #4 Ennis–Ring of Kerry–Killarney. After a short drive via Clonderlaw Bay to Killimer, cross the Shannon estuary by FERRY. Continue on to Killorglin on Dingle Bay to join the spectacular RING OF KERRY for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island’s southwestern tip. Take your photos of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View, then spend the night in the popular resort of Killarney. (B,D)
Day #5 Killarney–Blarney–Waterford. Across the Kerry Mountains and through County Cork to Blarney, renowned for its magical Kissing Stone. Time for lunch, to walk up to the castle, and to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts. In the afternoon, proceed via Cork to Waterford, a stronghold founded by the Danish Vikings, and look forward to a guided tour of the HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL. Before dinner, why not join an optional pub tour? (B,D)
Day #6 Waterford–Avoca–Dublin. An exciting agenda today: Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the Great Rebellion of 1798; Ireland’s oldest HANDWEAVING MILL at Avoca, where you watch the [LF] WEAVERS at work; the Wicklow Mountains; and GLENDALOUGH, the early Christian monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. See the engaging audiovisual Ireland of the Monasteries, then let your Local Guide show you the remains of this ecclesiastical settlement. Back in Dublin tonight, a fitting farewell to Ireland would be an optional cabaret evening with dinner, followed by dance, song, and laughter. (B)
Day #7 Dublin. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)