14 Night Around Ireland Tour

Day 1: Arrive Dublin

Arrive Dublin Airport and meet with your experienced Irish driver/guide. All of the drivers we use are qualified guides and have great personalities that really will make your trip unforgettable. Travel into Ireland’s capital city and visit Trinity College which houses the famous Book of Kells, transcribed by 9th century monks. Continue on to a more modern attraction, The Guinness Storehouse, which tells the 250 year story of one of Ireland’s greatest exports. At the end of the tour, sample a pint of “The Black Stuff” whilst enjoying 360 degree panoramic views of the city from the Gravity Bar. After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free for individual sightseeing. In the evening, why not enjoy dinner at one of Dublin’s superb restaurants followed by an evening’s entertainment at one of the lively pubs. Overnight Dublin BB

Day 2: Dublin to Belfast

After breakfast, we leave Dublin to discover the historic and archeological treasures of the Boyne Valley, first visiting the ancient Celtic site of the Hill of Tara, then Trim and Kells Heritage Towns. Trim’s 12th Century Castle featured in the film Braveheart and Kells is famous for its 8th Century monastic settlement, Book of Kells and Celtic High Crosses. We will also visit the 5000 years old Megalithic tombs at Newgrange. Travel northwards, through the vibrant town of Dundalk, Carlingford - a magical medieval village full of character- and along the coast to Belfast. Overnight Belfast DBB

Day 3: Belfast to Derry

We depart for one of Europe’s most magnificent coastlines where its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms – The Giant's Causeway. Included on the World Heritage site list since 1986, The Giants Causeway is a prime example of earth’s evolutionary history and contains rare and superlative natural phenomena. It lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau. Geological studies show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity some 50–60 million years ago. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. The dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland. A guided walking tour has been arranged. After the visit, travel on to Derry where, after checking in to your hotel, you will take an inner city guided tour. The historic walled city of Derry, also known as Londonderry, came into existence in 546 AD, when St. Columba founded a monastery beside the River Foyle. It is the fourth largest city in the island of Ireland, and the only one whose ancient walls survive intact. Stroll along the walls and visit the Tower Museum, which charts the history of the city from its beginnings right up to the 1970s. Overnight Derry DBB

Day 4: Belleek Pottery

Today we visit the Belleek Pottery Factory, one of the most enduring success stories of Irish craftsmanship. Situated in an imposing Victorian building, our tour will take us behind the scenes covering all parts of the pottery making process from mould making to kiln firing. En-route back to Derry, visit the Ulster American Folk Park, an open air museum which reconstructs the mass emigration from Ulster to North America in the 18th & 19th century. Follow the emigrant trail as you journey from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship leading to the log cabins of the American Frontier. Meet an array of costumed characters on your way with traditional crafts to show, tales to tell and food to share. Overnight Derry DBB

Day 5: Derry to Westport

This morning we visit the Donegal County Museum in Letterkenny. The Museum’s first floor exhibition charts the history of Donegal from Stone Age to the 20th Century. Next, south through the unspoilt countryside of County Donegal and follow the coastline to explore the gentle beauties of Sligo, visiting gracious Lissadell House And Gardens, celebrated in the writings of Sligo’s great poet W. B. Yeats. We will visit sites which inspired some of his works and his final resting place before traveling onwards to the Heritage town of Westport. Overnight Westport DBB

Day 6: Westport to Galway

After breakfast, a short drive to Westport House & Gardens, a fine example of an early 18th century Georgian mansion. Built on the ruins of Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley’s 16th century castles, the mansion is complete with original antiques, dungeons and waxwork displays. The house’s early 20th century gardens have been spectacularly restored and redeveloped to include one of the largest sets of old farmyard buildings in Ireland. Onwards to Galway travelling via Cong, the site of many scenes from the classic 1952 movie The Quiet Man (John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald). A short walking tour to see some of the places that appeared in the movie with guide will be arranged. Overnight Galway DBB

Day 7: Connemara

Today explore another of Ireland's famous scenic regions, Connemara. Here the constantly-changing cloud formations give hills, lakes and peat bogs an added dimension. Travel alongside Galway Bay to Spiddal where most locals speak the Irish language. Pass the granite hills and sparkling lakes of the Inagh Valley on the way to Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord. Visit such places as Kylemore Abbey and its Walled Garden, Dan O’Hara’s Heritage & History Centre and Connemara Celtic Crystal Factory where you can watch skilled craftsmen cut the crystal and learn about the symbolism of the motifs, before returning to Galway for some leisure time before dinner. Overnight Galway DBB

Day 8: Burren & Cliffs of Moher

Today drive through the Burren, an area of limestone rock covering imposing majestic mountains, and tranquil valleys with gently meandering streams. With its innate sense of spiritual peace, extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, and megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt's pyramids, the Burren creates a tapestry of colour and a seductively magical aura which few people leave without wanting to experience again. Continue along the coastline of County Clare to view the Cliffs of Moher. This wall of limestone rises to heights of almost 700 feet above the churning Atlantic swells. Visit the Atlantic Edge Exhibition which brings to life the story of the Cliffs of Moher, presenting geology, wildlife & human aspects of the Cliffs in an entertaining manner. Return to Galway. Overnight Galway DBB

Day 9: Galway to Killarney

After breakfast, journey through the town of Ennis and onwards to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. One of Ireland’s most complete and authentic medieval fortress’ in Ireland, it contains furnishings, tapestries and works of art from the 15th century. The Folk Park, set on 26 acres, is a stunning recreation of 19th century Ireland featuring various types of farmhouses, a church, walled garden and village street complete with pub, post office & various shops. In the afternoon, travel via what is known as the prettiest village in Ireland, Adare, with its thatch roofed cottages and ancient church, abbey & priory, to Killarney. After checking in to your hotel, explore this mid 1700’s town and modern shops. Overnight Killarney DBB

Day 10: Gap of Dunloe

The day begins with a coach ride to Kate Kearney's Cottage where, after partaking of suitable refreshments, you will travel through the 7 mile Gap Of Dunloe mountain pass on horse-drawn trap, or on foot if so desired, to Lord Brandons Cottage on the shore of the Upper Lake. The Gap of Dunloe, hewn two million years ago by giant, slow moving ice is probably the finest example of a glaciated valley in Western Europe. It is a narrow pass in the the mountains of the McGuillycuddy Reeks mainly between the Purple Mountain on the left and the Bull Mountain. Here you travel along the winding pathway alongside 5 "Loughs". After passing the first lake, The Black Lake, so called because of its depth, the first of many bridges are crossed and then the Echo Lake which inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem to "set the wild echoes flying". After lunch depart by boat through each of Killarney's three lakes, arriving at the 15th Century Ross Castle, where your coach awaits to return you to your hotel. Overnight Killarney DBB

Day 11: Dingle Peninsula

After breakfast, travel to the Dingle Peninsula and see some of the glorious scenery for which this region is renowned and made famous by such movies as "Ryan's Daughter" and "Far & Away". See the long, sandy stretches of Inch Strand and admire views across the bay to the Iveragh Peninsula. Make a brief stop in the charming town of Dingle before continuing to the westernmost tip of the peninsula and visit the Blasket Centre which tells the story of the Blasket Islands, whose last inhabitants left in 1953. See beehive huts where early Christian monks lived and visit the Gallarus Oratory, dating from the 8th century. It was built without mortar using vaulting techniques developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. Overnight Killarney DBB

Day 12: Killarney to Waterford

This morning, travel to Blarney where, at Blarney Castle, you may kiss the stone which according to legend will give you the “gift of eloquence”. There will be time to visit Blarney Woollen Mills, renowned for their quality Irish merchandise, or take a walk around the charming village green. Onwards to Cobh Heritage Centre, located on the site where hundreds of thousands of mostly hungry and penniless Irish men and women left to build a new life especially in the Famine years of 1844-48. Cobh was also the last port of call for the Titanic on its fateful voyage. Michael Martin, author of ‘The Titanic Trail’ or one of the experienced guides will give a guided tour of the most relevant areas of this small harbour town on the Titanic Walk. Travel to Waterford via the beautiful coastal route. Overnight Waterford DBB

Day 13: Waterford to Dublin

Visit the recently opened (June 2010) Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre to see the cutting and polishing of this fine product and also the excellent display of trophies and stemware in the showrooms. Head north to Kilkenny with its intriguing medieval streets and buildings and enjoy the stunning scenery on your way to the ancient monastic settlement at Glendalough that was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century, before traveling onwards to Dublin. The Glendalough Valley is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park and is renowned for its Monastic Site with Round Tower to its scenic lakes and valleys. There will be no doubt as to why Wicklow is known as The Garden of Ireland once visited. Overnight Dublin DBB

Day 14: National Stud and Jameson's Distillery

This morning you will head westward to The National Stud and Japanese Gardens. Established in 1946, the Irish National Stud combines an active role in the development and promotion of Irish bloodstock with its role as one of the country's major tourist attractions and it is the only stud farm in Ireland open to the public. Having celebrated its centenary year in 2010, The Japanese Gardens are recognised as the finest of its kind in Europe and along with Saint Fiachra's Garden, also here, are not to be missed. After lunch, return to Dublin and visit the Old Jameson Distillery. Re-live the story of John Jameson & Son through the history, the atmosphere and above all the taste. You will discover the time honoured secret of how three simple ingredients - water, barley and yeast - are transformed into the smooth golden spirit that has always been and continues to be Jameson Irish Whiskey. In the evening, a visit to The Abbey Tavern for a traditional 4 course Irish dinner (including an Irish Coffee) followed by an evening of authentic Irish entertainment of song, music & dance. Overnight Dublin BB

Day 15: Depart Dublin

After a final Irish breakfast, travel to Dublin Airport in time for your return flight.

BB = Bed & Irish Breakfast DBB = Dinner, Bed & Irish Breakfast