9 Night North of Ireland Knitting & Craft Tour

Day 1: Wednesday 15th April 2015, Dublin Arrival

Begin your tour with a transfer to your hotel (for arrivals prior to 12 Noon). At 2pm enjoy a panoramic guided tour of Dublin and visit the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History where you catch a glimpse of how Irish people in the past lived. Recreated rooms show characteristic furniture styles from the 17th century through to the refined splendour of Georgian Ireland to the high style of the 19th century. Of Particular interest to you may be the textile exhibition ‘The Way We Wore’ which exhibits the typical Irish clothing and jewellery worn from the 1760s to the 1960’s. Take a guided tour through parts of Dublin Castle, which was the seat of government for many years and today plays a leading role in political activities. Areas you will visit include the Chester Beatty Library which contains rate manuscripts, miniature paintings, and decorative arts and the Chapel Royal, the official chapel of the Household of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1814 until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. The remainder of the day will be free for you to explore the city at your leisure before meeting back at the hotel for your welcome dinner. Overnight in the Ashling Hotel Dublin (or similar), Dinner, Bed & Breakfast included.

Day 2: Thursday 16th April 2015, Tapestry Weaving & Linen Factory Tour.

Leaving Dublin the group will travel to Drogheda to meet Aine Dunne a tapestry weaver and artist, resident and working from the Boyne Valley. With Aine and her team, you will enjoy a Spinning & Tapestry Hands-on Workshop; here you will be introduced to hand spinning sheep’s wool by using a drop spindle and try your hand at weaving a sample piece on a four-sided tapestry frame loom. During your time with Aine you will gain insight into her designs, weaving methods and work schedule.  After your visit, we will take you for a hearty lunch in a local restaurant. Then it is on to Banbridge in Northern Ireland to visit the Thomas Ferguson Linen Factory for a guided tour. Linen was an important industry in Ireland, particularly in the North of Ireland. So much so that its capital Belfast was fondly known as 'Linenopolis'! On your guided tour you will witness first hand all elements of Linen production from the design, weaving and hemming to the final finishing touches and ornamentation. Finally, travel the short distance to your hotel in Belfast and settle in for the night.  This evening why not check out some of Belfast’s many lovely restaurants and bars. Overnight in the Tara Lodge Hotel Belfast (or similar), Bed & Breakfast included. 

Day 3: Friday 17th April 2015, Belfast City & Kings Hall Craft Exhibition

Tickets have been included in your package price to attend The Creative Craft Show in Belfast’s Kings Hall. Here you will find local suppliers from all over Ireland displaying products for Decoupage, Embroidery, Beading, Textiles and Mixed Media. There will also be a number of free craft demonstrations throughout the day. In the afternoon return to Belfast to explore the sights of the city at your leisure. We certainly recommend visiting the Titanic Experience and perhaps the Ulster Museum & Botanic Gardens. Overnight in the Tara Lodge Hotel Belfast, Bed & Breakfast included. 

Day 4: Saturday 18th April 2015, Northern Ireland Sightseeing; Giant’s Causeway and Derry City

Check out of your hotel and set off on a tour of the Causeway Coast from Belfast as far as the wonderful Giant’s Causeway. En-route you will visit the remains of Dunluce Castle which is perched dramatically close to a headland that plunges directly Sea! Next stop in Derry City which is Ireland’s last surviving walled city. Here take a fascinating Guided Walk through history with a local knowledgeable tourist guide. Travel the short distance to Letterkenny in Donegal where dinner will be waiting for you. Overnight at the Radisson Blu Hotel (or similar), Letterkenny, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast included.

Day 5: Sunday 19th April 2015, Knitting Workshop with Edel MacBride, Slieve League Cliffs & Studio Donegal

Today travel the short distance to Edel MacBride’s studio Enjoy a Core Workshop with Irish Designer Edel MacBride including yarn pack, working the best of Irish moss, cable and Edel’s favourite Aran stitches and finishes with a couple of excellent Aran facilitators from Edel's sampling team. Hear about the history of Irish Lace with an opportunity to learn to Crochet Irish lace. Talk to Edel MacBride about the design process and Donegal yarn she recommends with an opportunity to buy Exclusive Knitfield kits including patterns written by Edel MacBride. After your visit and some lunch, continue to Studio Donegal, a hand-weaving and clothing manufacturing business committed to preserving and promoting traditional Irish hand-weaving. Here you will see the process of hand-weaving from start to finish including the spinning, warping and weaving of the wool. Finally visit the Sliabh League Cliffs, one of the highest cliffs in Europe to enjoy some amazing views. Overnight at the Radisson Blu Hotel (or similar), Letterkenny, Bed & Breakfast included. 

Day 6: Monday 20th April 2015, Belleek Pottery, Enniskillen Castle & The Sheelin Lace Shop

Check out of your hotel and travel to Sligo, on your journey visit the Belleek Pottery Visitor Centre. Here a guided tour takes you through all aspects of pottery production which has been in operation since the 1800’s. Continuing on your tour, next we stop at Enniskillen Castle, built almost 600 years ago by Gaelic Maguires, this historic site houses two museums, Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum. The Museum’s mission is to collect and preserve significant material and information about Fermanagh’s history, culture and environment. Finally visit the Sheelin Lace shop & museum who stock hundreds of antique Irish Lace items and other vintage textiles and clothing. Following your visit, travel on to Sligo where dinner will await you. Overnight at the Sligo Park Hotel (or similar), Dinner, Bed & Breakfast included. 

Day 7: Tuesday 21st April 2015, Sligo, Foxford Woollen Mill, Museum of Country Life & Galway

Today we visit Mayo and the award winning Foxford Woollen Mills where your guided tour of the working mill will show master craftspeople at work on the pieces that Foxford are proud to deliver to customers all over the world.  Next travel to Castlebar where you will visit the Museum of Country Life, this fascinating museum is an open-plan building which houses collections of domestic goods, once used as part of daily life from 1850 to 1950.  Exhibits and a movie explain how Irish people made a living from the soil before the machine age. You will have the opportunity to explore the museum at your leisure and we will also undertake a Hands-on Knitting Workshop with Ciara Ní Reachtnín in the museum’s education room. During your time with Ciara you will learn how to make the Deirdre na nDólás (Deirdre of Sorrows) Shawl pattern, one of Ciara's own Celtic Mythology Designs. Techniques taught in this class will include constructing the garter tab, adding beads to your knitting, the unique cables and lace design of the main body of the shawl and attaching the beaded lace edge.  After your day touring, travel onward to your hotel in Galway, checking in for the night. Overnight at the Harbour Hotel (or similar), Galway, Bed & Breakfast Included.

Day 8: Wednesday 22nd April 2015, Connemara

Travel through the Connemara countryside to Kylemore Abbey which is the most visited attraction in the west of Ireland. Thousands visit Kylemore to see the outstanding Abbey and to experience the natural beauty of the Kylemore’s Woodland and Lakeshore walks and Victorian walled garden. Our next stop will be Ciaran Hogan’s Basket Studio for a demonstration of traditional Irish willow basket weaving techniques and an introduction to modern basket designs and production. Finally visit the Sheep & Wool Centre where you will learn about the history of sheep farming in Ireland, learn more about the Irish woollen industry and the process of how sheep’s fleece is made into cloth. Return to Galway where the evening is your own. You might decide to head into town and catch a traditional Irish Music session in any one of Galway’s traditional pubs or simply relax in your hotel. Overnight at the Harbour Hotel (or similar), Galway, Bed & Breakfast Included. 

Day 9: Thursday 23rd April, Return to Dublin.

Check out of your hotel and make the return journey to Dublin. After some time to refresh, travel to ‘This is Knit ‘where you will enjoy a Hands-on Knitting Workshop. The class includes an informative talk on the developments in the Irish Hand Knitting scene over the past ten years as well as a two hour ‘Moebius Knitting’ workshop following the ‘Glenties Cowl’ pattern, designed by Lisa Sisk. For this class you will be using Soft Donegal yarn from the mills of Studio Donegal in Kilcar. Participants will learn how to do a Mobius Cast On and also how to work a Picot Cast Off.  After your class, the remainder of the afternoon is free for your own personal sightseeing. This evening your final farewell dinner will be served in Dublin’s Nancy Hands Pub. Overnight in the Ashling Hotel Dublin (or similar), Bed & Breakfast included.

Day 10: Friday 24th April 2015, Return to Dublin.

After your final Irish breakfast depart the hotel for Dublin airport arriving in time to complete check-in formalities and that last minute duty free shopping.