Northern Gems Tour

B= Breakfast; L= Lunch; D= Dinner

Day 1 : Shannon & Knappogue Castle

Your tour starts at Shannon Airport with a transfer to Bunratty between 7:00 am and 12:00 noon. If your flight arrives later than 12:00 noon, transfer to the hotel at your own expense. At 2:30 pm depart for the Cliffs of Moher, a dramatic wall of rock that plunges to the Atlantic Ocean. Return to Bunratty for a welcome drink to discuss your itinerary with your tour director. Drive a few miles to Knappogue Castle to take part in one of their famous banquets with a great meal, wine and music in the evocative atmosphere of the 15th century castle. (D)

Day 2 : Sheepdog Trials & Galway Bay

Drive through the Burren, an area of rounded limestone hills, which contain a wealth of prehistoric monuments and where rare flowers thrive in the sheltered crevices. In Caherconnell watch skilled dogs work with a farmer to round up sheep. Stop for a look around the coastal village of Ballyvaughan and take a short panoramic drive around Galway before checking in to your hotel set on Galway Bay. (B,D)

Day 3 : Catamaran Cruise & Kylemore Abbey

Travel along the shores of Galway Bay to Standun of Spiddal for coffee and a talk. Head to Leenane to embark on a short catamaran cruise of Killary Harbour. Enjoy great views of places not accessible by road including traces of pre-Famine potato “lazy beds” as well as salmon and mussel farming. Tour Kylemore Abbey, a splendid mansion set on a peaceful lake with a lovely chapel. Enjoy a light lunch in a choice of places in the grounds and stroll through the Victorian gardens before returning to Galway. (B,L)

Day 4 : Belleek China & Donegal

Drive north into County Mayo to visit the pilgrimage town of Knock and continue to Sligo to view W. B. Yeats’ Grave, situated near the distinctive outline of Benbulben Mountain. Tour the Belleek Pottery Factory to see skilled craftspeople create elegant and decorative pieces in fine china. Drive to Donegal town for some free time to look around the streets and shops on your before checking in to your hotel on the outskirts of the town. (B,D)

Day 5 : Slieve League Cliffs & Donegal Castle

Drive to the fishing port of Killybegs and on to Teelin to view Slieve League sea cliffs, the highest in Europe reaching 1,972 feet. The cliffs drop straight down to the wild Atlantic waves creating marvelous views. Enjoy coffee or tea with home-baked scones before driving through the majestic Glengesh Pass to Ardara. Visit Triona Design to see demonstrations of spinning, weaving and knitting. Return to Donegal town for a tour of Donegal Castle, built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, expanded in the 17th century and today it is furnished throughout. (B,D)

Day 6 : Derry Walk & Giant’s Causeway

Travel to Derry for a walking tour with a local guide to see the medieval city walls, the Diamond and St. Columb’s Cathedral. Pause for photos at the ruins of Dunluce Castle before visiting the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. Continue south to experience wonderful views of mountains, valleys and bays along the “Nine Glens of Antrim.” Drive to your centrally-located hotel in Belfast. You may like to take a walk to see the magnificent City Hall in Donegall Square. (B,D)

Day 7 : Belfast & Cabra Castle Hotel

Take a panoramic city tour around Belfast followed by a visit to Titanic Belfast to learn about this famous ill-fated liner through state-of-the-art displays. Learn about Ireland’s patron saint in the St. Patrick Centre before driving to Kingscourt to your lovely castle hotel, built in 1760. Arrive mid-afternoon so that you will have time to enjoy the facilities and ambience of your lovely hotel. You may like to play the 9-hole golf course. After dinner in the Court Restaurant, enjoy youthful dancers display intricate Irish step-dancing. (B,D)

Day 8 : Battle of the Boyne Centre & Drogheda

Visit the Battle of the Boyne Centre to learn about the 1690 conflict between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II. Then travel into nearby Drogheda for a walking tour around the old streets of this historic town and learn about its associations with Oliver Cromwell and St. Oliver Plunkett. Check in to your centrally-located hotel, right beside the River Boyne, and in the evening enjoy dinner in the Wm Cairnes Gastropub with live musical entertainment. (B,L)

Day 9 : Tour Ends Dublin Airport

Group transfers are provided to Dublin Airport to arrive at 6:00 am, 9:00 am or 12:00 noon. The journey from Drogheda to Dublin Airport takes about 30 minutes. (B,D)