7 Night Viking Tour of Ireland

Day 1: Discovering Viking Dublin

Begin your vacation in the city of Dublin. The Vikings ruled Dublin for almost three centuries; they were expelled in AD902 only to return in AD917 and then occupied Dublin until their defeat by the Irish High King Brian Boru at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. From that date, the Vikings were a minor political force in Ireland, firmly opting for a commercial trading life.  In your detailed sightseeing itinerary you will find a map and directions for a short Medieval & Viking Dublin self-guided walk and this truly is a great way to discover Dublin’s connection with the Vikings. This walk has an accompanying audio which you can download if you want to and listen to it on your personal music player, although your Irish Tourism itinerary will have plenty of information if you prefer not to do this. The walk begins by the Dublin Tourism Centre which is itself is directly connected to the age of the Vikings as it stands on the location of a ‘Thigmote’ which was a meeting point during this time. As the walk progresses and you approach Christchurch Cathedral you will see the outline of a Viking House.  Within Christchurch Cathedral a treasury of information on the Vikings in Ireland is to be found by visiting the onsite Dublinia museum. Here you can learn about Viking Weaponry , board a Viking Ship, See what the inside of a Viking house looked like and learn more about the poetry that played an important role in the religious and social world of the Vikings in Ireland.

Day 2: Continuing your Dublin Sightseeing

Enjoy another day exploring Ireland’s capital city, perhaps today taking the Dublin Hop-on Hop-off bus. Your Irish Tourism agent can pre-book this for you and your personal sightseeing itinerary will you direct you to interesting points of interest.  A highlight of your Ireland vacation will your time spent in Dublin’s Temple Bar area which is now a flourishing hub of restaurants and bars but at one time was one of the Viking’s primary market places. Beneath the streets here lie remains of Viking homes, streets, burial places and animal enclosures. Nowadays you are sure to find the best in traditional Irish food and many lively bars, many of them having nightly traditional Irish music.  Nearby, Fishamble Street is thought to be the oldest street in the city and not too far away, Woodquay was the site of an extensive Viking settlement. Excavations here between 1974 and 1981 revealed a lot of what we know today about the Vikings in Ireland today.

Day 3: Dublin to Waterford via Wexford

The journey from Dublin to Wexford may well be the highlight of your Ireland Vacation, for you will have the chance to explore Ireland’s beautiful East coast.  Your journey will take you via Glendalough, an early Christian religious site which was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Despite numerous attacks by the Vikings over the years, Glendalough prospered as one of Ireland’s great religious foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214. Wexford’s position between Dublin and Waterford meant that it was greatly affected by the power struggles between the Gaelic Irish and the Vikings in Ireland. Its coastline and harbour were a welcome haven the Viking’s longboats and the ‘Three Sisters’ rivers allowed them to reach the interior lands of Muster and Leinster with ease. The Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig close to Wexford town is a must see on any Viking Vacation! Here you will find more than 35 acres of beautiful woodland and wetlands as well as a reconstructed Viking village.  The name Waterford comes from the old Viking word ‘Vedrarfjiordr’ and this is believed to come from either Fjord of the Rams, or more likely from windy fjord, possibly referring to Waterford as being a safe-haven for Viking ships taking shelter from the windy Irish Sea. Your vacation time in Waterford is sure to include the magnificent Reginald’s Tower which has a number of display that exhibit a superb collection of archaeological and historic artefacts which tell the story of Waterford's Viking heritage. The location where the building resides is significant itself to Ireland’s Viking past as an early fort on this site formed the apex of a triangular Viking settlement.

Day 4: Discovering Cork

Cork city was founded by Vikings in the early 10th century and since then the city has prospered as a centre for trade, opening herself up to a continental influence which still permeates this beautiful city to this day. Cork first encountered the Vikings in 820, when its great monastery was raided. The first record we have of the Vikings settling in Cork date from 846, when Irish annals record that Ólchobhar mac Cináeda, king of Munster, attacked a stronghold belonging to the Vikings in the city. Visibly, not much remains today of Vikings in Cork but nevertheless there are many exiting museums, monuments and historic attractions that you might like to visit. Your vacation may take you to the Shandon area where the church of Saint Anne Shandon stands. Shandon comes from the words ‘Sean’ and ‘Dun’ meaning old fort and it is known that the McCarthy clan had a fort here during the Viking age. Visit the Church of Saint Anne Shandon which is also known as the four faced liar due to the minor time difference on each clock front. Before you leave Cork, visit the English Market, which is the oldest of its kind and trading as a market since 1788. Another stop on your tour of Cork should be St Fin Barre's Cathedral which stands on or near the site of a church founded sometime between the 6th and 7th centuries.  Of course your vacation may take you beyond the city to visit one of Ireland’s most famous castles – Blarney Castle. A fortress stood at Blarney from 1210 AD and the castle that you can see today was built in 1446 by King of Munster, Cormac McCarthy.

Day 5: Cork to Killarney in County Kerry

Today you have the option of the scenic but longer coastal route or the shorter route via Blarney Castle if not seen the previous day. A climb to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift of eloquence, or commonly referred to in Ireland as ‘the Gift of the Gab’. The longer route includes visits to Mizen Head, the most southerly point in Ireland, as well as Bantry House and Gardens and the French Armada Centre, also in Bantry. From Bantry, you will be heading north to Kerry via the stunningly beautiful Healy Pass. Make sure to have your camera’s ready for some breathtaking shots across the Caha Mountains that divide Cork from Kerry. After the mountain pass, you come to the town of Kenmare. Since its' roots in 1678, the town of Kenmare has been one of Ireland's most idyllic destinations. Situated picturesquely at the mouth of the Kenmare Bay, a visit to Kenmare leaves lasting memories with its colorful shop fronts and unrivalled range of restaurants.   With its three famous lakes and majestic mountain ranges, Killarney has been the inspiration of poets and painters over many centuries. The Killarney National Park is internationally renowned both for its scenic beauty and scientific interest and Killarney's tourism history goes back at least to the mid 18th century, when Thomas, fourth Viscount Kenmare (Lord Kenmare), began to attract visitors and new residents to the town. There are many lovely sites to visit around the Killarney area including Ross Castle, Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe a scenic narrow mountain pass between the Macgillycuddy's Reeks to the east and Purple Mountain to the west.

Day 6: Touring the Ring of Kerry and surrounding areas

There are numerous day trips to be had while based in Killarney. The two most scenic drives in the area include the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula Driving routes, two of Ireland’s most picturesque drives. The Ring of Kerry includes visits to colourful villages and ancient heritage sites dotted around the peninsula including Skellig Michael just off the Kerry coast which held a monastic settlement that was attacked by the Vikings for the first time in 795AD. The Dingle Peninsula has more interesting antiquities, historic sites and varied mountain scenery than any other part of Ireland. The main town Dingle is the most westerly in Europe and attracts large numbers of visitors each year, many of whom come to learn the Irish language in the surrounding Irish speaking district. Also in the area are An Dún Beag Promontory Fort from 800 BC as well as the Blasket Islands and Gallarus Oratory. Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century and is the best preserved early Christian church in Ireland. On to Brandon Creek from where legend has it that St. Brendan discovered the North American continent in the 6th century.

Day 7: On to Adare, Limerick City and Bunratty Castle

Today’s journey brings you from Killarney to Bunratty in County Clare. The longer scenic drive takes you north to the Cliffs of Moher and Burren region of County Clare and then south to Bunratty. The majestic Cliffs of Moher are without doubt one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights and overlook the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of West Clare. Just north of the Cliffs you then have the lunar like Burren region and the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen Tombs. The shorter route is directly to Bunratty via the Village of Adare in County Limerick. Adare is regarded by many a seasoned traveller as Ireland’s prettiest village with its charming thatched cottages, manicured public park and ancient church. From Adare continue along the N20 towards Limerick City of ‘Angelas Ashes’ fame and home to King Johns Castle. The history of Limerick city begins with its formation by the Vikings as a walled city on King's Island on the River Shannon in 812, and its charter in 1197. Limerick is an important town in the history of the Vikings in Ireland.  The Viking king, Thormodr Helgason, built the first permanent Viking stronghold on King's Island in Limerick in 922. Just 10 minutes from Limerick is Bunratty Castle. Built in 1425, this majestic castle was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour. Within the grounds of the Castle is Bunratty Folk Park where 19th century Irish life is vividly recreated.