An Ireland/Northern Ireland Adventure
Deluxe Custom Ireland Program with Castle Stay
September 13 - 27, 2017
15 Days / 14 Nights
Northern Ireland is home to some of the world’s most famous icons – St. Patrick is buried here, the Titanic was built here and the mythical stories of the Giants Causeway are only told right here. But, you would be mistaken if you thought that is all it can offer. The hidden gems dotted across each county is the best reflection of the transformation this country has pulled off. With experiences to last a lifetime in abundance and the neighboring Republic of Ireland at the cross of a border – why not see what you can find in your Northern Ireland?
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Deluxe Custom Ireland Program with Castle Stay
September 13 - 27, 2017
15 Days / 14 Nights
(Air Departs the U.S. on September 13th to arrive in Dublin
on September 14th)
Overnight Flight to Ireland
Day 2 - Arrive Dublin
Upon Arrival in Dublin Airport you will be met at the airport by your friendly Irish Tour Director and transferred to your local accommodation for the next two nights. We take a short panoramic tour of the city before checking into our hotel. After check-in you are free to relax or head out and explore this lively city. Perhaps you want to stroll around Stephens Green, shop on Grafton Street or check out the scene in Temple Bar. This evening enjoy a real Irish experience with dinner and entertainment at the Brazen Head Pub. This well-known spot claims to be Ireland’s oldest Pub dating back to 1198, a meeting place for historic rebels, this brass-filled, lantern-lit pub is the perfect way to kick off your tour. Overnight: Dublin and Dinner at the Brazen Head
Day 3 – Dublin Sightseeing
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we take a panoramic sightseeing tour of Dublin’s Fair City. As we drive through the main thoroughfare we see historic buildings like the GPO (General Post Office) on O’Connell Street and we see the vast Georgian Squares, such as Merrion Square where Oscar Wilde’s house can still be found (today owned by the American College). We will stop and enjoy a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We also see the Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe and home to Aras an Uachtarain (the Irish President’s Residence) as well as the American Ambassador’s Residence. We end our tour with a visit to Trinity College, which houses the treasured Book of Kells, a 9th century Gospel manuscript famous throughout the world. This evening, we enjoy dinner and entertainment at an Irish Night. Overnight: Dublin and Dinner and Entertainment at the Irish Night.
Day 4 - The Viking City of Waterford and the Garden of Ireland
This morning after a hearty breakfast, we travel to County Wicklow, known as the ‘Garden of Ireland’. As with many parts of Ireland, Wicklow is drenched in history and heritage and one of the most famous examples of that is the Monastic Settlement of Glendalough. Also on this site you will find a Celtic High Cross. There will be time for you to walk around the settlement and take in the wonder that is Glendalough before moving on to the Meeting of the Waters. We will then make our way to the delightful village of Avoca that has long been known for its famous copper mines. It is also well known as the location for the recording of the BBC TV series Ballykissangel. This little village is well known throughout the country and the world. On top of everything else, it is home to Avoca Handweavers. Avoca is home to Ireland’s oldest weaving mill founded in 1723. We stop to visit Mount Usher Gardens, with over 5,000 species of plants and shrubs from all over the world. We continue our journey onto the Viking City of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city dating back to the 9th century. We check into our hotel and enjoy dinner together this evening. Dinner & Overnight: Waterford.
Day 5 – A wee bit O’Blarney and Killarney
This morning after a hearty Irish breakfast, before we bid farewell to Waterford, we will visit the new home of the House of Waterford Crystal, where we feel the heat of the furnace and marvel at the skills of the craftsmen. We then make our way west to the Kingdom of Kerry. A special photo stop will be made in Cork today. On route, we will visit the historic port town of Cobh. It is from this town that over 2.5 million Irish people emigrated. Many would have attended mass at the beautiful Cathedral overlooking the port prior to their departure. Cobh was also the last port from which the Titanic left on April 11th, 1912. We enjoy a visit to the Cobh Heritage Museum before visiting the village of Blarney and Blarney Castle. Climb the winding stairs of this nearly impenetrable fortress, kiss the Blarney Stone and be granted the “Gift of Gab”. Explore the beautiful grounds and gardens that lead to Rock Close, Blarney Castle’s secret treasure. Once you have walked up an appetite for shopping, head inside the “Blarney Woolen Mills”—30,000 square feet of retail space within one of Ireland’s oldest and most authentic woolen mills. We travel on then through West Cork to Killarney, famous for its lakes and scenery. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at our hotel. Dinner and Overnight: Killarney
Day 6 – The Ring of Kerry
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we are going to explore the beauty of an area that has attracted visitors for centuries. We will see countryside surrounded by mountains, lakes, woods and rugged coastline as we meander around the 110 mile route of the Ring of Kerry. We will drive through and stop in some of the many picturesque villages such as Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem. Our return to Killarney is via Molls Gap and Ladies View, a spot that derives its name from the pleasure expressed by Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting on their visit here in 1861. This afternoon upon your return hop on a jaunting cart ride that takes you in and around the National Park. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at our hotel. Dinner & Overnight: Killarney.
Day 7 - The Cliffs of Moher
This morning we continue our venture with a ferry ride across the River Shannon into County Clare where we visit the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs are over 700 feet high at the highest point and range for over 5 miles over the Atlantic Ocean. O'Brien's Tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs. On a clear day you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. We continue via the town of Ennis to our next overnight stay in the area and later this evening, we set off for a dinner to remember, as we recapture the lifestyle of medieval Ireland in a local Castle. We enjoy quality food and entertainment, once the preserve of the nobility who resided in these fortresses. Overnight: Shannonside Area Dinner at Medieval Banquet
Day 8 – Galway City
This morning after breakfast we travel to Galway, known as the City of Tribes after the 14 merchant families that prospered here in the middle ages. Upon arrival we enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour and note this is a very lively cultural city with lots of music, drama and the arts, street performers (buskers), unique shops and pubs. We check into our hotel and enjoy dinner together. Dinner and Overnight: Galway.
Day 9 – Connemara
After a leisurely breakfast we set out today to visit Connemara, a unique and very special part of County Galway. Once home to over 2 million Irish speaking people, it still retains its regional heritage as you will discover while we ramble around its lakes, mountains and bog lands. As we journey through this spectacular area we arrive at Ireland’s only Fjord and board our boat to tour Connemara by water. As we enjoy lunch on board we take in the dramatic sweep of landscape as we may pass between the Twelve Bens and the Maam Turk mountains to the South, in County Galway; and the Mweelrea mountains to the North in County Mayo, as well as the views out to the Atlantic at the mouth of the fjord. The views of the surrounding landscape are lovely – hills rising steeply from the silvery sea, with frequent shifts in light and shadow creating different colors on the peaks and valleys. Deep green fields and occasional stands of trees contrast with heathery bogs. We then continue to visit Kylemore Abbey, a former girl’s boarding school that is now in the care of the Benedictine nuns and is one of the oldest Abbeys in Ireland. Its Gothic Church built in 1881 is beautiful and interesting with its Crypt and carved angelic gargoyles. This evening we return to Galway and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. Dinner & Overnight: Victoria Hotel Galway Dinner in Local Restaurant.
Day 10 – WB Yeats Sligo & Donegal
This morning after a full Irish breakfast we bid farewell to Galway as we travel northwards to County Donegal. We will drive through County Mayo and stop to visit Knock - Ireland’s largest place of Pilgrimage. The Story of Knock began on Thursday evening of the 21st of August 1879, Our Lady, St Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of the church of Knock, County Mayo. There were 15 official witnesses to the apparition young and old who watched and prayed for 2 hours in the pouring rain. We then continue on to Sligo, through an area known as ‘Yeats Country’ after the Irish poet W.B. Yeats, who spent large parts of his childhood in this area. We will stop in Drumcliffe, set against the striking backdrop of the Benbulben Mountains and found in the churchyard, is the grave of W.B Yeats. He died in France in 1939 and according to his wishes he was buried after a discreet and private funeral service at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin – “if I die bury me up there and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo”. Which did not work out, as the Second World War broke out and Yeats’ mortal remains were stuck in France. Only in September 1948 Yeats’ remains were moved to Drumcliff and his epitaph is taken from the last lines of his late poem Under Ben Bulben: “Cast a cold Eye On Life, on Death.”
Day 11 – The Giants Causeway
This morning after breakfast we depart Donegal and travel to the Giant’s Causeway, an amazing geologic formation of approx. 40,000 basalt stone – some as tall as 130 feet, and mostly hexagonal in shape. This is Northern Ireland’s Premiere landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We continue our journey via the Dark Hedges – this beautiful avenue of trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. In fact, the iconic trees have been used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones, representing the King’s Road. We travel on towards Belfast via the Glens of Antrim, known locally simply as ‘The Glens’. It comprises of nine Glens (Valleys) that radiate from the Antrim Plateau to the coast. We arrive in the city of Belfast and check into our hotel. We enjoy dinner together this evening. Dinner and Overnight: Belfast.
Day 12 – Belfast City
This morning after breakfast, we enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of this fascinating city, where the peace process has brought a revival of optimism to this city rich in Victorian elegance and blossoming with culture. We’ll see Belfast’s compact center on Donegal Square, which is dominated by the elaborate City Hall, which was officially reopened in October 2009 following its £11m, two year refurbishment. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton performed a ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiled a plaque to mark the reopening. We’ll drive through West Belfast’s Protestant neighborhood of Shankill Road and the Catholic neighborhood of Falls Road, where large vivid murals painted on the sides of buildings express the feelings that still run deep on both sides. Though the names of these areas were much in the news during ‘The Troubles’, the gate in the Peace Wall between them now stands open. This afternoon we take a visit to the Titanic Belfast, a state of the art interactive museum provides an unforgettable visitor experience. It tells the story of RMS Titanic, from her conception and launch into the River Lagan in 1911, to the tragic end of her maiden voyage a year later. It was here at Titanic Quarter (the former Queen’s Island) in Belfast Harbor, the ship was built. Enjoy the exhibits at your own pace. We enjoy dinner together this evening. Dinner and Overnight: Belfast
Day 13 – Archery at Winterfell & live like Royalty
After enjoying breakfast we set out this morning to ‘Winterfell Castle’ where we dress up in authentic Game of Thrones ‘Stark Family’ costumes and we’ll receive instructions from ‘Jon Snow’ as we stand exactly where ‘Jon Snow’, ‘Rob Stark’ and ‘Bran’ stood and shoot medieval arrows using ancient bows (1 target between 2 people). We’ll also enjoy a set tour on the estate. We then continue our journey to the 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and parkland – the setting for tonight’s 19th Century Castle stay – Cabra Castle. Once we arrive at our Castle, enjoy your surroundings, whether it is a ‘tea’ on the terrace or a round of golf on the Castle’s own 9 hole golf course, before enjoying a special dinner together this evening. Dinner and Overnight: Cabra Castle Hotel.
Day 14 – The Boyne Valley and Prehistoric Newgrange
This morning after a leisurely breakfast at our castle surroundings we discover an area known as the Boyne Valley. This is without doubt Ireland’s most historic area and contains some of Europe’s most significant and spectacular prehistoric sites. The area is a World Heritage Site. The Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are older than the pyramids in Egypt and pre-date Stonehenge by 1000 years. We enjoy a visit to the Newgrange visitor’s center and an onsite visit to the passage grave of Newgrange. We continue on to the Hill of Tara, where it is said that a quarter of the landscape of Ireland can be seen from the hill. It is important as the traditional inauguration site of the ancient High Kings of Ireland. Although few of its monuments survived the test of time, it is an evocative place, much celebrated in Irish myth and legend. From here we travel to the historic ruins of Monasterboice, an early Christian settlement that was founded by Saint Buithe in the 5th century. It was an important center of religion and learning until the founding of nearby Mellifont Abbey in 1142. We make our way to Dublin for our final night and tonight we celebrate our trip by attending an Irish night with quality food and entertainment. Overnight: Dublin Dinner Irish Night
Day 15 - Homeward bound
This morning after breakfast pack your bags and head for Dublin airport where you will board your flight for home. Carry on your photos and memories and bring a bit of the Emerald Isle home with you. ‘The Land of One Hundred Thousand Welcomes’ will be expecting you again soon!
All for $5,979
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If you are rooming with just 1 other person, you may make your reservation by booking online using the form below, if you wish.
Passengers who are traveling as single passengers in a cabin, or 3 or more passengers in the same cabin, please call 301-862-1315 or 1-800-423-0247 for rates and to reserve your cabin.
$5,979 per person, double occupancy and include roundtrip airfare and airport transfers, including transportation to/from St. Mary's County
An initial deposit of $450 per person is due along with your deposit form to hold your space. Final balance is due June 14, 2017.
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