Introduction to the Ireland Tour Welcome to our tour of the “Emerald Isle”. Whether by government proclamation or its natural appearance, green is a fitting national color. Many visitors see a lush island, full of thatched collages, pubs, music, wit, and poetry. The relaxed good humor of the people makes Ireland a welcoming place […]
Introduction to the Ireland Tour
Welcome to our tour of the “Emerald Isle”. Whether by government proclamation or its natural appearance, green is a fitting national color. Many visitors see a lush island, full of thatched collages, pubs, music, wit, and poetry. The relaxed good humor of the people makes Ireland a welcoming place to visit. With their genuine love of old folk legends and epic poetry and songs, the Irish people are in no danger of losing their culture. We will make a complete circle of the island, beginning and ending in Dublin. This gives us a first hand look at one of Ireland’s greatest attractions, its landscapes. It varies from bogs and lakes in the east to mountains and rocky islands in the west. Between these extremes we find abundant lush, green pastures. You will observe medieval castles and Gothic and Victorian architecture. In this divided country we will get a close-up look at Belfast and Dublin, two of the great cities of the world. With more people of Irish descent in the US than in Ireland, it is no wonder this island is more a state of mind than a place on the map.
Day 1- We leave Minneapolis for an overnight flight and arrive at Dublin airport in the morning.
Day 2- After clearing customs we have a short ride to the charming city of Kildare. Because horse racing is close to a national pastime in Ireland, there are many stud farms in the area. We will visit the most prestigious of these, National Stud. In addition to the horses, a part of the grounds is made up of Japanese Gardens considered by experts to be among the finest in Europe. We will continue on to our hotel for the night for a well-deserved rest. If you have energy left, Kilkenny is a great one to enjoy some of the local pubs after your evening meal.
Day 3-Kilkenny is believed by most people to be Ireland’s loveliest inland city as well as its most medieval city. We will begin our day by visiting the Kilkenny Castle with its imposing interior and exterior. Our next stop will be the Gothic structure of St Canice’s Cathedral. You will have a short time to browse through some of the old tombstones or to climb the ancient tower after checking out the interior of the church. We will enjoy lunch in Kilkenny before hitting the road. Our first stop this afternoon will be at the Rock of Cashel. The remains are mostly from the 12th and 13th century. The complex has a character of its own, unique and native, and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.
We will continue on to a charming harborside city and the last port of call for the Titanic, Cobh, where we will spend the night. 80% of the Irish immigrants to America departed from this port. Enjoy the evening here by strolling along the promenade or sipping a pint overlooking the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 4-This morning we will learn about the Titanic as we live the history of this port city. The Cobh Heritage Center will share details of the Titanic and the Lusitania and their fates. After gaining this new knowledge, we will head to one of the most famous sites in Ireland to take advantage of the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. It could now get noisy on the bus because the stone is said to bestow the gift of eloquent speech on all those who kiss it. Perhaps we have a few among us who should not be allowed the opportunity because they already have that gift. We will have lunch on the Blarney Castle grounds before departing. We will continue on our way north through Killarney National Park. We begin our visit in the park with spectacular overlooks and the Torc Waterfall and conclude with a visit to the Muckross House and Gardens. The Muckross House was completed in 1843 and the gardens were added in 1861 in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit to the home.
Day 5- Today we will drive to the Dingle Peninsula, one of the most beautiful and unchanged parts of Ireland. We will visit Inch Strand and return to the town of Dingle for our lunch. After lunch we move on to a brief stop in the town of Adare for a look at (please excuse us for this) the most “un-Irish” town in Ireland with its rows of pretty cottages with their overhanging thatched roofs and English gardens. There also is a nice gift stop here that you may enjoy visiting. Then it is on to the city of Bunratty. We will be spending the evening here where we will have the opportunity to enjoy a medieval meal in the Bunratty Castle complete with mead. Join the Earl of Thomond for a glorious banquet at this majestic 15th century Bunratty Castle. We will join the Earl of Thomond for a glorious 4 course banquet at this majestic 15th century Bunratty Castle.
Day 6-This morning we will see the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs rise to 702 feet at their highest point and range for 5 miles over the Atlantic Ocean. The Cliffs are a special protected area for seabirds with over 20 species. We welcome over 30,000 breeding pairs annually including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, peregrine falcons and the ever- popular cute puffins. We will continue on to Spiddal for our lunch stop before heading to the Kylemore Abbey.
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden was originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift. It became home to a community of Benedictine Nuns in 1920 and has been renowned as a place of spirituality and education. West of the main Abbey building are the 6-acre Victorian Walled Gardens, built by Mitchell Henry at the same time as the construction of Kylemore Castle between 1867 and 1871. This garden was one of the last walled gardens to be built during the Victorian period in Ireland and is the only garden in Ireland that is located in the middle of a bog. This evening will take us to Galway, a very welcoming city which usually has multiple street performers down the pedestrian way throughout the evening.
Day 7- Today we will spend our day on one of the three of the Aran Islands, Inishmore. The islands have a total of 18 square miles. You will have a choice of renting a bike, hiring a minibus, or walking around the island to enjoy the landscape and sights of interest to be found there. Because of the ferry times, we will arrive a little later than usual to our overnight hotel. We will travel through the Connemara, one of the most beautiful and most barren parts of Ireland on the way to the hotel. Seeing this might give you a clue as to why some of your ancestors came to America.
Day 8- Our journey today will take us to the historic city of Derry (or Londonderry) as we enter Northern Ireland. We will spend a few hours here walking the ancient wall of the old city and to observe some of the sights involved in the “troubles” in this center of activity in the 1980s-1990s. Our next stop will be the unusual rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway, one of the strangest of the scenic attractions in Ireland with over 40,000 basalt columns. We will spend the evening in Portrush, a city known for its golf course along the coastline.
Day 9-Our first stop this morning will be Dunluce Castle. The iconic ruins of Dunluce Castle bear witness to a long and tumultuous history. It was first built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500. In the 17th century Dunluce was the seat of the earls of County Antrim and saw the establishment of a small town in 1608. Visitors can explore the findings of archaeological digs within the cobbled streets and stone merchants’ houses of the long-abandoned Dunluce Town. The dramatic history of Dunluce is matched by tales of a banshee and how the castle kitchens fell into the sea one stormy night in 1639. We then will drive a short distance down the road to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. You will have the opportunity to cross the rope bridge at your own risk. After this experience we will head to Bushmills Distillery for lunch and a tour. This is the oldest distillery in Ireland. At the end of the tour you will have the opportunity to sample their products.
Day 10-This morning we will drive along the rugged Antrim coastline of Northern Ireland and the famous nine glens, which will lead us to Belfast. In spite of its charming setting, its best known for the 30 years of headlines world wide resulting from the battles between those wishing to remain under British rule and those who were strongly in favor of independence for Northern Ireland. Belfast is an industrial city quickly recovering from the years of strife. You will find it to be a city of unexpected charms, Victorian architecture and wonderful hospitality. After arriving in the city, we will go directly to the Titanic sight in this city where the Titanic was actually built. We will have lunch and then take a tour explaining this history.
Day 11- Today we will take a city tour of Belfast where you will have the option of getting off to see a sight in more detail and getting back on a later bus. Sights included are the government buildings, walls and murals that depict the “troubles”, Crown Liquor (with its ornate Victorian interior), plus many more sights that might be interesting to you. You may choose to spend the entire day using this bus to explore the city or spend the afternoon exploring the Botanical garden of Belfast.
Day 12- We conclude our Irish journey today with the final leg of our circle as we journey from Belfast to our starting point in Dublin. Following a tour of the famous Guinness Brewery and a free pint at the “highest bar in Dublin”, we will enjoy a meal at the brewery together. This afternoon we will have the opportunity to see Jameson Distillery, Trinity College, the National Museum, the National Gallery, shopping on O’Connell Street, the Gaol Museum, George’s Market, or one of the city’s beautiful cathedrals.
Day 13- Today we will fly home to the comforts of our own homes to reflect on our Irish adventures.
*This itinerary is subject to change or reverse order depending on situations with flight schedules, hotel availabilities, and other concerns.
More for Le$$ Tours Value
with everything included below. Make WISE
comparisons with similar tour offers. We have included more than other companies at a lower cost.
Roundtrip airfare from MSP
11 nights at personally selected guesthouses and hotels
12 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 evening meals
Transportation for entire tour
All admissions and tour fees
Personal tour guide to accompany you from start to finish
More for Le$$ Tours Sights and Activities
We offer more activities and sights on our trips than any other company at no additional cost (no optional side trips).
Irish Stud Farm and Japanese Gardens
Kilkenny Castle tour
Kilkenny St Canice Cathedral
Rock of Cashel
Cobh Heritage Center
Muckross House and Killarney National Park
Cliffs of Moher
Aran Island ferry
Belfast Titanic Experience
Belfast City Tour
Dublin City Sights