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Ireland - A Cultural Immersion


  • Your group tour starts in Dublin, Ireland
  • Your tour will visit Ireland's oldest city, Galway
  • Beautiful old cottage in Enniskillin
  • Your group will tour Belfast in Northern Ireland

One of Goway’s most popular group destinations, Ireland will not disappoint the group traveler wanting to embrace a vast array of cultural and historical experiences. Our 12 day itinerary includes the highlights of Northwest Ireland and Northern Ireland plus lots of unique activities to really get an in-depth look at the culture and rhythms of the country and its people… experiences that include poetry reading, cooking demonstration, visits to local pubs to meet the locals, cycling adventures and even an opportunity to test your sporting skills!


 

Day 1

Fly Hometown to Dublin

Day 2

Arrive in Dublin

Welcome to the Emerald Isle! On arrival, we will be met and transferred to our hotel where our rooms will be ready for our early arrival. This afternoon we take time to visit EPIC Ireland, a new state of the art visitor experience that showcases the unique journey of the Irish Nation, where stories are told through interactive technology for an immersive fun and educational experience. This evening we enjoy a welcome to Ireland dinner at a popular local restaurant.

Accommodation: Herbert Park Hotel or similar

Meal Plan Dinner
Duration3 Nights
Day 3

In Dublin

After a relaxing breakfast, we join our guide for our in-depth tour of Dublin City. Here we will discover the north and south side of the River Liffey. This area offers great striking monuments such as the GPO (General Post Office) on the city main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, or the Custom House along the quays, as well as the Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe. The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian squares, such as Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found (today owned by an American College), its colourful doors, along with Grafton Street and its quality shops. Not so far from St. Stephen’s Green, in Kildare St., we will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. This part of the city is also dominated by the students of Trinity College, where the famous book of Kells is permanently exhibited in its library. The university is facing the medieval district where Dublin Castle and the two Anglican Cathedrals can be found.

To complete our in-depth tour, we take time to visi the College and view the famous Book of Kells. Thomas Burgh built the Old Library building in the 18th century. Today it houses one of Ireland’s most illustrious books, the 9th century “Book of Kells”. Before viewing the famous book, visitors pass through an excellent exhibition based on the Book of Kells and other important books written in monasteries around Ireland from the 9th century. After viewing the Book of Kells visitors are invited to visit the Long Room built in 1745. Once the principal library of the University, it now contains over two hundred thousand books and manuscripts of the Trinity’s oldest volumes. Brian Boru’s harp said to be the “ oldest harp in Ireland” and a copy of the 1916 proclamation, one of the most important documents relating to Irish history are also on display in the Long Room. In 2015, Conde Nast Traveler magazine included visiting the Book of Kells as one of the '50 things to do in Europe before you die'.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 4

In Dublin

This morning we are off to visit the famous Guinness Storehouse where you will have free time to explore this fascinating exhibit. Located in the heart of the St. James Gate Brewery District, the Guinness Storehouse is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. The journey begins at the bottom of the world’s largest pint glass and continues up seven floors filled with interactive displays that fuse its long history of fine brewing skills with Ireland’s rich history.

After our visit we enjoy a hearty lunch at a local pub as we will need lots of energy for our active afternoon at Experience Gaelic Games. No where else in the world but Ireland will we be able to experience the indigenous games of Gaelic Football and Hurling -- not only are they Ireland’s most popular sports, they are also an expression of local and national identity. After a short introductory video, our instructor will teach us the basic skills of the two sports and then get us on the field to practice our newly learned skills--- all in a fun, informal setting for all ages and all skill and fitness levels!

Tonight we enjoy our last night in Dublin with a fun evening of Irish folklore, story telling and music at the Brazen Head pub. Legend has it that outlaw Robin Hood drank in this establishment, indeed there has been a pub situated on this exact site since 1198. It is the oldest pub in the city, and a real tourist attraction. The brick outside hints at the age of the pub, and the low ceilings and the kegs turned into bar tables make for a wonderful old style atmosphere that hasn’t changed in years!

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 5

Coach Dublin to Galway

We are off by coach this morning heading west across the island to Ireland’s oldest city, Galway. Our journey takes us through County Westmeath where we stop to visit Kilbeggan Distillery where we have an informative tour of the old distillery and learn a bit more about the traditional process of producing fine whiskey. At the end of the tour, we have an opportunity to taste some of the best whiskey made in Ireland before enjoying a relaxing lunch in the cozy restaurant adjacent to the complex. From Kilbeggan, we continue west to Shannonbridge where we stop to visit historic Clonmacnoise, an early Christian monastic site founded by St. Ciaran in the mid 6th century on eastern bank of the River Shannnon. Our informative guide will take us on a walking tour to show us the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th-13th century), two rounded towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. From here our next stop is Galway where we will spend the next two nights. Tonight a special treat as we board the Corrib Princess for a fun dinner cruise on the Corrib River. Here we can relax and enjoy true Irish hospitality in an intimate setting. Our hosts will give us an Irish coffee making demo and tasting and serve us a big, hearty Irish dinner while we are entertained by traditional Irish dancers and singers.

Accommodation: Meyrick Hotel or similar

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Duration2 Nights
Day 6

Exploring the Galway Region

We have a full day of exploring the Galway and Clare areas.

Clare - The Burren
The Burren landscape covers over 150 square kilometres and is one of Ireland’s 6 National Parks. The region is visually similar to a moonscape, yet shelters a mixture of flora and archaeological sites which have attracted visitors for centuries. Man came here over 6000 years ago, cleared the forests and set in motion soil erosion. Centuries of weathering has produced a terrain of fissured limestone pavements, disappearing lakes, terraced mountains, and underground cave systems. For millennia man has left his mark, megalithic tombs and cooking sites litter the pavements, while medieval towerhouses and churches guard the valleys. Today man is absent from most of the upland, leaving behind ancient field systems, routeways and placenames. Today’s visitors to the Burren will find Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants growing together.

Clare - Cliffs of Moher
Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren region, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O' Brien's Tower built by Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, to entertain his lady friends. A visit of the tower is also possible. The sweeping view across the Atlantic has recently been ranked the best 'cliff-view' on the planet by Conde Nast Traveler. The respected travel publication has voted the world-famous landmark at the top of a new chart of ' Nine Gorgeous Cliff Views That Rival The Grand Canyon'.

Galway - Rathbaun Farm
Rathbaun Farm is situated in a rural area of Southwest County Galway near Ardrahan. The Burke and Connolly family have been farming the 80 acres of land for over 200 years and Fintan Connolly continues this tradition today. The main livestock are sheep with some cows and horses. Visitors to Rathbaun Farm will become enchanted by its thatched cottage home, turf fire, stone walls and an array of animals. The land is limestone, free-draining soil currently in permanent pasture and in organic conversion. Time spent here gives a glimpse into the daily workings of a sheep-farm with plenty of time to see the animals, feed the lambs in season, talk to the family and explore the farmyard. Guests can also visit the 150-year old farmhouse, where guests will have the opportunity to have lunch, sampling some home baking and local produce.

After a full day of touring, our evening is free to enjoy the nightlife of Galway or just relax at your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 7

Coach Galway to Westport

What better way to see a town than on a guided walking tour, and, even better, is when the tour includes visits to fun foodie destinations to sample all the tasty treats unique to the place. This morning we join our Galway Food Tours guide who will take us on a stroll to seek out some of the town’s unique foodie venues where every visit includes tempting taste treats and a chat with the owners who always have some good stories to tell. Our morning tour will include visits to an historic artisanal bakery where the aromas alone will make us want to try everything; an old-fashioned tea house to sip some beautiful Irish Breakfast teas to help wash down the freshly baked scones slabbed with creamy butter; an Irish speciality food store to learn more about local cooking ingredients and finally we stop at a welcoming pub for a sip or two of Irish Whiskey to end a “filling” morning.

From Galway we head north through the stunning, unspoiled landscapes of the Connemara region; from open range bogs to pristine lakes and rugged mountains there amazing natural vistas around every corner. Before arriving in Westport, we stop to visit historic Kylemore Abbey to wander through the restored rooms and learn
About its history and tales of tragedy and romance.

Accommodation: Westport Coast Hotel

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Duration1 Night
Day 8

Coach Westport to County Donegal

This morning we visit Westport House and estate for a self-guided tour of this stately 19th century manor house. From Westport we are off to the Great Atlantic Way where we meet our guides for our cycling adventure along The Great Western Greenway. For those not wanting to cycle there is an opportunity to walk the trails along the Greenway or spend time in the small town a short distance away.
After our active morning, we stop for a well-deserved lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to Sligo in the heart of Yeats country for afternoon tea and poetry reading.

On the shores of Lough Gill outside of Sligo is Broc House and its proud owners Damien Brennan and Paula Gilvarry. Now both retired, Damien is a self-professed Yeats aficianado and Paula is a well-respected chef that now share their life-long passions with visitors in their home. What better way to spend an afternoon than as welcome guests enjoying tea and scones prepared expertly by Paula while Damien tells the story of W.B.Yeats through poetry readings and yarns about the famous writer… all while looking out panoramic windows into the heart of Yeats Country.

We say goodbye to our hosts and head to our wonderful hotel for the evening
In County Donegal, Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Accommodation: Solis Lough Eske Castle

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Duration1 Night
Day 9

Coach to Enniskillen

A relaxing morning to enjoy all the amenities our accommodation has to offer. Later we join our coach and head east into Northern Ireland and County Fermanagh where we stop at the Belle Isle Estate for our lunchtime cooking demonstration. Our instructor and head chef, Joe Kelly, is passionate about sharing the flavours and recipes of Ireland with visitors. Even if cooking is “not your thing,” Joe makes the class fun and informative, and, of course, you get to taste all his wonderful creations: Irish soda bread with local churned creamy butter, a hearty Irish stew filled with local produce, flaky scones that melt in your mouth along with a wonderful selection of Irish sweets. With the recipes in hand as we leave, we will leave wanting to make all the dishes for our friends when we get home. From here it is a short drive to our hotel where we will have a free evening.

Accommodation: Manor House Hotel

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Duration1 Night
Day 10

Coach Enniskillen to Belfast

We continue east this morning for our mid-morning arrival into Belfast, capital city of Northern Ireland. On arrival, we enjoy an informative tour of the city. The tour will take in the leaning Albert Memorial Clock tower (Irelands answer to the Tower of Pisa) and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. Our tour will also pass by the City Hall, the Opera house, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queens University and the Botanic Gardens. A visit to the Shankill and Falls road districts will be of interest as it will give us some insight of how life was in Belfast during “The Troubles” of the 1970’s and 80’s. This afternoon, we visit the Ulster Museum Northern Ireland’s treasure house of past and present that ranges from Egyptian mummies to modern artistic masterpieces. If you see nothing else be sure to visit the galleries showcasing the time of the “Troubles.”

Accommodation: Clayton Hotel

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Duration2 Nights
Day 11

In Belfast

A fascinating morning is spent at Titanic Belfast where the amazing story unfolds in a stunning building that will take us on a breathtaking journey from ship design and conception through to the aftermath of the disaster. There is so much to see and experience that most people will take up to 3-4 hours to really get the full Titanic Belfast Experience. The remainder of the day is free for those who want to relax or do some final touring and shopping. Tonight we enjoy a “Farewell” Dinner at a popular local restaurant.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Dinner
Day 12

Coach Belfast to Dublin - Fly Dublin to Hometown

A short 2 hour drive south takes us back to Dublin and the airport where we connect with our flights home.

Meal Plan Breakfast

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