2017 Ireland


Sunday, 9 July 2017, Fly from USA

Day 1: Monday 10 July 2017 – Welcome to Ireland 

I have sent out vouchers with specific directions on how to use it to get into the city. Day free to explore the city with your Hop On, Hop Off Bus Pass. (Be sure and print the voucher to give to the driver.) You can get on and off at any of the 33 stops dotted at the most popular sites around the city.  Hop on-hop off. Easy and relaxing. And if you have time and stamina, visit the National Museum of Ireland The National Museum houses artefacts which date from 7,000 BC to the 20th century. The Kildare Street site is home to artefacts from Viking times displayed alongside Celtic masterpieces and it houses one of the largest collections of Bronze Age gold in the world. The centrepiece of the collection is the Ardagh Chalice, which dates back to 800 AD. The museum also includes an exhibition dealing with Ireland’s struggle for independence from 1916-1922. The Museum has many excellent displays. Of particular note are the Brighter Hoard, Tara Brooch, Ardagh Chalice and the Derrynaflan Hoard. The museum has a pleasant cafe and bookstore. Our hotel is located in The Temple Bar area, one of Dublin’s liveliest spots. Enjoy your stroll around the area. Early dinner (6:00) at nearby Luigi Malones, bed & breakfast at the Morgan Hotel in Dublin.

Day 2: Tuesday 11 July – Dublin’s Fair City

Breakfast at the hotel (every morning on tour) At 8:45 we will depart the hotel to walk to Trinity College & Book of Kells. (Entrance included.) 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. Trinity was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory and is the oldest University in Ireland. The Campanile, erected in 1852, was built on what is believed to be the centre of the monastery. Built to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families, restrictions were imposed to prevent Catholic from attending courses. These restrictions were not fully lifted until the 1970’s. Trinity however admitted women in 1902, earlier than most British universities.  Most of the main buildings off the main square were built during the Georgian period, some of which replaced older buildings.  Within its walls, you will be able to admire Parliament Square and its 18th Century edifices. Trinity College has had many famous students such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett who later became a lecturer in French at the university.  The Inter-denominational Church is very much worth a visit, should it be open during your visit.

Continue using your Hop On, Hop Off pass for the rest of the day. Consider visiting the National Gallery of Ireland. Opened in 1864 the National Gallery of Ireland houses some fine pieces, from artists such as Jack B Yeats, Rembrandt, El Greco, Goya and Picasso. More than 600 works are on display in the gallery and, although there is much emphasis on Irish landscape and portraits, every major school of European painting is well represented.  A Caravaggio ~ the Taking of Christ, was rediscovered in a Dublin Jesuit study in 1990 and it now proudly hangs in the Italian room of the Gallery. The gallery has 4 wings. The Dargan wing houses the imposing Shaw room lined with full-length portraits and illuminated by a series of spectacular Waterford crystal chandeliers. The Central Milltown Rooms were added in 1899 and house the Russborough House collection, while the North wing was added in 1964 and it houses British and European artists.  The Millennium wing was added in 2000 to accommodate a visiting Impressionist exhibition.
7:00 dinner at Quay’s Restaurant, bed & breakfast at the Morgan Hotel in Dublin

Day 3: Wednesday 12 July – Dublin to Kinsale

This morning depart Dublin for Kinsale with en route visit to the House of Waterford Crystal. Arrive in Kinsale and check into the hotel.
Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale

Day 4: Thursday 13 July – Kinsale Bay Cruise

This morning enjoy a scenic and relaxing cruise along Kinsale Bay. Step aboard for a unique trip that offers you a spectacular opportunity to view Kinsale from the water. A perfect combination of culture, information, relaxation and stunning scenery. Kinsale has a wealth of historic sites and our tour gives you a birds eye view and an opportunity to appreciate them in context. Jerome’s commentary gives a brief history with anecdotal legends and an insight into how the town has developed over the centuries. Leaving the quay, the boat passes the yacht marina and on by the picturesque former fishing village of Scilly. The boat goes close to the shore to allow passengers a chance to glimpse seals, otters, herons, shags cormorants, terns and other flora and fauna. Further on the boat passes by Charles Fort, which was built in the late 1600’s to reinforce the defences of the harbor. Afternoon free to continue exploring Kinsale,  Kinsale is a lovely picturesque little town, considered the gourmet capital of Ireland and famous for its gourmet festival. The town was the site of one of the most important battles in Irish history when in 1601 the Spain and Irish joined forces against a common enemy the English. Despite a defeat the Spanish influences can still be seen in the winding streets and architecture of the town’s buildings today. Lunch under own arrangements, dinner (included) in local restaurant
Overnight, bed & breakfast at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale

Day 5: Friday 14 July – Blarney Castle

This morning Visit Blarney Castle. Attracting visitors from all over the world, Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney village, 8 km from Cork City. An ancient stronghold of the McCarthy’s, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles, and indeed one of the strongest fortresses in Munster.  Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend. The Castle gardens covering 60 acres of land are under constant change and over the past few years, a water garden, fern garden and poison garden have been developed and are all open to the visitor.
Lunch at a local pub or restaurant on return to Kinsale. The rest of the afternoon and evening free to explore this charming town. Dinner on your own.
Overnight, bed & breakfast at Trident Hotel in Kinsale

Day 6: Saturday 15 July — Kinsale to Dingle via Beara Peninsula

This morning we will depart Kinsale for Dingle along the stunning Beara Peninsula
First Stop visit to Bantry House & Gardens. Bantry House is the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry. The title lapsed in 1891 but the House is still owned and lived in by the direct descendant of the 1st Earl of Bantry, Egerton Shelswell-White and his family. It has been open to the public since 1946. The House has an important collection of art treasures mainly collected by the 2nd Earl of Bantry on his Grand Tour. The treasures include a unique collection of French and Flemish tapestries, furniture, and carpets and objects of art. The Garden is laid out in the Italian style over seven terraces, with the house sitting on the third terrace. A Parterre was created facing south surrounding a wisteria circle which again surrounds a fountain. From there rise the famous Hundred Steps, a monumental staircase built of local stone, set amidst azaleas and rhododendron. From the top garden at the top of the stairs, stunning views over Bantry Bay await the visitor. Bantry House hosts a number of events including classical and traditional music festivals, food festivals, outdoor theatre, and is a popular location for filming. A small cafe is open in the house during the season. Lunch en route under own arrangements
We continue along the Beara Peninsula to Dingle to visit Garnish Island. The Harbour Queen Ferries provide a regular service to the Gardens of Llnacullin on Garnish Island. Ferries depart from Glengarriff Pier every 30 minutes during the season (April 1 – October 31). The ferries are purpose built enclosed waterbuses which will whisk us to the island in safety and comfort. Garnish is a unique Island that plays host to a multitude of plant variations, and the blanket of summer colouring which covers the Island creates a rainbow of colour. The Island has a wonderful history and its unusual micro climate allows a range of exotic subtropical plant species to flourish. There are a number of walks and interesting buildings on the Island. On route to the Island you will enjoy the magnificent views of the bay and also pass Seal Island with its colony of harbour seals. The seals are very photogenic and are happy to pose for photos! After the visit, we continue to Dingle.Dinner in local restaurant, bed & breakfast at the Dingle Skellig Hotel in Kerry.

Day 7: Sunday 16 July – Dingle Peninsula

This morning we will explore the Dingle Peninsula
Some of the finest coastal scenery to be seen in Ireland can be found in West Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula, the most northern of the Kerry Peninsulas. This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and Christian churches. It is also a ‘Gaeltacht’ (Irish speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved.  Dingle town itself is a thriving fishing town and offers plenty of opportunity for shopping or simply savouring the atmosphere of a typical country Irish town with its plentiful pubs, narrow streets and busy harbour.  The road around the Peninsula is truly spectacular. It passes through a chain of Mountains, called Slieve Mish. From Inch, a long beach bordered by dunes and made famous by David Lean’s movie “Ryan’s daughter,” admire the Iveragh Peninsula and Rossbeigh Beach. From Dingle, drive around the coast to Slea Head. Here the blue of the marine landscape surrounds the Blasket Islands, deserted since 1953. In the distance are the two rocky Skellig islands, where the ruins of an early Christian Monastery can be found. The Dingle Peninsula will charm you with its villages painted in bright colours and will bewitch you with the dramatic beauty of its landscapes.Spend the rest of the day at leisure in Dingle, taking in the scenery, pubs, cafes, craft shops and locals. Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at the Dingle Skellig Hotel in Kerry

Day 8: Monday 17 July – Dingle to Connemara

Today we make our way further North along the West Coast to Connemara
First, we make a short crossing aboard the Shannon Car Ferry from Tarbert to Killimer. Next we visit the Cliffs of Moher. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, 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. To the south of the cliffs is Hag’s Head and was once the site of a castle.  The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’ Brien’s Tower. Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle), built a Tower at the cliffs in order to Enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The Tower is adjacent to the sea stack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife.Lunch (independent) is available at the visitor center. We then continue to Connemara through the Burren region. Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at the Connemara Coast Hotel in Galway.

Day 9: Tuesday 18 July – Connemara & Kylemore Abbey

Today we will explore Connemara, a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains. A land of small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language and where little has changed little since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland. Connemara is a vast peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south ~ a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages.  On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secret, with spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas. Connemara is a real paradise for Nature lovers and those in search of strong emotions.
After lunch (independent), visit Kylemore Abbey, located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. A Mitchell Henry built the House in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area.  The architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period. One of Kylemore Abbey’s most famous features is its miniature cathedral, built in 1870 and known locally as the Gothic church. Today, the abbey is home to the Irish order of Benedictine nuns. They bought the house in 1920, having fled their convent in war-torn Belgium in 1914. They established a private school for young girls, which today is the renowned Kylemore Abbey International School for young girls. Facilities at Kylemore include a visitor centre, an exhibition housed in the main reception rooms of the house and a video which takes the visitor through the history of the house and its occupants.
Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at the Connemara Coast Hotel in Galway

Day 10: Wednesday 19 July – Connemara to Belfast Via Belleek

Today we depart for Belfast in Northern Ireland with en route stop in Fermanagh for a visit to Belleek Pottery. The world famous brand of Belleek pottery has its home in an imposing Victorian building in the village of Belleek on the river Erne. Awarded a 4 star visitor attraction grading in 2013 and ‘Best Visitor Experience Of The Year 2014’ at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, it features a museum, tearoom, video theatre and a showroom. The guided tour covers all of the production areas offering guests the possibility of meeting with the craftspeople, observing their craftsmanship working on the different handmade pieces. As you walk through the museum you will experience the journey through the life of the Pottery from the early earthenware days to the present day fine translucent Parian China. Lunch (independent) and continue to Belfast.
Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

Day 11: Thursday 20 July – Belfast City Tour & Titanic

After breakfast meet your local step on guide for the Belfast City Tour A guided city tour is an excellent way to discover Belfast 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. Your tour will pass by the City Hall, the Opera house, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queens University and the Botanic Gardens.  Some tours will take in a visit to the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard, where the Titanic was built and launched in 1912.  A visit to the Shankill and Falls road will be of interest as it will give the visitor an indication of how life was in Belfast during the troubles. 
Next, we visit Titanic BelfastLocated in the heart of Belfast, the Titanic Belfast recreates the story of the world’s most famous ship in a new iconic, six floor building right beside the historic site of the original ship’s construction. Opened in April 2012 to coincide with the centenary of its launch, the self guided journey begins on entering the building’s giant atrium, where the visitor is surrounded by the four ‘ship’s hull’ shaped wings which house the Titanic Experience. As you journey through the nine large galleries of the interactive exhibition, you will uncover the true story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. Highlights include breath taking views to the slip-ways where the Titanic was launched and the Voyage to the bottom of the sea in the unique Ocean Exploration Centre with live links to contemporary undersea exploration. The centre includes restaurants for lunch (independent) and the Titanic Store for a shopping experience. NOTE: I will ask our driver to run a shuttle back to the hotel leaving every hour at specified times. This is truly one of the finest modern museums that I know. You will have the opportunity to stay as long as your stamina and interest dictates.
Dinner at nearby local restaurant, bed & breakfast at the Europa Hotel in Belfast

Day 12: Friday 21 July – Belfast to Dublin 

This morning depart Belfast for Dublin. After arrival in Dublin, we will first visit the GPO Witness History Museum. Here we we will have a guide take us through the troubled history of Ireland during the 20th Century. I found it fascinating. Following the visit, we will check into the Morgan Hotel. Depart hotel in time to walk to dinner at Milano, a local restaurant, followed by a live production of Riverdance in the Gaiety Theater where it first premiered some 20+ years ago. Overnight, bed & breakfast at the Morgan Hotel in Dublin.

Day 13: Saturday 22 July – Dublin to USA

After a final breakfast at the hotel we will make our way to the Dublin Airport. A shuttle bus (ticket included) leaves every 15 minutes from a stop about a block from the hotel.

Laurence Barker  SLDW  22 July, UA 127, 12:25
Sharon Budd & Nadya Peck SLDW (SB), 10 July, BA 824, 7:05P (NP) Independent Travel (NP) 22 July, EI 129, 13:35 (SB)
Gail Jarratt & Carrol Smith SLDW 22 July, AA 723, 11:20 (CS) 23 July, AA 209, 9:55 (GJ)
Robert & Luisa Price SLDW 22 July, AA 725, 9:55A
Melinda Young 10 July, AA 724, 6:40A 22 July, AA 725, 9:55
Tom & Melissa Mieras  10 July, AA 724, 6:40A 22 July, AA 725, 9:55
Richard & Marcia Agnew 09 July, EI 44, 14:05 22 July, EI 45, 15:00
La Rue Atterbury & Antoinette Acone 10 July, DL 176 8:50 (LRA), SLDW (AA) 22 July, UA 22, 9:00A (AA) 22 July, DL 177 10:50A (LRA)
Scott Anderson & Janet Woltman 10 July, UA 152, 7:30A 22 July, UA 153, 9:20
Bob & Karen Moody 10 July, UA23, 7:05A 22 July, UA 22, 9:00A
Scott & Merri Plummer  09 July, AA 290, 6:50A 22 July, AA 725, 9:25A