September 22 to October 5, 2022
A comprehensive tour of the Emerald Isle, featuring the great cities of Dublin and Belfast, picturesque small towns such as Donegal, Galway, and Killarney, superb coastal scenery at the Cliffs of Moher and along the Ring of Kerry, the fascinating landscapes of Connemara and the Burren - in addition to very comfortable hotels and excellent food! Price information to follow.
Evening departure from Toronto to Dublin on Aer Lingus.
Arrival in Dublin, and transfer to the historic town of Drogheda. Visit to the site of the fateful 1690 Battle of the Boyne, a dramatic turning point in the history of the island. Then we check into the centrally located first-class/4-star d Hotel – yes, that’s its name! (www.thedhotel.com). Afternoon free. Dinner in the hotel.
Morning visit to Brú na Bóinne (“Palace of the Boyne”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring Europe’s largest collection of prehistoric megalithic monuments, much older than the Pyramids of Egypt! On across the now virtually invisible border between the Republic and Northern Ireland to the small town of Downpatrick, for a visit to the tomb of Saint Patrick, located within the grounds of Down Cathedral, and the adjoining Saint Patrick Visitor Centre. Afternoon arrival in the capital, Belfast. Dinner and overnight in a centrally-located hotel.
Morning sightseeing tour of Belfast, with sights such as City Hall, Saint Anne's Cathedral, Royal Avenue, the main shopping street, Belfast Castle, Stormont Parliament Buildings, and the Political Murals of the nationalist Falls and the unionist Shankill city districts. Also visit to “Titanic Belfast,” a new, world-class exhibition on the famous liner that was built in a local shipyard (www.titanicbelfast.com/Home.aspx). Rest of the day at leisure. No group dinner this evening.
After breakfast, we drive from Belfast to the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland, the Giants’ Causeway, tens of thousands of interlocking basalt columns, created by an ancient volcanic eruption, starting at the base of a cliff and gradually disappearing in the sea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant%27s_Causeway). Afterwards we head for Bushmills, established in 1609, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, for a tasting of their famous product. On to the historical town of Derry (or, as some prefer, Londonderry) for some free time to explore the ancient fortifications, shopping, dinner, and overnight in the 4-star Maldron Derry Hotel (www.maldronhotelderry.com).
Departure from Donegal after breakfast. We motor south to Sligo through scenery that inspired much of the poetry of the famous Noble Prize-winning Irish poet, W. B. Yeats, whose grave we visit in the village of Drumcliffe. On to Turlough for a visit to the excellent Museum of Country Life, and to the very picturesque village of Cong, where we explore the ruins of an ancient monastery. Arrival in Galway, the most important city in West Ireland, and a very popular tourist destination full of historical buildings, museums, interesting shops…and lively pubs! Did you know that Columbus visited here prior to his famous crossing of the Atlantic? Dinner and overnight in the first-class/4-star Connacht Hotel (www.theconnacht.ie).
Today we explore the Connemara Peninsula, barren and windswept but considered to be one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere in the world, with mountains, lakes, bogs, heaths, and forests. The inhabitants of this region still speak Gaelic, the original, Celtic language of the island. Our tour includes stops in quaint coastal communities such as Clifden and Letterfrack as well as a visit to Kylemore Abbey, Ireland’s most romantic Castle, surrounded by magnificent Victorian gardens. Return to Galway in late afternoon and free time to check out the historical city centre, including the monument to Columbus, shop, have a pint in a pub! No group dinner this evening.
An optional excursion will be offered to the rocky Aran Islands, featuring what some claim to the most beautiful scenery in the world, including absolutely spectacular cliffs! (http://wikitravel.org/en/Aran_Islands). Dinner in the restaurant of our hotel.
We leave Galway and drive around Galway Bay to explore the Burren National Park, a fascinating karst landscape (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren), and pause to admire the Cliffs of Moher, an impressive wall of rock rising as high as 200 m above the waters of the Atlantic Ocean! On to the quaint village of Bunratty in County Clare for visits to its authentic medieval castle and the neighbouring Folk Park, where reconstructed old cottages and historical buildings recreate the atmosphere of 19th century rural Ireland. In the afternoon we stop in Foynes, where Pan Am Clippers used to land in the 1930s and 1940s, and visit the Flying Boat Museum. Overnight in the 4-star Hotel Arbutus (www.arbutuskillarney.com) in Killarney, a popular tourist town in Southwestern Ireland’s County Kerry.
Today we drive the Ring of Kerry, 150 km of breathtaking scenery and arguably the most beautiful coastal road in Europe! We stop frequently for photos, of course. Also visits to a farm for a sheepdog demonstration and to the Skellig Experience, a series of displays about the lives of the hermits who lived in total isolation on the offshore Skellig Islands during the Middle Ages, and about the wildlife along the coast. Return to Killarney in late afternoon. No group dinner this evening.
Departure from Killarney after breakfast. We motor to Cork and visit nearby Blarney Castle, famous for the Blarney stone that supposedly gives the gift of eloquence to all those who kiss it! Also time for some shopping at the Blarney Woollen Mills, the world’s largest Irish gift shop. In the afternoon we visit the Rock of Cashel, “Ireland’s Acropolis”, with the ruins of its 12th century church on our way to Dublin. Transfer to our superior tourist-category located in the heart of the Irish capital. No group dinner this evening.
After breakfast, panoramic coach tour of the Irish capital, with O’Connell Street and the Spire as well as the General Post Office, which served as headquarters of the Irish Rebels during the 1916 Easter Rising; Ha’penny Bridge and the scenic banks of the Liffey River; historic Dublin Castle; Christchurch Cathedral; Merrion Square with its memories of Oscar Wilde; the renovated harbour district with the imposing old Customs House; and Phoenix Park, the largest urban park in Europe, with the residence of the President of Ireland and the US Embassy. In the afternoon, excursion to Glendalough, an idyllic valley associated with one of Ireland’s famous saints, St Kevin, and visit to the romantic ruins of St. Kevin’s Monastery with its typical round tower and Celtic crosses. Return to Dublin and free evening.
After breakfast, short transfer to the airport in time for the return flight to Toronto.
August 17 - 30, 2021
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy
September 05 - 14, 2021
$2,975 Land Only
September 12 - 16, 2021
Land only: $2,775.00 + 15% tax based on double occupancy