Ireland will sweep you away with its lyrical vistas, elaborate castles and spirited history. Experience the stunning castles from within and without as you spend several unforgettable nights in regal splendor at Ashford and Dromoland Castles and see for yourself how your dreams are affected when you spend your nights in a place that has hosted colorful dreams and distinguished dreamers for hundreds of years. Sparkling streams are clearer than you could imagine and lush rolling hills boast more shades of green than any photo or canvas could ever capture. From Kilkenny and Kenmare to Limerick in the north and onto the west coast of Ireland, you’ll marvel at the beauty, energy and variety of experiences in this lovely land of unparalleled treasures.
You are met on arrival and taken to the Hotel Merrion. Located in the elegant Georgian center of the city, your hotel is pedestrian friendly, with top restaurants all around. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
The Hotel Merrion, Dublin
Enjoy a full day private tour through this vibrant capital city with its mix of 1,000 years of architecture, from the medieval to Georgian to modern. See the Georgian squares of Merrion, lush St. Stephens Green and Fitzwilliam Square, as well as Phoenix Park, and O’Connell Street, site of the 1916 Uprising that led to Ireland’s independence in 1922. Visit Trinity College - see the Long Room, and the Old Library to view the historic Book of Kells manuscript. Tour the Norman St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as your guide elaborates its history with tales of Jonathan Swift and Gulliver’s Travels. End your day with a tasty visit to the modern Guinness Storehouse, and the brewing that began in 1759.(B)
The Hotel Merrion, Dublin
This morning drive inland through Glendalough, a beautiful hidden valley and home to the 7th century monastery founded by St. Kevin. Continue across the emerald-green mountain scenery of Wicklow Way, before arriving in Kilkenny, a charming city with narrow winding streets. Visit Kilkenny Castle, built in late 12th century, it is a picturesque blend of Gothic and Classical styles, with conical topped towers giving it the flavor of a French chateau. Explore nearby 13th century St. Canice’s Cathedral, the second longest in Ireland. Stay tonight in Mount Juliet Conrad hotel, a modern country estate.(B)
Mount Juliet Conrad Hotel, Kilkenny
Cashel, Cork Kenmare
This morning drive to the village of Cashel to see the dramatic Rock of Cashel. This 4th century church and tower was built on a limestone outcrop that precariously hangs 200 feet above the town. Continue south to the historic city of Cork, “Ireland’s little Venice.” This city of hills and bridges has always played a strong role in the politics and history of Ireland. Your guide will explain Cork’s early history in fact and fable (as is the Irish way), from its position as the center of learning in the early 7th century, to when it became a Norman stronghold in the 12th century. Next, head west to visit Blarney Castle, and the famous Blarney Stone, that legend says bestows the power of eloquence on all who kiss it. Stay the next two nights in Kenmare, at the centrally located Park Hotel, a Victorian Country house that has one of the best spas in Ireland.(B)
The Park Hotel, Kenmare
This morning visit Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens, a 19th century manor house, situated on the shores of beautiful Muckross Lake. Surrounded by informal gardens filled with rhododendrons and azaleas, water gardens, and a natural limestone rock garden, the house is known for its natural beauty and the colorful Irish folklore. Explore the town of Killarney before taking the scenic drive along the famous Ring of Kerry. This nearly 40-mile circular route reveals ever-changing vistas of mountains, cliffs, beaches and the Atlantic Ocean. Travel through the colorful villages en route, and stop at Moll’s Gap for a picture-perfect panorama of the valley with its three deep blue mountain lakes.(B)
The Park Hotel, Kenmare
Adare, Limerick Bunratty
Today drive north, stopping in the village of Adare, renowned as Ireland’s prettiest village, with its pastel colored thatched cottages and glorious gothic churches. Explore Limerick, a city that gained international notoriety through the story of “Angela’s Ashes.” Visit the Hunt Museum to see one of Ireland’s great private collections of art and antiques, including work from medieval times as well as art by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso and Yeats. This afternoon arrive at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The castle, dating back to the mid 15th century, is the most complete example of a medieval castle in Ireland. The Bunratty Folk Park depicts life through the 17th to 19th century in rural Ireland through a series of cottages, houses and street scenes. (B)
Dromoland Castle, Bunratty
The West Coast Galway
This morning drive west to see the Cliffs of Moher, where the multi-colored limestone cliffs drop vertically 700 feet to the raging Atlantic surf below. The views along this five-mile stretch of coastline are dramatic in any weather; stop to walk up to O’Brien’s Tower for incredible views. On a clear day you can see the Aran Islands. Next explore the rounded hills of the Burren, where the porous limestone has allowed the rain to flow through, creating a network of underground rivers, lakes and waterfalls. There is an abundance of alpine and arctic flora, along with many prehistoric burial chambers, tombs and Dolmens. This afternoon arrive in Galway. Founded in the late 12th century, while under the control of the “tribe” families, Galway developed an extensive trade business with Continental Europe and the West Indies. The city has a medieval network of narrow streets that has expanded over the centuries to include cathedrals, a large university and modern industries. Spend the next two nights in nearby Ashford Castle.(B)
Ashford Castle, Cong
Today enjoy a full day exploration of scenic Connemara, with its rugged purple mountains, deep blue lakes, and shimmering seascapes. Visit Kylemore Abbey, idyllically situated in the heart of Connemara, amidst rivers, lakes and the rolling hills. Once a 19th century neo-Gothic mansion, with massive walls and gracious windows, it is now a prestigious boarding school. Take a look through the exquisite chapel and reception rooms. (B)
Ashford Castle, Cong
Today you are taken to Shannon airport for your flight home or on to your next destination.(B)
September 30, 2011
From $6,895.00 per person double occupancy.
From $3,475.00 single room supplement.
November 30, 2011
From $6,395.00 per person double occupancy.
From $3,095.00 single room supplement.
December 31, 2011
From $6,685.00 per person double occupancy.
From $3,235.00 single room supplement.
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- All transfers and fully guided daily sightseeing provided by a private deluxe A/C vehicle
- Local English-speaking guide for sightseeing in each city
- Entrance fees per final scheduled itinerary
- Airport porterage, where available (2 bags per person)
- Local taxes
- TravcoAssist (Medical Travel Assistance Plan)
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.