Day 1 :
Departure from your airport
- Depart from North America:
Relax and enjoy our scheduled flight from North America.
Our 24-hour Tour Director will meet us at the airport and remain with us until our final airport departure.
Day 2 :
Arrive in Shannon - Kilfenora - The Burren - Galway Area
- The Burren:
We will have use of a private coach and driver, while touring for the next seven days.
Enjoy one of Ireland's and Europe's most interesting and scenic areas, The Burren. Carved by nature from carboniferous limestone, the view manages to be both desolate and beautiful. Sheets of rock jut out and seem to undulate in a kind of moonscape as far as the eye can see. We will stop to view the unique rock formations, as well as the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb dating back to 2500 BC. Somehow delicate wildflowers and curling ferns thrive in this strange landscape that was created 300 million years ago.
The historic city of Galway is strongly associated with Gaelic language, music, and dance, and is one of the most Irish cities in the country. The lively and bustling university town was very prominent in the Middle Ages, and was the site of a nine-month siege during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. With history, culture, and beautiful surroundings, Galway is a favorite of visitors to the west coast.
Visit the town’s Cathedral, a church from the 12th century featuring a roofless chancel and sculptured capitals.
Take time to walk amongst the High Crosses before entering the Burren Centre, an excellent exhibit on the geology and fauna of the area and the impact of man on this distinctive landscape.
Our base for the next one night will be Galway area, where breakfast and dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 3 :
Galway - Connemara - Westport Area
During the course of our tour we will gain from the knowledge and insight of two half-day local guides while we are here in Ireland.
Connemara, located in County Galway, is a mystical area where Gaelic is still the everyday language and the purest of Ireland’s cultural traditions still live on.
- Kylemore Abbey:
Visit Kylemore Abbey, one of the most beautiful sights in Ireland, sheltered by the slopes of the Twelve Bens. We will view the abbey, explore its gardens and visit the Craft Shop.
- Croagh Patrick:
Explore Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, named for St. Patrick because he spent forty days fasting and praying for the Irish here. We will make the trek to the summit to visit the modern chapel and enjoy the spectacular panoramic views over Clew Bay. The Teach na Miasa Cultural Center has much to offer those who prefer to stay at the base of the mountain.
Our base for the next two nights will be the Westport area, where breakfast and dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 4 :
Knock (the Shrine and Apparition)
The small town of Knock in County Mayo was an average rural community until 1879, when the apparition of three holy figures appeared on the gable of a church. From that point on the town has been one of the primary Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe, with thousands of visitors every year.
Explore the Shrine and Museum at the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, located in Knock. In 1879 an apparition of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared at an altar on the south gable of the church. The apparition was witnessed by at least 15 people and has made this one of the most important Marian shrines and Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe, drawing thousands of visitors every year.
Day 5 :
Westport - Sligo - Enniskillen - Armagh Area
Today we will travel from Westport to Armagh. En route we will stop in Sligo and Enniskillen.
The intriguing town of Sligo sits at the mouth of the River Garavogue, and due to this important position it grew to prominence under the Normans. An ideal base for exploring the Neolithic and cultural sites of the countryside, Sligo is also the arts capital of northwest Ireland.
- Dominican Friary Sligo Abbey:
Visit the Dominican Friary Sligo Abbey founded in 1253, and featuring a wonderfully carved stone high altar, the only example to survive in any monastic church.
Visit Tobernalt to see the cliff well that is known for its healing waters. This pilgrimage site dates from Celtic times and still serves today as a shrine in the Christian tradition.
We will continue to the Dundalk area, which will be our base for the next one night. While here, we will enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel
Day 6 :
Armagh - Downpatrick - Dublin
Today we will travel from Armagh Area to Dublin via Downpatrick.
Pay a visit to Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, standing proudly atop the hill from which the City of Armagh derives its name – Ard Macha; the hill of Macha. According to tradition, St Patrick built a church on this hill in 445. The plan of the Cathedral as it now stands, was designed by Archbishop O’Scanlain in 1268. Originally built as a Catholic Cathedral, this St. Patrick’s was taken over by the Church of Ireland during reformation.
Stop at Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, located atop an adjoining hill less than half a mile away from its sister, St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland. This somewhat imposing, twin-spired, cathedral was built in the French Gothic style. Construction began in 1840, but work was suspended during the Irish Famine of 1845-48. The Cathedral was finally dedicated for worship in 1873, but the grand interior decoration was not completed until early in the 20th century. The cathedral was finally consecrated in 1904.
Downpatrick, in east County Down, Northern Ireland, is one of the island’s most ancient and historic towns. Despite the prehistoric and Norman remnants surrounding the area, the main draw is the town’s connections to St. Patrick, who is said to have been buried here in AD 461.
Stop at Inch Abbey a Cistercian Monastery built by the conqueror John de Courcy around 1180. The English Monks that founded the abbey would not allow Irishmen to join their ranks thereby changing the composition of the area from Irish to English.
For the next two evenings we will enjoy our Dublin area hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
Tonight we will enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 7 :
Dublin is a complex small city, whose 19th-century architecture conceals a modern place filled with trendy shops, pubs, restaurants and boutiques. Long perceived to be stuck in the past, Dublin has experienced a rebirth that has brought new life to the historic, modern, charming, and entertaining city. Spend time wandering the Victorian streets, visiting the incredible churches and museums, exploring the vibrancy of the Temple Bar area, and discovering why Dublin is one of the most popular destinations for Europeans and the world.
- St. Patrick's Cathedral:
Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is said that St. Patrick baptized converts on this site. Consequently, a church has stood here since 450 AD, making it the oldest Christian site in Dublin. The cathedral’s design is primarily Early English in style, and features a 300-foot-long interior and a square medieval tower that houses the largest ringing peal bells of Ireland. St. Patrick's is closely associated with Jonathan Swift, who was dean from 1713 to 1745, and whose tomb lies in the south aisle.
- Trinity College:
Discover Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland. Trinity was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. The beautiful campus features cobbled squares, gardens, a picturesque quadrangle and buildings that date from the 17th to 20th centuries. Trinity College is also home to the Book of Kells, an 8th-century version of the four Gospels decorated with elaborate scripting and illumination. We will view this famous treasure and other early Christian manuscripts in the Colonnades, an exhibition area on the ground floor of the Old Library.
- National Museum:
Tour the National Museum. Established in 1890, the museum is a reflection of Ireland's heritage from 2000 B.C. to the present. It houses many of the country's greatest historical finds, including the Treasury exhibit that features the Ardagh Chalice, Tara Brooch and Cross of Cong, the Wood Quay excavations of the Old Dublin Settlements, and an extensive exhibition of Irish Bronze Age gold ornaments dating from 2200 to 700 B.C.
Tonight we will enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 8 :
Departure from Dublin
- Depart Dublin for home:
Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our Tour Director accompanies us to the airport on our final day.