Day 1 – Sunday 21st May Depart USA Flight AA724 Depart Charlotte 6:10pm Arrive Dublin 6.45am 22nd May
Overnight flight. Dinner & refreshments will be served. You will awaken this morning to your first glimpse of Ireland’s forty shades of green.
Day 2 – Monday 22nd May Arrive in Dublin Travel to Galway via Clonmacnoise
Cead Mile Failte! One hundred thousand welcomes! Upon clearing customs you will be met by your Irish Tour Director and escorted to your deluxe motor coach. We begin the journey to Galway, stopping along the way for a hearty Irish cooked breakfast. Our drive to Galway is via the Midlands stopping off at Clonmacnoise, an early Christian site founded by St. Ciaran in the mid-6th century. It is on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes ruins of a cathedral, churches, round towers and high crosses and the largest collection of early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. Upon arrival we take a panoramic sightseeing tour of Galway City. Galway is also known as the “City of Tribes”. The name refers to 14 important Anglo-Norman merchant families who lived there and dominated the life and trade of the city during the Middle Ages. After check-in at the hotel, you are free to relax for a few hours after your flight. Later this evening, we will enjoy a welcome cocktail reception followed by dinner in our hotel.
Dinner & Overnight: Ardilaun Hotel, Galway
Day 3 – Tuesday 23rd May Connemara & Kylemore Abbey
After a hearty Irish breakfast, we leave our hotel to explore the rugged yet serene Connemara area which John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara made famous in the classic movie, “The Quiet Man”. This rocky land of broad-backed mountains and pearl-like lakes is the largest Irish speaking section of the country. The old traditions and way of life are as much a part of Connemara’s attractions as is the scenery. Sit back and relax as we drive through this tranquil area. Our next stop of the day is Kylemore Abbey, the only Irish home of the Benedictine Nuns. Built originally as a castle, it is one of the best examples of Irish neo-gothic architecture. The estate features include a Victorian walled garden, restored Abbey reception rooms, Gothic Church, tranquil walks, craft shop, pottery and a restaurant. We continue to our hotel to enjoy some free time. For dinner, choose from an array of local restaurants and pubs. You will be spoilt for choice!
Overnight: Ardilaun Hotel, Galway
Day 4 – Wednesday 24th May Galway City to Killarney via Cliffs of Moher
After breakfast this morning, we travel south driving through the charming villages of Kinvara & Ballyvaughan and through the Burren in County Clare. The Burren is an area of barren limestone hills which bursts into bloom each spring with rare flowers. We continue out to the coast to the awesome Cliffs of Moher, one of the most outstanding features of this County. Rising sheer above the sea to nearly 700 feet and extending along the coast for nearly five miles these cliffs form one of the grandest stretches of cliffs in these islands. Continuing southwards, we drive through the village of Bunratty until we reach our destination of Killarney, County Kerry, our central base for the next two days. After check in you will have some time to freshen up before dinner this evening in the hotel.
Dinner & Overnight: International Hotel, Killarney
Day 5 – Thursday 25th May Dingle Peninsula
After breakfast, we set out for our tour to the beautifully rugged & scenic Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands Visitor Center. This group of islands to the west of Slea Head was inhabited until 1953. Many of Ireland's great Gaelic literary figures were born and raised on the great Blasket Islands. This peninsula was also made famous by two movies “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Far & Away”. On return to Killarney the rest of the day is free for you to explore the town at your leisure. You could take a jaunting car ride through the park to Ross Castle, enjoy shopping on the High Street or explore the many traditional pubs for some “Ceol agus Craic”!
Overnight: International Hotel, Killarney
Day 6 – Friday 26th May Killarney to Cork
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we set out for Cork City. Our tour this morning will take us via the stunning coastal towns of Glengariff & Bantry in West Cork. From here, we will continue our journey visiting the beautiful village of Blarney, home of the famous Blarney Castle, one of the oldest landmarks in County Cork. It is best known for its famous “Blarney Stone” which as tradition dictates confers the gift of eloquence upon all those who kiss it. Blarney Woollen Mills flagship store is located in this picturesque village and is housed in one of Ireland’s oldest and most authentic Woollen Mills. We arrive in Cork in the late afternoon where we have some time to freshen up before we gather for dinner this evening at our hotel.
Dinner & Overnight: River Lee Hotel, Cork
Day 7 – Saturday 27th May Explore County Cork
After breakfast this morning we visit the Cobh Heritage Centre. Cobh was the last bit of Irish soil millions of Irish had under their feet before migrating to America in the 19th and 20th century. It was also the last port of call of the S.S. Titanic as it departed on its ill-fated first and last voyage to America. We continue to Kinsale where we enjoy a wonderful guided walking tour. Originally a medieval fishing port, historic Kinsale is one of the most picturesque, popular and historic towns on the south west coast of Ireland. Kinsale has, over the years, gained a wide reputation as a gourmet's paradise, boasting some of the best seafood restaurants in Ireland. It is also home to many photographic sites including Desmond Castle and the historical Charles Fort where you will have plenty of photo opportunities. The town of Kinsale and its surrounding area boast many small craft shops and traditional craft workers. In the afternoon, we return to Cork City. Fr Roch will concelebrate mass in Saint Peters and Paul’s Church at 6pm. Later this evening you will be able to explore the city & its many pubs and restaurants for some “ceol agus craic”.
Overnight: River Lee Hotel, Cork
Day 8 – Sunday 28th May Cork to Kilkenny
After breakfast, we bid farewell to Cork and depart for Kilkenny. We travel on and visit the Rock of Cashel, one of the most spectacular archeological sites in Ireland. This mound of limestone bristling with ancient fortifications and mighty stone walls encircle a complete round tower, a roofless abbey, a 12th century Romanesque chapel, and numerous other buildings and high crosses. The Rock of Cashel is composed of four structures: The Hall of the Vicars Choral, the cathedral, the round tower, and Cormac's Chapel. On our arrival to Kilkenny, local guide, Pat Tynan, will lead a walking tour. Pat has been conducting medieval walking tours for nearly 30 years and this is a great way to spend an hour or two discovering this beautiful and historic town. After check in this evening we will meet to enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Dinner & Overnight: River Court Hotel, Kilkenny
Day 9 – Monday 29th May Explore Kilkenny
This morning after a hearty Irish breakfast we will start our day at the Smithwick’s Brewery. The Smithwick's Experience is a working brewery turned brewery-tour located on the Medieval Mile in the town. The experience is the original site where Smithwick's was brewed from the 1700s until 2014. Discover the Irish draft that took over 300 years to perfect. Uncover the history of Smithwick’s ale in a city steeped in brewery traditions. This afternoon we will also enjoy time at Kilkenny Castle. This site has dominated the ‘High Town’ of Kilkenny City for over eight centuries. The castle was built by William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke and later became the principal Irish residence of the powerful Butler family for almost 600 years. We return to the hotel in the late afternoon allowing you free time to explore Kilkenny further at your leisure.
Overnight: River Court Hotel, Kilkenny
Day 10 – Tuesday 30th May Kilkenny to Dublin
This morning bid farewell to Kilkenny as we set off east to visit the “Garden of Ireland”, County Wicklow. You will certainly understand why during our drive. First, today we will visit the famous village of Avoca where you can enjoy the oldest working mill in Ireland, famous for its knit wear which is sold and exported worldwide. The village was also used for the filming of the BBC series “Ballykissangel”. While in Glendalough we will enjoy a visit to St. Kevin’s Monastery. The beauty and tranquility of the lakes and the glacial-carved valley no doubt appealed to St Kevin, a hermit monk, who founded the monastic site near the Lower Lake in the 6th Century. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214. We arrive in Dublin in the early evening and after check-in we will enjoy a night of music and entertainment in Nancy Hands pub.
Overnight: Ashling Hotel, Dublin
Day 11 – Wednesday 31st May Explore Dublin
After a leisurely breakfast this morning take a relaxed panoramic tour of Dublin, which although modern and cosmopolitan, still retains the grace and atmosphere of the eighteenth century. Along the way your Tour Director will point out some of the many famous sights and fine architectural buildings and Cathedrals. We will visit the new GPO Witness History attraction. This interpretive exhibition is a touching, immersive experience into the events that helped shape the Republic of Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising in 1916. This afternoon you will be free to explore at your leisure and enjoy the many local attractions. You may choose to take the Luas into the city center and shop on Grafton or Henry Street or enjoy a pint or two at one of the famous pubs.
Overnight: Ashling Hotel, Dublin
Day 12 – Thursday 1st June Depart Ireland Flight AA725 Depart Dublin 9.55am Arrive Charlotte 1.10pm
In the blink of an eye your vacation in Ireland has come to an end! After a leisurely breakfast, bid farewell as we board our coach to Dublin Airport. Then, it's on board, leaving behind the "land of a thousand welcomes" sparkling in a setting of a silver coastline and decorated with a patchwork of emerald fields.