15 DAY “IRISH TREASURES”

DAY 1 DUBLIN CASTLE & CITY TOUR
Start your Irish adventure at Dublin airport with a group transfer to your hotel between 7:00 a.m. and 12 noon. If your flight arrives later, transfer to the hotel at your own expenses. At 2:00 p.m., enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin with a local guide to see elegant Georgian squares, Trinity College, St Stephen’s Green, the Famine Memorial and O’Connell street. Visit the State Apartments of Dublin Castle, which contain wonderfully appointed chambers and shimmering Waterford Crystal chandeliers. Return to the hotel for a group get-together and welcome drink. Dinner will be served at the hotel. (D)

DAY 2 NATIONAL STUD & TAYLOR’S THREE ROCK
In Kildare visit the Irish National Stud to see lovely thoroughbreds and learn about breeding and racing. Also walk through the charming Japanese Gardens, laid out over 100 years ago and filled with many fine botanical specimens. On our return to Dublin, we’ll visit Kilmainham Gaol, built between 1792 and 1795. This imposing building has played a part in virtually every act of Ireland’s painful path to independence. Here, leaders of various uprisings through the centuries were held including the martyred leaders of the Easter Uprising of 1916. An excellent audiovisual introduction to the building is followed by a thought-provoking tour of the eerie prison. Dinner tonight will be a special treat at the historic Brazen Head, including traditional music , songs and step-dancing. (B,D)

DAY 3 POWERSCOURT GARDENS, GLENDALOUGH & WATERFORD CRYSTAL
Travel south to the Powerscourt Estate, which has existed in one form or another since 1300. Extensive renovations throughout the centuries have continually changed the character of the main building. Sadly, after total renovations were completed, on the eve of opening to the public in 1974, fire gutted the entire building. After the latest renovation, the public is invited to tour the massive gardens which provide a delight to all the senses at any time of the year, against the magnificent backdrop of Great Sugarloaf Mountain. From there, we’ll continue through the Wicklow Mountains to the Glendalough (“Valley of the Two Lakes”) and the site of the former monastic settlement founded by St Kevin. The substantial ruins, high crosses, round tower and, of course, the mysterious lakes make this a must-visit! We’ll continue on to the ancient port of Waterford. At the House of Waterford Crystal, watch skilled craftspeople blow and cut crustal to create elegant tableware and trophies. We’ll dine at the hotel and the later evening is at your leisure to enjoy Waterford’s nightlife. (B,D)

DAY 4 CORK, BLARNEY CASTLE & KINSALE
Today, we’ll visit the “Second City” of Ireland, Cork, for a visit to the English Market, recently toured by Queen Elizabeth of England, and a wonderland of locally produced yummies. A trip to Blarney Castle follows where you can kiss the “Stone of Eloquence”, walk the gardens or shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills. We’ll check into our hotel in Kinsale, a delightful old fishing town with picturesque views and noted for gourmet dining. (B,D)

DAY 5 KENMARE & KILLARNEY
We’ll drive to Kenmare, at the head of the Beara Peninsula and enjoy splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean. On to Killarney and take a guided tour of stately 19th century Muckross House, perhaps opting for a jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park back to Killarney. Enjoy time at leisure in Killarney and dinner at our hotel. (B,D)

DAY 6 RING OF KERRY
The Ring of Kerry is Ireland’s most thrilling 100 mile drive, with splendid views of towering cliffs, golden beaches, medieval ruins and heathery mountains. Plenty of incredible vantage points from which to take photos! We’ll also cross to Valencia Island to take in the Skellig Experience, providing an understanding of the very austere conditions under which early Christian monks chose to live on the offshore islands, which are now home to a thriving seabird sanctuary. Return to our hotel in Killarney and dinner. (B,D)

DAY 7 FOYNES FLYING BOAT MUSEUM & KNAPPOGUE BANQUET
Visit the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, which recalls the early days of trans-Atlantic flight during the early 20th century. Then on to Limerick for a panoramic tour of the highlights of this ancient city. We’ll check into our hotel, the elegant Dromoland Castle,in Newmarket-on-Fergus and then enjoy a medieval style banquet with entertainment at Knappogue Castle. (B,D)

DAY 8 CLIFFS OF MOHER, THE BURREN & GALWAY
The sheer majesty of the Cliffs of Moher, rising 700 feet over the Atlantic, is breathtaking. From there, we’ll pass through the idyllic villages of Doolin and Lisdoonvarvna on the way to Kilfenora and the Burren Display Centre to learn about the Burren, an area of rounded limestone hills with a rich archaeological past and incredibly varied botanical present. View the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a Neolithic burial place dating to 4000 B.C. We’ll take a look around the village of Ballyvaughan and drive to our hotel in Galway . Dinner at the hotel and then explore night-time Galway on your own. (B,D)

DAY 9 CONNEMARA
Drive to Cong for a guided walk around the village where “The Quiet Man” was filmed in 1952. Drive through the lovely scenery of Connemara to Leenane and enjoy time in the lovely village, perhaps enjoying an Irish coffee or a short cruise of Killary harbour. Make a brief stop at Kylemore Abbey Visitor Center before heading to the delightful market town of Clifden. We’ll return to Galway where you’ll have the evening at leisure to discover delicious seafood, lively music and perhaps indulge in a Galway Hooker (the local beer)! (B)

DAY 10 BELLEEK CHINA & DONEGAL CASTLE
Drive north into County Mayo and visit the pilgrimage town of Knock and in County Sligo view the grave of W.B. Yeats. Tour the Belleek Pottery Factory, founded in 1857 to provide local employment in the wake of the Great Famine. It still creates fine Parian china, especially delicate basketware, and we can see craftspeople at work before visiting the excellent gift shop. In Donegal town, we’ll visit Donegal Castle built in the 15th century by the O’Donnell chieftain. We’ll check into our nearby hotel and enjoy a fine dinner there.(B,D)

DAY 11 SLIEVE LEAGUE MOUNTAINS & DONEGAL
Drive along the magnificent coast of Donegal to view Slieve League mountains as they drop straight down to the wild Atlantic waves creating wonderful photo opportunities. We’ll drive through the Glengesh Pass to Ardara to visit Triona Design for demonstrations of how Donegal tweeds are created. Spend some free time in Donegal town before returning to our hotel for dinner. (B,D)

DAY 12 DERRY WALK, BUSHMILLS & GIANT’S CAUSEWAY
Take a panoramic tour of Derry with a local guide from the award-winning Martin McCrossan City Tours to see Derry’s medieval walls, the Diamond and St Columb’s Cathedral. Pause for photos at Dunluce Castle before visiting the world’s oldest legal distillery, Bushmills, licensed by King James I in 1608. Enjoy a tour and tasting of uisce batha…whiskey….the water of life. We’ll continue on to the fascinating Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal basaltic columns reaching from Ireland all the way to the island of Staffa in Scotland and supposedly built by the legendary Finn McCool. Continue along the scenic coastal drive of the “Nine Glens of Antrim”. We’ll check into our stylish hotel in Belfast, close to the waterfront and city attractions. We’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel. (B,D)

DAY 13 BELFAST, TITANIC CENTER & CABRA CASTLE
Tour Belfast and see Victorian buildings, Queens University, Stormont Castle and sites of the significant events of the city’s turbulent past during the Troubles, including the murals of the Falls and Shankill Roads. Visit the newly-opened Titanic Belfast to learn about the famous ship through state-of-the-art displays and spectacular recreations. We’ll drive through the Mountains of Mourne, one of the most beautiful regions of the North of Ireland, known for the scenic blend of ocean, sky and hillside. Arrive at Cabra Castle, our home for the last 2 nights of your Irish adventure. This lovely castle hotel, built in 1760, offers many amenities for you to enjoy, including a 9 hole golf course. After dinner, youthful dancers will display intricate Irish step-dancing. (B,D)

DAY 14 THE BOYNE VALLEY AND FAREWELL
Outside Drogheda, we’ll visit the Battle of the Boyne Center to learn about the 1690 conflict between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II. From there, we’ll travel through the Boyne Valley, visiting the ancient ruins of Monasterboice with the finest and tallest round towers in Ireland as well as several of the best High Crosses, the monastic site of Mellifont Abbey, built in 1142, and see the mystical Newgrange Complex dating to 3200 B.C., A trip to the former monastic center of Ireland, Kells, where the Book of Kells was stored for a millenium, a walking tour of the Hill of Tara, Ireland’s most sacred stretch of earth, home of druids and the ceremonial seat of all 142 High Kings of Ireland, and a ramble around Trim Castle, where Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” was filmed, will fill out the day. We will return to Cabra Castle for our farewell dinner. (B,D)

DAY 15 TOUR ENDS AT DUBLIN AIRPORT
The tour ends with a group transfer from Cabra Castle to Dublin Airport arriving at 10:30 a.m. If you need to arrive at Dublin Airport earlier than 10:30 a.m., your tour director will arrange an early group transfer. Please note that the drive from Kingscourt to Dublin Airport takes approximately 90 minutes, so don’t spoil your last night by booking too early a flight! (B)

ALL OF THIS IS INCLUDED!
* Airport transfers at start and end of tour
* Sightseeing by luxury coach
*Professional tour director
*Welcome get-together drink
* 14 nights in well located hotels
*27 meals
*Full breakfast daily except on Day 1
* 13 Dinners including
The Brazen Head traditional dinner and show
Knappogue Castle Medieval Banquet
Cabra Castle Farewell Dinner and music session
10 table d’hote dinners
*All tours and admissions included
* All local taxes, hotel service charges and baggage handling for one suitcase plus one carry on per person

MARCH, APRIL and OCTOBER from $4325
MAY through SEPTEMBER from $4825
LAND ONLY