An Introduction to Ireland
July 26-August 5, 2018
Emerald Essence Tour 2018 – Highlights
- Kiss the Blarney Stone
- Visit the Rock of Cashel
- Tour the famous Ring of Kerry
- Historic House and Castle Accommodations
- Cliffs of Moher
- Ferry across the Shannon Estuary
- The Burren
- The Dingle Peninsula
- Bunratty Medieval Banquet
- Cahir House Hotel(1 night)
- Rolf’s Country House (1 night)
- Old Weir Lodge (2 nights)
- Ballinalackin Castle (1 night)
- Quay House (2 nights)
- Dunraven Arms Hotel (2 nights)
- Round trip airfare USA – Shannon
- Sightseeing by luxury mini-coach
- Professional Driver/Guide
- Tour Director
- Full Irish Breakfast daily (except Day 1)
- 4 dinners including
- Rolf’s Country House/Restaurant
- Cahir House Hotel/Restaurant
- Ballinalackin Castle Hotel/Restaurant
- Dunraven Arms Hotel farewell dinner
- Welcome get-together drink
- Tour of the Rock of Cashel
- Walking tour of Blarney Castle Gardens and Manor
- Visit Dan O’Hara Heritage Centre
- Visit to Inacullen Island Gardens
- Drive the Conor Pass
- Ring of Kerry
- Dingle Peninsula
- Driving tour of Connemara
- Working sheepdog demonstration
- Sky Road, Clifden
- Visit the Burren/Poulnabrone Dolmen
- “The Quiet Man” country
- Walking tour of Adare
- Visits and admissions to The Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, Blarney Woolen Mills, Gougane Barra, Garinish Island, Molly Galloran’s Farm and Shop, Cliffs of Moher, Dan O’Hara Heritage Centre, Kylemore Abbey & Gardens, Trinitarian Abbey
- All local ground transportation, local taxes, hotel service charges
Emerald Essence 2018 – An Introduction to Ireland
Day 1 – (Thursday, July 26) – USA airport TBD – Shannon
Travel to a to be determined US airport to meet your flight to Shannon. Be sure to arrive at least 3 hours before departure time.
Day 2 (Friday, July 27) – Arrival Shannon & Blarney Castle
Upon arrival at Shannon Airport, you will be met by your mini-coach and driver. The tour begins with a short drive to Limerick City where you will get your first glimpse of the majestic Shannon River and King John’s Castle (c. 1200 A.D) rising from it’s banks. Hear the fascinating history of the Treaty Stone and learn of Limerick’s importance in Medieval Ireland. From there, you will proceed down O’Connell Street and head to the motorway to travel south to Blarney, Co. Cork where you will check into your hotel for a rest. At 3:00pm, you will meet the group for a visit to Blarney Castle & Gardens. After climbing the ramparts, you can kiss the famous stone which promises to give “the gift of gab”. Afterward, visit the Poison Gardens and then take an optional guided walk through the stables and parklands where you can see the kitchen gardens, the fern gardens and the caves. In the evening, the group will meet for a welcome drink and dinner in the hotel.
Day 3 (Saturday, July 28) – Blarney Woolen Mills – Bantry
Following a full Irish breakfast, enjoy gift shopping in the world famous Blarney Woolen Mills. Housed in the original Mill building, you can select from clothing, sweaters, coats, linens, Waterford Glass, Beleek China, Mullingar Pewter, music, t-shirts and Christmas ornaments. Everything you can imagine is available at the Mills or the surrounding shops. If you tire of browsing, the tea shop is a lovely stop for a cuppa before we continue on. Now you will turn west, traveling along the scenic coast of County Cork to the lovely coastal fishing village of Kinsale. You will take a leisurely walking tour of Kinsale, the culinary center of Ireland, where you can shop, take photos or just enjoy the views from a sidewalk cafe. After lunch, you will continue west for a stop at Famine Graveyards in Skibbereen. Here, learn about the tragic consequences of the Great Famine of the 1840’s. Continuing on through West Cork, you will arrive at Gougane Barra. This secluded chapel on a lake is a favourite spot for weddings due to its scenic ambience. Dinner this evening will be in the hotel dining room.
Day 4 (Sunday, July 29) – Garinish Island – Killarney
Spend the morning ferrying across Glengariff Harbor to visit Garinish Island and the Italian gardens at Ilnacullin. On the way, be sure to look out for the harbor seals lounging among the rocks. Later, on the way to Killarney, you will make a stop at Molly Gallivan’s Cottage and Traditional Farm. Here, amid a magnificent array of Aran sweaters, pottery and other locally handmade goods, you might opt to sample the poitín, a traditional Irish distilled beverage. From here, you will cross the Shehy Mountains from Cork into Co. Kerry and on toward Killarney. After checking into the hotel, your tour director will suggest some places for dinner on your own. You will be free for the evening to stroll around the town.
Day 5 (Monday, July 30) – Muckross House & The Ring of Kerry
Following a sumptuous Irish breakfast, join the group in a walking tour of the Muckross House and Gardens estate. This nineteenth century mansion stands near the shores of Muckross Lake with the stunning Killarney National Park as its backdrop. The gardens were established in the 1800’s in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria and feature a sunken garden, a stream garden and a rock garden. You will then go driving around the world famous Ring of Kerry, with stops at scenic overlooks, charming seaside villages and numerous other places to photograph the stunning vistas. You might even get a group picture with a flock of mountain sheep. You’ll end your day with a visit to the 15th century Ross Castle. The keep and tower are situated on the banks of the lower of the Killarney Lakes, Lough Leane, and were the stronghold of the clan O’Donoghoue. Dinner will be your choice tonight in Killarney.
Day 6 (Tuesday, July 31) – Dingle Peninsula – Cliffs of Moher
In the morning, traverse the spectacular Dingle Peninsula with it’s ancient ring forts, stone walls going right down to the sea and tiny farms dotting the landscape. You will stop at Gallarus Oratory, a dry stone chapel built more than 1200 years ago by local farmers who worshipped there. Visit Inch strand with its sheltered Atlantic waters and stop for lunch in Dingle, the charming fishing village that is home to the dolphin, Fungi. Following a few hours to stroll, shop and eat your mini-coach will climb the Conor Pass, the highest mountain pass in Ireland, whose narrow, winding roads boast some of the most dramatic views in the entire country. From the highest pass to sea level and a ferry trip across the Shannon Estuary into Co. Clare. As evening approaches, you will stop at one of the most visited natural phenomena in the world, the Cliffs of Moher. Rising over 700 ‘ out of the Atlantic Ocean and stretching for more than 5 miles, this is the most visited site in Ireland. Take all the time you want to wander along the cliff walk, marveling at the natural wonder. Prior to arriving at your hotel, you will visit the quaint, fishing village of Doolin, site of some of the best traditional music in the west of Ireland. Tonight you will dine and stay in Ballinalackin Castle Hotel.
Day 7 (Wednesday, August 1) – The Burren – Galway
Today you will travel into the Burren, 205 acres of limestone, crisscrossed by cracks and crevices out of which grow a unique array of herbs and flowers. You’ll stop at the Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of Ireland’s best examples of a Neolithic portal tomb. Before leaving the Burren, you will be awed by the Killaloe Cross, one of the best-preserved examples of the iconic Irish High Crosses. You’ll stop at the photo worthy Moran’s on the Weir for lunch. After lunch with the group, you’ll stop in Galway City for a walking tour including time for shopping near Eyre Square. Continuing on, you’ll arrive in Clifden, a wonderful, seaside village where you will stay at the Quay House, 200-year-old Harbor Master’s home which has beautifully restored. Explore the charming village of Clifden, which features famous seafood restaurants and pubs with traditional music. Your tour director will assist you in choosing a restaurant to your liking.
Day 8 (Thursday, August 2) Dan O’Hara Heritage Centre & Kylemore Abbey
In the heart of Connemara, you will visit the Heritage home of Dan O’Hara, a farmer who lived with his wife and 8 children before the famine of 1846-47. Learn how he was evicted from his home and emigrated to America where he made a meagre living selling matches before he died in New York. Hear the song and see his homestead restored as it was when he lived there. Witness a turf cutting demonstration and see the famous Connemara ponies. Your driving tour will take you through the Twelve Bens, twelve peaks that dominate the landscape of Connemara. Kylemore Abbey is your final destination. Originally a private estate, it was later home to a group of Benedictine nuns who ran a boarding and day school which closed in 2011. The nuns still live in the house, but it is now open to the public along with it’s stately formal gardens. Enjoy a tour of the main house, the Gothic chapel, the gardens, restaurant and tearoom, and the craft & design shop. On your return to Clifden you will tour the narrow, but scenic Sky Road with it’s spectacular ocean views. In Clifden, you will enjoy your choice of locations for dinner.
Day 9 (Friday, August 3) – Cong -Bunratty Folk Park
This morning, after departing Clifden, you will visit Killary Harbor, Ireland’s only glacial fjord, and the picturesque village of Leenane. Along the way, your Tour Director will point out numerous famine cottages with the telltale rows of rotted potato plants, which have remained vacant and untouched for more than 160 years. You will stop at Ashford Castle Hotel, where the cast and crew of John Ford’s iconic Irish film, The Quiet Man, stayed during filming. Then, take a guided walking tour of Cong Abbey and the village of Cong where, if you know the film, you’ll recognize pubs, streets and homes immortalized in the film. Leaving Cong, you’ll turn back towards the south again and back to Co. Limerick. Tonight’s dinner will be at the Bunratty Folk Park where you’ll enjoy a Medieval Meal and Show in Bunratty Castle.
Day 10 (Saturday, August 4) – Adare
Today you will enjoy a relaxing day with a walking tour of the “Tidy Town”, Adare. Stroll along the River Maigue – perhaps you’ll see an otter, heron or swan. Visit the Augustinian Abbey, the 13th Century Trinitarian Abbey, Desmond Castle and Adare Manor, home of the Earls of Dunraven. Photograph the lovely thatched cottages, shop in the boutiques and antique shops, pick up that last minute gift in the Heritage Centre have lunch in one of the many local pubs. Adare is a town of history and parks and the perfect spot to spend your last day in Ireland. Your farewell dinner this evening will be in the dining room of your hotel, the historic Dunraven Arms.
Day 11 (Sunday, August 5)- Return to the US
Travel to Shannon Airport for your return flight to the United States.
Price per person: $3600.00 Non-refundable $100 deposit to reserve your place.
Excluded: travel to/from departure US airport, lunches, alcoholic beverages, gratuity for the driver (typically €5-7 per person/ per day)
I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland! Please reserve my place today!