Ireland: The Treasures 22 June – 5 July 2020

14 Days discovering the Treasures of Ireland

Day 1 Dublin (D)

Welcome to Dublin. Sarah will have arranged your pick up at Dublin airport and you will meet up with the group at our chosen accommodation in Dublin. Welcome to – A Luxury Boutique Hotel in Dublin, with an unbeatable location on St Stephen’s Green. Grafton Street, Dublin’s most fashionable shopping street, is just a stroll away. We are also within walking distance of all of the city’s tourist attractions and business district. We really couldn’t be in a better placed to enjoy the delights of Ireland’s capital city. Welcome Drinks at the hotel and on to Dinner at one of Dublin’s most elegant restaurants with highly regarded modern French cuisine.

Day 2 Dublin (B D)

Breakfast at leisure – the first encounter with the bounties of a full Irish breakfast. In spite of the rapid changes to Dublin in the last 20 years, Dublin still remains a place with soul: the city’s literary history seems to pump against you at every corner. The pubs are everywhere and pints of Guinness, that noble black brew, is as much a part of the Dublin experience as the Georgian streets and the fine old buildings.

This morning we will walk up to Trinity College and see the book of Kells.Founded by Queen Elizabeth I to “civilize” Dublin, Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s oldest and most famous college. The atmospheric campus is open to visitors, who walk in the footsteps of some of the college’s noted alumni – among them Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett – and see the famous Book of Kells in the beautiful Old Library.Trinity College was founded after the Reformation, in 1592, on the site of the confiscated Priory of All Hallows. For centuries, Trinity was owned by the Protestant Church and a free education was offered to Catholics, provided that they accepted the Protestant faith. As a legacy of this condition, until 1966 Catholics who wished to study at Trinity had to obtain a dispensation from their bishop or face excommunication. Despite its 16th-century foundation, most of the buildings standing today were constructed in the 18th and early 19th centuries.Trinity’s grounds cover 40 acres. The looming campanile, or bell tower, is the symbolic heart of the college. Erected in 1853, it dominates the center of the square. To the left of the campanile is the Graduates Memorial Building, or GMB. Built in 1892, the slightly Gothic building now contains the offices of Philosophical and Historical societies, Trinity’s ancient and fiercely competitive debating groups. Trinity College is most famous, though, for its splendid library. The Long Room houses Ireland’s largest collection of books and manuscripts; its principal treasure is the Book of Kells, generally considered to be the most striking manuscript ever produced in the Anglo-Saxon world and one of the great masterpieces of early Christian art.Trinity Book of Kells.A couple of hours off to find a little lunch spot and search out more of Dublin for yourself. Mid afternoon: 2 hour City Walking Tour conducted by notable identity who will give a cultural and historical orientation of Dublin, both her place in history and the present.

Dinner at one of specially chosen Dublin restaurants.

O/N Dublin

Day 3 Powerscourt / Athlone (B,D)

Coach departs, an hour south of Dublin to tour Powerscourt, the early 18thC Palladian mansion built by Richard Wingfield and largely destroyed by a fire in 1974. However, the magnificent and meticulously maintained gardens remain among the finest in Ireland.

After lunch we travel north west towards the centre of Ireland. On the way we will make a stop to understand that particularly Irish phenomena the: Bog Story. The town of Ballinahowen is the home of the studio known as “Celtic Roots” here sculptures and unique gifts in bogwood can be found. The wood, over 5000 years old is the remains of trees hidden in the bog and brought to the surface thousands of years later. Each piece is handcrafted from this unique piece of ancient material.

Then after settling into our hotel on the River Shannon we will make an outing to the nearby countryside. Annie MacNamara and Mary McCullagh have invited us to their country home for drinks, dinner and a warm Athlone welcome.

O/N 4 Star Hotel Athlone, Co Westmeath

Day 4 Clonmacnoise Athlone (B,L,D)

Board our boat on the shores of Lough Ree and cruise through the Inner Lakes of Lough and through the town of Athlone past the Norman castle through the town Loch meander down the Shannon river to the ancient Monastic site of Clonmacnoise (meadow of the sons of Nos) overlooking the river. The extensive ruins include a cathedral, castle, round tower and two important High Crosses. It is truly a Sacred destination.The ancient monastic site of Clonmacnoise is situated at the crossroads of Ireland in County Offaly and dates back almost 1,500 years. St. Ciaran, the son of an Ulsterman who had settled in Connaught, chose the site in 545 AD because of its ideal location at the junction of river and road travel in Celtic Ireland.

The location borders the three provinces of Connaught, Munster and Leinster. The monastery is on the east side of the River Shannon, in what was then the Kingdom of Meath, but occupying a position so central it was the burial-place of many of the kings of Connaught as well as those of Tara. Saint Ciaran was educated by St. Diarmuid of Clonard and St. Finian – tutor of the ancient Saints of Ireland. His last place of formal learning before establishing his own monastery in Clonmacnoise was with St. Enda on the island of Inís Mór off the coast of Galway. Here, under the tutelage of the strict disciplinarian Enda, he learned Sacred Studies, Prayer and labour.

After our visit we will have a picnic lunch and take our boat into the town of Athlone and the Sheraton is within easy walking distance.

Dinner at the Left Bank Bistro.

After dinner a visit to Seans Bar, Irelands oldest pub.

O/N 4 Star Hotel Athlone, Co Westmeath

Day 5 Athlone / Connemara (B,D)

We depart west today to Connemara in Co. Galway. “Connemara” derives from the tribal name Conmacne Mara, which designated a branch of the Conmacne, an early tribal grouping that had a number of branches located in different parts of Connacht. Since this particular branch of the Conmacne lived by the sea, they became known as the Conmacne Mara. The coast of Connemara consists of a number of peninsulas. The peninsulas of Aughris, Cleggan and Renvyle are found in the north-west of Connemara. Of the numerous islands off the coast of Connemara, Inishbofin is the largest; other islands include Omey, Inishark, High Island, Friars Island, Feenish and Mweenish.The main town of Connemara is Clifden. The area around the town is rich with megalithic tombs. The famous “Connemara Green marble” is found here. It was a trade treasure used by the inhabitants of the prehistoric time. It continues to be of great value today. It is used for the pendant for the Scouting Ireland Chief Scout’s Award, the highest award in Irish Scouting.

Peter Seamus O’Toole was born on 2nd August 1932 in Connemara. He is the son of an Irish bookmaker and a Scottish nurse. When Peter was one year old, the O’Tooles began a five-year tour of major racetrack towns in Northern England. Peter O’Toole went to a Catholic School for seven or eight years, where he was “implored” to become right-handed and lived in fear of the nuns. O’Toole attended RADA between 1952 and 1954 where his fellow classmates included actors Alan Bates and Albert Finney. O’Toole began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearian actor at the Bristol Old Vic. His major break came when he was chosen to play T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in 1962 He has resided in Clifton, County Galway, Ireland since 1963.

A day spent driving and discovering the west of Ireland. Drive through Connemara to Paddy and Julia at Clifton via Roundstone and the atlantic coast to Dog’s Bay Beach. Walk. We continue on to Clifden, the capital of Connemarra, a wild and barren region of stunning valleys, pale grey mountains and deep fjords.Here, we will settle into the oldest building, The Quay House, originally a harbourmaster’s house owned by Paddy and Julia Foyle, renowned for their gracious hospitality. Furnished with fascinating antiques and unusual decorative pieces, the house has an avant-garde air.

Dinner in town.

O/N Quay House Clifden

Day 6 Connemara / The Burren (B,D)

After breakfast, we leave for Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine community. Victorian walled garden. Lunch a Moran’s Oster Cottage, a thatched cottage on the weir outside Clarinbridge.

Then on to the mighty Burren and the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher for a bracing Atlantic walk. The Burren region: These bare limestone hills are an extraordinary and unique place which supports an amazing mix of Mediterranean, Arctic and Alpine plants and is a wealthy treasure trove for botanists and explorers of historic ruins.

Today we are covering lots of extraordinary ground. Big travel day.

Dinner & O/N An award winning Castle at Ballyvaughan

Day 7 Ballyvaughan / The Mustard Seed (B,D)

Goat cheese farm visit.

To Kilrush for ferry to Tarbert to Co Limerick along scenic back roads to the village of Ballingarry for our stay at Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, “an oasis of the most stylish country living”, managed FOR YEARS by the ebullient host, Dan Mullane. Dan’s personal history, love of travel and individual taste imbue this special house with a memorable ambience.

Day 8 The Mustard Seed / Dingle (B,D)

We will travel to Ireland’s extraordinary south-west today.

After breakfast there is a leisurely departure via Tralee to Dingle, via Connor pass, Co. Kerry, on a very beautiful convict built road.

The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland, and provides the most dramatic and scenic way of entering or leaving Dingle. This narrow, twisting road runs between the town of Dingle and Kilmore Cross on the north side of the peninsula, where roads forks to Cloghane/Brandon or Castlegregory. The Connor Pass twists us upward to the summit, where a forward glance gives us a magnificent view of Dingle and its harbor. The view is spectacular, but there is no guarantee that we will see it—all will be green fields, blue sea and sky, until the mists roll in and everything vanishes! Mountains at its back, Dingle faces comfortably onto a sheltered harbour. About 1,200 people live in Dingle, but it serves the larger population of the surrounding countryside, and in the summer months it caters for many visitors

Fishing and farming have long been the major industries, but tourism has become an increasingly important business in the town, particularly since the filming of “Ryan’s Daughter” in the area in 1969.As a market town and fishing port, Dingle has long been well supplied with pubs; in recent years the number has hovered around 52, and the variety is almost as great as the number. There are large, modern pubs and pubs so small that five’s a crowd; one that sells wellingtons and leather belts, another that sells sheets and blankets, and another that sells everything from beds and bicycles to creosote and fertiliser. Much of the social life of the town revolves around the pubs: during the winter there are card games and quizzes. In the summer pool tables are removed to leave more room for seasonal customers, and Irish music is played almost every night in about ten pubs.

Overnight Dingle.

Day 9 Slea Head Dingle (B,D)

After breakfast we will set off for a morning drive and walk of Slea Head.

The drive is a circular route, beginning and ending in Dingle, that takes in a large number of attractions and stunning views on the western end of the peninsula. On leaving Dingle, the Drive passes over Milltown Bridge, past the woodlands at Burnham to the seaside village of Ventry. On leaving Ventry we continue westward, past Dunbeg Fort, and continuing with a sheer cliff on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. At Fahan the road crosses a ford. Our drive now reaches Slea Head itself, marked by a stone crucifixion scene, with dramatic views to South Kerry and the Blasket Islands.We follow the coast north, past Coumenoole Strand, where some of the filming of Ryan’s Daughter took place.

On return the road again follows a cliff-top route, with a dramatic seascape of crashing waves, rocks and seabirds below.

Around Slea Head.

Picnic on farm.

Dinner BBQ on cliffs at Fenton’s farm near Ventry Beach.

Overnight Dingle

Day 10 Kenmare (B,D)

After breakfast, South to Kenmare, Co. Kerry, a delightful town of stone facades and decorative plasterwork, vivid colours, jovial pubs and fine restaurants. This is also a good place to shop for fine, if expensive Irish crafts such as linen and lace.Kenmare is a haven of tranquillity and breathtaking scenery in one of the most natural, unspoilt environments in Europe. Cradled in the heart of Kenmare Bay, the picturesque town comes close to having a perfect location. The famous 5 Star Park Hotel, Kenmare.

Overnight and Dinner Kenmare, Co. Kerry.

Day 11 Heir Island and Skibbereen (B,D)

On departure we will travel the scenic route via Healy’s Pass to South West Cork and to the Beara Peninsula. Sarah’s favourite part of Ireland! After breakfast, we leave for Glengariff on the remote Beara Peninsula with its startling natural beauty. We will undertake a drive through the spectacular hills and dales with marvellous coastal scenery.

After lunch, a snack in one of the local inns at your own convenience, we will travel on to the beautiful little village of Clonakilty and settle in to our Lodge. John Desmond and Ellmary Fenton cook what has emerged from the sea or the earth that day at their tiny restaurant; Island Cottage, off the shore of Cunnamore in West Cork. Island Cottage is the the most unlikely eating experience in Ireland. From disembarking there is a kilometer stroll to the tiny cottage where John cooks authentic cuisine honed by years at the Ritz, owning his own business in Paris, years of teaching and considerable expertise in patisserie. Access to the island is by small boat only.

Overnight Clonakilty

Day 12 Clonakilty / Kinsale (B,D)

A morning visit to Castletownshend fishing village. Smoked fish operation run by Sally Barnes at Woodcock Smokery. Castletownshend is outside Skibbereen. They are best known for their exceptional award-winning wild smoked salmon. They also provide a wide range of smoked fish products including mackerel, herring, tuna, haddock and pollack using both hot and cold-smoking email: No farmed fish, they truly buy in from local fisherman.

Morning drive to Kinsale near Cork, where we will be staying for the last two nights of the tour.Kinsale in County Cork is one of the most picturesque, popular and fashionable towns of the south-west coast of Ireland. Kinsale can easily claim its place amongst Ireland’s most historic locations for it has been a centre of population, commerce, trade and fishing far beyond memory and record. In its earliest days the estuary of the Bandon River gave it great importance as the river is tidal as far as Innishannon and water transport was dominant until the 18th Century. The estuary also provided excellent anchorage for ancient shipping which went in peril of the vagaries of the weather. Kinsale town nestles between the hills and the shoreline, a maze of narrow streets, never far from the water and little changed in many hundreds of years. Amongst buildings of later periods are those of another age with historical links to the French, Spanish, British and Americans.The harbour is guarded by two very fine star-shaped fortresses built in the 17th century: We will take a trip too to the Old Head of Kinsale for magnificent cliff scenery. It was off here that the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 with a loss of over 1,500 lives.

Dinner Kinsale O/N Kinsale

Day 13 Cobh / Cork / Kinsale (B,D)

A Tour of Cobh Heritage Center, that records the massive Irish Emigration. We will also be visiting one of the world’s largest natural harbours. From 1848 – 1950 over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland – over 2.5 million departed from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration.This exodus from Ireland was largely as a result of poverty, crop failures, the land system and a lack of opportunity. Irish emigration reached unprecedented proportions during the famine as people fled from hunger and disease.The famine resulted as a consequence of widespread potato crop failure. Failure of the crop was not unusual in Ireland so the partial failures in 1845 did not cause particular concern. In 1846 the potato crop failed completely and in the years 1847-1849 there was either total or partial crop failure of whatever potato crop could be planted. Escape was seen by many as the only chance for survival : between 1845 and 1851 over 1,500,000 people emigrated from Ireland This was more than had left the country in the previous half century.The “Queenstown Experience”, located at the Heritage centre, has mostly permanent exhibitions of Irish history. It provides information on life in Ireland through the 18th and 19th centuries, the mass emigration, the Great Famine, and on how criminals were transported to Australia for petty crimes. Cobh is a very picturesque town built on a hill side and dominated by St. Colman’s Cathedral, which took over 50 years to complete. The Cathedral houses the famous 49 bell Carillon, the largest in Ireland and Britain. Cove is the earliest name of the town. After the visit of Queen Victoria in 1849 the name was changed to Queenstown. In 1921 after independence the local Urban Council reverted to the old name “Cove” but with the Irish spelling of “Cobh” [the letters bh represent the V sound in Irish]. The harbour and the town has been the the last sight of Ireland for many thousands of emigrants. Over 40 thousand men, women and young girls were transported to Australia from here. It was the main transatlantic departure point from Ireland up until the late 1950s.It was the last port of call for the R.M.S. Titanic on her ill-fated maiden voyage, where she took on board mail and 123 passengers who were emigrating to the U.S.A..The survivors and most of the victims recovered from the R.M.S. Lusitania torpedoed off the old head of Kinsale were landed in Queenstown

Lunch at The English Market, Cork A Special Last Farewell Dinner together.

Overnight Kinsale

Day 14 Departure

Breakfast and Departure for airport in Cork.(Drive from Kinslae to Cork airport.) Departure for Cork airport for your flight home.


Note: June / July is the ideal time to travel in Ireland. In our experience the weather is pleasantly cool to warm. Ireland is not so penetratingly green without its abundant rainfall and some should be expected, though it ought not to stop us pursuing any activities on the agenda. Whilst some of the properties we use are imbued with their own grandeur, the easy-going Irish spirit means dress is never overly formal.

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