Ireland

May 20 - 31, 2020

From the ruggedness of Connemara to the spectacular seascapes of the Dingle Peninsula, from the buzz of Dublin to the silence of the Wicklow Mountains... Ireland is truly a magical land, filled with wonderment and delight. And the traditional music is truly the soul of this special country. We hope you can join us!

May 20   Our flight leaves in the evening from Newark International Airport.

  (Weds)
 

May 21   Arrive Dublin early in the morning. After collecting our baggage, we will be greeted by our driver/guide. 

Our first stop will be a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral where Jonathan Swift was once Dean. Then just a short distance over to Trinity College is the award-winning exhibit on the Book of Kells. This area is rich in culture, with the National Gallery and the National Library only a block away. Later in the afternoon, leaving the hustle and bustle of Dublin behind, we will head up into the serene Wicklow Mountains. But beforehand, we won’t miss the chance of a quick tour around this historic city, passing the GPO building, the Georgian doors, etc.

1st Overnight Glendalough

May 22   Glendalough… ‘the valley of the two lakes’. One of the most revered places in all of Ireland, it was here that St. Kevin founded a monastery in the sixth century. Today you have time to explore the monastic ruins, walk along the shores of the lakes, or perhaps take the high road along the forest trails. Standing amongst this awesome setting, one can feel a powerful sense of peace and tranquility. And hopefully, Father Michael Rodgers, author of a wonderful book on Glendalough, will be our guide. Glendalough is truly one of Ireland’s most sacred places.  You will never forget it…

2nd Overnight Glendalough

May 23   Following our refreshing respite up in the Wicklow Mountains, we are now ready to embark on our journey! After driving across the Wicklow Gap with its breathtaking views, we’re going to visit Kildare, to give obeisance to St Brigid. It was here where St Brigid’s monastery was founded. We shall take the time to visit an ancient Holy Well devoted to Brigid. Then on to Clonmacnoise, founded by St Kieran around 548AD, one of Europe’s most highly regarded places of its kind. Situated in a lovely pastoral setting on the River Shannon, this 6th c. monastic site with its famous High Crosses will certainly be a highlight of the trip. 

1st Overnight Westport

May 24   A leisurely Sunday morning.  Perhaps we might want to attend a local church? Or stroll around this charming town with its hanging baskets of flowers.  We shall then drive over to nearby Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain. One of Europe's best known places of Pilgrimage, Croagh Patrick presents a striking backdrop to the town of Westport. This mountain, 10 km west of the town, provides a tough ascent for thousands of pilgrims each year, many of whom climb barefoot in memory of St. Patrick, who purportedly spent forty days and forty nights fasting on the summit more than 1,500 years ago. We wouldn't  suggest climbing it, though... it takes 3 hours to get to the summit!  Then the evening will provide opportunity for authentic Irish music... a visit to Matt Molloy's Pub (the fluteplayer for the Chieftains.)

2nd Overnight Westport

 

May 25   Leaving charming Westport behind, this morning we drive through Connemara, one of the most scenic areas of Ireland in a wild and barren way.  As with most of Galway, Connemara's history goes back thousands of years. The famous green Connemara Marble was a trade treasure used by many inhabitants over time, and it continues to be of great value today. A visit to Kylemore Abbey, home to Irish Benedictine nuns since 1920, will be a highlight for today. Two of Kylemore's most loved features is its miniature cathedral, known locally as the Gothic church, and the Victorian walled gardens. An early evening ferry over to the Aran Islands will top off the day…

1st Overnight Aran Islands

 

May 26   Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, is known for its archeological sites, stone walls, and a warm community of people still living the Celtic traditions of generations from decades before. The rugged natural beauty, with miles of drystone walls, is accentuated by the thatched roof cottages. The ancient Irish language is still spoken by most of the residents.  Dún Aengus - The Fort of Aonghasa - is located on the edge of the island on top of a 295ft high sea cliff.  You will have time to explore the island on your own. Perhaps a horse and buggy ride around the island will suit you? Oh, there are several places on the island for good bargains on sweaters!  It is the home of the Aran Sweater Market… and to top off our time here we shall be staying in a guesthouse overlooking the water... heavenly.

2nd Overnight Aran Islands

 

May 27  Reluctantly, we have to return to the mainland this morning, but the memories of this other-worldly island will remain with us... Galway “city” is really more like a town, a young and vibrant place, yet ancient and historic.  Eyre Square, the Spanish Arch, the Claddagh area are just a few well-known points of interest. Then after a beautiful ride looking back on Galway Bay, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher await us. The Burren is an amazing place, a region of karst limestone, with a distinct ethereal appearance when viewed from a distance.  A diverse collection of plants, both Alpine and Mediterranean, grow side by side amongst the stone crevices. 

Overnight the Burren

 

May 28  After a delicious full Irish breakfast, we will stop at the Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of Ireland’s most famous iconic archaeological sites, the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland.  But the Cliffs of Moher await us, rising in places to over 700 feet. It is here that the visitor often speaks in just a whisper, not unlike when one enters a majestic cathedral…  Once on the road, a short ferry trip across the widest part of the River Shannon will bring us closer to Killarney where we will be spending two nights. 

1st Overnight Killarney

May 29  Today we’ll see the charming fishing village of Dingle, and the Dingle Peninsula with its spectacular sea views and rolling emerald green hillsides covered with sheep and stone walls. Rick Steves comments, “The Dingle Peninsula — green, rugged, and untouched.  Fishing boats still sail from Dingle, and a nostalgic whiff of peat scents its nighttime air, offering visitors an escape into pure Ireland.”  The Blasket Island Centre is in a setting you will never forget, with a short film on the community that lived there. But we cannot miss the Gallarus Oratory, circa A.D. 800, one of Ireland's best-preserved early primitive Christian churches. And nearby Kilmalkeder church, the ruins of a 13th c. building with a sun dial and ancient ogham stones.

2nd Overnight Killarney

 

May 30  As we round out our trip to Ireland, we surely can make a quick visit to Blarney with its Blarney Woolen Mills, and of course the Blarney Castle for those of you who don’t want to miss it!  Yet we still have some wonderful plans for this our last day… As we get closer to Shannon Airport, Bunratty Castle is one of the finest surviving examples of a 16th c. Irish tower house, furnished with the authentic medieval furniture. Adjoining the castle is a folk park, a living museum where animals are tended, bread is baked, milk is churned, walls are whitewashed and roofs are thatched.  It’s a favorite place not only for foreign visitors, but the Irish themselves… you will feel transported in time. And our last evening you will not forget!                  

Overnight near Shannon Airport

May 31   Our flight from Shannon leaves around mid-day, arriving into Newark International Airport in the afternoon. We hope you can join us on another one of our unique Celtic Journeys to mystical, magical Ireland. You will not regret it.

COST OF TRIP  $2675 including airfare (shared occupancy)$1875 without airfare

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