The Joyful Jewel: Ireland. A Special Discovery of the Wonderful Emerald Isle
A fabulous private excursion to the ancestral home of millions of Americans.
Depart: October 14th, 2019 –
Return: October 24th, 2019
Accompanying this tour is Sacramento’s and KFBK’s own Pat Walsh
The ancestral home to more than 50 million Americans, Ireland draws us in (or back) for many reasons, and lineage is just one of them. For yours truly, blood lines are just one aspect, but I’ve always felt the Irish share something with native Italians. There is a warmth to the welcome the Italian people have for a visitor and everyone knows the kindness you feel as a guest on the Emerald Isle is real and abundant.
As with Italy, the Irish are glad when anyone visits but if you’re American you’re a king in Ireland. While certain corners of today’s Ireland may resemble Silicon Valley and the cuisine in some of Dublin’s finest establishments is the equal of what you’ll find in Paris, our voyage to this sparkling, magical island will focus on the Ireland of castles and dragons and scenery unrivaled in Europe: Galway Bay… Cliffs of Moher… County Wicklow and so much more history, literature and industry.
- Galway County including breathtaking Galway Bay
- Gaelic Connemara and visit to Westport House
- Dunguaire Castle
- Burren Region/Cliffs of Moher
- Ferry across River Shannon to Killarney, County Kerry
- Celtic Dingle Peninsula/Blasket Island Heritage Centre
- Ring of Kerry/Kenmare Bay guided cruise
- Guided tour of Smoked Salmon Factory
- Guided tour with historian of Cobh and the Titanic Trail (Titanic’s last port of call)
- Cork/Blarney Castle/Stone of Eloquence
- County Tipperary, Ballyowen House, Kilkenny
- County Wicklow (“Garden of Ireland”)
- Panoramic tour of Dublin City Centre, Trinity College/Book of Kells
- Dáil Éireann (National Parliament)
- Guinness Brewery and Storehouse
- Daily Full Irish Breakfast plus formal dining and pub dining
- Free time to visit the local shoppes and museums.
- Optional tour of Kilkenny Castle
The Sparkling Emerald Isle… Ireland
Welcome to Ireland!
You will arrive at Dublin Airport where you will be met by your Conservative Tours full-time tour leader. After collecting your luggage you will board a private motor coach and depart for the West of Ireland via the midlands as you make your way to Galway.
Galway, the largest county in Connaught, is celebrated in song and story throughout the world and takes centre stage on Ireland’s western seaboard. A spectacularly beautiful county, it is a medley of contrasts – the wildest and remotest of Connemara teamed with one of Europe’s most vibrant and popular cities. Galway City at the mouth of Galway Bay is both a picturesque and lively city with a wonderful avant-garde culture. The city has many relics of its medieval past and is worth taking time to explore. It has changed considerably over the last number of years and features a fascinating juxtaposition of new and ancient architecture. The centre of the city is conveniently compact enough to ramble around comfortably.
Upon arrival in Galway you will enjoy a cruise on the River Corrib with tea & scones. The Corrib Princess sails from Woodquay in the heart of Galway city, along the famous Steamers Line, which is the lakes traditional trade route. The journey takes passengers along the majestic River Corrib and onto the lake providing visitors with a guided commentary in a number of languages on the historic monuments and natural amenities on this waterway that leads to the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland. There is an abundance of wild life and the Corrib has a peace and tranquility all its own.
Check into your four star hotel then reconvene for a brief orientation session before heading out to one of our favorite establishments for a welcome to Ireland dinner!
Day 2: Connemara
We visit the famous Connemara region.
Connemara is a land of lakes, rivers, bogs, and mountains… a land of small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language and where little has changed since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and most romantic part of Ireland. Connemara is a vast peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south ~ a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages. On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secretive, with spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas. Connemara is a real paradise for Nature lovers and those in search of strong emotions.
This morning enjoy a visit to Westport House.
Westport House is generally regarded as one of Ireland’s most beautiful and historic homes and is located in a magnificent setting on the shores of Clew Bay between Westport Town, Westport Quay and Westport Golf Course. During the 16th century Grace O’Malley, the famous Pirate and “Queen of Connaught”, was chief of the O’Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo. Grace O’Malley had several castles in the West of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was actually built. Colonel John Browne and his wife Maude Bourke built the original house in 1685. The East front (as seen today) was built in 1730 by the famous German architect Richard Cassels. James Wyatt completed the house in 1779 and his large dining room is generally regarded as one of Ireland’s most beautiful rooms. Westport House and Gardens features 30 rooms with original architecture, artwork and antiques. Visitors can also see the dungeons, four comprehensive exhibitions, extensive gardens and a tree trail.
Return to Galway where the balance of the day is at leisure in this charming city.
Tonight enjoy dinner and entertainment at the Dunguaire Castle Medieval Banquet.
An evening of superb music, song and storytelling awaits you at Dunguaire Banquet on the majestic shores of Galway Bay, one of Ireland’s most picturesque locations. Mirroring the tradition of medieval ‘King Guaire’, guests are welcomed with a goblet of Mead, a traditional honey wine, in an inner chamber by the butler and ladies of the castle. After a short history of the castle and musical introduction guests climb the stairs to the Banquet Hall. A delicious four course dinner with wine is followed by a 40 minute entertainment program of music, song and dance including excerpts from famous literary writers associated with the Galway region, such as Yeats, Synge, Gogarty and Shaw. The castle’s superb artists inspire you with selected stories and excerpts to lighten the heart in this truly intimate setting.
Day 3: Galway to Killarney
This morning depart Galway and enjoy a tour of the Burren Region.
The Burren, part of which forms the 100 square km Burren National Park, is a unique place. It is a Karst limestone region of approximately 300 sq. km, which lies in the north west corner of Co Clare. It is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern. This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and rivers which suddenly flood when it rains. The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 12th century. You will discover small villages abandoned during the famine period and green roads on which you can walk for miles without ever seeing a car.
The flora on the Burren is a mixture Arctic and Mediterranean and rare flowers such as gentian, orchids and bloody cranesbill are the rule rather than the exception. The Burren is truly an exceptional part of Ireland.
Continue to the coast and enjoy a visit to the Cliffs of Moher.
Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’ Brien’s Tower built by Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, to entertain his lady friends. A visit of the tower is also possible. Atlantic Edge is the exciting new interpretive centre at the Cliffs of Moher and is built into the natural landscape. The centre is a huge domed cave that contains images, exhibits, displays & experiences exploring different elements of the mighty Cliffs of Moher: Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man.
You will take the Shannon Car Ferry across the River Shannon and arrive in County Kerry and head to our hotel in Killarney.
Day 4: Dingle Peninsula
Today enjoy a full day touring of the Dingle Peninsula.
Some of the finest coastal scenery to be seen in Ireland can be found in West Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula, the most northern of the Kerry Peninsulas. This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and Christian churches. It is also a ‘Gaeltacht’ (Irish speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved. Dingle town itself is a thriving fishing town and offers plenty of opportunity for shopping or simply savouring the atmosphere of a typical country Irish town with its plentiful pubs, narrow streets and busy harbor. The road around the Peninsula is truly spectacular. It passes through a chain of Mountains called Slieve Mish. From Inch, a long beach bordered by dunes and made famous by David Lean’s movie “Ryan’s daughter,” admire the Iveragh Peninsula and Rossbeigh Beach. From Dingle, drive around the coast to Slea Head. Here the blue of the marine landscape surrounds the Blaskets Islands, deserted since 1953. In the distance are the two rocky Blasket islands, where the ruins of an early Christian Monastery can be found. The Dingle Peninsula will charm you with its villages painted in bright colors and will bewitch you with the dramatic beauty of its landscapes.
Visit the Blasket Island Heritage Centre
The Blasket Centre in Dún Chaoin, is located on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, and is a celebration of the story of the Blasket Islanders. It celebrates the unique literary achievements of the island writers ~ native language, culture and tradition. Regrettably, the Great Blasket was abandoned in 1953 and this caused the decline of its once vibrant population. The centre provides an incidental showcase of marvelous stained glass, ceramics and weaving.
Day 5: Ring of Kerry Highlights
Continue south to the town of Kenmare and enjoy the Highlights of the Ring of Kerry including Molls Gap & Ladies View. Molls Gap is a spectacular photographic viewing point on the famous Ring of Kerry Tour. The visitor is presented with a magnificent view of Death Valley. Close by is the famous Ladies View viewing point with gives a different perspective of this magnificent countryside, with the three Lakes of Killarney all surrounded by the Kerry Mountains. Ladies View received its name from Queen Victoria, who was so impressed with the view that she insisted that her ladies-in-waiting should also visit here.
Just outside the town of Kenmare you will enjoy lunch at Con’s Marina Bar & Restaurant. Boasting stunning views of Dinish Island and the Kenmare Bay it has fast become one of Kenmare’s busiest restaurants. The spectacular views are complemented by mouth-watering freshly produced food served all day.
Following your lunch you will take a guided tour of the Smoked Salmon Factory and enjoy a cruise on Kenmare Bay. Star Seafoods has been a specialist in producing organic smoked salmon since 1974. A tour of the factory includes a demonstration of the craft of smoking this prized fish followed by a complimentary sample. End your day with a relaxing one hour cruise on board the Star of Kenmare, exploring the beauty of the famous coastline, its rich marine life and stunning scenery.
Next we’ll continue to our hotel in lovely Cork.
Day 6: Blarney Castle & Cobh
County Cork and the town of Cobh
Cobh began to develop at the end of the 18th century when Cork was used as a harbour for British military ships. Transatlantic ships such as the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth used to stop in Cobh. Thousand of Irish emigrants also transited through Cobh. Today it is a pleasant town; its streets climb the steep slope of a hill, the top of which is crowned by the very fine St. Coleman’s Cathedral which has a carillon of 47 bells.
Enjoy a walking tour of Cobh and the Titanic Trail with a visit to the Cobh Heritage Centre.
Join our resident historian on one of Ireland’s very best town guided walking tours. See all the real buildings, streets and piers where Titanic passengers embarked. An engrossing historical walk through Cobh exploring its fascinating diversity of military, maritime and social heritage.
Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre
A unique Irish Port Town, Cobh is situated on the southern shore of the Great Island in one of the world’s finest natural harbors. Between 1848 and 1950, over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland including over 2.5 million from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration in the country. The Heritage Centre is located in the old Victorian Railway station in Cobh formally known as Queenstown. The Centre hosts a multi-media exhibition of the Origins, History and Legacy of Cobh. The Queenstown Story relates Cobh’s dramatic maritime history including how it was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic. The steamers and ocean liners continued carrying the Irish to new lives and new lands for many years afterwards. New permanent exhibitions opened in 2011 include the Building of the Titanic, the White Star Line Collection and Female Convict Transportation. Cobh Heritage Centre now offers a genealogy service, where the staff can assist you in tracing your Irish Ancestors.
Return to Cork. In the afternoon enjoy a visit to Blarney Castle.
Attracting visitors from all over the world, Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney village, 8 km from Cork City. An ancient stronghold of the McCarthy’s, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles, and indeed one of the strongest fortresses in Munster. Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend. The Castle gardens covering 60 acres of land are under constant change and over the past few years, a water garden, a fern garden and a poison garden have been developed and are all open to the visitor.
Day 7: Cork to Kilkenny
This morning we depart Cork and travel through County Tipperary
Visit Ballyowen House
Ballyowen House is one of the finest remaining examples of neo-Classical Georgian architecture for a large Irish country house (Designed by Duchart). Dating back to 1750, it is set in an elegant and elevated parkland setting near Cashel town in Tipperary. The lively tour, conducted by the owners, is a guided visit of approximately one hour of the main rooms of the beautiful Ballyowen House and of the Stableyard and grounds outside. The guided tour includes interesting talks on the history of the house and the Georgian architecture. Visitors have the option to have teas, coffees and freshly baked scones in Ballyowen House’s elegant main dining room at the end of the tour with a family member.
Continue to the town of Kilkenny
Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure in Kilkenny or perhaps you may wish to enjoy an optional visit to Kilkenny Castle. One of the most instantly recognized buildings in Ireland, Kilkenny Castle has been an important site since it was built by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. The castle has been remodeled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands which was the principal seat of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde. Due to major restoration works, the central block now includes a library, drawing room, and bedrooms decorated in 1830’s splendor, as well as the beautiful Long Gallery. Guided and self guided tours are possible. A suite of former servants’ rooms is now the Butler Art Gallery, which mounts frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary art. The Parade Tower is the Castle’s conference venue.
Tonight enjoy dinner at Langtons Pub
Day 8: Kilkenny to Dublin
Travel through the beautiful countryside of County Wicklow
South of Dublin is County Wicklow. Known as “the Garden of Ireland” it is home to Powerscourt, Mount Usher and Russborough, to name a few of its many houses and gardens. This region features all the various types of scenery that makes Ireland so beautiful. The coastline is bordered by charming sea resorts such as Bray or Greystones. In the heart of its gentle and rounded hills are nestled Enniskerry and Avoca, both very picturesque villages. Discover its romantic and quiet beauty, the deserted mounts where nothing but heather grows, the small forests and the lush prairies illuminated by yellow gorse in spring. Glendalough, a 6th century monastic site and Powerscourt house and gardens are a must for any visit to Wicklow.
Enjoy a visit to Glendalough
The English name Glendalough originated from the Irish “Gleann Dá Locha”, which translates as “The valley of the two lakes”. It was here that St. Kevin, son of the king of Leinster, founded a monastery in the 6th century. From a simple beginning the site grew to become famous as a centre of learning throughout Europe. Standing for 600 years it was destroyed in 1398. Much of what is to be seen today dates from the 10 to 12th century. One of the most attractive features is the fine 34m high round tower. A cathedral, stone churches and decorated crosses also survived albeit as ruins. Beautifully scenic walking trails take visitors on a circular route by the lakes from the car park. Glendalough has an excellent visitor’s centre and display area, which is located at the entrance to the Valley. It houses a very comprehensive exhibition on Glendalough detailing the history, archaeology and wildlife of this area of Wicklow. An entrance charge applies to the visitor centre.
We’ll continue to Dublin to check in to our hotel.
Day 9: Dublin’s Fair City
Start your day with a panoramic tour of Dublin City Centre
The tour will introduce you to the principal sites, which you may then revisit at your leisure. You will visit the elegant Georgian squares, famous for its architecture and of course its famous doors. Pass by Trinity College, with the 8th century Book of Kells and the long room with its 200,000 books. Continue to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Built in 1192, it is one of Ireland’s largest Cathedrals made famous by its former dean Jonathan Swift, author of “Gulliver’s Travels.” You will also see Christchurch, built by the Anglo-Normans in 1172 to replace an earlier Church built by the Vikings in 1038, on your way to Phoenix Park with its many monuments including the Papal cross. Return to the city centre via the Quays, passing by the Guinness brewery, and Collins Barrack, now part of the national museum, before arriving back into O’Connell Street and the city centre.
This morning enjoy a visit to Dail Eireann
Dáil Éireann is one of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the national parliament. It is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament), which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann (the upper house). It is directly elected at least once every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (STV). Its powers are similar to those of lower houses under many other bicameral parliamentary systems and it is by far the dominant branch of the Oireachtas. Subject to the limits imposed by the Constitution of Ireland, it has power to pass any law it wishes, and to nominate and remove the Taoiseach (head of government). Since 1922, it has met in Leinster House in Dublin.
NOTE: Please note there are certain times of the year when a visit to Leinster House may not be possible due to peak visitor numbers
Visit to Trinity College with Book of Kells.
Thomas Burgh built the Old Library building in the 18th century. Today it houses one of Ireland’s most illustrious books, the 9th century “Book of Kells”. Before viewing the famous book visitors pass through an excellent exhibition based on the book of Kells and other important books written in monasteries around Ireland from the 9th century. After viewing the book of Kells visitors are invited to visit the long room built in 1745. Once the principal library of the University, it now contains over 200,000 books and manuscripts of the Trinity’s oldest volumes, Brian Boru’s harp (said to be the oldest harp in Ireland) and a copy of the 1916 proclamation, one of the most important documents in Irish history.
In the afternoon you will visit the famous Guinness Storehouse
Visit to Guinness Storehouse.
The Guinness Brewery in Dublin is Europe’s largest stout producing brewery and home to the Guinness Storehouse. Opened in 1904 The Storehouse was an operational plant for fermenting and storing GUINNESS. Today it houses a very fine exhibition dedicated to the Guinness story. Visitors will discover what goes into the making a pint of GUINNESS – the ingredients, the brewing process, the time, the craft and the passion. The exhibition shows how the brew has been marketed and how it is today sold in over 150 countries. The visit ends with a visit to the 7th floor Gravity bar to sample first-hand the elixir of life ~ a pint of Guinness. The Storehouse has a retail store, gallery and exhibition area, a restaurant and two bar areas.
Tonight enjoy an “Irish Style” Dinner at O’Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook. On arrival you will be treated to a demonstration of traditional Irish Soda Bread Making along with music by an Irish Fiddler.
Enjoy a welcome drink. The Soda Bread will be served as your first course!
Day 10: Farewell
This morning transfer to Dublin Airport for your return flight home to Sacramento (but Ireland will forever remain with you as a fond memory!).
October 14th, 2019 to October 24th, 2019
Tour Price: $4259.00
- Round trip airfare from Sacramento and other US gateways for this event.
- 9 nights in four star hotels in Galway, Killarney, Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin
- Motor coach sightseeing tour of Dublin City Centre.
- Full Irish Breakfast daily.
- Five Dinners.
- Tea and scones on a Corrib River Cruise
- Ferry across the River Shannon
- Kenmare Bay Cruise
- Titanic Trail Walking Tour
- Touring by private luxury motor coach throughout Ireland
- Entrance/passage to……
- Westport House, Cliffs of Moher, Blasket Island Heritage Centre, Star Seafoods Smoke Salmon Factory, Cobh Heritage Centre, Blarney Castle, Ballyowen House, Glendalough, Leinster House, Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse
- All entrance fees as per the itinerary
- All transportation as per the itinerary
- Full-time professional tour leader as per the itinerary
- Porterage of luggage
- The pleasure of knowing that your tour leader has been leading tours on the Emerald Isle for over 15 years.
- Comprehensive Group Travel Insurance policy from Travel Insured International
What’s Not Included
- Government air tax
- Optional tour of Kilkenny Castle