The Gathering Tour - History & Heritage Self Drive 11 Day
10 Night Tour From $1,233 pps
This tour starts and ends in Dublin but can be adjusted to suit other arrival points such as Shannon.
Destinations / Itinerary
Day 1 & 2: Dublin
Céad míle fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes to Ireland – land of saints and scholars and perhaps even a few sinners! You are in the capital of Ireland, Dublin City a fusion of color, noise and history capped off with the friendliness and charm of the locals! You will be staying in Dublin for 2 nights there is so much to see and do in this energetic and dynamic city.
So where to start on your discovery of Dublin! You may be dazzled by the cobblestones of Temple Bar, the magnificence of her Georgian squares or even the beauty of Christ Church Cathedral, but you need to focus! So take a Dublin Hop-On – Hop -Off Tour which will acquaint you with this exciting city. Guiding you from its earliest beginnings and showing you around Dublin’s highlights, the tour allows you to see Dublin in all her glory. The bonus with these tours is that you can either stay on for the whole tour, or decide to “Hop-Off” at one of the many stops and then pick it up again later. With stops including Trinity College, St. Patricks Cathedral and the GPO you have choice of locations and attractions to visit!
However, if you would like a more rowdy tour, why not choose the Viking Splash which travels Dublin by water and road on a World War II amphibious vehicle. Don a Viking helmet and let out a rebellious roar as you traverse the city and shout at unsuspecting Dubliners. This is a fun-filled, informative tour and a regular sight on the streets of Dublin.
A contrasting sight and perhaps your next visit is the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship, located on Custom Quay on the north side of the River Liffey, in the heart of the financial district and the birth place of the Celtic tiger. This area has seen much urban development in recent years both on the north and south side of the quays, with high-end hotels, apartments, restaurants and a Convention Centre (with a capacity for 8,000 people) built there in the last decade.
In stark contrast lying alongside all this modernity is the Jeanie Johnston, an accurate replica of the original ship which sailed from Tralee in County Kerry between the years 1847 (the worst year of the Irish Famine) and 1855. During these 7 years, the ship made sixteen journeys and brought some 2,500 people to their new lives; and in an astonishing feat, no life was lost on board, despite a treacherous crossing of seven weeks. The ship retells the stories of both passengers and crew and you really gain a sense of what people where leaving behind and indeed what they were facing as they made the long and arduous journey to the United States. If your ancestors emigrated during these turbulent times, you will surely gain a fierce appreciation of their epic journey and a pride that they survived and thrived when so many didn’t.
Another fascinating place to visit is Glasnevin Cemetery (sometimes referred to as “the dead center” of Dublin!), around 15 minutes away from the city center. This is a fantastic visit with a veritable who’s who in modern Irish history buried here from our first president Eamon de Valera to his political nemesis Michael Collins, the great Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’Connell, writer Brendan Behan and singer Luke Kelly to name but a few. The award winning museum gives a great history of the graveyard and its famous residents along with some grisly facts from the body-stealing days! If you have Dublin links, there is genealogy section where you can search to see if any of your ancestors were buried in the graveyard and even the location of their plot (s). Guided tours are also available and will give you a great over-view of modern Irish history and politics, and indeed an understanding of their complexities and intricacies. A café with the obligatory cup of tea is also on-site and really rounds off this visit.
Head back into city center and make your way to the Guinness Storehouse, the number one visitor attraction in Ireland. Learn all about the brewing process, the history of the stout and round of your visit with a pint of the black stuff, in the home of the black stuff looking out over Dublin in the Gravity Bar complete with its 360 degree views of the city and beyond! The Storehouse also has a record of its employees from the 1880s to the early 2000s, so if you think one your relatives may have worked there you can search their database before you visit and if you find an ancestor, you can then make an appointment to view the records!
So after all this action, now it is your turn to relax and be entertained! Why not enjoy an Irish Night in the Arlington Hotel with great food dancing, music and song from their talented performers? Or sample one, some or all of the bars in Temple Bar until you find your favorite! Dublin has a plethora of restaurants, pubs and clubs, many with traditional music sessions, so enjoy your evenings in this vivacious city!
Phew! After two days here - rest up now as you are leaving Dublin tomorrow, so enjoy a good nights sleep – Ireland is waiting for you!
Day 3: The Boyne Valley – Hill of Tara and Newgrange
Leaving Dublin behind, drive northwards towards the Boyne Valley which encompasses the counties of Louth and Meath - the journey should take around 35 minutes. The Boyne Valley is packed with ancient monuments and is full of romance and mystery, reverberating with the Celtic world of by gone times.
Your first stop will be the Hill of Tara - the center of the Celtic world and the seat of the High Kings of Ireland until the 11th century. There are really few words to encapsulate this otherworldly place, as you are surrounded by the remains of the Stone and Iron Ages, with the waves of the Celtic world encircling you as you walk around the site. On a good clear day, it is claimed you can see almost 25% of Ireland from the hill – so keep your fingers crossed when you visit!
Some of the notable monuments are Cormac’s House, a ring-shaped earthwork linked to the Royal Enclosure. Cormac was a king and is credited for constructing many of the monuments at Tara. Grainne’s enclosure situated nearby is thought to be named after his daughter.
The Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny stands around 1.5 meters in height and it is believed that when the true king of Ireland placed their feet on the stone, the Lia Fáil will let out a roar! Why not chance your luck on your visit!? The stone was moved from its position in front of the Mound of Hostages in the 19th century to the present location on top of the Royal Seat and is thought to be one of four such stones which stood at the four cardinal points of the site. Another two are believed to be now in the graveyard adjacent to the site.
Arguably Tara is best viewed from the air as it is hard perhaps to decipher the various hills and mounds before you. However the excellent audio-visual at the Visitors Center puts everything into perspective for you, so it is best to view this first and then navigate the site. This is in no means a deterrent – Tara is a must see site and puts Ireland and her pre-historical/historical era into context.
Next to the car-park is a cosy coffee shop, so enjoy some culinary delights before you embark on the stage of your journey to the pre-historic site of Newgrange just under an hour away.
Newgrange is Europe’s most important and notable passage-tomb, predating the Egyptian Pyramids and was built circa 3,200BC. There are 2 similar tombs situated close-by Knowth and Dowth, but neither have been excavated in the same way as Newgrange, but are just as of equal importance. There is no direct admission to Newgrange, you must access it through the Interpretative Center, a purpose built building from which a bus will take you to and from the monument. The center houses an outstanding full scale replica of Newgrange and a model of Knowth and has a wealth of information pertaining to the monuments and the region itself.
Newgrange itself is accessed through a narrow passage way which enters into larger chamber with a roof that reaches some 20 feet. The monument was constructed by skilful engineers and architects, clearly evident when you take into account the size of the monument and the stones/rocks used to build and even decorate certain aspects of it all without the aid of metal tools or the wheel. Another aspect of this exceptional engineering skills was the fact that the chamber was constructed to allow the sun enter through the roof-box on December 21st each year and illuminate the chamber within. Each year a lottery is held to allow a chosen few enter on this date to experience the magic for themselves.
Leaving Newgrange behind you, start back on the road once more and make your way towards Trim Castle just under an hour away. This majestic castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland and dates from the 12th. As you travel through Ireland, admire the green fields and perhaps even find some of your own hidden Irish jewels as your third day draws to a close. Overnight in Westmeath.
Day 4: Strokestown, Roscommon and National Museum of County Life, Mayo
Waking up in beautiful Meath, your next stop will be Strokestown Park House an 18th century Palladian house dating from 1730 but incorporating an older towerhouse from the 17th century. The journey is just under 2 hours long.The design of the newer section of the building owes itself to Robert Castles/Cassels a German architect who is arguably Ireland’s most famous architect of the period having designed many of great houses of the era such as Russborough in County Wicklow and Belvedere in County Westmeath amongst others. The house remained in the Mahon family until 1979, after which time a major restoration began.
Today an excellent guided tour takes you through its histories its peoples in an enlightening and informative way. You learn how both the upstairs and downstairs once lived and with original furnishings still en-situ there is an authentic and personable feel as you take your tour. Afterwards, take a wander through the Walled Garden, lovingly restored and opened since 1997, after a ten-year labor of love with many of the original features revived to their former glory such as the ornamental lily pond, tennis court and croquet lawn. There is also a Fruit and Vegetable Garden which has glass-houses dating from the 1780’s - thought to be the oldest in Ireland.
Within the stable area is the Famine Museum illustrating the story of the 1840’s Famine where between the years 1845 to 1850, some 2 million people in Ireland – (nearly one-quarter of the population either died or emigrated. During work on the house, papers dating from the Famine were found and much information was gleaned into how the Mahon family looked after and treated their own tenants during these turbulent times. The letters give an insight into a very difficult part of Irish history and while some landlords did what they could for their tenants, the vast majority did not and this was the case of the Mahon family. Indeed, Major Denis Mahon was murdered by his own tenants after systematically forcing nearly two-thirds of his tenants off his lands during the Famine by either eviction or passage to North America on the infamous coffin-ships.
Strokestown is an excellent attraction and gives an insight into how both the landed gentry and the local population lived during the 18th and 19th centuries. Two sets of people living through the same times but living two very different and separate lives and this is certainly brought into a vivid and stark context in Strokestown where in one site you can visit both the “big house” and the Famine Museum.
Why not stop in Strokestown village itself for some lunch before you embark on the next stop of your heritage tour. A small town but with a few nice eateries and hotels you are sure to find something to whet your appetite before you leave Roscommon and set off for Mayo just under 90 minutes and your next stop the National Museum of Country Life.
Situated just outside of Castlebar, the museum holds the National Folklife Collection and seeks to show visitors how people lived in Ireland between the years of the Famine and the 1950’s. The collection is spread over 4 floors in a modern setting with artifacts ranging from traditional costumes such as those from the Aran Islands, farming instruments and craft tools. With interactive displays and screens and video footage of traditions that otherwise have been/will be lost to the mists of time, this museum is a great place from which to understand the Ireland of yesteryear and learn about her traditions and cultures that are disappearing so quickly.
The museum itself stands in the grounds of the Turlough House Estate, with its Victorian Gothic style “big house” dating from 1865. Open to the public, this is certainly worth a visit and there are also beautiful gardens to walk around in.This visit is like a one stop shop, museum, stately home, gardens, café and shop – you are spoiled for choice!
After a busy day, relax in your accommodation or venture into the local town. Enjoy the Mayo hospitality as tomorrow you are heading for Galway and Connemara!
Day 5: Galway and Connemara
After a refreshing sleep and already on day 5 of your vacation fill up on a delicious Irish breakfast and set off for beautiful Connemara just over an hour away. This wind-swept magical region has captured the imagination and inspiration of artists, painters and lovers since time began and once you visit this magical mystical place you too will feel the pull of this breath-taking region.
First stop is Leenane situated at the head of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord. With spectacular scenery, partake in a cruise of Killary Harbor and drink in your wonderful surroundings. If the fresh air has re-woken your appetite, the pretty village of Leenane will surely provide you with some sustenance, so enjoy something to eat and perhaps even a wander around the village.
Leaving Leenane behind you, move further westwards and make the short drive to your next stop and arguably the jewel in the crown of the Connemara Region Kylemore Abbey. Lying in the sheltered slopes of the Twelve Bens this breath-taking castle was originally built in 1867 by Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret as perhaps one of the greatest romantic gestures of all time. After visiting the original small hunting lodge which stood on the grounds of the estate, Mary fell in love with the sheer natural beauty around her and so Mitchell decided to build his beloved a castle, so that one day they could live on the estate. With a cost of £18,000 he blasted out a part of the mountain, over a period of four years and built some might say the most beautiful castle in Ireland, adorned by the beautiful wilds of Connemara.
Today, the castle is just as striking and impressive and is home to the only Irish order of Benedictine nuns, resident since 1920 and who once ran an international boarding school and day school which closed in 2010. The sisters are very much part of Kylemore and although one may visit the house, some rooms are closed to the public, so that their monastic lives are not infringed upon.
Stroll around the grounds and go into sensory overload, as you see the beauty before you, hear the winds whispering through the trees and smell the delicious scents in the 6 acres of the Victorian Wall Garden. Visit the castle and learn its histories, full of romance, intrigue, grief, royal connections and engineering initiatives! There is much to see and do on the estate aside from the gardens and castle such as the Gothic Church (where members of the family are interred), extensive craft-shop complete with a café, and numerous walks. The lake is truly spectacular so make sure you get a picture to remember your visit by!
Within the Connemara region itself, you will also find the Connemara National Park with a surface area of 2,957 hectares or 7,304 American football fields. With mountains, heaths and megalithic tombs you have a wealth of things to behold. Perhaps take one the many walks and enjoy the fresh air in your lungs…..
Say good-bye to Connemara as you meander you way to Galway city just over an hour away and your overnight for the evening. Perhaps on your way down you can stop of at Oughterard and take in Aughnare Castle, a towerhouse which dates from the 16th century, although a castle has stood on the site from the 13th century. This castle was owned by the powerful O’Flaherty family, for nearly 300 hundred from the 13th to 16th centuries, with their strength further cemented when in 1545 Donal O’Flaherty married the infamous pirate queen Grace O’Malley. From here it is less than 30 minutes to Galway city and your accommodation.
Galway city is a vibrant town; compact in size, it is easy to navigate its winding streets. The city practically reverberates with energy and zest, and you are assured of a great night whatever you do. So whether you would like a quiet dinner, a rowdy session in one of the many pubs or you want to catch a live band – Galway will certainly give you what you want. Enjoy your stay here and refresh yourself for the next step in your journey – the Cliffs of Moher and Limerick City!
Day 6: The Burren Region and Cliffs of Moher
We hope you are waking up with a spring in your step ready to unveil the treasures of the Burren Region! Make sure you enjoy a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day! The Burren is a unique eco-system sustaining both Alpine and Mediterranean plants and is Europe’s largest karst region. During the summer months it comes alive with the riot of colour from the plants, the colours more vibrant and overwhelming amidst the backdrop of the harsh landscape.
Just over an hour from Galway is the Burren Centre and no better place than to learn all about this fascinating region and its unique geology, history and botany. Learn all about this unique limestone landscape, its megalithic tombs which predate the Roman and Egyptian civilisations, the astounding display of flora and fauna and how this rocky landscape likened to the surface of the moon came to be, with their multi-dimensional exhibition.
A mere 10 minutes from the Burren centre is the Burren Smokehouse, where you can indulge in their delicious, locally sourced smoked salmon, mackerel or trout or even sample some of their cheeses? They have a lovely shop as well, were you will find an assortment of goods from jewellery to jam, knitwear to pottery. You can also view an audio-visual about the smoking process and see their first kiln!
Next it is time to visit the Cliffs of Moher a designated UNESCO site standing on the precipices of Europe at some 702 feet. The Cliffs of Moher are an arresting sight – enjoy the glorious air at the Cliffs and be astounded at the beauty before you. Take in the Aran Islands, the Twelve Pins, The Maum Turk Mountains and Loop Head. However, beyond the islands in the wild Atlantic Ocean– there is nothing only the sea horses – it is truly an awe-inspiring sight and a feeling that takes your breath away. ……… just breathe…….
You many have worked up an appetite after the good clean Irish air at the Cliffs. Check out the Visitor Centre’s self-service restaurant or you may fancy making your way to Ennis a busy town situated on the River Fergus less than an hour away. With winding streets and colourful shop fronts this town is full of charm and character. There are lots of unique shops selling local craft-made goods which would make great presents and with lots of cafes and restaurants, you can certainly while away a pleasant afternoon enjoying all Ennis has to offer.
This evening you will be staying in Limerick where you will be based for the next two nights giving you ample opportunity to enjoy the city and its environs. Watch as the Irish countryside slips by – Limerick is just under an hour away.
Settle into your accommodation and then head to downtown Limerick city and find yourself a restaurant or pub for eats. The city is a hive of activity and looking forward to you fully discovering her in the morning!
Day 7: Limerick City and Bunratty Castle
With the promise of a new day, leap out of bed and explore wonderful Limerick City! Founded by the Vikings and Ireland’s third largest city, it is a bustling urban delight situated at the mouth of the River Shannon (Ireland’s longest river). All around the city of Limerick you’ll find a fascinating combination of the old and the new. Georgian street-scapes combine with modern buildings creating a strange mix but one that really works. A stroll along the newly completed board-walk treats visitors to stunning views of the north bank of the River Shannon, whilst walking down the marina you can stare out along its south bank. You will you’ll find a whole host of attractions and an eclectic selection of shops and restaurants in this great city – so let’s get you started!
King John’s Castle is one of Limerick’s most famed monuments and rightfully so. Nestled in the heart of the city on its very own island home, the fantastic 13th century structure hosts a range of exhibitions and castle tours, which breathe life into the esteemed history of the castle. King John, after whom the castle was named, was once “Lord of Ireland”. He used the building for minting his own coins and today, visitors can receive their very own souvenir coin as a reminder of their visit. There is an excellent audio-visual on the history of Limerick from the Viking settlement forward and with 800 years of history in her walls King John’s Castle is a must see!
For a glimpse at what Limerick has to offer in terms of culture, drop into the Hunt Museum, situated in the old Customs House. One of a kind art pieces and antiques from the Neolithic age to the 20th Century make up the exhibitions of this magnificent museum. Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilisations all make an appearance and even works of art by Yeats, Renoir and Picasso. One of tourireland’s favourites in the Hunt is the gorgeous Antrim Cross dating from the 9th century.
After catching a bite to eat in the city, you will be leaving Limerick temporarily behind you and visiting Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, a magnificent castle dating from the 15th century just 20 minutes away. Today it is one of Irelands’ most popular attractions. The castle was carefully restored in 1954 and today one can wander its rooms and admire the 15th and 16th century tapestries and furnishings. The décor of the castle today lends itself much to the period 1500 to 1640 approximately when the powerful O’Brien’s were resident there. Look out for the a 17th century German chandelier in the private rooms of the Great Earl and note the Robing Room where the earls would have prepared themselves for an audience in the Great Hall.
Outside there is a carefully reconstructed 19th century rural village. The village has a medley of shops such as the post-office and pub, houses/farmhouses along with displays of tools and instruments typical of the era. During the summer months, the village comes alive with actors strolling the streets in the clothes of the time, lending a rather surreal feel to the village.
That night, stay on and enjoy the medieval banquet and the world famous Bunratty Castle Entertainers or cross the road to Durty Nellys and enjoy dinner in this pub which dates from 1620. Wherever you choose you will be assured of a great night! Head back to Limerick tired but happy! You’ve had a busy day!
Day 8: Adare Village and Cobh Heritage Centre
After a revitalising sleep, you will be leaving Limerick City and making your way south to Cork. However your first stop is only 15 minutes away – Adare – often called the “prettiest town in Ireland” due to the large number of thatched cottages and the general neat and organised layout of the town, all down to the Earls of Dunraven who restored the village between the years 1820 and 1830. This is a picturesque village and you will enjoy a very pleasant walk around it admiring the carefully maintained thatch cottages. Aside from the aesthetics of the town, Adare’s strategic position along the river has been the scene for many battles along the years and so a visit to the Heritage Centre to learn more about her exciting history should most definitely be on the cards!
Beside the centre is the Trinitarian Priory founded in 1230 and like most buildings in the village it is very becoming so should not be overlooked. Just across the road is the restored Washing Pool where for many centuries local women would gather to wash their clothes and catch-up on the gossip of the day!
Desmond Castle should be next on your list - dating from the 13th century this is great example of a feudal castle. It has a bloody history and while restoration works has yet to take place, it is still work a visit…
Adare has some lovely cafes so have some lunch before you hit the road again for Cork and the Cobh Heritage Centre. It should take just under 2 hours to reach Cobh, so ensure you leave enough time to enjoy both a peaceful journey and enough time to visit the heritage centre.
Cobh (pronounced cove) is situated, just 20 minutes from Cork City. In 1849, following the visit of Queen Victoria the town was renamed Queenstown but in 1921, it once again reverted to the old name of Cobh. It lies on Great Island, one of three such islands in Cork Harbour – the other two being Fota and Little Island – all now linked by a network of bridges and roads. Built on a steep hill and dominated by the imposing Gothic style St. Coleman’s Cathedral with its 49 bell carillon, (the only one of its kind in Ireland or Great Britain), Cobh is a pretty Victorian town, synonymous with brightly coloured houses in rows of tightly packed terraces.
The Cobh Heritage Centre housed in an old railway station has a brilliant museum which tells the maritime history of Cobh through exhibits and audio-visual. As Cobh was the departure point of 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between the years 1848 and 1950 and also the last port that the ill-fated Titanic departed from, there is much to see and learn.
The centre also has a Genealogy Centre where you can look at the passenger lists for those ships which left from Cobh, so if you think that your relative may have left from here, do make time to visit this section as well. Be mindful of spellings and ages, as many people were illiterate and names were often written as they were spoken and thus misspelled.
As you stand on the harbour looking out to sea, you can only imagine the tears and traumas of those that stood there before you – waving goodbye – many for the last time as they watched their loved ones slip away from view and into the unknown of the Americas. Amongst those men, women and children who sought a new life was Annie Moore and her two brothers who were the first immigrants to be processed in Ellis Island. Look out for the statue in her memory (and indeed in the memory of all those that left) outside the centre.
After a another busy day and with your head spinning from all that you have seen, enjoy dinner in one of Cork’s great restaurants and rest up for your next days adventures!
Day 9:Jameson Experience, Dungarvan and Waterford City
You may be nearing the end of your vacation, but the pace does not let up! Make sure you have a hearty breakfast as today you are heading eastwards to Waterford your final destination of the day. First stop though – the Jameson Experience less than 20 minutes away from Cork City. Beautifully situated in renovated 18th century buildings, the distillery is the largest one in Ireland. Through an audio-visual you will be taken through the history of Irish Whiskey and then guided through the distillery itself where you will see the old kilns and the worlds largest pot still with an astounding capacity of 30,000 gallons. After the tour, you can savour a glass of the whiskey in the Jameson Bar.
Leaving Cork behind you now stop in the pretty harbour town of Dungarvan in the very heart of Waterford over an hour away. Visit the museum there and find out more about this busy town. View the ruins of Dungarvan Castle built in 1185 with an exhibition of the castle’s history now housed in the restored barracks.
Take in some lunch in Dungarvan before you head to Waterford City 45 minutes away and where you will be overnighting.
Founded by the Vikings in 941 this is Ireland’s oldest city and indeed is predates many other Northern European capitals such as Paris or London. While the Vikings have certainly left their mark on the city, most notably in its very name– Vedrarfjiordr or Fjord of the Rams, the Georgian era has also left a distinct impression as no doubt the 21st century will do in time.
But where to start! Perhaps in Reginald’s Tower where the Viking built a tower in 914 followed by a stone structure under the Anglo-Normans in 1185. This is the city’s oldest civic urban building, (and indeed in Ireland) and has in its long and varied history been a mint, prison and royal court.
Next visit the Bishop’s Palace a majestic building dating from the 1740’s and built by the renown Robert Castles/Cassells. Recently refurbished it charts Waterford’s history from the 1700s to the 1970s and houses some wonderful treasures of both national and indeed international importance including the oldest piece of Waterford Crystal dating from 1789.
Christchurch Cathedral should be your next stop – the only of neo-classical Georgian Cathedral in Ireland. Standing on site from 1050, but more probably with an even older beginning than that, the Cathedral still continues as place of worship but has evolved and now concerts, recitals and even exhibitions are now common place.
And what visit would be complete without taking in the world famous House of Waterford Crystal?! Take a tour of the factory and see all the different stages of production from the blowing of the glass, to the sculpting and engraving and even the quality checks. Visiting the retail shop is a must and with tax free shopping, personalised engraving available and collections from John Rocha and Jasper Conran, we would be very surprised if you left empty handed!
What a day! You have seen so much – and no doubt want to savour those precious memories and rest your feet, so pick from a wide choice of eateries in Waterford city. You won’t go hungry or thirsty in this town with the array before you – so whether you want a quiet dinner or a boisterous one – you will find it in Waterford! Head back to your accommodation and rest up for the next days adventures….
Day 10: Dunbrody Famine Ship and Kilkenny
This is your last full day in Ireland! So make the most of it! You will be overnighting in Dublin but there are some great stops along the way so enjoy a filling breakfast and begin your day!
Leaving Waterford city behind, make your way towards Wexford and the Dunbrody Ship (a journey of around 25 minutes) which brought passengers to North America during the famine. If you did not have an opportunity to visit the Jeanie Johnson during your stay in Dublin, this is another great ship to see which retells the story of the Famine and the reasons why so many left Ireland and indeed what those left behind faced. With a great audio-visual followed by actors retelling the passenger and crew stories this is fantastic visit!
Move northwards now towards Kilkenny around 45 minutes away. It was once the Medieval capital of Ireland and its legacy can be still be seen today in the architecture and winding streets of this lovely city.
The presence of Kilkenny Castle dominates the city and is really a great place to start your Kilkenny adventure. Built in the early 1200’s and remodelled in 1830 a castle has stood on this site for some 9 centuries – a testament to the both the power and the influence of her residents. A visit takes around an hour (including a short audio – visual presentation) but it is a popular attraction, so do allow time to fully enjoy and appreciate this amazing castle – one of the best of its kind in Ireland. Within the grounds of the castle stands the Kilkenny Design Centre with a wide array of Irish handcrafted products from a number of Irish craftspeople and designers such as Oral Kiely, Waterford Crystal and Newbridge Silverware, not to mention several local producers and such goods as jewellery, home-wares and clothing - it will certainly be difficult to resist temptation!
If perhaps you would like to mix your history with some ale then the Smithwick’s Brewery Tour is the one for you. This Irish red ale has been brewed by the Smithwick family in Kilkenny since 1710 and a tour will take your around the site, including a visit to the St. Francis Abbey which dates from the 12th century – certainly a unique sight to see a brewery built around an old abbey. Perhaps that is why the Smithwick’s ale tastes so heavenly!
After you have had your fill of Kilkenny, start your journey towards Dublin, a mere 90 minutes away. Spend one last evening in your favourite pub or restaurant and perhaps even begin planning your next trip to the Emerald Isle!
Day 11: Dublin and good-bye!
We have taken you on epic journey – highlighting the best of our history and heritage, taking you on a voyage of discovery and enlightenment - from the pre-historical times of Newgrange to the bustle and vibrancy of the 21st century in Dublin’s IFSC. As you pack for your flight home, we hope that the one thing that you will take is the mark that Ireland has left on you, and that her rolling green fields, wild coastlines, stories, whispers, songs, poems, wit ,wisdom, triumphs and tragedies, have become part of your history and heritage – that is our wish for you.
Slán agus beannacht go bhfeicfidh mé aris thú…..goodbye and blessings until we meet again…..