LIFE INSTITUTE’S IRELAND TOUR
SEPT. 2 – 12, 2009
Escorted by Ken Smookler
Day 1: Wednesday 2nd September Depart Toronto with Air Transat for your overnight flight to Dublin.
Day 2: Thursday 3rd September After arrival at Dublin airport we meet with the coach driver and guide for an Orientation Tour of Dublin before we continue to our hotel for check in. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 3: Friday 4th SeptemberThis morning we enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin, discovering the north side of the River Liffey. This area offers great striking monuments such as the General Post Office on the city main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street, or the Custom House along the quays, as well as Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe. The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian squares, such as Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde’s House can be found. Not far from St.Stephen’s Green you will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. This part of the city is also dominated by students of Trinity College, where the famous book of Kells is permanently exhibited in the library. The university is facing the medieval district where Dublin Castle and the two Anglican Cathedrals can be found. We later visit Helen Dillon Garden for Tea & Biscuits. This garden is an urban oasis where a series of little gardens, each with a different theme, are arranged around a central stretch of water. The long successions of flowers begins in March and runs through to the fall. Rare herbaceous plants are a specialty. After a short rest at the hotel we take the coach to the Brazen Head Pub for dinner & Storytelling. We enjoy a memorable evening with a traditional meal in Ireland’s oldest pub and hear about how the people of Ireland lived in times past. We learn how they celebrated their lives through wakes, weddings, storytelling, music and dance and finally explore beliefs, superstitions and stories about the other world of Fairies. The dinner will take place in a quiet room upstairs with a talk between each course. After dinner you are then free to finish the night off by heading downstairs to one of the best traditional music venues in Dublin.
Day 4: Saturday 5th SeptemberToday we travel southwards to Waterford via the Wicklow Mountains. County Wicklow is known as “the Garden of Ireland”. 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. We discover its romantic and quiet beauty, the deserted mounts where nothing but heather grows, the small forests and lush prairies. Time permitting we will visit Glendalough, a 6th century monastic site and Powerscourt house and garden. At Ballyknocken House we have a lesson in scone-making. After a well deserved break of tea and scones we continue to Waterford and visit Waterford Crystal. The first Waterford crystal factory was founded in 1783, but it operated only until 1851 when it had to close due to punitive taxation. The current factory was opened in 1971. Today it employs a skilled workforce of glass blowers, cutters and engravers who can take 8 to 10 years to perfect their craft. The crystal is produced using red lead, silica sand and potash. Visitors are guided through the different stages of production from the blowing, cutting and engraving areas to seeing the finished product on display in the magnificent showrooms. We continue to our hotel for dinner and overnight in Waterford.
Day 5: Sunday 6th SeptemberToday we travel to County Kerry via Cobh and Blarney. We visit the Cobh Heritage Centre which is located in the old Victorian Railway station in the small village of Cobh formally known as Queenstown. The “Quennstown Story” relates Cobh’s dramatic maritime history and you will learn how emigrants, during the famine years, boarded ships here on the way to the New World, and how Cobh is tragically linked to both the Titanic and the Lusitania. No Ireland visit is complete without a visit to Blarney Castle. An ancient stronghold of the McCarthy’s, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles. Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone- The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed to have power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. We enjoy some time at leisure at the Blarney Woollen Mills. The presents of the Mill during the famine shielded Blarney from the worst effects of the hunger. We continue our trip to Kerry for our overnight at our hotel.
Day 6: Monday 7th September This morning we travel to Kenmare where we have some time at leisure before we drive along a part of the Ring of Kerry and enjoy the spectacular views at Molls Gap and Ladies View. Moll’s Gap is a beautiful photographic viewing point of the famous Ring of Kerry Tour where the visitor is presented with a magnificent view of Death Valley. Close by is the famous Ladies View point which gives a different perspective of the county side with the 3 Lakes of Killarney surrounded by the Kerry Mountains. In the afternoon we enjoy a Jaunting Car Ride in Killarney National Park as your Jarvey (driver) takes us through the magnificent scenery of Killarney National Park. Later we pay a visit to Muckross House and Gardens. This is a stately Victorian mansion built in 1843 on the shores of Muckross Lake. We will explore the elegantly furnished rooms that portray the life of the landed gentry, while downstairs in the basement area one can experience the working conditions of the servants. The gardens of Muckross House are famed for their beauty worldwide. We return to our hotel for an early dinner before heading to the town of Tralee. At Siamsa Tire, The National Folk Theatre of Ireland we are to be entertained with a performance of music, dance and folklore that has evolved in Ireland from the earliest times. Return to our hotel for overnight.
Day 7: Tuesday 8th September Some of the finest coastal scenery to be seen in Ireland can be found in West Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula ,where we are headed this morning. This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and 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 village and offers plenty of opportunity for shopping or savoring the atmosphere of a typical county 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 is a long beach bordered by dunes and made famous by David Lean’s movie “Ryan’s daughter”. From Dingle we 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 Skellig Islands, where the ruins of an early Christian Monastery can be found. We will stop off at a local pub on the Dingle Peninsula and enjoy an early dinner and a traditional Irish Music session with Benny O’Carroll. Later we return to our hotel for overnight.
Day 8: Wednesday 9th September This morning we board the coach and head northwards to Tarbert and take the ferry to Killimer into County Clare. We continue along the coast to the Cliffs of Moher situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering Burren Area. These cliffs are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 meters above ground at their highest point and 8 km long they 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. Just north of the cliffs highest point is O’Brien’s Tower. Cornelius O’Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle) built a tower at the cliffs in order to enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The tower is adjacent to the seastack, Breanan Mor, which stands over 70 m above the foaming waves and is home to some of Burren’s wildlife. In the afternoon we travel through the Burren Region, which is part of the 100 square km Burren National Park. This unique place is a Karst limestone area composed of limestone pavements which have eroded to a distinct pattern. This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wildflowers 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 seeing a car. The Burren is truly an exceptional part of Ireland where one can also encounter some rare flora. We continue to Galway where upon arrival we enjoy some leisure time in this vibrant city before dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Day 9: Thursday 10th September A trip to Aran Island is a step back in time. It’s a short 30-minutes ferry trip from Connemara to Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. Life on the Gaelic speaking Aran Islands has resisted today’s technology and fishing is still the main source of employment. We take the minibus tour of the island, which features a visit to Dun Aengus Fort. The fort is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. Dun Aengus is protected on one side by a 300 ft cliff, while the landside is protected by Chevaux-de-friese. It comprises of three concentric enclosures defended by stout walls of dry masonry. Visitors can also enjoy a trip to “na Seacht dTeampaill” (Seven churches) consisting of ruined churches, a monastic house and some fragments of a high cross dating from the 8th or 9th century. After the island tour, relax with some free time in Kilronan, capital of Inishmor, before boarding the return ferry back to the mainland for our return to Galway. In the evening the coach will bring us to Salthill to enjoy dinner & the famous “Trad on the Prom” show, an electrifying mix of music, song and dance performed by some of Ireland’s best known artists. Overnight rest at our hotel in Galway.
Day 10: Friday 11th September Connemara is a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains. A land of small villages where Gaelic is still spoken and where little has changed. 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. The northern shore offers spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour. We will have some time at leisure in Clifden before we continue to Cong in County Mayo. After some free time in Cong we return to Galway for our last overnight stay in Galway.
Day 11: Saturday 12th September After an early breakfast we transfer to Galway airport for our Aer Aran flight to Dublin. Air Transat will return us to Toronto.
Cost of tour:CAD $ 3372.80 per/person, double occupancy ( min. 20 PAX)
- Return Air Transat flight Toronto/Dublin in coach class Depart Toronto 02/09/2009 845 pm, Arrive Dublin 810 am 03/09/2009
- Depart Dublin 12/09/2009 1245 pm, Arrive Toronto 305 pm 12/09/2009
- Aer Aran flight from Galway to Dublin. Depart Galway 745 am 12/09/2009
- 9 nights in 3 star hotels, all rooms with private bath or shower
- Full Irish Breakfast at hotel each day 6 dinners at hotels, Dinner and Storytelling at the Brazen Head Pub, Siamsa Tire Show in Tralee, dinner & Irish Music session at Benny O’Carrolls, Dinner & Irish Entertainment at Trad on the Prom.
- Visits to Helen Dillon Garden (with tea and Biscuits), Waterford Crystal,Cobh Heritage Centre, Blarney Castle, Muckross House & Gardens, Cliff of Moher, Dun Aengus Fort, Scone Making Demonstration at Ballyknocken Cookery, Jaunting Car ride in Killarney National Park, Shannon Car Ferry Tarbert-Killimer, Return Ferry to Aran Islands, Minibus tour on Aran Islands, modern motor-coach with driver/guide, return coach to/from evening venues, Dublin city guide, service charges and taxes.
- Items of personal nature, Travel and Health Insurance (mandatory), Tips for Driver & Guides
- Single room supplement: CAD $ 400.00
- Upgrade to Club Class on Air Transat CAD $ 600.00 p/p
If any part of this tour should be unavailable, Ireland has enough treasures that a comparable experience will always be available to replace whatever we will have missed. For examle, should the Waterford Crystal Factory and Visitor Centre not have re-opened by the time of our visit, any of the following will be substituted; The Waterford Museum of Treasures, the Dunbrody Heritage Ship or the Avondale House and Forest Park.
For more information please call Maya Wanger at 1-800-265-2817 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org