Recently, I was challenged by a friend to design an inexpensive tour to one of my favorite destinations. Ireland came to mind because its close proximity to the USA and many links with our culture. More importantly, Ireland presents an amazing opportunity to experience the great outdoors, traditional music, fine food, great Guiness and a unique culture… all without the stress of learning a foreign language!
I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping to the challenge. On this tour, join me and a lively group of folks as we visit Doolin, Dingle and Dublin… my three top destinations for an authentic taste of Ireland. Doolin, in County Clare, on the west coast of the island, offers a wild unspoiled beauty that’s hard to match anywhere. Down on the southwest tip of Ireland we will make Dingle our home for a couple of nights. Finally, explore Dublin where writers, poets, rustlers, royalty and rebels all played an important part it Dublin’s evolution from a Viking outpost to a modern capital city.
Here is a detailed description of the tour plan and a few pictures to get you dreaming.
June 22: Fly to Ireland — Board your overnight flight from your USA hometown to Ireland. Roundtrip flight from Jacksonville, Florida is included in the tour cost. Additional USA departure locations are offered for a small fee.
June 23: West Coast of Ireland — After airport arrival procedures you will be met by your Exploring Europe guide and driver. Enjoy a comfortable ride to the west coast of the island. We will visit the rugged Burrens, a chunk of land littered with rock and limestone outcroppings resembling the surface of the moon. Then, enjoy a visit to the most photographed landscape in Ireland, The Cliff of Mohar. Experience a “hang over the side and spit” view of sheer cliffs dropping more than 300 feet to the sea, all surrounded by rolling green hills and the vast North Atlantic. The village of Doolin waits with a fine guesthouse, three pubs, and real traditional Irish folk music. After settling in, we will gather in the village for dinner, traditional music and maybe even a pint or three. Sleep 2 nights in Doolin.
June 24: Galway — After a hearty “full Irish” breakfast, we’ll travel along the Atlantic coastal drive and around Galway Bay. Once in Galway we will take an orientation walk around the highlights of this perfect Georgian university city. After lunch, enjoy an event-free afternoon to do some exploring on your own. Here you can pass the time shopping, wandering in the pedestrian area, listening to local musicians and enjoying life. Later, return to Doolin for dinner on your own and a free evening.
June 25: Dingle — Enjoy a scenic drive through County Clare, a ferry crossing of the River Shannon and a breathtaking trek across the coastal mountains on your way to southwest Ireland. Dingle is my favorite destination in Ireland and one which presents an authentic charm to our American “image” of Ireland. Our guesthouse is just a block from both the harbor and town center. Tonight, enjoy a group dinner at one of the town’s gourmet restaurants. The remainder of the evening is event free so you can experience Dingle.
June 26: Dingle Peninsula – Today, experience some of Ireland’s wildest natural beauty and most ancient Christian sights. We’ll travel the Slea Head road through endless fields of “40 shades of green,” ocean waves crashing on rocks, and all the sheep you’ll ever want to count. Visiting the Blasket Islands Heritage Centre, you will get a close look at a traditional Irish community at the turn of the 20th century. Later, return to Dingle for an event-free afternoon and dinner on your own. Along about 9:00 p.m. we’ll meet at a local pub for a pure traditional Irish folk music session.
June 27: The Road to Dublin — We will leave the rugged southwest behind and make a diagonal beeline across the island to Dublin, the capital of the Republic. During the five hour drive we will make a couple of sightseeing stops, arriving in Dublin near midday. Once set up in our hotel, we will spend the remainder of the day exploring the rich history of Dublin. Writers, poets, rustlers, royalty and rebels all played an important part it Dublin’s evolution from a Viking outpost to a modern capital city. As the sun goes down and the Irish (and tourists) come out, we will devote our time to the “hip” Temple Bar area of town. Here, enjoy a tasty group dinner, a lively mix of street entertainers, plenty of pubs and lots of music!
June 28: Dublin — Enjoy a walking tour of the grand Georgian styled O’Connell Street and a visit to Trinity College. See the famous enlightened manuscript, from the Middle Ages, known as the Book of Kells. You will have the remainder of the day to discover more of Dublin. Tonight, enjoy a grand and gourmet farewell dinner at my favorite French restaurant outside of France. After, dinner enjoy your last hours in Dublin singing in a pub, dancing in the street and enjoying a pint or two!
June 29: Heading Home — Your tour ends today. Fly home from Dublin International Airport.
You can find out all the tour details by visiting my Exploring Europe website. I hope you’ll consider joining me in Ireland in June 2012!