Ireland (August 11-20, 2017)
Take a magical journey across the Emerald Isle with Star Destinations. Kiss the Blarney Stone, sip Jameson Irish whiskey, and enjoy a 2 night stay in a luxury castle hotel. You’ll laugh with the locals, gaze out to sea from the Cliffs of Moher, tour historic Dublin, and much more on our unforgettable tour of Ireland!
- Round Trip Flight to Dublin From Des Moines
- Private Motorcoach Transportation
- 8 Nights’ Accommodations
- 16 Meals (8 Breakfasts, 8 Dinners)
- Admission to Attractions and Activities as Stated in Itinerary
- Professional Tour Manager
- Gratuities for Driver/Guides
- Porter Service of One Bag Per Person at Hotel
- Taxes and Gratuities for Included Services
Flight to Dublin – Today we transfer to the airport, sit back, relax, and enjoy our flight to Dublin!
Dublin to Cork – “A hundred thousand welcomes” to Ireland and the beautiful Dublin. Or as the Irish say, “céad míle fáilte!” Upon landing in the Emerald Isle we will be met by our favorite Irish driver/guide and board a deluxe motorcoach to begin our exciting adventure. We will journey south through the exquisite landscape to the town of Kilkenny. Here we will explore the charming town and enjoy a leisurely tour of the famed Kilkenny Castle, one of the most recognized – and most visited – buildings in Ireland. The story of this castle has its beginnings in medieval times, but its most significant moments have played out during more recent history. We will learn more about the details of this fascinating story, including its role in Oliver Cromwell’s re-conquest of Ireland in 1650 and its seizure during the Irish Civil War in 1922. At the completion of our tour we will travel on to Cork to settle into our overnight accommodations. Once settled, our group will join together for a Welcome Dinner and preview of what’s to come in the days ahead. (Overnight – The River Lee)
Cork to Killarney – We start our morning with a full Irish breakfast at the hotel before beginning the day’s sightseeing. A visit to Ireland would not be complete without a visit to Blarney Castle. We will follow in the footsteps of countless world leaders, literary giants, and movie stars as we climb the stairs to kiss the famous Blarney Stone that promises the gift of gab or eloquence…whichever you prefer! We’ll then enjoy a little retail therapy at the Woollen Mills, where traditional Irish wares such as Belleek, Waterford Crystal, Celtic jewelry, and woolen knitwear await. Next, we head to Old Jameson Distillery in Midleton for a tour and tasting of this world famous libation, one of the best Ireland has to offer. With the taste of delicious Irish whiskey on our lips, we continue west to Killarney, past the ruins of Macroom Castle, over the Cork and Kerry Mountains and through the quaint villages of Ballyvourney and Ballymackerry. Upon arrival in Killarney, we will check-in to our hotel for the next two nights and enjoy dinner together. (Overnight – Randles Hotel)
Ring of Kerry – After our hotel’s filling Irish breakfast, we board our motorcoach for a drive along the Ring of Kerry. This is one of the most scenic drives in Ireland, winding between the lofty peaks of Macgillicuddy’s Reeks, through small Irish villages and along the magnificent, yet rugged coastline. Along the way we will stop to visit Brendan Ferris, an accomplished Irish shepherd. Brendan will show us some of the varieties of sheep that are raised in Ireland and will also demonstrate how he moves his flocks with his well-trained sheep dogs. The skill that is required is amazing! Following the demonstration we will return to Killarney for dinner. (Overnight – Randles Hotel)
Killarney to Galway – Following breakfast at the hotel this morning we depart Killarney for a ferry ride across the Shannon River. This relaxing twenty minute ride offers incredible views, and we may even catch a glimpse of dolphins along the way! Upon reaching land we will continue along the Wild Atlantic Way for a stop at the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. Here we’ll view the incredible 700ft wall of rock that rises from the Atlantic Ocean and stand high on the cliffs to catch a glimpse of the jaw-dropping view over the Atlantic. It’s unforgettable! After plenty of photo opportunities we will continue our drive through the Burren, one of the most remarkable geological formations in Ireland, and along the Southern Shore of Galway into the city known as ‘the City of Tribes’. We will enjoy a scenic drive through the city of Galway with a visit to St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church where it is recorded that Christopher Columbus stopped to pray in 1477. Our day concludes with dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight – Radisson Blu)
Galway to Connemara – A delicious breakfast awaits us at the hotel this morning before we motor along the Northern Shores of Galway to Conneamara Port of Rossaveel. Here we will board an Aran Island Ferry for a forty-five minute voyage to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. The Islanders speak Gaelic, but understand English and will welcome us to the island with open arms. We will use the island’s hop-on, hop-off minibuses to tour the island and visit Dun Aengus, a prehistoric fortress. Mid-afternoon we will return to the mainland, traveling along the sea inlets and lakes and through the bogs of Connemara en route to Ballynahinch Castle on Ballynahinch Lake in the heart of Connemara, for dinner and our two night stay. (Overnight – Ballynahinch Castle)
Connemara – After breakfast we will be joined by the Estate Manager for a guided walk through the Castle Estate. We will get an in depth look into Ballynahinch Castle’s rich history and will each have the opportunity to add “our two pence” to the castle’s history by planting a tree on the estate. The tour will conclude in the castle’s Fisherman’s Bar, where we will enjoy coffee and a biscuit before departing the estate for our journey to the strikingly beautiful Kylemore Abbey. This Benedictine monastery was founded in 1920 by Benedictine nuns who fled Belgium during World War I. We’ll enjoy hearing their story of settling at Kylemore, reestablishing their world renowned boarding school for girls, and restoring the Abbey to its former glory. After time to explore Kylemore’s wonderful gift and coffee shop, we will return to Ballynahinch via Ballyconneely and Roundstone to enjoy dinner and an evening at leisure at the Castle. (Overnight – Ballynahinch Castle)
Connemara to Dublin – This morning we say goodbye to the beautiful Ballynahinch Castle as we depart for Dublin after breakfast. We can relax and enjoy the scenic drive as we travel through the center of Connemara and the villages of Recess, Maam Cross, Ougtherard, and Moycullen before joining the motorway to Dublin at Galway. Along the way we will take a short detour to visit Clonmacnoise, an early Christian site founded on the eastern bank of the River Shannon by St. Ciarán in the mid-sixth century. This unique site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches dating back to the 10th to13th centuries, two round towers, three high crosses, and the largest collection of early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. The original high crosses and a selection of grave slabs are on display for our viewing, after which we will continue on to Dublin. Upon our mid-afternoon arrival in Dublin City Centre, the afternoon is ours to explore on our own followed by dinner together at a local restaurant. (Overnight – TBA)
Dublin – Today is filled with the highlights of the capital of the Republic of Ireland! After breakfast we begin a panoramic tour with stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College for a glimpse of the famed Book of Kells. Afterwards we will enjoy time on our own for lunch and to take in one of Ireland’s premium museums or do a little shopping. Our hotel is perfectly located to allow for a leisurely walk to Dublin’s top museums and many wonderful restaurants and shops! We will come back together to visit Collins Barracks where there is a wonderful exhibition of the English occupation, the 1916 Rebellion, the War of Independence, and the subsequent Civil War. And the building itself is a sight to see all on its own! This evening our group will gather for a delightful Farewell Dinner at a premium Dublin restaurant and reminisce on the wonderful journey we have shared together! (Overnight – TBA)
Home – After breakfast we will transfer to the Dublin airport for our return flight home with wonderful memories of the Emerald Isle in tow.