Tour of Ireland September 8 – 20, 2024
Tour of Ireland September 8-20, 2024
Ancient Kings, Nobles, and the People of Ireland
An Irish Story
Join us on an epic journey in Ireland. We’ll be exploring castles, learning the history of Ireland from ancient times to present day and we’ll be staying at some of Ireland’s most notable properties from Castles to the Irish Aristocracy Georgian Houses that still scatter Ireland today. We’ll also learn about the Irish people that worked and lived around these places and were employed there, from the local blacksmith to those in service in the big house or castle to the tenant farmer.
September 9 – Day One
Arrive Dublin – Private Transfers to Carton House – Maynooth, Dublin County, Ireland.
This afternoon, after settling into the hotel, we’ll be stopping at Maynooth University for a tour of the school and to visit the interior chambers of the church. Dr. Ciaran Reilly, assistant professor of the Historic House Association will be our guide. He’ll be joining us along with Dr. Terence Dooley the following evening for an informative talk on the Irish Aristocracy, the Big House, Ireland’s Landed Estates that ruled over much of Ireland and its tenant farmers.
Join us for an early reception and orientation of the days to come. You can then relax and recover from your day of flights or exploring and take a turn about the vast estate that Carton House sits upon. We will spend 2 nights at Carton House.
Welcome Reception 6pm
September 10 – Day Two Depart 900 AM
Just a short journey into the Dublin City Center where we’ll spend the day exploring Dublin’s history on a historical walking tour with Donagh Cahill of the Irish Georgian Society and tour some of Dublin’s great houses, the little museum of Ireland and tour the Assembly House before going to Dublin Castle for a tour of the castle and the archaeological digs that you can see there.
Lunch will be close by at Ely Wine Bar and shopping will be available until 3PM
3PM The afternoon takes us to the ever-iconic Guinness Store House and Gravity Bar where we’ll learn to pour our own pint of Guinness and take in the 360* View from atop the store house.
We’ll return to Carton with plenty of time to rest before dinner. Dinner this evening will be together.
September 11 – Day Three Depart Maynooth at 930AM
Galway, known for its vibrant city center with many shops and pubs, is a great place to explore on foot. We will travel today through Strokestown to visit the Famine Museum and take a tour of Strokestown House, still very true to how it was left when the last family member, Lettice departed. We’ll get a glimpse into the history and explore one of the best examples of the early 18th century kitchen, still intact. Lunch today at Strokestown. From there we will travel on to Galway city where we’ll be meeting our local historian for a walking tour of the city, time for shopping and then to our hotel, Glenlo Abbey, home for the next two nights.Dinner in the Pullman Restaurant. The Pullman is an old pullman car and is a great little venue with views out over the lough and golf course.
September 12 – Day Four
Today we will travel the Connemara Loop trail through Joyce Country. This famous route along the Wild Atlantic Way takes us through Clifden and the Skye Road with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and on to Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore is home to the Benedictine Nuns. The school that exists now has been spurred on of late by the addition of the summer school and collaboration between the school and Notre Dame. We’ll visit the Gothic Church and explore the largest walled garden in Ireland. On the way there we’ll travel through the Killary Fjord and the Maam Valley. After our visit we will travel to Clifden along the Sky Road for some great photo ops and then to the infamous Fisherman’s Pub for lunch at Ballynahinch Castle. You’ll have time to explore the walled garden that was just returned to its former glory a few years ago. Time permitting, we will travel back through Cong and visit the home of the Quiet Man film with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
We’ll have time to rest and relax before going to dinner at Galway’s newest restaurant on the beach, Blackrock Cottage.
September 13- Day Five Depart 9am
Today we’ll travel down the coast towards Killarney with stops at the Cliffs of Moher. These iconic cliffs are a 600 ft drop down to the sea with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll then travel to The Burren and its limestone plateaus and the Poulnabrone dolmen. It is an unusually large dolmen or portal tomb, situated on one of the most desolate and highest points of the region in county Clare, it comprises three standing portal stones supporting a heavy horizontal capstone, and dates to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC and 2900 BC.
Tonight, we will call Ard na Sidhe home for the next two nights. When you arrive at Ard na Sidhe Country House Hotel you are instantly transported to a stunning world away. Translated as ‘the Hill of the Fairies’, the majestic panorama of this four-star lake hotel on Lough Caragh, Killorglin in County Kerry envelops you completely. A luxurious country manor house built by Lady Gordon in 1913.
The ethereal architecture and surrounds of this leading country manor house hotel provide an exquisite ambience that make it a landmark destination for secluded Irish accommodation. Victorian styling offers an enthralling sense of history and heritage set against the Ring of Kerry’s breathtaking scenery. Ard na Sidhe’s sumptuous décor and award winning gardens make it a blissful destination for adventure, relaxation and romance in The Reeks District and near the Lakes of Killarney. From the hotel’s doorstop, you’ll feel the heartbeat of this famed region where inspiring tranquility awakens you and modern comforts shroud you at every turn.
Dinner tonight in the hotel
September 14 – Day 6 Departing at 10AM
Today we’ll be exploring the Dingle Peninsula. This is such a special place, full of so many scenic views you will want to stop at every turn for a photo op! We’ll be traveling throughout the day, passing through Conor Pass and on down to Dingle town for lunch in the local pub and a tour of this wonderful fishing village. After lunch we’ll be making our way further along the peninsula to the Dunbeg Fort, a promontory fort from the Iron age and the beehive huts that served as a pilgrimage for ancient Celts. We’ll visit the Blasket Island Center and learn more about the people that lived on the Great Blasket Island. (Trip to Blasket Island weather permitting). From here we continue our journey to the Gallarus Oratory, a 12th century building of limestone that housed travelers. There is some controversy about what people did here but given the name of oratory, or where Celtic people passed down their history from one generation to the next.
We’ll end the day traveling back in the opposite direction for more breathtaking views.
Dinner at the hotel or at a pub along the route home.
September 15 – Day 7 Departure at 9AM
Say farewell to the Kingdom of Kerry today as we make our way to the Rock of Cashel. Then on to Cashel, set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel, iconic in its historic significance, possesses the most impressive cluster of medieval buildings in Ireland. Among the monuments to be found there is a round tower, a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, an abbey, the Hall of the Vicars Choral and a fifteenth-century Tower House.
Originally the seat of the kings of Munster, according to legend St. Patrick himself came here to convert King Aenghus to Christianity. Brian Boru was crowned High King at Cashel in 978 and made it his capital.
In 1101 the site was granted to the church and Cashel swiftly rose to prominence as one of the most significant centers of ecclesiastical power in the country.
The surviving buildings are remarkable. Cormac’s Chapel, for example, contains the only surviving Romanesque frescoes in Ireland. From there we will travel to the River Lee in Cork city where we will stay the next two nights. The hotel sits directly on the River Lee in the center of the city where you can get out and explore and do some evening shopping before returning to the hotel for dinner.
Dinner at the hotel this evening.
September 16 – Day 8 – Depart 930 AM
Today we will explore Cork city and take in one of the city’s oldest churches, St. Finbarr’s Cathedral. It is a Gothic Revival church with three spires. The church grounds are south of the River Leeon Holy Island, on one of the many inlets forming the Great Marsh of Munster (Corcach Mor na Mumhan). Saint Fin Barre’s is on the site of at least two previous church buildings, each dedicated to Fin Barre of Cork, patron saint of Cork city and founder of the monastic hermitage at Gougane Barra.
Finbarr was born in about 550. He was, by legend, given Gougane Barra as a place of contemplation, and visited Cork city to lay the foundation stones for the “one true Christian faith”. According to tradition, after Finbarr died, his remains were brought to Cork to be enclosed in a shrine near the site of today’s cathedral.
Archaeological evidence suggests the first site at Fin Barre’s probably dates from the 7th century, and consisted of a church and round tower that survived until the 12th century, after which it fell into neglect, or was destroyed during the Norman invasions.
We’ll then be joined by food historian, Billy Lyons to explore the English Market. This indoor market has been home to food stalls since 1788 when the city was controlled mostly by the English.
From there we’ll go to Cobh. This small harbour town is where so many Irish left for America and also where the Titanic last set sail before that fateful day. We’ll tour the Titanic Museum and explore the Cathedral that sits overlooking the ocean.
We’ll return to the hotel early enough for you to explore Cork city on your own and do some shopping.
Dinner tonight will be together.
September 17 – Day 9 Depart at 930AM
Today we will travel down the scenic byways to the medieval walled city of Waterford for a tour of Waterford Crystal Factory where they still make the trophies and specialty items for the company. Optional touring across the street is the newest museum, Waterford Treasures that houses many Irish artifacts but also a lot of artifacts on the US Civil War as so many Irish fought in the civil war.
We will be calling the lovely Lyrath Estate home for the next two nights. Dinner together.
September 18 – Day 10– Depart 930 AM
Today we visit Kilkenny Castle. After the tour, feel free to wander around the town, visit the Kilkenny Design Center and explore this medieval city.
We will then travel to Monksgrange. Monksgrange is home to one of our great friends, Jeremy and Rosemary Hill that still own the family estate and have used their time in preserving the archive of the family, boasting over 30,000 photographic images of Ireland and Europe, along with paper archive, some of which date back to the 17th century. We will have a chance to explore the archive with Jeremy and the garden, which is also worth seeing!
The house at Monksgrange, Co. Wexford, built for Goddard Richards and completed in 1769, lies in the centre of the demesne lands. Early estate maps drawn 1757-1821 and the Ordnance Survey maps from 1840 to date indicate a largely unchanged layout of house, garden and field systems even today. The three overlapping lobes of influence on the physical unity of the place will be examined with the help of illustrations of maps, drawings, and narrative imagery from the extensive Monksgrange Archives.
We’ll return to Kilkenny where dinner will be with Guest speaker Robert O’Byrne.
September 19 – Day 11 – Depart for Dublin and our last overnight at Roganstown Country Club
Today we will travel by way of Glendalough. Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the ‘Monastic City’.
The ‘City’ consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands 30m high. The main group of monastic buildings lies downstream near the Round Tower. The grounds were entered through the Gateway, which has two round headed granite arches.
Beyond St. Mary’s Church is the Priest’s House, a 12th Century building in Romanesque style, with an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.
Just beyond the Priest’s House is a large granite cross (sixth or seventh century) and the “Cathedral”, the largest church on the site, with a nave, chancel and sacristy (11th and 12th C), and St Kevin’s Church.
St Kevin’s Church is commonly known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. This is a barrel-vaulted oratory of hard mica schist with a steeply pitched roof and a round tower belfry (12th C).
Approx 200m east of the Church of the Rock is a cavity in the cliff which is known as St Kevin’s Bed or Hermitage.
At the Glendalough site on the road to Laragh, to the right, stands Trinity Church (11th-12th C). Beyond the river about 1.5km to the east of the Cathedral is St. Saviour’s Priory a church with fine Romanesque carvings on the chancel arch and windows.
From here we will make our way to Powerscourt House & Gardens. Our final evening of the tour before we head back to Oregon!