Day 1 Arrive In Dublin, Ireland.
Céad mile fáilte—a hundred-thousand welcomes! Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax in the Irish capital. This evening, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner with wine at your hotel. (D)
Day 2 Dublin.
This morning’s orientation drive in the “Fair City” includes statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares with their tall, red-brick townhouses, colorful doors, and wrought iron-decorated windows, Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The afternoon is at leisure for you to enjoy the vibrant city. Tonight, why not join an optional cabaret evening with dinner, followed by dance, song, and laughter? (B)
Day 3 Dublin–Kildare–Kilkenny–New Ross–Waterford.
Horse-racing country awaits this morning. Drive across the Curragh to the IRISH NATIONAL STUD at Kildare, whose thoroughbreds command respect on the racecourses around the world. Then, south to Kilkenny for a guided tour of SMITHWICK’S EXPERIENCE. Your guide will show you how over 300 years, the art of mixing four simple ingredients produced the ruby-red ale enjoyed all over the world. Next, at the DUNBRODY FAMINE SHIP, hear the story of famine emigration from those who left Ireland—the brave, desperate, and above all, ordinary people who chose to leave everything they knew for an uncertain future abroad. Spend the next two nights in Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. (B,D)
Day 4 Waterford.
Start your day with an exciting ride on the [LF] WATERFORD & SUIR VALLEY RAILWAY, a heritage narrow-gauge train that runs along 8.5 kilometers of the Suir River through beautiful, rolling farmland and woodland gardens. Then, your Local Guide will take you on a walking tour covering the Waterford Treasures: the massive stone fortress, REGINALD’S TOWER, houses Waterford’s Viking treasures; Ireland’s only MEDIEVAL MUSEUM features spectacular treasures from the Middle Ages; and the elegant 1743 BISHOP’S PALACE is the home of the treasures of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL and watch as craftsmen transform glowing balls of molten crystal into elegant shapes. Later, you’ll have time at leisure to discover the town on your own. For your optional dinner experience, drive to Dunmore East, a popular tourist and fishing village. Spend some time with the locals over a drink at the village pub, followed by dinner. (B)
Day 5 Waterford–Youghal–Blarney–Kinsale.
This morning, follow the scenic road known as the Copper Coast to the ancient port town of Youghal. On to Blarney, where you will have time to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts, or perhaps walk up to the castle. This afternoon, arrive at your overnight destination of picturesque Kinsale, where your Local Guide will take you on an illustrated HERITAGE TOWN WALK, and give you unique insight into the history and heritage of this historic port and fishing town. Let yourself be captivated by the long waterfront, yacht-filled harbor, winding streets, and brightly painted galleries, shops, and houses, and marvel at the fortifications of Charles Fort and James Fort, guarding the narrow entrance from the sea. (B,D)
Day 6 Kinsale–Garinish Island–Killarney.
This morning, board a private boat for the short crossing to GARINISH ISLAND in Bantry Bay, whose warm waters attract colonies of seals. Follow the meandering paths between the strong-scented flowering trees and shrubs of this lush, tropical island garden. Afterwards, head over the mountains into County Kerry. At Kenmare, join part of the RING OF KERRY and stop for spectacular photos of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View before arriving in the popular resort of Killarney. (B)
Day 7 Killarney–Adare–Limerick.
There is time this morning to explore on your own, or to take a jaunting car ride through the national park. Then, drive to quaint Adare, one of Ireland’s prettiest villages, beautifully set in woods along the Maigue River, and with thatched cottages lining its wide main street. In Limerick, an orientation drive acquaints you with St. Mary’s Cathedral, King John’s Castle, and the stone where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. A suggestion for a very special night out: an optional medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle. After your three-course meal with wine, sit back and let the hosts entertain you with music and storytelling during an unforgettable evening. (B)
Day 8 Limerick. West Coast Excursion.
The last day of your vacation brings you to the 668-foot CLIFFS OF MOHER, with breathtaking views of the Clare coast. Then, travel across the glacial-era limestone plateau of The Burren to the port city of Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with colorful shops and a busy café and bar culture. Next, experience Irish country life at RATHBAUN FARM. Try your hand at scone making, and learn from the farmer about sheep shearing and dog whistling. To complete your Irish journey, enjoy [LF] a traditional FARMHOUSE DINNER. (B,D)
Day 9 Limerick.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)