Overview: We try to keep all our tours flexible to maximize your experience of Ireland. If it is raining buckets for example, a hike might be canceled and replaced with something a little less wet.
On Saturday we will pick you up from a central location in Dublin and then head west. Depending on time and weather we will visit Glendalough (Glen of the two lakes) or we might stop at the Avoca craft retail outlet in Rathcoole or perhaps a visit to the medieval cathedral in Kildare with a climbable round tower before stopping at a farmhouse for lunch where you can chat with the family and see how Irish families live. We arrive in the beautiful village of Killaloe for a dinner where we can get to know each other a bit better before the first music session of the trip in Liam O’Riains pub. Musicians bring your best songs and impress the locals and learn some songs, non musicians sit back and enjoy the atmosphere of a Saturday night in a small Irish village. This is a great non-traditional session and as with most sessions in Ireland any new songs from any source are welcome.
Highlights: Farmers Market, spectacular Cliffs of Moher travelling through the Burren and Whiskey at one of the best pubs in Ireland – Oh, and Music!
If it’s running the Killaloe farmers market is a great place to buy a lunch for the road and sample some of the local gourmet food. Early risers can also take in the site of Brian Boru’s palace (Brian was the High King of Ireland till his death in 1014), now a Catholic church. We will hit the road for our trip to Ballyvaughan in Co. Clare. Lehinch makes a good lunch spot for lunch with its beautiful beach and we can watch the myriad of surfers while we have lunch before exploring the town overlooking its world famous links golf course. Leaving the town behind we come to one of the highlights of any visit to Ireland – the soaring sea Cliffs of Moher, 1000ft above the Atlantic waves below. Bring your wind jacket, it can blow at the top. The last leg of the journey takes us through the stony landscape of the Burren and the spectacular coast road around Black Head before arriving in Ballyvaughan. Another session awaits after dinner in this beautiful village in the heart of the Burren. And this being Co. Clare – one of the heartlands of Irish music, we might get to hear some more traditional tunes and songs.
We stay in Ballyvaughan today to relax and explore the area. In the morning we will go for a guided walk in The Burren with a local guide and farmer Shane, who will tell it to you straight. After laughing for a couple of hours we will return to town for lunch at The Tea Rooms – a favorite haunt of Steven Spielberg who spends a lot of time in Clare . In the afternoon we can take a trip to the Burren Perfumery or the Aillwee Cave depending on what we feel like doing. Then we head back to Ballyvaughan for another great meal, before joining a local session for an evening of music into the wee hours.
Highlights: Galway city ramble, the drive through Connemara and Kylemore Abbey
We bid a fond farewell to Co. Clare today before heading to another beautiful county – Galway. We can stop in Galway City for some free time in one of the most vibrant cities in Ireland, where you can do some shopping around Eyre Square and get some lunch is one of the many wonderful restaurants. Then if you are not trapped in some pub somewhere we will meet up and head into along the coast road into the heart of Connemara – a spectacularly scenic area with broad bogland and soaring mountains where we will travel through the Inagh Valley before paying a visit to Kylemore Abbey, another must see on any journey to Ireland, built in the 1860’s as a house it has served as a Benedictine Abbey for most of its years. It is a spectacular backdrop for photos. On again past the lovely and wild Connemara National Park, we will arrive in Clifden in time for dinner and a session where hopefully we can join the session of the great Peter Carey, a legend in Connemara.
Highlights: The wild and spectacular Connemara countryside, a “field to fork” meal at a renowned local restaurant and as always the music.
Today we have a variety of activities to choose from. A hike to the top of a local mountain to see a bird’s eye view of Connemara is well worthwhile.A less strenuous option is to travel the scenic Sky Road or take a boat trip to the very beautiful Inisbofin (Island of the White Cow) island, where you can spend a peaceful day in one of the most remote and beautiful places in Ireland. The music lovers in the group can meet again with Peter Carey, who will explore the origins of some of the songs he sings – a treat for listeners and musicians alike. In the evening we will eat together at one of the best local restaurants before joining that night’s session.
Highlights: Clonmacnoise, the distillery tour and the sights and sounds of Dublin
Today we travel back to Dublin once again taking in the beautiful Irish countryside as we make our way back to Ireland’s capital. We also visit the ancient monastic complex of Clonmacnoise on the banks of the river Shannon, founded around AD 549. All that history and glorious ruins will leave us wanting to whet our whistle at Locke’s Distillery in Kilbeggan, one of the most authentic distillery tours in Ireland. We arrive in Dublin that afternoon and that night will visit the session in O’Donoghue’s pub – a famous music venue in the heart of Dublin.
Our final full day will be devoted to exploring Dublin city. We will take a double decker bus tour of the city and you can decide which of Dublin’s attractions you want to explore. The tour of Kilmainham Goal is a must see as it connects visitors with the history of Ireland in a tangible way. The tour of Trinity College explores the history and grounds of the oldest university in Ireland, the tours are guided by students of history studying at the college so you know they need to know their stuff. On display in the library at Trinity College is the famed Book of Kells, an illuminated text in Latin, containing the four gospels of the New Testament together with various texts and tables. The price of admission to the book is worth it just to see the vaulted grandeur of The Long Room – one of the rooms in the library. After a long day exploring we meet for our final dinner of our trip followed by the perfect antidote to a hectic day on the tourist trail – our final session far off the beaten track at the Lower Deck in Portabello where only Dubliners will be spotted singing and at the bar.