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Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $280 per person.
Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline. Deluxe touring motorcoach.
All breakfasts. All dinners.
Services of a specially-trained passports Tour Director throughout.
Entrances and activities as noted on itinerary.
passports provides and pays for a Post Departure Travel Protection Plan that includes coverage for Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss or Delay, Medical Expense and Evacuation and more.
Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Visit to Trinity College to view The Book of Kells
Visit to the Rock of Cashel, Visit to the Cashel Rock Museum, Visit to Blarney Castle to view the Blarney Stone, Visit to Blarney Woollen Mills
Ring of Kerry Coach Tour: Visit to the Bog Village
Visit to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Tour director-led walking tour in Limerick
Sightseeing stop at the Cliffs of Moher, Scenic drive across the Burren Plateau
Tour director-led walking tour in Galway
Optional Excursion to the Aran Islands: Local guide and minivan, Sightseeing stop on the island of Inishmore, Visit to the Dun Aengus prehistoric fort
"Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen; we're now first in line for departure." A meal and a movie later the sky is orange off the left side, and it's Ireland that looms below. Begorra!
Settle in, relax and get ready to discover a fascinating city, the hometown of many distinguished writers such as William Butler Yeats, Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), and Samuel Beckett.
A city tour highlights landmarks such as Dublin Castle, Ha'penny Bridge, Christ Church Cathedral, Georgian squares and the Dublin Spire, built to celebrate the new millennium and hailed as the world's tallest sculpture at nearly 400 feet. Of course, you'll see the General Post Office on O'Connell Street, which became the headquarters of the rebels in the Easter Uprising of 1916. From its steps, Patrick Pearse announced the establishment of a republic. See how the building still bears scars from the fighting.
A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Dublin, will accompany you today.
Visit Ireland's largest church, founded in 1191 near the well where, according to tradition, St. Patrick baptized converts. See the grave of Jonathan Swift, Dean of the Cathedral and author of Gulliver's Travels, who was laid to rest in 1745.
At the prestigious Protestant college established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, you will view the Old Library and its best known treasure, the medieval Book of Kells.
The afternoon is unscheduled.
Consider a visit to a museum such as the National Museum (whose precious Celtic artifacts include St. Patrick's Bell and the Tara Brooch), the Dublin Writers' Museum, or the National Gallery (with a collection of paintings featuring works by Jack Yeats).
Save time for a stroll along Grafton Street, a pedestrian-only shopping street that meanders between grand townhouses from College Green, near Trinity College, to Stephen's Green. According to a popular song " Grafton Street is a wonderland." Check it out!
Drive through emerald hills to Cashel, in County Tipperary.
Visit St. Patrick's Rock, an outcrop rising from the Tipperary plain which once was the seat of the kings of Munster. St. Patrick is believed to have come here in AD 450 to christen King Aenghus. The rock is topped by the most interesting monastic ruins in Ireland, which include a cathedral begun in 1235, a superb round tower, and Cormac's Chapel, a Romanesque sanctuary consecrated in 1134. A short film titled Strongholds of Faith takes visitors back to the times when sites like Cashel were built throughout Ireland.
Enter the museum located in the undercroft of the Hall of the Vicars Choral, a 15th-century building which now serves as the visitors' entrance. See artifacts found on the site that illustrate how, for more than a millennium, Cashel served as a symbol of royal and priestly power in Ireland.
Proceed to Blarney, a village in the south of Ireland.
Not to be missed, of course, is Caisleán na Blarnan, a medieval fortress with an impressive keep. According to tradition, or a tad of blarney, the gift of eloquence is granted there by kissing the Blarney Stone.
While you are in Blarney, as time allows, pay a visit to Blarney Woollen Mills, a restored 19th-century factory where visitors may watch the weaving process and make purchases.
Proceed westward through Killarney National Park and its many lakes to the cheerful town of Killarney. The 3,414-foot peak of Carrauntoohil dominates the view to the west, surrounded by heather-covered hills.
The Ring of Kerry, a scenic route around the Iveragh Peninsula that you will discover today, presents a breathtaking overview of Ireland's geography, including purple mountains, quaint villages, seascapes, bogs, and narrow passes overlooking the sea. View the stark Skellig Michael island off the tip of the peninsula: medieval monks and Luke Skywalker sought refuge there.
A visit is included to Bog Village, the replica of an early 18th-century community typical of southwestern Ireland with its small thatched houses. Learn how peat harvested from bogs was used as domestic fuel.
Travel to the village of Bunratty, set on the Ratty River, near its confluence with the wide estuary of the Shannon River.
Enjoy a visit to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. This formidable castle has been restored to its original 16th-century beauty, Tudor furnishings and all. Bunratty Folk Park is a meticulous re-creation of rural life in Ireland at the turn of the century. Taste butter being churned or purchase some woven handicraft.
Your journey continues to Limerick, the setting for Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt's 1996 memoir. This is also the country's fourth-largest city, with an eventful history that mirrors the country's tumultuous past.
A walking tour with your tour director will introduce landmarks such as St. Mary's Cathedral (founded in 1168 by Donal Mor O'Brien, King of Munster) and, across the river, the Treaty Stone, on which the 1691 Treaty of Limerick is said to have been signed.
Only a short drive from Limerick, the Cliffs of Moher stand ready to stun you into silence.
View some of the most spectacular cliffs in all of Europe, with sheer drops of over 600 feet.
Discover the vast limestone landscape of the Burren, which has been established as a national park because of its unusual combination of Alpine and Mediterranean flora. Ulster Catholics chased from their land by Cromwell were forced to resettle here. Pass by Corcomroe Abbey, whose ruins, almost indistinguishable from the stones of the surrounding Burren plateau, inspired W. B. Yeats to write his verse play The Dreaming of the Bones.
Proceed to a lively university city which got its name, Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe, when it was but a "Fort at the mouth of the Gaillimh."
Follow your tour director on a walking tour. Highlights include Eyre Square, the focal point of the modern city, the 16th-century Lynch's Castle (now housing the Allied Bank of Ireland), St. Nicholas' Church, and the Bowling Green district with the house of Nora Barnacle, the muse and wife of James Joyce. Continue to the Spanish Arch (a reminder of the city's trading links with Spain) for a stroll along the quays of the River Corrib.
Plan your free time or consider an optional excursion.
Take a seat aboard a minivan for a tour led by a driver/guide well acquainted with the history of the Aran Islands and the way of life of its inhabitants.
Windswept, yet never touched by frost, Inishmore, like the other Aran Islands, is a paradise for wildflowers, with hundreds of varieties. These islands are also renowned for their crafts, in particular the famous Aran knitwear. You may want to begin your explorations at the Aran Heritage Centre, Ionad Arann, located near the port of Kilronan. A tour of the center will present two millennia of this Celtic island's history, language and traditions.
Visit Dún Aonghasa, the stone fort that's the island's finest prehistoric monument, located in a spectacular setting at the edge of a cliff, some sixty feet above sea level.
Travel to Shannon, a new town located in county Clare, established on January 1, 1982. Intended as a town to house the workers of the newly-built Shannon Airport, it quickly gained in population for the closeness it was to other towns, such as Ennis and Limerick.
Images of the Irish countryside are still vivid as you race the sun home aboard your jet airplane. Arrive home later today, eager to share your discoveries with family and friends.
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