Early this afternoon we depart Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport by scheduled non-stop service on the overnight transatlantic flight to Dublin, Ireland.
After landing at Dublin Airport our Driver/Guide, Luke Shanahan will welcome us to Ireland. Our day begins with a traditional Irish breakfast at The Coachman’s Inn, where we’ll have the opportunity to have our first genuine pint of Guinness in Ireland. Then we’ll set off on a narrated bus tour of Dublin City while our local guide informs us about the prominent historic buildings of the city, molded through the centuries with many architectural styles, reflecting economic, political and artistic influences. We’ll pass the G.P.O, the Bank of Ireland, Dublin Castle, the Four Courts, O’Connell Street, Kilmainham Gaol, most famous for the executions of the leaders of the Easter 1916 uprising, and many other buildings and monuments associated with the birth of our nation. After our tour, we’ll visit The Guinness Storehouse, our second opportunity today for a pint of the black stuff. We’ll check in to our hotel and prepare for our first night in Ireland. We’ll enjoy dinner and a Hooley featuring traditional Irish music, dance and entertainment at The Irish House Party, where we’ll have a song or two from Ian himself.
This morning we’ll journey through the Irish countryside and stop to visit the medieval monastery of Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon, that once served as a crossroads of routes linking all of Ireland. Afterward we’ll head out for the city of Galway. On arrival we’ll enjoy a panoramic introduction to the city’s main sights including the stunning Cathedral of St. Nicholas, set on an island in the River Corrib; Eyre Square; the Old Quays; the Spanish Arch; and the Claddagh, an independent fishing community beyond the city walls. At our hotel tonight we’ll have dinner and be treated to more music from Ian, more than likely with local guest musicians.
Today we’ll begin by traveling along the shores of Galway Bay before stopping in the town of Spiddal for a view of the Aran Islands. Then we’re headed to picturesque Kylemore Abbey, a castellated neo-Gothic mansion occupied by an Irish Benedictine community of nuns, where we’ll have an opportunity to walk the abbey grounds. Tonight Ian will be playing at The Quays, one of Galway’s most famous and historic drinking establishments for close on 400 years.
We depart Galway today and stop to visit Cong, home of the movie, “The Quiet Man.” Then we’re headed by way of Strandhill and the Wild Atlantic Way, to the town of Sligo, a vibrant coastal town known for its literary and musical heritage, and closely associated with W.B. Yeats's poetry, prose and drama. As we approach we’ll enjoy a dramatic view of Knocknarea, the tomb of Ireland’s legendary Queen Maeve. We’ll stop at Drumcliffe, at the foot of Benbulben, to view the final resting place of Yeats. From Sligo, we’ll travel through Donegal to the Grianan of Aileach, a hilltop stone fort dating from 1700 BC, where we’ll enjoy breathtaking views of three counties and Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way. Our final journey will take us to into Northern Ireland and Ireland’s only walled city, Derry, also known as Londonderry.
This morning our guide, Ruairi O’hEara, will take us on a walking tour of the iconic Derry Walls where we’ll learn about the 1,500 years of history and culture enclosed within Ireland’s only completely walled city; from the sixth-century monastic settlement to the vibrant European city of the twenty-first century. We’ll end our tour at The Guildhall, where we may meet the Mayor of Derry if his schedule allows - he loves to meet our American friends! Then it’s across the Peace Bridge to The Quiet Man Distillery for a tasting. The remainder of the day is free to explore Derry and it’s many museums, historic buildings, pubs and more.
This morning we make our way along the North Antrim Coast to enjoy the view of the spectacular Glens of Antrim and Dunluce Castle, featured in the series “Game of Thrones.” We’ll explore the Giant’s Causeway, a mass of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns formed over 60 million years ago. The sheer strangeness of this World Heritage Site is the subject of numerous legends, the most popular of which involves the giant Finn McCool, a hardy Ulster hero. Afterward we’ll depart for Ian’s hometown, the city of Belfast, bustling with stunning scenery, historical landmarks and a vibrant city center. This evening, you’re in for an unforgettable experience as we dine in the atmosphere of the popular show “Game of Thrones.” Upon arrival at Winterfell Castle you will be greeted by the Maester and escorted to the Armory & Forge to choose your authentic costume. You will then be escorted to your table for your medieval banquet. Your dining experience begins with candles that are dimly lit, smoke flowing from open fire pits, traditional music, everyone dressed in costume and finally the enjoyment of an authentic medieval meal with fantastic entertainment, including a few songs from Ian himself.
After breakfast we’ll set off on our guided “Troubles” tour; we’ll see the raw side of Belfast city and its colorful, often tragic, history, as we make our way up the Falls Road and down the Shankhill, the main Catholic and Protestant areas that were home to the bloody battle grounds. Today these events are commemorated with wall murals, memorials and gardens. After the tour we’ll head to Titanic Belfast, a fascinating and moving interactive experience. Explore the shipyard, walk the decks, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the true legend of Titanic in the city where it all began. As it is our last night in Ireland, we’ll finish with a traditional Irish pub crawl, where we’ll be treated to Ian’s farewell gig in one of Belfast’s iconic pubs.
All too soon our Rocky Road to Belfast Vacation comes to an end as we depart Belfast and travel to Dublin Airport for the return journey home.
In the footsteps of giants...
Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, for centuries the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists, stirred scientific debate and captured the imagination of all who see it.
The Vacation Price Includes: • Economy-class air transportation by scheduled airline service • Transportation by deluxe private motor coach with accompanying Irish Driver/Guide • First class hotel accommodations • Irish breakfast each morning at the hotels, and other meals indicated in the itinerary • Sightseeing as detailed in the Day by Day Itinerary including applicable entrance fees • Luggage handling for one suitcase per person at the hotels • Taxes for included ground services, departure taxes, Customs service charges, and airline security fees • All performances by Ian Gould! The Vacation Price Does Not Include: Items of a personal nature such as passport fees; laundry and cleaning; telephone calls; optional tours and excursions; tips to the Driver/Guide and local guides, tips to hotel and breakfast room staff; luggage handling at airports; personal travel protection; meals other than those stated above, and drinks with meals.
Discover more about RMS Titanic, uncovering the myths and legends surrounding her story. Dive into the Ship Fact Files for fascinating trivia about many other great ships built in the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard and explore our exclusive Titanic Stories - original pieces of research on the world's most famous ship.
The Stone Fort of Grianán of Aileach is sits on a hilltop in Inishowen County Donegal. 250m above sea level, the stone fort was probably first built on an earthen rath. The view from Aileach is breathtaking. The glistening waters of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly are clear, as is the form of the entire peninsula. A windy and exposed place, Grianán has been a silent witness to the history of Ireland.
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I.
It takes bold brewers to brew bold beers. In 1759, Arthur Guinness took out a 9000-year lease on a brewery; the brewers then brought you the blackest beer with the most colorful flavor, and braved the perils of the high seas to transport it across the globe.