This evening we will all meet at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on time for our flight.
We will count heads to make sure we have everyone, then board our non-stop flight to Dublin, Ireland.
We arrive in Dublin in the morning. After hooking up with our driver and tour guide Patrick Foley We will take breakfast at Man-O-War, an establishment dating back to 1595. http://www.manowar.ie/
A quick stop in Drogheda to visit Oliver Plunkett. The preserved head of the saint is in a glass case in St Peter’s Church in the town center.
Then on through the Mourne Mountains and into County Down. The town of Downpatrick is the resting place of the Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick himself. You can pay your respects at his graveside and ask for his blessings as we set off on our tour of Ulster and Northern Ireland. We will visit with my good friend and center director Doctor Tim Campbell and explore the Saint Patrick’s Center close by.
We will travel through the beautiful countryside of County Down, then into County Antrim and to our hotel in Belfast. The Europa is a beautiful and historic hotel in the center of the city. It ironically boasts itself as the most bombed hotel in the world after suffering 36 attacks during the Northern Irish “Troubles”. But rest assured, those days are gone, you are as safe here as at any luxury hotel around the world.
This morning we will take a bus tour of Belfast city with a local guide.
Afterwards we will visit the Crumlin Road Gaol https://www.crumlinroadgaol.com/ .
In the afternoon we will go to Titanic Belfast https://www.titanicbelfast.com/ and get a more realistic history of the doomed luxury liner than from the blockbuster movie of the late ‘90s. The museum is built on the dry-dock where the ship was assembled and launched.
The evening is yours to enjoy the Europa hotel or nip across the road for a tipple at the Crown Bar, or both. Inside The Crown Bar Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Today we will head out of the city and along the coast of Belfast Lough to check out Carrickfergus Castle. Built around 1177 in the Norman era, the imposing structure is an amazing example of fortified coastal defense. https://shapedbyseaandstone.com/attraction/carrickfergus-castle
The rest of the day you will have some free time to explore Belfast.
Want to wander the city? Or check out The Ulster Museum and/or Botanical Gardens? A walk through City Hall? Or maybe take a wee pub crawl to sample what my home town has to offer? The pubs are amazing and steeped in history. I will be planning a map for a pub crawl to take in some of the city's iconic pubs.
Later in the evening we will convene at a local pub and music venue for some live music. I will be inviting some of my musical friends from my misspent youth to entertain you. I’m sure some of my not so musical friends and family will show up too.
Today we will leave Belfast and head north along the Antrim Coast. Our destination is
the Giant’s Causeway. A magical place indeed. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway
After exploring the causeway I’m sure you’ll all be thirsty so we will make a stop at the Bushmills Distillery, just up the road for a wee dram and a tour of the factory. Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in the world!
Finally our happy crew will board a train in the university town of Coleraine and take a railroad trip to the city of Derry. Patrick, our driver will meet us at our hotel with the bags and belongings. WHAT A DAY!!!
Today we will take a tour of Derry Walls with our tour guide Rauri O’ Heara. There is an impressive though troubled history here. Built between 1613-1619 the walls are three meters high and ten meters thick. The wall is about a mile around, encompassing the city. We will walk along the top of the wall. From this vantage point you will see the city and surrounding areas. Afterwards we will tour the Guildhall, a beautiful 18th century building just outside the city walls. Maybe the Mayor of Derry will greet us, if he available that day. Then we’ll head down to the Museum of Free Derry. This exhibit commemorates the events of “Bloody Sunday” a day notorious in the history of Northern Ireland and the Troubles.
To lighten things up we will finally pay a visit to the St. Brendan’s Irish Cream factory and the Quiet Man distillery to sample a wee drop of what they’re cooking in there.
Today we will go to the Ulster American Folk Museum, in Omagh county Tyrone. https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-american-folk-park/Ulster-American-Folk-Park-Were-Ready-For-You/Ulster-American-Folk-Park-Were-Ready-For-You.aspx
One of my favorite places to visit in my childhood.
Then into County Fermanagh and a visit to the beautiful mansion and gardens at Florence Court, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/florence-court
A much admired porcelain and pottery style is also made in Fermanagh; Belleek Pottery has been produced here since the mid nineteenth century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belleek_Pottery
Then we’ll be turning around and heading back north and into County Donegal. We can stop off in Donegal town for refreshments and for a visit to some of the Irish goods shops in town to pick up some souvenirs.
Then further north we go… We will stop and wander around the historic site of Grianan of Aileach. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grianan_of_Aileach
We will then return to Derry for the evening. Maybe a wee bit of music at Peadar O’Donnell’s pub in the city.
We will be staying at the Slieve Russell hotel and golf resort in County Cavan. So any of you fond of the game can spend some time on this beautiful golf course. https://www.slieverussell.ie/
The non-golfers will go on a daytrip north into County Armagh and to Navan Fort. This historic structure is identified as Emain Macha, the seat of the ancient kings of Ulster, and named after the Princess Macha. It is one of the most important pre-christian sites in Ireland. https://visitarmagh.com/places-to-explore/navan-centre-fort/
Then we’ll stop to view the majestic Armagh cathedrals in the town, one Catholic the other Protestant (Church of Ireland) both dedicated to Ireland’s Patron Saint.
We have hooked up with Old Carrick Mill gin distillery in Monaghan. We are planning to pay a visit and sample what they have to offer.
We will convene at our stunning hotel for dinner and drinks.
Today we will go south and back to Dublin city. We will go and visit the Jameson Whiskey distillery to get our heads adjusted for an evening of fun. We will spend the evening at Taylor’s Three Rock for a wild night of entertainment. http://www.taylorsthreerock.ie/
We will leave the hotel with our suitcases and our wonderful memories of an amazing time in the nine counties to the north. Just a heads up, we go through customs etc in Dublin before we fly. This takes longer than any of us would like BUT it saves time on the other end. When you get to Chicago all you have to do is collect your bags and head 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 (details to follow)• 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.
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