Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trip Details

Departure date from Washington will be Tuesday, June 15 (arriving Dublin Wed/June 16)
Departure from Dublin will be 10 days later, on Thursday, June 24. We will be using the Euro as currency for the entire trip.

Day by day itinerary:
June 16 (Wednesday)
(Bloomsday celebrated in Dublin city center -- see blog post about Bloomsday)
Dublin airport/hotel transfer to 4-star Gresham Hotel

Afternoon motorcoach tour of central Dublin; incl. tour of State Apartments of Dublin Castle
Welcome drink at hotel
Evening group dinner: Irish cooking at Merry Ploughboy Pub
Post-dinner entertainment: traditional Irish music and step dancing

June 17 (Thursday)
Breakfast at hotel
Board motorcoach to travel southwest from Dublin through verdant Irish farm land
Stop to view the stately ruins atop the Rock of Cashel (see blog entry)
Visit Blarney Castle (see blog entry) and Blarney Woollen Mills (Irish craft goods)
Continue through Macroom to Killarney (County Kerry in Irish lake country)
Group dinner (included); 2 overnights at 4-star Killarney Towers Hotel

June 18 (Friday)
Breakfast at hotel
Board motorcoach for 100-mile scenic tour of Ring of Kerry: beaches, cliffs, mountains and lakes.
Stop at Kells to meet local farmer, Brendan Ferris, for a taste of farm life with a sheepdog demonstration of herding skills (see blog entry).
Drive through the village of Cahirciveen to cross to Valencia Island by bridge.
Visit the Skellig Experience to learn about the nearby rocky islands where early Christian monks lived in austere conditions; today the islands are a thriving bird sanctuary.
Stop to walk around Sneem (see blog entry), where brightly-painted houses are grouped around a central green.
Stop at Moll's Gap (see blog entry) for a view over the Three Lakes of Killarney.
Visit Muckross Estate gardens (see blog entry), set on the shores of Muckross Lake.
Return to Killarney for a group dinner in our hotel.

June 19 (Saturday)
Breakfast at hotel
Board motorcoach and drive north to Tarbert for a ferry ride across the River Shannon Estuary.
Drive along the Clare coast to the Cliffs of Moher (see blog entry), a spectacular wall of limestone that towers 700 feet above the Atlantic.
Drive past Lahinch golf links, one of Ireland's most famous, and through the marketing town of Ennis to Bunratty.

Overnight at 3-star Bunratty Castle Hotel, located opposite Bunratty Castle (see blog entry) and Folk Park. Take your place in the Bunratty Castle Great Hall for a medieval-style feast with plenty of wine. During and after the meal period-costumed lords and ladies will serenade us with song and harp music, evocative of the Middle Ages.

June 20 (Sunday)
Breakfast at hotel.
Board motorcoach for a drive through central Ireland eastward past Limerick and through the midland region to Kildare. Here we'll visit the Irish National Stud (see blog entry) to learn about Irish horse breeding; also on site are the celebrated Japanese Gardens created a hundred years ago.
4 overnights at Dublin's famed 4-star Gresham Hotel on O'Connell Street, Dublin;s main thoroughfare. We are located near the architecturally distinctive Custom House and are steps from Clery's and Easons, two of Ireland's most famous department stores, and the Henry Street market stalls.
Dinner on our own.

June 21 (Monday)
Breakfast at our hotel.
Just down the street from our hotel is the 400-ft. tall Monument of Light (a.k.a. Millennium Spire of Dublin - see blog entry) standing in the center of O'Connell Street, and St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral (Catholic) is located just one block away. Near the southern end of O'Connell Street stands the neo-classical General Post Office, site of the bloody siege known as the Easter Uprising of 1916, a pivotal event in Ireland's fight for independence from Britain.
Afternoon walking tour of central Dublin south of the River Liffey, to include:
Trinity College (est. 1592) and the medieval manuscript Book of Kells (see blog entry)
St. Stephen's Green (park, see blog entry)
Grafton Street (pedestrianized shopping street)
Dinner on our own; overnight at Gresham Hotel (photo below).

June 22 (Tuesday)
Breakfast at our hotel.
Morning walking tour along the banks of the River Liffey. We'll cross the Ha'Penny foot bridge to enter the Temple Bar area, continuing to Fishamble Street, Dublin's oldest thoroughfare dating from Viking times. We'll stop to see the entrance to Neal's Music Hall, where Handel's beloved Messiah premiered on April 13, 1742. We'll enter the adjacent Christ Church Cathedral (c. 1030, initially a Benedictine priory), the seat of Irish Bishops for 1,000 years, and cross the connecting bridge to Dublinia, which offers multimedia presentations about the early history of Ireland, specifically the Viking world and the middle ages. Dublinia, a project of the Medieval Trust, is housed in the former Synod Hall of the Church of Ireland. Climb the 96 steps to the top of St. Michael's tower for a stunning view over the city.
Afternoon at leisure. Concert option: Irish National Symphony Orchestra 1:00 pm.
Dinner on our own; overnight at Gresham Hotel.

June 23 (Wednesday)
Breakfast at our hotel.
A 5-hour coach tour through the Wicklow Mountains, southwest of Dublin, including scenic coastal towns and Powerscourt House and Gardens (separate blog post).
Farewell Dinner at Church restaurant/bar); overnight at Gresham Hotel.

June 24 (Thursday)
Breakfast at our hotel.
Departure for airport and flight back to Washington, DC.

16 Participants:
Pamela Crippin
Shirley Gourley
Dan Krause
Katrina Krause
Elaine Locke
Jane MacDuff
Patsy Palmer
Jane Ryall
Terry Sisk
Betty Sisk
Judy Smith
Janis Speck
Sherrie Steinbach
Rob Tabor
Betty Tabor
Helen Troy

Flight itinerary (

Tue/15 June
JetBlue B61308 depIAD 4:55p (3h 19m connection time)
AerLingus EI108 depJFK 9:50p; arr. Dublin 9:45a Wed/June 16

Thu/24 June
AerLingus EI137 depDUB 2:00p; arrBoston 4:05p(2h 3m connection)
JetBlue B61259 dep6:35p; arrIAD8:17p

-- alternate return--

Thu/24 June
AerLingus EI105 depDUB 10:30a; arrJFK 1:10p(2h 3m connection)
JetBlue B61307 depJFK3:35p; arrIAD5:16p

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