Meet at Shannon Airport after your overnight flight. An Irish driver (who will accompany us throughout Ireland) in a mini-coach will take us to the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s iconic spots. The vista is spectacular and we will have a picnic lunch. We will stay nearby in Doolin in County Clare, the preeminent Irish music locale, on the west coast of Ireland. This will be the first of three nights in Doolin. In the evening, we will enjoy dinner, live Irish music, and a pint to toast our ensuing adventure!
After a restful night of sleep, we will take a scenic ride with our driver to Loop Head, a promontory bordered by the Atlantic Ocean & the Shannon River with breathtaking cliffs and a lighthouse. This area is part of Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way.” We will enjoy a 2-hour, medium-level hike at Loop Head, while the local guide favors us with folklore and information about the interesting flowers and geology. The terrain is uneven (and spongy in some parts), but there is no climbing. For those who do not wish to hike, an alternative activity will be tooling around the quaint beach village of Kilkee—maybe stroll the beach or have a glass of wine at the charming Stella Maris Hotel in town. The evening in Doolin holds in store a yummy dinner & a live music “session” at one of Doolin’s famous pubs.
On day 3 we get gussied up and head to the castle and manor house! King John’s Castle is a beauty on the River Shannon in Limerick (County Limerick). With medieval origins, the castle derived from the Anglo-Norman invasion of the island. Onto Adare, which some call the prettiest town in Ireland. Adare Manor, with its 52 chimneys, built in the mid-1800s and newly renovated in 2017, will provide the afternoon tea while we provide the good conversation & camaraderie. Then, back to Doolin for more live music in the evening.
Bidding Doolin a sad goodbye, we journey to the renowned Dingle Peninsula, known for its “craic” (good times), and explore this Irish-speaking part of the country with “beehive huts” & gorgeous vistas. Perhaps we will enjoy a bottle of wine on the hotel veranda overlooking the Dingle Bay before we partake of the town’s many offerings, including shops, restaurants, pubs, and a pier. This will be the first of three nights in Dingle.
On this lucky day, we start off with a driving tour around the peninsula, stopping at leisure to take pictures and see the sights, including the stone Fahan huts from 2000 BC, the ancient sites of Loch a’ Duin, and the red sands of Ballyquin. After the tour we will have unstructured time to shop or relax before dinner.
Day 6 is all about the baths! Seaweed baths have been around Ireland since the beginning of time. Many people swear by the baths to help rheumatism and arthritis — and I need the help! The baths also relieve tension (what tension?) & hydrate your skin & hair.
The Spa Atlantach in Ballydavid on the Dingle Peninsula will welcome us to enjoy its sauna and seaweed baths, using fresh ocean water. Those who wish to indulge may schedule a massage as well for an extra fee, choosing from a menu of massages.
We will feel like noodles by the time we return to the hotel to ready for another night on the town!
By now, we are starting to feel Irish! We are feeling “sorted out”! We drive to the county’s southern coast to the beautiful 13th century Timoleague Abbey ruins in the Courtmacsherry Bay Area of West Cork. Then onto the James Turrell Sky Garden in Skibbereen (https://www.lissardestate.com/sky-garden) Check it out—the sky garden is a sculpture of sorts, enjoyed on one’s back. Intensely spiritual, it was inspired by Celtic, Egyptian, and Mayan architecture. We spend the night at Liss Ard Estate near Skibbereen.
Renowned Chef Carmel Somers will present a half-day cooking class. Paris- and London-trained and a food columnist for the Irish Times, Chef Somers cooks with local, seasonal ingredients, and is sure to teach us a thing or two. From there, we head north to Dublin, where we bid goodbye to our driver. We will check into our hotel and convene for a late dinner and pint in the vibrant, historic, river-crossed city of Dublin. This is the first of three nights in Dublin.
After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we take a two-hour walking tour guided by a post-graduate history student of either Trinity College or the National University of Ireland. Dublin is a cornucopia of sights, sounds, and tastes, and you will be independent for most of the afternoon, so that you can pursue your own interests. I recommend a hop-on-hop-off bus tour or the Trinity College tour (including the Book of Kells, circa 800, the Gospels penned by Columban monks in a very ornate fashion). Other fun spots include the Guinness Storehouse and Grafton Street for shopping and “buskers” (street performers). I will provide a list of places to see & things to do. We can stay in touch by texting and sharing our whereabouts. We meet up at the hotel prior to dinner at Gloria’s favorite Dublin restaurant.
Day #2 in Dublin is for hitting attractions that appeal to you. In the evening, we will try to see a play or Riverdance at one of Dublin’s historic theatres, depending upon what is playing. This is an optional activity. We will meet up for a farewell drink later in the evening, as this is our last night in Ireland and we must be merry.
We share taxis to the Dublin airport and say goodbye to the Emerald Isle.
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