9 Days / 8 Nights – Arrive Dublin, Depart Dublin
Starting and ending in Ireland’s capital city, our North & South Tour gives you the best of both worlds, staying at a deluxe castle, hotels, farmhouse, and country manor home in Ireland, yet also offers several nights in traditional Irish accommodation to give you a feel for the real Ireland.
All the while you’ll travel in our most luxurious vehicles, while you take in some of Ireland’s most famous attractions and a couple of lesser-known hidden gems! As with all our tours, you’ll have your very own Tourist Board approved Irish driver/guide, who’ll be only too happy to tell you all you need to know about the wonderful sights you’ll see along the way.
All you have to do is get here, and we will do the rest.
All our tours are private driver/guide for your group only, we do not mix or share groups.
Day 1: Titanic Experience Belfast & Tour of Belfast City
Once the introductions are complete, your private driver/guide will drive north to Belfast. We will explore Belfast past and present with a local historian guide.
Explore the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way; from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her infamous maiden voyage and catastrophic demise. The journey goes beyond the aftermath of the sinking, to the discovery of the wreck and continues into the present day with a live undersea exploration center
The city of Belfast began in the early 17th century. The name Belfast is a corruption of the Gaelic words Beal Feirste meaning mouth of the sandy ford. In 1177 an Englishman called John de Courcy built a castle there. However the actual town of Belfast grew up after 1609 when king James began his policy of settling Englishmen and Scots in Ulster. Sir Arthur Chichester was granted land in Ulster including Belfast Castle, which he rebuilt in 1611. A small town soon grew up in its shadow. By 1611 there were Englishmen, Scots and Manxmen living in the thriving community of Belfast
Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, has been home to some of the worst violence Ireland has endured. The Troubles, between the late 1960′s and 1998, divided the nation, mainly between Nationalist Catholics and Unionist Protestants. The Agreement on Good Friday (April 10th, 1998) brought an end to 30 years of suffering and bitter feuding between these communities. Throughout The Troubles both sides painted large murals on buildings, particularly in residential areas on houses at the end of terraced rows.
Overnight Belfast City 1 Night
5 Star Hotel
Day 2: Antrim Coast, Giants Causeway & Dunluce Castle
The actual history is that the rock formations were created by a lava flow some 65 million years ago by molten basalt rising through a chalk bed, and then cooling and cracking to form the tall columns that make up the causeway legends and myths purport that the causeway was built by an Irish giant named Finn McCool as a way to walk to Scotland in order to fight his Scottish nemesis, Bernandonner.
Its history dates back to possibly to the 1200s when The 2nd Earl of Ulster, Richard Og de Burgh built the first structures on the site. The location and defensibility of the site drew early Christians as well as Vikings. The name itself comes from the Irish words for “strong fort”.
Situated on the banks of the River Foyle, the city is the second largest in Northern Ireland and fourth largest on the island of Ireland. The old centre of Derry is the small walled city on the west bank of the river, with the square called the Diamond at its heart. From the top there are good views of the Bogside and its defiant murals – ‘No Surrender!’ – and the Free Derry monument. Outside the city walls tells the story of Bloody Sunday, inside the city walls tells the story off the apprentice boys, the Tower Museum tells the story of Derry from the days of St Columcille to the present.
Overnight Derry 1 night
4 Star Country Manor House
Day 3: Derry to Donegal
We explore Derry past and present, with a local historian guide before travelling to Donegal.
Grianan of Aileach
The Grianán of Aileach (Irish: Grianán Ailigh) is a group of historic monuments in County Donegal, Ireland built on the hill of Grianán which is 244 metres high. Most writers have identified the site as being the great “royal fort” of Aileach. The main structure is that of an ring fort built by the Uí Néill in the sixth or seventh century in the early Christian period It is generally accepted to be the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach although the true capital is now believed to lie further to the east. The kingdoms of Ulaidh and Kingdom of Oirialla were two subject kingdoms in the North under the general rule of Aileach. The Grianán was a historical centre of culture and politics during the rule of early Irish chieftains (c. 800 BCE-1200 CE).
Dún Na nGall Donegal Town is the county town of County Donegal, its Irish name meaning the “Fort of the strangers”. Donegal Town is an attractive market town that is centred around the Diamond area which is a hub of activity and where local traders, visitors and shoppers mingle effortlessly. Donegal Town was also the seat of the O’Donnell’s up until the 17th Century. The remains of the O’Donnell Clan stronghold “Donegal Castle” has been restored and is now a very popular visitor attraction. Donegal Castle was built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century and is located just off the Diamond area and town centre. The town is also the home of Donegal tweed industry in Ireland and the Magee family. From modest beginnings in 1866, when the company was established by John Magee, the Magee brand name has become world-renowned and famous for Donegal Tweed and Men’s Tailoring. The Magee Department store offering a large selection of finely tailored clothing is located on the Diamond in the heart of Donegal Town.
Built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, beside the River Eske, the Castle has extensive 17th century additions by Sir Basil Brooke. The Castle is furnished throughout and includes Persian rugs and French tapestries. Information panels chronicle the history of the Castle owners from the O’Donnell chieftains to the Brooke family.
Derry City Walls (or the walls of Londonderry, depending to which side of the divide you adhere) are one of, if not the, most iconic urban sites in Ireland. Rivalled only by Dublin’s General Post Office and telling the story of Northern Ireland’s “Troubles” in a nutshell. Having been closed to the public for decades, the peace process has allowed them to become Derry’s most visited attraction
The Walls of Derry gained instant iconic status when the town’s garrison was about to surrender to King James’ forces in 1688. With a resounding cry of “No Surrender!” a handful of apprentice boys took charge, blocked the gates and thus started the Siege of Derry. Which even today is one of the defining moments of Ulster and Irish history. And led to the nickname of the “Virgin City”, her defenses never having been breached.
Overnight Donegal 2 nights
3 Star Farmhouse
Day 4: Day Tour from Donegal
Today we explore County Donegal with some free time to browse Donegal Town
Standing at the viewing point on Sliabh League in Donegal Ireland an amazing sea vista and landscape open before you. From here we can see across Donegal Bay to counties Letrim, Sligo and Mayo, out to the west is the Atlantic ocean as far as the eye can see. North west is Rathlin O’ Byrne island and Glencolmcille and here beside you of course is the magnificent cliffs of Sliabh Liag. Rising almost 2000 ft / 598 m from the Atlantic, one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe and twice as high as the cliffs of Mohar, at the base of the cliffs is the “Giants Desk and Chair”. but just as amazing as this view ,is the history we can see here. Over there is Benbulbin with megalithic tombs and mythical links to Finn McCool and the Fiona of old.
There is a detailed live commentary on the history of the bay throughout the duration of the outward trip. On the return leg we have live entertainment comprising of music, song and craic! to give you an unforgettable experience aboard the Donegal Bay Waterbus.
Day 5: Donegal to Ashford Castle
We depart Donegal to Cong County Mayo our first stop at Beeleek
In 1849 John Caldwell Bloomfield inherited the Castlecaldwell estate, which encompassed the village of Belleek, from his father. Mindful of the plight of his tenants in the aftermath of the potato famine he sought to provide some form of worthwhile employment. An amateur mineralogist, he ordered a geological survey of his land. To his delight it revealed the necessary raw materials to make Pottery – feldspar, kaolin, flint, clay and shale.
The village of Belleek, whose name in Gaelic, beal leice, translates to ‘Flagstone Ford’ was a natural choice to locate the business especially the part of the village known as Rose Isle. This small isle provided the best opportunity to leash the yet untamed power of the River Erne – power to drive a mill wheel strong enough to grind components into Slip, the term applied to liquid potters clay
We stop at Drumcliff burial place of W.B.Yeats
Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut “http://www.gleanncholmcille.ie/english/archaeology.htm”
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
Home to the national collection of objects representing the traditional way of life in Ireland. An absolutely fascinating place, with exhibitions that illuminate the way that ordinary Irish country people lived and worked between 1850 and 1950
Cong is known for its underground streams that connect Lough Corrib with Lough Mask to the north. It was also the home of Sir William Wilde, historian and father to prominent playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer, Oscar Wilde. Cong also has a fine example of a ruined medieval abbey, The ‘Cross of Cong’ is now held in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. Cong was the filming location for John Ford’s 1952 Oscar-winning film, The Quiet Man featuring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara
Overnight County Mayo 2 nights
5 Star Castle
Day 6: Day Tour of Connemara
Kylemore Abbey originally a Castle was built by Mitchell and Margaret Henry from 1867 – to 1871. In 1920, The Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased Kylemore Castle along with 10,000 acres for a little over £45,000. Some of the lands were later purchased by the Land Commission and divided out among the tenants, and the Castle was converted into an Abbey
Alcock and Brown
Made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919.They flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden. Winston Churchill presented them with the Daily Mail prize of £10,000 for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in “less than 72 consecutive hours”
Clifden (Irish: An Clochán, meaning “bee-hive cell”) is a town on the coast of County Galway, Ireland and being Connemara’s largest town, it is often referred to as “the Capital of Connemara”. It is located on the Owenglin River where it flows into Clifden Bay. Evening dinner at the George V Restaurant in Ashford Castle (tie required for gentlemen).
Day 7: Ashford Castle to Dublin
Depart Ashford Castle to Dublin via Galway City
After breakfast you will take a history boat cruise on Lough Corrib from Ashford Castle
Each and every morning you can take a history cruise to guests at Ashford Castle. Local historian and boat captain Patrick Luskin will take you on a fascinating journey through time. Patrick has a vast knowledge of this area and indeed in 2003 published his first local history book entitled A Voyage Of Discovery. During the cruise one will experience some breathtaking scenery on Lough Corrib, with its 365 islands and surrounding Connemara mountains. You will also have a great opportunity to photograph Ashford Castle from the water.
Galway City (City of the Tribesmen)It is generally agreed that the town was named after the river, which was known until recently as the Galway River rather than the Corrib. The Irish name for river is ‘Gaillimh’, but the precise meaning of this is disputed. One version has it that Gaillimh was the name of the daughter of an Iron-age chieftain who was drowned in the river. Recent finds of stone implements suggest that there has been human habitation at the site since Neolithic (New Stone Age) times
Overnight Dublin 2 nights
4 Star Hotel
Day 8: Dublin City
Today you have time on your own, discover Dublin by foot, by hop on hop off tour bus visiting the Book of Kells, Guinness Store House, St Patricks Cathedral and complete orientation of Dublin. Visit Grafton Street and shop till you drop or just relax in your hotel or at the many pubs in Dublin.
This evening you will experience a farewell night of fun, dinner and Irish music.
Day 9: Depart Dublin Airport
Alas we transfer you from your hotel to Dublin Airport with fond memories of the Emerald Isle and your driver, we say slan abhaile (safe home).