Day 1: Arrive Ireland and Dublin Sightseeing
Arrive in Dublin Airport, complete immigration formalities and pick up your luggage. Go to the CIE Tours desk in the Arrivals Hall to arrange a group transfer to your hotel between 7:00 am and 12:00 noon. If your flight arrives later, you will need to transfer to the hotel at your own expense. Your hotel, an elegant Victorian mansion, overlooks Dublin Bay and Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At 2:00 pm drive through the lovely scenery of the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough, a 6th century monastic site founded by St. Kevin. Learn about early Christian Ireland and walk through the many church ruins. In the evening meet your fellow travellers over a welcome drink and your tour director will help you choose a restaurant to dine independently.
Day 2: St Patrick Centre and Belfast
Tour the city centre to see elegant Georgian townhouses, pass St. Stephen's Green and cross the River Liffey to view the Famine Memorial and drive along O'Connell Street. Visit Dublin Castle's State Apartments where a guide will relate events from Irish history as you walk through gracious Georgian chambers. The afternoon is at leisure so return to Dun Laoghaire to relax or stay in the city centre to take an independent open-top bus tour with a visit to Guinness or Jameson. This evening's destination is Taylor's Three Rock Pub for dinner with traditional Irish songs and intricate step-dancing.
Day 3: Belfast and Titanic Quarter
Drive north past the Mourne Mountains to visit Down Cathedral and see the reputed burial place of St. Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, marked by a huge boulder. Then learn about his life and times in the nearby St. Patrick Centre. Drive to Belfast and check in to your hotel in the centre of this thriving city. Enjoy some free time to look around on your own. The imposing City Hall is within easy walking distance and the ornate Victorian pub, Crown Liquor Saloon, is just across the street.
Day 4: Giants Causeway and Derry
A local guide will show you Belfast's Victorian buildings, the Harland and Wolff Shipyards, where the Titanic was built, the Shankill and Falls Road. Drive north along the “Nine Glens of Antrim,” for lovely views of mountains, valleys and coastline. Stop at the Giant's Causeway, hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity which have spawned legends about the mythical giant, Finn McCool. Continue to Derry and join a local guide for a short walk around the city centre and its medieval walls.
Day 5: Donegal and Westport
Take a walk through the Ulster American Folk Park, which traces the story of Ulster emigrants and shows rural lifestyles in Ireland and Colonial America. See many cottages including that of Thomas Mellon, who emigrated to Pittsburgh in 1818 and founded the Mellon Bank. A guided tour around the Belleek Pottery Factory will show you craftspeople making ornate fine china. Travel through Counties Sligo and Mayo to your hotel in the centre of Westport.
Day 6: Achill Island and Westport House
After a late breakfast travel around Clew Bay to Achill Island, joined to the mainland by bridge. Follow the Atlantic Drive to capture wonderful views of steeply-sloped mountains plunging into the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. Near Slievemore see the Deserted Village, the remains of nearly 100 stone cottages abandoned around the time of the 1840's Famine. Return to Westport for a stroll around this attractive estate town, which was laid out in 1780.
Day 7: Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Medieval Banquet
Travel to Galway City for a panoramic tour and free time. Drive through the limestone hills of the Burren to view the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a pre-Christian burial site. Walk along the majestic Cliffs of Moher, a rocky wall that rises nearly 700 feet above the foaming Atlantic Ocean. At Bunratty check in to your hotel, right beside 15th century Bunratty Castle, the Bunratty Folk Park and Durty Nelly's Pub. Head to Bunratty Castle for a jolly medieval-style dinner where the lords and ladies serenade you.
Day 8: Flying Boat Museum and Dingle Peninsula
Drive through the outskirts of Limerick and alongside the River Shannon to visit Foynes Flying Boat Museum. During the 1930's and early 1940's, Pan Am Clippers from the United States and Europe landed here and the museum's memorabilia recreates this era. Journey into County Kerry and along the Dingle Peninsula for glorious scenic views. Stop in the town of Dingle before going up the Connor Pass for more panoramas. Then head to your hotel in the centre of Killarney.
Day 9: Jaunting Car Ride and Moll's Gap
Take a traditional horse-drawn jaunting car ride to Ross Castle for views of Lough Leane, Killarney's largest lake. Drive to the delightful town of Kenmare where gaily-painted buildings are enhanced with flowers. Enjoy mountain views at Moll's Gap and continue along part of the Ring of Kerry, pausing at Ladies' View. Take a guided tour through 19th century Muckross House to admire elegant antiques and learn about the history of the mansion. Take a walk through the lovely gardens before returning to Killarney for free time before dinner.
Day 10: Cobh Heritage and Traditional Music Session
Travel through the mountains of Kerry and make a brief stop at the Blarney Woollen Mills. Next visit Cobh Heritage Centre, located in the old train station through which all emigrants passed when travelling to the United States. Displays show the many hardships that travellers endured. Drive to Dungarvan to the Marine Bar for a creamy Irish coffee and an informal traditional music session. Continue to Waterford, check in to your hotel and join a local guide for a stroll around the historic city centre.
Day 11: Medieval Kilkenny and National Stud
Visit the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre to see how molten glass is blown into shapes before being cut by hand by experts and view priceless trophies. Stop in Kilkenny for a look around the prosperous medieval trading city where narrow streets still follow ancient routes. Visit the Irish National Stud to learn about the valuable horse breeding industry. Walk through the Japanese Gardens, which symbolize the “Life of Man” through plants and rocks. Then head to Dunboyne, on the outskirts of Dublin. Check in to Dunboyne Castle Hotel and relax before enjoying a farewell dinner with informal music.
Day 12: Depart Dublin Airport
Complimentary group transfers to Dublin Airport are provided to arrive at 6:00 am, 9:00 am or 12:00 noon. After check-in, shop at the duty-free shops before boarding your flight for the journey home.