Ireland and Northern Ireland Tour Itinerary

Tuesday, October 8
Your journey of discovery begins today. Board United Airlines flight in Chicago and connect at Newark with the transatlantic, overnight flight to Ireland (meals in-flight)

Wednesday, October 9 -  Dublin
Meet your specialist guide, who will travel with the group throughout the tour. Get acquainted with Dublin during an introductory our highlighting the beautiful Gregorian  architecture. Enjoy time for lunch on your own along Grafton Street and take a walk through the medieval lanes of Temple Bar. At Trinity College, see the gloriously illuminated Book of Kells. After hotel check-in, gather for a welcome dinner at Gallagher's Boxty House. (meals in-flight, D)

Thursday, October 10 - Dublin
Embark on a morning tour visiting the National Museum of Ireland which houses a fabled collection of Irish artifacts dating from 6000 B.C. to the present. Then tour Kilmainham Gaol which opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin and closed its doors in 1924. Today the building symbolizes the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23 and your tour will tell the story of those turbulent times. The afternoon and evening will be at leisure for independent activities. (B)

Friday, October 11 - Dublin/Belfast
Depart for Northern Ireland this morning. En route visit the remains of the ancient monastic settlement at Monasterboice featuring the most impressive High Crosses in the country. Upon arrival in Belfast tour the Parliament Buildings, which are majestically situated in the Stormont Estate grounds (last tour 2pm). The Parliament Building was originally constructed to accommodate the newly formed Government of Northern Ireland, established in 1921. Today it is home to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the legislative authority for Northern Ireland established under the terms of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 (aka. the Good Friday Agreement). Check in at the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B, D)

Saturday, October 12 - Belfast
This morning's tour will be accompanied by guide who specializes in "The Troubles". Much of the story is experienced by seeing the powerful murals painted on houses and buildings in the sectarian neighborhoods. View the "peace walls" which are a series of separation barriers that divide the predominantly Republican and Nationalist Catholic neighborhoods from predominantly Loyalist and Unionist Protestant neighborhoods. Then take a private tour of the Police Museum, set up in the 1980s to explain and illustrate Northern Ireland's unique and often contentious policing history. Nearby view the Memorial Garden of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. (B)

Sunday, October 13 - Belfast, Derry
Begin the day with a stroll through the lovely Botanic Gardens which were established in 1828. Continue for a visit of he museum that tells the story of the ill-fated Titanic which was build here in Belfast. Enjoy time for lunch on own in the vibrant Titanic Quarter after which the balance of the afternoon and evening will be at leisure for independent activities. (B)

Monday, October 14 - Belfast/Derry
Travel northward to the Atlantic coast for a walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The original bridge was built in 1755 by salmon fishermen to connect the ocean cliffs to the tiny namesake island. Then to the geological wonder that is the Giant's Causeway followed by the iconic ruins of the Dunluce Castle. This afternoon arrive in Derry to begin explorations of another city much affected by The Troubles. Walk through the Bogside district a former IRA stronghold, and view the large gablewall murals, The People's Gallery murals, Bloody Sunday Memorial, Hunger Strikers' Memorial, and the Free Derry Corner memorial. Continue to the hotel for check-in, dinner and overnight. (B, D)

Tuesday, October 15 - Derry
Today's full day of touring will continue the story of Derry/Londonderry. View the 'Hands Across the Divide' monument, the striking Peace Bridge across the River Foyle, walk the 17th century city walls, and visit the impressive Neo-Gothic Guildhall (site of the Bloody Sunday inquiry). Also visit the Tower Museum, which tells the colorful and dramatic history of the city from earliest prehistory to the present and the Museum of Free Derry, which tells the story of the civil rights movement and the creation of Free Derry in the 1960s and 1970s. (B)

Wednesday, October 16 - Derry/Galway
Jurney to Galway with several facinating stops along the way. In Omagh is the Ulster American Folk Park featuring the history of Northern Irish emigration to America. Continue to Sligo to tour the W.B. Yeats Society Museum dedicated to Ireland's greatest poet. Lastly visit the Country Life National Museum of Ireland in Castlebar and discover folk-themed exhibitions representing traditional ways of life in rural Ireland since 1850. Later today arrive in Galway for a three-night stay. (B, D)

Thursday, October 17 - Galway
This morning's tour will highlight Galway's main sights including Kirwan's Lane in the old quarter, the Wolfe Tone bridge (named after the leading 18th century revolutionary who is often heralded as the father of Irish Republicanism) and Galway City Museum with its 'Revolution' exhibition. The afternoon and evening are at leisure for independent activities (B)

Friday, October 18 - Galway
Embark on a full day excursion to the wild and charming coastal areas west of Galway. First is the quaint fishing village and Gaelic-speaking community of Spiddal. Drive along the Wild Atlantic Way with its mesmerizing landscape and sea-salted shorelines. Stop in Connemara's "capital" of Clifden, one of the most picturesque towns in Ireland with a stunning location at the foot of the Twelve Pins Mountains, overlooking at the Atlantic Ocean. Outside of town, tour the Connemara Heritage and History Center, a family farming enterprise that is based around the restored, pre-famine, cottage of legendary Dan O'Hara who was forced to emigrate in the 1840's when he was evicted from his home. Return to Galway for a festive farewell dinner at McSwiggan's Pub. (B, D)

Saturday, October 19 - Departure
Transfer this morning to the Shannon Airport for the return flights to the U.S. Arrive home this same day enriched with your discoveries of history and culture of the "Green Isle". (B, Meals in-flight)