Western Ireland from Dublin: Newgrange, Sligo, Connemara, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren
5 days/4 nights from Dublin
Great for school & alumni groups!
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.
Specific inclusions may vary depending on your specific chosen travel dates/day of the week and availability of attractions.
This tour begins and ends in Dublin.
Dublin is a great city, small enough to be easily walked. Discover this city of writers, of talkers, of churches, pubs, music and of Georgian architecture. See Dublin Castle, The Book of Kells, Writers Museum, Guinness Factory, stroll the alleyways of Tollbar, the banks of The Liffey and enjoy magnificent shopping on Grafton Street. Dublin’s Hop-on/Hop-off bus is a fun way to see the city’s iconic sites if you choose. Please discuss options with us, SGT is happy to assist with Dublin accommodation, tours and tickets as you wish.
As a special treat, SGT recommends planning this literary tour to coincide with the annual James Joyce Bloomsday festivities in Dublin.
16 June is the main date for the annual James Joyce Bloomsday celebrations!
Today we are exploring Celtic folklore, the world of the mystical Ireland before the written word. The New Stone Age Passage Graves at Newgrange are regarded as among the most impressive prehistoric monuments in Europe, dating from around 3200 BC, predating Stonehenge, Mycenae and the pyramids of Egypt. Step back through the mists of time, to almost the very start of history!
Later, a rare bit of motorway driving as we make our way into County Sligo, our base for these two evenings.
Subject to availability, we recommend staying at Markree Castle, the Cooper family home for 370 years. Today the property has been lovely restored into a fine country house hotel, set in a secluded 500 acre estate featuring fine Victorian style gardens, good food, fine wine, practically oozing with old-world charm.
ON: County Sligo
SUGGESTED PROPERTY: Markree Castle or similar http://www.markreecastle.ie/
Dinner, bed and breakfast
Our focus today is on “W B Yeats Country,” County Sligo. We’ll meander the stunning scenery where Yeats spent his early life, places that inspired the man considered one of the country’s greatest poets. Our day will include Glencar, a spectacular waterfall featured in his poem "The Stolen Child," Loch Gill and of course Drumcliffe Church where we can pay respects at Yeats grave. We’ll also visit Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, the largest and oldest megalithic tombs in Ireland, plus the town of Sligo itself with its quaint shops, book stores and galleries. Sligo County Museum & Art Gallery, home to a large collection of Yeats’ work, might be of a particular interest for fans.
ON: Sligo, same property as above
Dinner, bed and breakfast
This wild, western side of Ireland is spectacular, a region seemingly designed for touring off the beaten track! Our route today will take us through breathtaking County Mayo and Connemara scenery. If we’re lucky, we may just get to see some of the famed Connemara ponies too! During our day, we can uncover a few Joyce connections through the family heritage of his wife Nora. For a taste of the area pre-tour, we recommend reading George Moore, considered by some to be the first of the modern Irish novelists.
This evening is a chance to enjoy the Galway nightlife, where traditional live music sessions are not only possible but likely. This compact, university-city is a wonderful place of narrow streets crammed with interesting sites, pubs and shopping opportunities. There is the option of an evening at a local theatre for those that prefer. http://www.galwaytourism.ie/galway-entertainment/galway-theatres/
ON: Galway City
Today is a full day of literary heritage and icons! Coole Park was the home of Lady Gregory - dramatist, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre Dublin - whom George Bernard Shaw once described as the 'greatest living Irishwoman.' Her home was a haven for a variety of great literary figures throughout the late 19th/early 20th Century during the “Gaelic Literary Revival.” Many friends carved their names into a tree in the walled garden, Yeats, Shaw, Synge, and O'Casey among them. Alas, the house has been lost to time but the walled garden, complete with ‘Autograph Tree,’ and the extensive woods made famous as Yeats’ “Seven Woods” remain. There is a well appointed Visitor Centre now onsite too.
"The Wild Swans at Coole Park" by YB Yeats
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
Nearby, in a pretty setting alongside a trout stream, is Thoor Ballylee, a medieval tower house that Yeats made his summer home for 12 years. Here he was inspired to write "The Winding Stair," "The Tower Poems" and others. We can see the impressive exterior of the building but, unfortunately at time of publishing, the Yeats Museum here is closed due to flood damage. Should it re-open in time for our tour date, of course we’ll visit!
Two iconic ‘Emerald’ Ireland sites are also on our agenda today: the Cliffs of Moher is one of the most impressive stretches of the western coastline. Inland is the curious ‘lunar-landscape’ scenery of The Burren National Park. Dependent upon time and our chosen route, we might also see either Aillwee Cave and some prehistoric burial sites or perhaps one or two Galway Bay harbour towns. Spoilt for choice!
Tonight, another night out on the town in Galway awaits those that wish it.
ON: Galway City, same property as above
Today we head back to Dublin, en-route enjoying a visit in Clonmacnoise, the impressive remains of a 6th century monastery. Many kings of Tara and Connaught are buried here and many colourful legends are attached to this site; learn about ‘the water that flows uphill,’ ‘the tree that won't burn’ and ‘the monastery built in a bog.’
If we’ve time, we may choose to route via the lovely seaside resort town of Dalkey, the beloved home of George Bernard Shaw, Maeve Binchy, playwright Hugh Leonard and many well known Irish musicians.
Our final must see destination of our literary adventure is the James Joyce Museum Sandycove, once one of a series of Martello Towers built to withstand an invasion by Napoleon. Joyce made the tower the setting for the first chapter of his masterpiece, Ulysses. Beautifully located on the coast south of Dublin, this tower is a perfect setting to inspire! The gun platform with its panoramic view and the living room inside the tower are much as he described them in his book. The collection here includes letters, photographs, first and rare editions and personal possessions.
We can arrive into Central Dublin in time for an optional evening Literary Dublin Pub Walk if you wish. Your guided tour concludes this evening or you can extend your time around Dublin with your guide if you choose.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.
Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.
This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.
Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.
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The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.
The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!
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