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Jane Austen’s Family Heritage in Northern Ireland & Donegal


Jane Austen’s Nieces in Dublin, Donegal, Belfast & County Down

7 days from Dublin


Great for book clubs, school & alumni groups!


Explore Stately Homes, Parks, Gardens, heritage areas for Hand-Made Lace, Knits, Linens and Tweeds

Overviewicon Itineraryicon

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 your special tour leaders and special private visits.


This tour begins and ends in Dublin.



pre/post tour

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. Your custom tour can also include guided time in the city with your special tour leaders.


Lord George Hill and his bride Cassandra (Austen) Knight began their married life in Dublin – thus an ideal place for us to begin our Jane Austen Ireland touring adventure!

Day 1



Making our way north, our first destination is the lace making gallery in Carrickmacross. Carrickmacross Handmade Lace has a long and rich tradition, having originated in the early 1820s. By special arrangement, we’ll enjoy a demonstration of the craftworks, still all meticulously hand-made. Learn a bit of the history of lace making, stitchery being one of the few options for women needing to earn their own money in the Georgian era.


This afternoon, a rare bit of motorway driving will help speed our way to Donegal, our base for the next few days. En-route, we’ll stop in Omagh, the county seat of County Tyrone. This area has a rich literary heritage boasting connections to Brian Friel, Benedict Kiely, Alice Milligan and W.F. Marshall.


OVERNIGHT: Letterkenny area, Donegal. SUGGESTED PROPERTY: Castle Grove Hotel or similar; www.castlegrove.com Subject to availability, our accommodation in Donegal is a 4 star Georgian country estate featuring gardens designed by ‘Capability’ Brown and a rich local history. Dinner, bed and breakfast included

Day 2



County Donegal is delightful - miles of sandy coastlines, nature reserves of mountains, raised boglands, lakes and woodlands, a unique musical tradition and home to a large Irish speaking community. Our touring path will take us via the lovely Glenveagh National Park and the coastal resort villages of Bunbeg and Derrybeg.


It was in the relative ‘wilderness’ that Jane Austen’s nieces May, Lou and Cass settled, worlds away from the ordered and mannerly society of their childhood homes in Hampshire and Kent. Donegal is where they lived, raised their families and where they are now buried. Today and tomorrow we will explore a variety of Austen family homes, businesses and we will pay our respects at their graves. 


OVERNIGHT: Donegal, same property as above

Dinner, bed and breakfast included

Day 3



Today continue explorations around Donegal, Austen family related sites and general highlights. Delve into the local knitting heritage, in which the Austen ladies were involved for a time, visiting local craft centres.


Famed 'Donegal Tweed' is made sourced from all local materials. Sheep thrive in local bogs and indigenous plants such as blackberries, fuchsia, and moss provide dyes. These trades are very much a family tradition, the art passed down through the generations. Ardara has been a place for hand made tweed and knits for over a century, we can visit with local weavers and have some unique shopping opportunities. Kilcar is full of local hand-weavers creating tweeds. A wonderful opportunity to mingle with the locals!


OVERNIGHT: Donegal, same property as above

Dinner, bed and breakfast included

Day 4



Today we make our way east, across the border into The North, visiting more special places! Upperlands is the oldest linen village in Ireland. Clarks, a family run business, has been manufacturing fine linen here for over 260 years. Interestingly, the son of a local linen bleacher, Charles Thomson, became one of America's Founding Fathers and penned the first draft of the Declaration of Independence! Subject to availability and by special arrangement, we can meet current Clarks owner Bruce Clark to share some local lore and personal histories of the Clark and Thomson families.


Our next place of interest is the setting for what is sure to be a very lovely and memorable dining experience! Ballyscullion Park is a beautiful historic house set in rolling parkland with breathtaking views over the Antrim hills. Here, by special invitation/availability, enjoy a Regency style luncheon with the Mulholland family, descendents of the Austen family via Cassandra Knight. After our meal in the elegant reception rooms, perhaps some leisure time for a stroll around the wonderful gardens.


The local village here was also home to Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney. We will tour places of interest to celebrate the poet and his legacy.


Visit Ballywalter Park, another fantastic stately home, subject to availability and by special arrangement. Current home of Lord and Lady Dunleath, first cousins to our friends at Ballyscullion Park. This estate came into the Mulholland family over 150 years ago thanks to the family’s business interests in the cotton and linen trades. Discover the home's direct connection to the Austen family.


We will arrive into Belfast, our overnight location, this evening. Lunch is included today in lieu of dinner so you can have the evening free to explore Belfast as you wish.


Belfast is full of top quality restaurants, gastro pubs, and offers visitors a thriving music scene, from traditional local pubs to larger venues at The Waterfront and Odyssey Arena. Those interested in theatre may enjoy a night out at The Lyric. See What’s On: http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk/whats_on



SUGGESTED PROPERTY: Malone Lodge or similar; bed and breakfast http://www.malonelodgehotelbelfast.com/

Regency lunch included

Day 5



A full day in Belfast, a city of fine Victorian architecture, restored docklands and the famed murals. On a literary theme, Belfast inspired "Chronicles of Narnia" and "Gulliver's Travels." The entire day is yours to do as you choose independently. Perhaps you’ll choose some shopping at Victoria Square, exploring the world class art galleries or possibly a visit to Titanic Belfast Experience, a stellar 6-floor interactive museum. Another option is a tour inside the Parliament Buildings, seeing the Debating Chamber and historic Library, the very rooms where some Austen family members helped create laws. (Tickets are free but must be pre-booked, subject to availability, so please advise SGT in advance if you want this tour.)


OVERNIGHT: Belfast, same property as above


Day 6



Touring via the scenic coastline to Giant’s Causeway. Formed over 60 million years ago, the bizarre regularity of its 37,000 basalt columns has made it the subject of numerous legends such as Finn McCool. Also see Old Bushmills Distillery, where they've been producing whiskey since 1608.


OVERNIGHT: Belfast, same property as above


Day 7



We’ve even more beautiful estates, regal homes and scenic countryside for our final touring day together! Hillsborough Castle, the family seat of the Downshires, once the home of Cass’s husband Lord George Hill, is now the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We’ll visit this impressive 18th-century mansion, built in the 1770s. See the State Drawing Room, Dining Rooms featuring fine furniture and silver from HMS Nelson. Within the extensive gardens are wonderful roses, lakes and Europe’s largest rhododendron bush.


Later today, towards the coast around the town of Strangford, explore Castle Ward. Once home to Jane Austen's grand-niece Norah, this 18th century treasure house eccentrically features classical and Gothic architecture. The 820-acre gardens offer stunning vistas and a picturesque farmyard.


This afternoon, we must head south for Dublin. Our route should take us near the Monasterboice Tower and High Crosses, historic ruins of an early Christian settlement situated north of Drogheda. Lots of interesting opportunities to break up our drive!


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.


ON: Dublin





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 itinerary is an original SGT itinerary written in conjunction with Sophia Hillan & Rosalind Mulholland; property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT/Hillan/Mulholland.


What Your Tour Package Includes

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.


SGT is at your service!

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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!


At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!