Éire Ireland by Dr Reena Koppala
Ireland is known for its wealth of folklore, from numerous tales of tiny leprechauns with hidden pots of gold to the patron saint, Patrick, with his legendary ridding the island of snakes and his reputed use of the three-leaved shamrock. The name shamrock comes from the Irish word “seamróg”, which is the diminutive of the Irish word seamair óg and means simply "young clover".
A seven-day Ireland tour is an ideal introduction to the Emerald Isle for first-time visitors who have limited time and yet want to cover all the highlights of this Irish Highlands. This journey was an escorted trip which started from Dublin.
Day 1: ARRIVING IN DUBLIN.
After a long and exhausting journey from Dallas, we landed at our hotel around 5 pm. After tea and snacks, we went on an afternoon orientation drive through the statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College. That night, we enjoyed a welcome dinner by our tour guide at the hotel.
Day 2: DUBLIN–KILDARE–CASHEL–LIMERICK–ENNIS.
The horse-racing country awaited us this morning. We boarded our tour bus and drove across the Curragh to visit the IRISH NATIONAL STUD at Kildare, whose fine thoroughbreds command respect on the racecourses of the world. On our way we visited the Rock of Cashel, where St. Patrick preached; Tipperary, made famous in a wartime marching song; and Limerick, where an orientation drive acquainted us with St. Mary’s Cathedral, King John’s Castle, and the stone where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. Later in the evening between the drizzle of rain and the smell of freshly baked snacks, we took a pleasant walk on the main streets of Dublin exploring the place for an Irish Dinner. Do not forget to taste the famous Irish Coffee.
Day 3: CLIFFS OF
Today’s excursion along Ireland’s spectacular Atlantic coastline started with a drive to the 668-foot CLIFFS OF MOHER, where we savored the breathtaking panorama of the Clare coast. The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous films, including The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for "The Cliffs of Insanity"), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Leap Year (2010). The walk up the Cliffs of Moher itself was exciting. A scenic route across the limestone plateau of The Burren took us to Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with colorful shops and a busy café and bar culture. This afternoon, we had a special treat at Rathbaun Farm we tried our hand at scone baking, and learned from the farmer about sheep shearing and herding. Afterward, we enjoyed coffee and scones, fresh from the oven on the farmland.
Day 4: ENNIS–RING OF
After a short drive via Clonderlaw Bay to Killimer, cross the Shannon estuary by ferry we continued to Killorglin on Dingle Bay to join the spectacular RING OF KERRY for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island’s southwestern tip. The Lakes of Killarney was so pleasant and we later spend the night at a popular resort in Killarney. This is where we visited Ross Castle and later strolled our way back. Killarney won the Best Kept Town award in 2007, in a cross-border competition jointly organized by the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Amenity Council. In 2011, it was named Ireland's tidiest town and the cleanest town in the country by Irish Business against Litter.
Day 5: KILLARNEY–BLARNEY–WATERFORD.
The next day after breakfast, we traveled across the Kerry Mountains and passed through County Cork to Blarney, renowned for its magical Kissing Stone. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens. There is something funny about the way you kiss the stone, you have to kiss it at a certain angle, I will leave this as a surprise on how? My 9-year-old son must have kissed the stone at least 30 times no wonder I just cannot get him to shut up. The town itself is a beauty of its own. After lunch and shopping in the town, we walked up to the castle to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts. In the afternoon, we proceeded via Cork to Waterford, a stronghold founded by the Danish Vikings, for a guided tour of the house of Waterford crystal. This evening was very special as we stayed at a castle hotel and later had an Irish Medieval show with Irish dinner. After dinner, we relaxed and shared our stories with our guests during a live demonstration of Irish coffee making.
Day 6: WATERFORD–AVOCA–GLENDALOUGH–DUBLIN.
Today we visited the Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the Great Rebellion of 1798; Ireland’s oldest Handweaving Mill at Avoca, where we watched the weavers at work; the Wicklow Mountains; and Glendalough, the early Christian monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Also, we witnessed the engaging audiovisual Ireland of the Monasteries before we headed our way back to Dublin. Once we were back in Dublin we wrapped up our shopping and bid a final farewell to Ireland with a cabaret evening with dinner, followed by dance, song, and laughter.
Day 7: DUBLIN.