Celtic megalith at Carrowmore
Celtic megalith at Carrowmore

Ireland: Celts, Vikings & Saints


15 days From $7,990

July 18 2019

Ireland’s serene and welcoming rural landscapes, fringed by one the most beautiful of Europe’s coastlines, are peppered with a plethora of prehistoric and historical sites, elegant country houses and unique cultural monuments. They all fuse into a remarkably fertile and much excavated 5,000-years-old hunting-ground for the archaeologically-minded traveler looking to acquire insights into an ancient civilization of a distinctly ‘different’ kind.

Although evidence exists of earlier influences from afar (such as megalithic passage-graves that may have originated in Brittany, Portugal or Spain), until invasion and settlement by seafaring Vikings in the 9th century Ireland’s relative remoteness had largely sheltered its societies from the ceaseless turmoil previously afflicting the rest of Europe.

A major surviving legacy imprint from the long pre-Viking era is that of the Iron Age Celts, whose tradition began a thousand years earlier in central Europe and whose ancient language is still preserved here. Ireland’s other dominant cultural legacy is owed to the arrival of St Patrick and other Christian missionaries in the early 5th century – when the old indigenous pagan practices were suffused into the new religion and the rich culture of Celtic monasticism and scholarship began to blossom.

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local Transport
  •  Entries & Tips

Led by...

Prof. Charles Doherty

Professor Charles Doherty recently retired as senior lecturer in Early Irish History at University College Dublin. Since 2009 he has been president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.

Book Now $7,990
Includes deposit: $500 Single supplement: $1,150

Tour highlights:

  • Follow the trail of Ireland’s past civilizations – Iron Age Celtic, Viking and early-Christian – on this all-encompassing exploration of the Emerald Isle
  • Visit Dublin’s famous Trinity College library to admire the lavishly illuminated Book of Kells, created by Celtic monks and one of the great treasures of medieval Europe
  • Witness breathtaking views around the Ring of Kerry, a circular tourist route located in south-west Ireland
  • Relish in the opportunity to explore the iconic sites of Belfast, and cheers on our final night with a Guinness or two
  • Experience the wealth of heritage and culture that Ireland has to offer on this unforgettable tour

Tour details

Dates July 18 2019 - August 01 2019
Duration 15 days
Cost $7,990
Single supplement: $1,150
Deposit: $500 , balance due by 25 April 2019
Activity Level Easy-Going
Tour code A19IRE

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

July 18 2019: Itinerary

We arrive into Dublin and transfer to our first hotel where we will meet for dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin

Our first morning will be dedicated to the spectacular finds exhibited in the National Museum. The museum houses artifacts from 7000 BC to the 20th century, including the largest collection of Bronze Age gold in the world. The centerpiece of the collection is the Ardagh Chalice, which dates back to 800 CE. After lunch, touring continues to some of the major monuments of the city, including Merrion Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the national cathedral of Ireland, and Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin

We visit the magnificent clusters of prehistoric cairns dotted around the Slieve na Caillaigh hills at Loughcrew. These passage tombs date back to 3000 BC. At sunrise on the Spring and Fall Equinox, the backstone of the chamber at Cairn T is illuminated by a beam of light. This wonderfully decorated stone might have served an astronomical purpose. We also visit the Hill of Tara, one of the most important royal sites of early Ireland. Here we will discover the stories surrounding its Fort of the Kings, as well as the Stones of Destiny.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin

Driving south, our touring begins at Glendalough, a 6th- century monastic settlement set in a lovely glaciated valley. The monastic remains include beehive huts, grave slabs, crosses and early churches. Continuing south we stop at Old Kilkullen to view the remains of an Iron Age hill-fort, a round tower, and 9th-century crosses. At Brownshill, we find a dolmen with a capstone that is said to weigh 100 tons. If time allows, we will also see a finely sculptured 9th-century high cross and a Franciscan abbey at Castledermot.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel

Touring begins at the imposing Jerpoint Abbey. Built in 1160 by the King of Ossory, the ruins are renowned for the 15th-century cloister and the unique carvings in the sculptured cloister arcade. Our next stop is the famous Cathedral known as the Rock of Cashel, stunningly situated on a 200-foot high outcrop of limestone. Once the seat of the Kings of Munster, St. Patrick visited the rock in 450 and Brian Boru was crowned the 1st High King of Ireland here in the 10th century. Our day ends in Cork, a historic trading port situated on the River Lee.

All meals included

Hotel: Maryborough Hotel & Spa, Cork

We depart for Kinsale to enjoy a morning at leisure in this Medieval town. Later, we journey to Charles Fort, a massive star-shaped structure built by Sir William Robinson in 1677, and it was in continuous use until 1921. The fort was constructed on the earlier stronghold of Ringcurran Castle, whose defenses were featured during the Siege of Kinsale in 1601. We then continue to the Drombeg Stone Circle, an impressive group of 14 stones dated to 100 BC and aligned to the midsummer sunset. We end our day in Killarney, which will be our home for the next two nights.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

The most famous and panoramic route in Ireland can be found exploring the Ring of Kerry. En route, take in the mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean as we travel along the coastal road. During our drive, we explore Staigue Hillfort, one of the largest and finest of the stone forts in Ireland — and the Skelling Experience Heritage Center, dedicated to teaching visitors about the 6th – 12th century monastic sites and the renowned bird sanctuary which is situated on the small islands.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Today begins with a long drive to the Clonmacnoise Monastery and upon arrival, we explore the burial place of the Kings of Connaught and Tara. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven 10th-13th century churches, two round towers and Western Europe’s largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs. Most of the ruins here have undergone comprehensive conservation works.

All meals included

Hotel: Clayton Hotel, Galway

This morning we sail to the Aran Island of Inishmore, a magnificent island bearing a wealth of both pre-Christian and Christian features and monuments. Here we will visit some of the island’s spectacular sites beginning at Dun Aenghus, a dramatic dry-stone fort set on the very edge of a cliff 200 feet above the sea. Our next visit is na Seacht dTeampaill, Seven Churches complex. We have free time in Kilronan, capital of Inishmore, before boarding the ferry back to the mainland.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Clayton Hotel, Galway

Our day will be spent at Ceide Fields, Europe’s largest Neolithic land enclosure. Bog growth has covered most of the settlement over the last 5000 years, which has helped to preserve it. Recent excavations have revealed Stone Age pottery and a well-used primitive plough.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Southern Hotel, Sligo

We begin our day at the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, the largest megalithic cemetery in Ireland, with over 60 passage-graves, dolmen, a large cairn and stone circles. We then continue to Drumcliff where, in addition to viewing a high cross (AD 1000) showing fine sculptures of biblical scenes, we will take a literary break to visit W.B. Yeats’s grave. Then at Creevykeel, where artifacts dated to 2500 BC have been excavated, we will see one of the finest Court Cairns in Ireland. The oldest grave dates from 3200 BC. We return to Sligo for an independent evening, perhaps wonder its natural harbor which once saw trade from Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Southern Hotel, Sligo

After breakfast, we drive to the reconstructed circular stone fort, Grianan of Aileach. Built on the site of an older hill fort, in pre-history it was thought to be a place of sun worship, or the place of hibernation of Gráine, a Celtic sun-goddess. After lunch, we continue to Derry to enjoy a walking tour of one of the finest intact examples of a walled town in Europe. In 1613, the walls of Derry were built to protect the town from the Gaelic cheiftans in Donegal. Rising to a height of 8m and 9m wide in some areas. Today, these walls separate two communities, the Bogside — a Catholic ghetto with its famous murals —  and the Waterside, a Protestant enclave.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Maldron Hotel, Belfast

Our day today is devoted entirely to Belfast. We will enjoy a city tour and visits include the leaning Albert Memorial Clock Tower and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. We will also see St. Anne’s Cathedral, also known as Belfast Cathedral; the political murals of West Belfast; and the narrow alleys known as The Entries. After lunch we will venture a few miles out of Belfast to see the last prehistoric monument of our tour, the Giant’s Ring, an impressive earthwork, 600 feet in diameter, with a megalithic chamber in the center thought to date to 3000 BC.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Maldron Hotel, Belfast

Our last day brings us back to Dublin, with time for an afternoon at leisure. You may like to explore its great galleries, green parks or even the old Guinness factory! We enjoy our farewell dinner at one of the city’s fine restaurants.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: RIU Plaza The Gresham, Dublin

We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

July 18 2019: Additional Info

July 18 2019: Accommodation

Set beside St Patrick's Cathedral the Radisson Dublin BLU is just a 5-minute walk from Dublin Castle. It has large air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TVs, free WiFi and a French brasserie.

Rooms at the Radisson BLU Royal Hotel Dublin have luxurious baths and showers. Most have views across the city whilst some rooms have Nespresso coffee machines.

The Verres en Vers brasserie serves French classics and is open all day. The Vintage Room nestles under a marble staircase and offers vintage whiskeys, wines and fine dining.

The SURE Bar serves cocktails and has magnificent views over Dublin.The O Bar has mosaic ceiling tiles and a circular bar with leather seating.

In Kilkenny city center, the award-winning Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel offers luxury accommodation, the new Harper's Restaurant and 2 leading bars.

In the shadow of Kilkenny Castle, the Hibernian Hotel is in the heart of Kilkenny city. Originally the Hibernian Bank, this building overlooks the Parade, popular because it's close to Kilkenny Castle and the Kilkenny Design Center.

Just under 2 hours from Dublin, the Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel offers you traditional charm in this vibrant city. Guest parking is available in a multi-story car park opposite the Hibernian Hotel, free of charge between 18:00 and 12:00 the next day. 

Set in 14 acres of 300-year-old listed gardens, Maryborough Hotel & Spa boasts elegant rooms with bathrobes, a luxurious spa, and an AA Rosette restaurant. Cork is just 10 minutes’ drive from this 18th-century house, free WiFi and free parking are available.

With cotton duvets and slippers, guests can relax in each modern room. Guests can enjoy free bottled water and a 42-inch LED TV. Some rooms feature scenic garden views.

The Maryborough Hotel & Spa offer free access to the Thermal Suite, with its luxurious range of heat and cooling experiences including a rock sauna, vitality pool, heated lounges, lifestyle showers and an ice fountain.

Guests can enjoy the leisure club, with its 20 yards pool, relaxing hot tub bath, and steam room. Guests can exercise in the modern gym with fitness classes, or enjoy the sauna.

The newly launched Bellini's restaurant provides classical gourmet cuisine with an extensive range of fine wines. Surrounded by the vast gardens, The Garden Room serves afternoon teas, lunches, and snacks. 

This contemporary hotel with leisure facilitiesfree parking and free internet access is opposite the racecourse, close to Galway city.

The rooms in the hotel are equipped with a TV, a desk and the private bathroom is fitted with a bath and a hair dryer.

In the evenings, relax in the comfortable Enclosure Bar, which serves drinks and bar snacks. Head to the restaurant to sample fine Galway cuisine.

Clayton Hotel’s leisure center has a swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Service at Clayton Hotel is precise, friendly and of a high standard.

Sligo Southern Hotel is located in Sligo city center, beside Sligo Train and Bus Station. It offers a restaurant, free parking and a leisure center with a pool and a gym.

Rooms at the Sligo Southern Hotel feature TVs, radios and tea/coffee-making facilities. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.

The air-conditioned leisure centre also has a steam room, sauna and fitness classes including aqua aerobics.

The restaurant serves local cuisine and a buffet-style breakfast, and the bar has a lively but cosy atmosphere with open fires.

Boasting a bar and on-site dining, Maldron Hotel Belfast City is located in Belfast, 900 yards from The Belfast Empire Music Hall. The property is a 10-minute walk from The Waterfront Hall and an 18-minute walk from Odyssey Arena. The property offers a 24-hour front desk.

All rooms at the hotel come with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. The rooms at Maldron Hotel Belfast City feature air-conditioning and a desk.

A buffet breakfast is available daily at the property.

Titanic Belfast is 1.7 miles from the accommodation, while St. George's Market is a 9-minute walk from the property.

 

Situated in the heart of Dublin city center, The Gresham Hotel benefits from its own restaurant, and bar. The hotel offers free WiFi and spacious en suite rooms overlooking O’Connell Street. 

Each en suite bedroom features an LCD TV, a safe, iron and ironing board and tea and coffee making facilities. The majority of bedrooms overlook the rear of The Gresham Hotel, at neighbouring buildings.

The Gallery Restaurant serves breakfast each morning. Toddys Bar and Brasserie and Writers Lounge serve a wide variety of food and beverages throughout the day.

The River Liffey, Temple Bar, and the shopping districts are a few minutes’ walk away. Dublin Airport is 6.2 miles away and the port is 1.6 miles from the hotel. 

July 18 2019: Enquiries

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