Irish Adventure: Dublin, Belfast & the Northwest Counties

Terms & Conditions

Trip Date
Number of Days
16
Highlights & Inclusions
  • Explore in a small group of 8-16 travelers (average group size of 13)
  • International airfare, airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges unless you choose to make your own air arrangements*
  • All land transportation
  • Accommodations for 14 nights
  • 28 meals—14 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Dinner)
  • 12 small group activities
  • Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Experience Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next O.A.T. adventure

*Airport transfers are only available for travelers arriving and departing to/from the same airport and on the same arrival/departure dates as the main trip

Please note:
Deposit requirement on land trips is $350
Past traveler savings of 5% if you traveled from 2018 onward
New travelers get $100 savings

Itinerary

Encounter many sides of Ireland’s legendary wonders and tumultuous past as you explore thousands of years of history throughout the island. The country holds a controversial history that often goes undiscovered, and we'll uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly of Ireland's heritage though conversations with those who've endured these tough times. Upon the Emerald Isle, we'll trace the influence of the infamous Troubles across the country through exclusive experiences and local interactions—first exploring the era's influence on bustling Dublin before traveling to Belfast, where the heart of the period unfolded during the late 20th century. Stay in both quiet country settings and in the heart of Ireland's musical cities. Whether it’s the stunning Cliffs of Moher rising from the Atlantic or the cozy pubs lining cobbled city streets, the rich history and natural splendor witnessed across Ireland is sure to captivate you. We'll get an intimate look into Irish life when we split into groups of 3-5 and explore Belfast in the city's famed black cabs, gleaning insight from our drivers' firsthand knowledge during this experience only offered on this O.A.T. adventure. And, as you visit small town pubs or sit down for a home-cooked Irish meal, you’ll revel in the warmth that makes these countries famous.

Throughout your Emerald Isle adventure, you'll experience people-to-people connections to reveal this region’s true culture. Spend A Day in the Life of rural St. John’s Point in southwest Donegal, where you’ll work alongside a tweed weaver and a farmer; learn about Controversial Topics including discrimination against Ireland’s indigenous Travelers; and visit Haven Horizons, a Grand Circle Foundation site dedicated to preventing domestic abuse and helping survivors lead strong, independent lives.

Thanks to our small group sizejust 8-16 travelers, with an average of 13—and our expert Trip Experience Leaders, we'll truly get to know the qualities that make the people of Ireland so memorable: their cheerful attitudes, pride in their country, and honesty and openness in discussing their turbulent history. And, whenever you’d like, you have the freedom to explore more of Ireland and Northern Ireland on your own: Break off from the group for independent discoveries—like discovering the scenic cascades of Ennistymon or exploring medieval Bunratty Castle—during your free time.

 

DAY 1

Depart for Dublin, Ireland
Depart the U.S. today on an overnight flight to Dublin, Ireland.

DAY 2

Arrive Dublin, Ireland
Destination: Dublin
Meals included: D
Accommodations: Belvedere Hotel or similar

Morning: You’ll arrive in Dublin in the morning or afternoon, depending on your specific flight arrangements. Upon arrival, expect to spend about 45 minutes clearing customs and completing any temperature checks or health guidelines your airline requires. Travelers who have reserved their airfare with O.A.T. will also have their temperature checked by an O.A.T. representative before boarding the transfer vehicle, per our NEW health and safety protocols; those who do not reserve airfare with us will have their temperature checked upon arrival at the hotel. You will then be escorted to your hotel in the city by private car in groups of 1-2 or by private minivan in groups of 3-4, depending on the number of travelers who arrived with you. The transfer is approximately 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

At our hotel, we’ll meet our Trip Experience Leader, as well as travelers who took our optional Dublin in Depth or New! Scottish Highlands and Lowlands: Edinburgh, St. Andrews, National Parks & Glasgow pre-trip extensions, then receive our room assignments and settle in. Depending on which hotel you stay in, it may feature an on-site restaurant and bar. Typical rooms are all fully equipped with wireless Internet, TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, an in-room safe, iron and ironing board, and a private, en suite bathroom with hair dryer. Throughout the day, our Trip Experience Leader will lead travelers on orientation walks of the neighborhood surrounding our hotel as they arrive.

Lunch: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader will be happy to provide you with recommendations.

Afternoon: At around 6:30pm, we’ll meet for a 30-minute Welcome Briefing with our Trip Experience Leader, during which we will introduce ourselves and review our itinerary in more detail (including any changes that may need to occur). We will also discuss logistics, safety and emergency procedures, and answer any questions we may have.

Dinner: Around 7pm, we'll gather with the whole group at the hotel to enjoy a Welcome Dinner, featuring a selection of local and international dishes.

Evening: You’re free to relax at the hotel after your flight or explore the area we’re staying in.

DAY 3

Explore Dublin • Controversial Topic: Racism against Irish Travelers with the women of Pavee Point
Destination: Dublin
Meals included: B
Accommodations: Belvedere Hotel or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today we will learn about the Controversial Topic of racial discrimination against the Traveler community, Ireland’s indigenous ethnic group. We’ll visit Pavee Point, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for Traveler acceptance to get a firsthand view of the second-class treatment that Travelers receive in Ireland, the effects that it has on their day-to-day lives, and the work that Pavee Point is doing to improve their standing. Read more about this activity below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring Irish and American options.

Morning: We’ll begin our Irish adventure with a tour of Dublin led by our Trip Experience Leader around 9am. We’ll ride by 30-passenger private motorcoach, operating at half capacity, focusing on iconic city sites and in part on the landmarks that tell the story of Ireland’s ill-fated Easter Rising of 1916. Also known as the Easter Rebellion, the Easter Rising was a six-day armed uprising against British rule that left Dublin’s inner city in ruins.

At around 10am, we’ll drive to Phoenix Park, where we’ll step off the private motorcoach for a 1-mile walking tour of this expansive green space located at the edge of the city. We’ll stop by the Papal Cross, a 116-foot tall monument erected at the spot where Pope John Paul II held mass for a crowd of more than a million people in 1979. In 2018, the cross was graced by Pope Francis; in contrast to the papal visit 40 years ago, however, the mass was attended by only 130,000 people, reflecting the declining importance of the Catholic Church in Irish society over the decades. As we walk around the park, we’ll talk with our Trip Experience Leader about why many in Ireland are losing faith in this old institution.

We’ll board our private motorcoach again at around 10:45am and drive to Pavee Point, a human rights organization, for an hour-long conversation about a Controversial Topic: Discrimination against the Irish Traveler community, and the efforts of the women of Pavee Point to fight for Traveler acceptance in Ireland.

The Travelers are Ireland’s indigenous ethnic group. As a small and insular community—recent census data estimates that slightly more than 30,000 of them currently live in the country, making up less than 1% of the population—the Travelers regularly endure discrimination from their “settled” neighbors, who accuse them of vagrancy, theft, substance abuse, violence, and leaving trash and litter in the wake of their camps. As a result of this ostracization, the Traveler community experiences disproportionate poverty, poor health, and less access to education—Ireland’s 2011 census revealed that 70% of Travelers have only at best a primary school education. What’s more, the suicide rate among the Traveler community is six times higher than the national average: 11% of Traveler deaths are a result of suicide.

We’ll get a firsthand perspective of the discrimination that this ethnic group faces when we meet the women of Pavee Point, a non-governmental Traveler’s rights organization which includes members of the Traveler and Roma community, as well as allies from Ireland's settled population. Pavee Point has been working for 30 years at the local, regional, national, and international level to dismantle the myths and stigmas surrounding Ireland’s Traveler and Roma population, and to work with the community to promote Traveler rights in Ireland. Our speaker—a Traveler woman who will vary by departure depending on who is scheduled to work at Pavee Point that day—will share her personal account of her lifestyle, and about how she and her fellow Travelers are treated as second-class citizens throughout the country.

During our conversation, we’ll learn how the women here are dedicated to improving the lives of Ireland’s Traveler and Roma population through community development, public policy, education, health, and other social justice programs. One of the organization’s members, Eileen Flynn, broke the glass ceiling in June 2020 when she was selected by prime minister Micheál Martin to sit as a senator in the Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Irish legislature, becoming the first Traveler in history to hold this office. Ms. Flynn has dedicated herself to combating anti-Traveler discrimination, and is working to introduce hate crime legislation to address this issue.

Culturally similar to—but genetically distinct from—the Roma people of continental Europe, the Travelers historically have lived a nomadic lifestyle, traveling around the country in caravans, stopping in one location for only short periods of time. In recent years, the majority of the Traveler population has transitioned to live in permanent private dwellings, but members of the community still lead a relatively insular life, separated from their “settled” neighbors.

Because they have no written history, the origins of the Travelers, as well as their split from Ireland’s settled people are unclear. This separation, however, has resulted in a longstanding history of distrust, stereotyping, and discrimination. Ireland’s settled people tend to see Traveler communities as foreign and suspicious, stereotyping them as scheming fraudsters, seeking to con and take advantage of the settled communities they visit. Throughout our adventure, our Trip Experience Leader will help us understand how local people throughout Ireland share this negative image of the Traveler community.

After a 20-minute presentation, we’ll have 40 minutes to ask questions and deepen our understanding of the stigma that Travelers overcome, and learn more about the work that Pavee Point is doing.

Following our conversation, we’ll depart by private motorcoach at around 12:15pm and ride for 15 minutes to the city center. The rest of the day is yours to explore independently.

Lunch: On your own. Perhaps you'll stop by a local pub such as the Oval Bar, located in a Victorian building in the city center, serving up local specialties like traditional Irish stew, a thick meal of beef or mutton flavored with vegetables and a splash of Guinness.

Afternoon: You’ll have the rest of the day free to explore Dublin on your own. Perhaps you’ll learn some more about the city’s history by walking St. Stephen’s Green, the campus at Trinity College, or visiting one of the local museums.

Dinner: On your own—consider seeking out coddle, a stew-like concoction of bacon, sausage, potatoes, and onions that warms the bones

Evening: Get acquainted with Dublin on your own this evening. Perhaps you’ll use your free time to walk its cobbled streets, enjoy a pint of Guinness in a pub, or view some of its most famous sights by night.

DAY 4

Overland to Belfast, Northern Ireland • Navan Fort • Cider visit
Destination: Belfast
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Clayton Hotel Belfast or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring Irish and American options.

Morning: Today, we’ll cross the border into the United Kingdom as we transfer by private motorcoach to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. We’ll leave Dublin around 9am and arrive around 10:30am at Navan Fort, the centerpiece of an ancient archaeological complex and ceremonial grounds. As we explore in the company of a local archaeology expert, we won't just get a tour of the site, but we'll come away with a deeper understanding of the myths and legends surrounding the monument.

We depart the fort around 12:30pm for the family-owned cider company by private motorcoach, arriving around 1pm and meeting the owners.

Lunch: Around 1pm, we'll enjoy a traditional farm lunch at the cider farm. We’ll sample homemade soup, fresh-baked brown bread, and an assortment of jams, chutneys, and sparkling drinks made on the farm. For dessert, we’ll enjoy a homemade apple tart, baked from apples grown right on the orchard. This is a great opportunity to share stories, ask questions, and get a better sense of what life is like on a rural farm in Ireland.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll learn more about the cider company on a guided tour. Our hosts will lead us through an apple orchard, where we'll get to taste fresh apple cider. Plus, our small group will have opportunities to interact with the family members—be sure to ask about how their family history led them to this profession.

Around 3pm, we’ll continue our trip to Belfast by private motorcoach, arriving around 3:45pm, depending on traffic. Despite being a center of conflict during the Troubles, Belfast has a long history and lasting legacies. The countryside surrounding the city inspired stories like the Chronicles of Narnia and Gulliver’s Travels. The city itself, as an industrial center in the 19th century, was a hub of Ireland's booming linen industry and is the birthplace of the Titanic—which was designed, built, and launched in Belfast.

Upon arrival, we’ll check in to our centrally-located hotel, which may feature an on-site restaurant and bars depending on where you stay. Typical rooms include wireless Internet access, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and a private bath with a hairdryer. Our Trip Experience Leader will then lead a short discovery walk as soon as we arrive. After, the rest of your day is free.

Dinner: On your own. Maybe you'll try the deceptively named "vegetable roll," made of spiced beef pudding and sausage with a touch of dried leeks.

Evening: Enjoy free time exploring this historic city. Perhaps you’ll wander the streets admiring the murals or enjoy a nightcap with fellow travelers at the hotel.

DAY 5

Explore Belfast • Controversial Topic: The violence of the Troubles with ex-political prisoners and a British veteran, who fought on opposite sides • Black cab ride with local drivers • Home-Hosted Dinner
Destination: Belfast
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Clayton Hotel Belfast or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today we will experience an eye-opening view of a Controversial Topic when we meet with three men who fought on opposing sides during the period of turmoil known as the Troubles. We’ll hear their firsthand accounts of the brutal experiences they had, and the dark deeds they committed during the fighting, about how sectarian divisions still split Belfast today, and how they are now committed to a shared vision of reconciliation. Later tonight, we'll connect closely with Irish culture during a Home-Hosted Dinner in Belfast. In smaller groups of no more than 5, you'll travel to the homes of local families to share an evening of home-cooked Irish cuisine and friendly conversation about what day to day life is like in the Emerald Isle. Read more about these exclusive activities below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a selection of international dishes.

Morning: Belfast is a city with a turbulent history and rich culture. And today, beginning at the hotel around 9am, we’ll get to explore it like a local: in Belfast’s famous black cabs. During the height of The Troubles in the 1970s, public buses stopped serving West Belfast’s Catholic neighborhoods, and these iconic cabs stepped up to offer their services.

Today’s black cabs are driven by Catholics and Protestants alike, and in groups of 3-5 per car, we’ll get a very personal view of the city through our drivers’ eyes. They’ll share their perspectives on the city's historic political turmoil and religious divides, as well as their views on how old controversies cast a shadow over Belfast today. As long-term residents of the neighborhoods you’ll be exploring, your driver will be able to offer a personal perspective of this dangerous period of Belfast’s history, when a wrong turn might have taken you across the dividing line between the Catholic and Protestant section of the city, putting drivers and passengers at risk of physical abuse or even death.

As we ride through the city, we’ll hear firsthand accounts about how the Belfast of the 1970s was a war zone. Fighters belonging to the militant faction of Irish Republican Army (IRA) committed bombings, shootings, and other acts of terror to pressure the British government into recognizing Irish sovereignty over the north. In response, extremists sympathetic to the crown formed paramilitary groups like the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), clashing with IRA rebels and unleashing their own acts of terror on Belfast’s Catholic population, while armed British soldiers patrolled the streets, fingers resting lightly on the trigger. The Troubles rocked Northern Ireland for three decades, and when the dust settled, more than 3,500 people—civilians and combatants alike—were killed, and more than 47,000 wounded.

Our black cab drivers will take us by the boundary between West Belfast’s Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, where murals on each side depict contrasting sentiments about the deep-rooted conflict. We’ll stop to see famous murals—such as the Irish Language Mural, the Tribute to Frederick Douglass, and the Nelson Mandela Mural—and our driver will help to explain each one’s significance. You’ll also have the opportunity to make your mark on a peace wall—one of the still-standing barricades that physically separates the city, now adorned with messages of hope and peace from locals and visitors alike.

Because your driver grew up in Belfast, they will be able to offer a deeply personal perspective on the murals you will see—depending on whether they are Catholic or Protestant, they will have their own recollection of Belfast’s history, so be sure to ask questions, and to compare your experience with your fellow travelers once you have a chance to rejoin your group.

Our tour ends at around 10:30am at the Felons Club, established as a meeting place for Irish Republicans who had been imprisoned for their political or militant activities. Only former prisoners may achieve full membership, and honorary membership has been extended to other famous revolutionaries, including Nelson Mandela.

Here, we will have a chance to hear about a Controversial Topic during a 2-hour-long conversation with three individuals who fought in The Troubles—on opposing sides. We’ll meet two ex-political prisoners—Seamus, a Republican who fought for Irish independence, and Robert, a loyalist who fought with the UVF—as well as Lee, an ex-British army serviceman (or, if these men are unavailable, we'll meet alternative individuals who fought during these times). During the violence of The Troubles it would have been inconceivable to gather men such as these in the same room; today, they have put aside their differences and will share their stories about the dark deeds they took part in during the fighting; their experiences while incarcerated; and their shared hopes for a better future.

While the violence may be over, modern Belfast is still a divided city, and the road to harmony is a long one. Belfast’s religious population is roughly equally split, with 48% hailing from a Protestant background, and 45% raised Catholic. To this day, the two factions live in entirely segregated neighborhoods, divided physically by “peace lines”—walled barriers that separate the two sections of the city which are sealed off by locked gates each night. While the brightly colored murals along the walls illustrate the city’s hope for peace and reconciliation, the fact that the walls still stand demonstrate the progress that still needs to be made.

This conversation will offer a perspective of Northern Ireland made possible only by the local connections facilitated by O.A.T.—we will confront harsh and uncomfortable truths, including tales of violence, death, and deeply-rooted prejudices that still linger over Belfast today. While this controversial topic may be emotionally challenging, it’s necessary to understand the real Northern Ireland, and travelers often find it rewarding—such as 20-time traveler Amy Iwasaki from Henderson, Nevada, who shared:

“At O.A.T.’s signature address of controversial issues in Belfast, I experienced the most profound session of all trips when we met with three highly intelligent men who were former combatants, two of whom had spent time in prison. One was from the IRA (Irish Republican Army), another from UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and the third a British soldier. They were brutally honest in taking responsibility for their actions, still have strong convictions, but respect each other as human beings because they have this open dialogue. This session gave everyone in my group a profoundly deeper understanding of the strong feelings that still exist today.”

Around 12:30pm, our conversation will conclude and you'll have about an hour of free time.

Lunch: At 12:30pm, lunch will be on your own. Ask your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions.

Afternoon: At around 1:30pm, we’ll depart and set off on an hour-long panoramic private motorcoach tour of this revitalized city. We’ll catch a glimpse of Belfast's grand city hall and the manicured gardens that surround it.

Our tour ends at around 2:30pm, and the rest of the afternoon is yours to make your own discoveries. You may choose to visit Titanic Belfast, a memorial to the famed ship and museum chronicling Belfast’s maritime heritage, or pay a visit to the Crumlin Road Jail. Maybe you’ll stroll through the regal campus at Queen’s University. Or, you could always choose to enjoy a pint of the famous Guinness in one of the city’s pubs, mingling with locals and listening to traditional music.

Dinner: Around 6:15pm, we will break into smaller groups of no more than 6 and drive out by private motorcoach to get a taste of Irish cuisine and a deeper understanding of the Troubles during a Home-Hosted Dinner in Ballymurphy, a section of Belfast where 11 civilians were murdered during a 3-day period in 1971. For some in this area, they believe if investigations were conducted and the British Army were held responsible for the deaths of these civilians, then the similar events that happened in Londonderry months later may not have occurred. We’ll enter a local home to join a family at their dinner table and see how they go through their daily lives—where they live, what they cook, how they eat, and how they feel about their homeland. While your host family might hail from a variety of different backgrounds, they are all wives, sisters, or daughters of incarcerated men who were involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre.

We’re afforded this special privilege by our small group size; by dining in groups of no more than 6, we’re given the chance to enter local homes and connect on a one-to-one level, and to even share a little with our hosts about who we are and what has brought us to Ireland. This will be a great opportunity to ask them about the Troubles from their perspective, any Irish customs they practice, and more.

Our meal will begin at around 6:30pm. At about 8:30pm, we’ll bid our hosts farewell, and board our private motorcoach to return to our hotel.

Evening: You’re free to explore Belfast by night at your own pace this evening, or take some to rest after your long day of cultural discovery.

DAY 6

Explore Glenariff Forest Park • North Coast
Destination: Portrush
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Portrush Atlantic Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Our transfer today will take about 6.5 hours, including multiple stops along the way. Depending on your departure date, you will stay in either Ballycastle or Portrush for the next two nights, and your itinerary will have the same included features and free time suggestions.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a selection of international dishes.

Morning: We’ll check out of our hotel around 9am and board our private motorcoach to begin our transfer to the coastal town of Portrush. On our way, at around 11:30am, we'll visit Glenariff Forest Park, where we'll walk along a nature trail, admiring peaceful rivers and waterfalls. Tucked away from the more-frequented tourist sites, this park is a popular spot for locals to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and we may have a chance to interact with residents as they walk their dogs, ride their bikes, and more.

Lunch: Around 12:30pm at the lodge in the park, serving a two-course meal which may consist of a traditional roast beef or vegetarian meal with apple pie for dessert.

Afternoon: As we continue our transfer around 1:30pm, we'll take a scenic drive through the glens of the Antrim, taking in the diverse landscapes that include glacial valleys, grassy cliffs, dense woods, and quaint villages. Upon arrival in Portrush around 2:30pm, we’ll check in to our centrally-located hotel, which may feature an on-site restaurant and wireless Internet access. Typical rooms include a television, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer. Our Trip Experience Leader will then lead a short discovery walk around your hotel neighborhood.

With some free time to explore on your own starting around 4pm, you may want to take in the surrounding scenery on a stroll through this popular seaside resort town. The famous Royal Portrush Golf Club draws locals and is a popular hub for travelers due to its two linked courses that feature 36 holes that offer scenic views along the water. As you brush shoulders with the town's residents, golf is sure to a be a helpful topic to strike up friendly conversation.

Dinner: On your own—perhaps you'll ask your Trip Experience Leader where you can enjoy the catch of the day with a view of the water.

Evening: Enjoy free time exploring this seaside town. Perhaps you’ll take a walk to admire the coastline. Or, enjoy a nightcap with fellow travelers at the hotel.

DAY 7

North Coast • The Antrim Coast • Giant’s Causeway
Destination: Portrush
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Portrush Atlantic Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Today's activities at the bridge are weather-dependent. Reaching the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge today requires a hike along an unpaved trail, which includes steep inclines and steps. Park supervisors may close the bridge at any time without prior notice due to strong winds in the area. When walking across Giant’s Causeway, please be advised that there are no handrails and these structures may be slippery. The Antrim coast is usually very crowded.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a variety of hot and cold options.

Morning: We begin our day around 9am by taking a private motorcoach along the Antrim coast and stopping first at the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge with our Trip Experience Leader. Upon arrival around 9:30am, we will hike the steep, 0.7-mile unpaved path up to the bridge. When we arrive at the bridge, you may challenge yourself to walk across the rope bridge and back, taking in dramatic views of Scotland and Rathlin Island. While the bridge is made of rope, it is also reinforced with steel cables, making it completely safe to cross. It is roughly 100 feet high and 70 feet long, and was originally constructed in the late 18th century by salmon fishermen. The bridge connects Carrick-A-Rede Island to mainland Ireland, and offers sought-after panoramic views of the North Coast. You may also enjoy a nature stroll, appreciating the area’s exotic flora and diverse array of seabirds including fulmars, kittiwakes, and guillemots.

We'll depart from the bridge around 11am and transfer by private motorcoach to visit the Giant’s Causeway, one of Northern Ireland's most popular sites, arriving at around 11:15am. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, it is a landscape formed by volcanic eruptions dating back millions of years. Here, hexagonal basalt columns line the coast, forming natural stairs leading from igneous rock cliffs into the sea. It's these columns which make the Giant’s Causeway famous, as well as many myths and legends about their creation in a battle between the Scottish giant Benandonner & the Irish giant Finn MacCool, which we'll learn more about during our tour. Our small group size allows us to weave through heavy crowds as we explore this iconic site, and we may even walk across the Causeway's basalt columns.

Our tour concludes at 1pm, after which we’ll ride by private motorcoach to the nearby town of Bushmills, arriving at around 1:30pm, where we’ll have two hours to explore independently and have lunch on our own.

Lunch: On your own in Bushmills. You might pop in to a quaint pub, café, or tearoom to mingle with the locals and enjoy a soup, sandwich, or Irish specialty like a chicken and ham puff pie.

Afternoon: Enjoy some time to explore Bushmills independently. You might choose to tour the Old Bushmills Distillery, the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. Or, you can wander idly along the quiet streets, browsing the wares on display in the local craft shops.

At around 3:30pm, our private motorcoach will return us to our hotel in Portrush, arriving around 4pm, where you can spend the afternoon exploring on your own or relaxing before dinner.

Dinner: At around 6:15pm we’ll walk for 10 minutes to a nearby local restaurant, where we’ll enjoy an included dinner of local specialties.

Evening: You have the freedom to set off on your own tonight.

DAY 8

Explore Derry • Controversial Topic: Bloody Sunday Massacre & the fight for justice with family members of victims • Donegal
Destination: Donegal
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Mill Park Hotel or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today we will get a new perspective on a Controversial Topic when we meet locals who lost family members in the 1972 massacre known as “Bloody Sunday,” and hear how activists are pursuing justice for the lives lost that day. While The Troubles may have ended years ago, the wounds it has inflicted still linger today; we’ll learn about how this period of conflict still divides local people in Northern Ireland during our eye-opening conversation. Read more about this activity below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a variety of hot and cold options.

Morning: We’ll leave our hotel around 9am to transfer by private motorcoach to Derry, also known as Londonderry, depending on where you are in Ireland. Our transfer will take up to two hours. Divided by the River Foyle, which runs through the city's heart, Derry is one of Europe’s last walled cities, and the only one in Ireland whose walls are still fully intact.

We’ll arrive in Derry at 10:15am, then after a short rest stop, we'll be joined at 10:30am by Ronan McNamara, a local resident who will lead us on a 1-hour tour over the city walls, where we will overlook the many murals inspired by the Troubles, which spanned nearly three decades. Ronan lived through this era and will be able to provide insight into the challenges of daily life during this period of time. In our small group, this city tour is a great opportunity to interact with our local guide, who grew up in Derry during the Troubles, and can share his own experiences, as well as his hopes for the future.

At 11:30am, we'll walk to the Museum of Free Derry, which documents the history and events surrounding the especially turbulent period between 1968 and 1972 called “Free Derry.” Here, we'll have a conversation about a Controversial Topic: The ongoing fight for justice over the 1972 “Bloody Sunday Massacre,” in which British soldiers shot and killed 14 unarmed Catholics—including members of the volunteers' own family. The massacre remains a divisive subject between Derry’s Catholics and Protestants to this day, as only one British soldier has been charged with a crime for the lives that were lost that day. While some believe that more needs to be done to bring justice to the Bogside’s victims, others say that the army was only doing its duty, and it’s time to let bygones be bygones.

We’ll dive into this controversy with John Kelly, a local man who lost his brother Michael to the violence of Bloody Sunday (or, if he is unavailable, another museum volunteer with firsthand experience of that fateful day). John was 23 at the time, and his brother was only 17 when he was killed; John can shed light on the complicated and conflicting emotions that locals have about the infamous events of Bloody Sunday, as well as his own raw, emotional connection to this watershed moment of Northern Ireland’s history. We'll also learn about the actions that some activists are taking to see that justice is served.

The massacre occurred on Sunday, January 30, 1972, when 15,000 protesters took to the streets in the Catholic Bogside neighborhood of Derry to march against an internment law granting the British government the authority to imprison Northern Irish dissidents without a trial. The crown deployed soldiers to police the march, and after a day of escalating violence, the army fired upon the unarmed crowd, shooting 108 live rounds that left 14 dead and many more injured.

The events of Bloody Sunday shocked the world, and Derry’s residents were further outraged when an official British inquiry cleared the soldiers who pulled the trigger of criminal consequence, only admonishing the troops’ behavior as “bordering on the reckless.” As we talk with John, who lost his own brother to this “recklessness,” we’ll get an emotional, personal perspective of this defining moment of Northern Irish history, and of the scars that it has left today on the people of Derry.

We’ll also learn about how some Derry residents continue to fight for justice for those who lost their lives that day, and the progress that they’ve made. At the turn of the century, another inquiry was opened into the massacre, and in 2016, charges were filed against a single soldier—given the pseudonym “Solider F”—for the murder of two of the victims, and the attempted murder of five others.

John will present his perspective of these events for about 20 minutes, after which we’ll have 30 minutes to ask questions of our own. You might inquire about how feelings amongst the locals have changed over the decades since the massacre, or how opinions are divided over the continued pursuit for criminal justice. We’ll end our conversation at around 12:30pm, then break for lunch.

Lunch: On your own in Derry. Perhaps you'll seek out homemade vegetable soup and wheaten bread with the help of your Trip Experience Leader.

Afternoon: You’re free to explore on your own until about 2:30pm, then we'll transfer to Donegal by private motorcoach, crossing back over the border from Northern Ireland to Ireland. Once we arrive around 4pm, we’ll check in to our hotel. Typical rooms include wireless Internet, a flat-screen, an ensuite bathroom, and coffee- and tea-making facilities. On-site amenities may include a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant, depending on which hotel you stay in. Afterwards, you’ll have about two hours of free time.

Dinner: At a local traditional pub around 6pm, featuring locally sourced seafood. The pub is a popular meeting spot for local residents, and is a great opportunity to mingle and enjoy people-to-people interactions.

Evening: You may spend the evening as you choose—perhaps strolling through the streets, enjoying a beer at a local pub, or relaxing at the hotel.

DAY 9

Donegal • A Day in the Life of a Donegal tweed weaver and Heather Hill Farm
Destination: Donegal
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Mill Park Hotel or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today we will enjoy our NEW A Day in the Life experience and get an up-close look at life in rural Donegal by spending time with the people who call this rustic region home. First we’ll meet a weaver to learn about the skill and care that makes Donegal Tweed some of the finest in the world. Then, we travel to a farm to experience day-to-day life in the countryside, and about the owner’s vision for a new, sustainable system of Irish agriculture. Read more about this activity below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a selection of local and international dishes.

Morning: At 8:45am, our private motorcoach departs for St. John’s Point, a rustic peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. At around 9:15am, we’ll arrive in the small village of Dunkineely, where we’ll begin our NEW A Day in the Life experience and get to know some of the local people who live and work in this tranquil setting.

First, we’ll meet Cyndi Graham, a local hand weaver who runs a weaving business with her mother in a small thatch-roof cottage near her home. We’ll spend about an hour with Cyndi, and watch as she works on her 150-year-old loom, crafting her tweed goods by hand according to long-standing Donegal traditions. You’ll even have the opportunity to take a turn on the loom yourself, for a deeper appreciation of the finesse and skill that Cyndi and her mother pour into their work every day. We’ll also enjoy a conversation about what it’s like to be one of the only women to participate in the male-dominated Donegal tweed industry, as well as the tight-knit community that exists in St. John’s Point, one of the most sparsely-populated places in Ireland—Dunkineely has a population of just 300 people.

At around 10:30am, we bid the Graham family farewell and our A Day in the Life experience continues as we ride by private motorcoach for 20 minutes to nearby Heather Hill Farm. Here, we’ll meet Cyndi’s friend and neighbor, Cathal Mooney, and his sisters, Mary and Bridget. We’ll hear about the unusual path that led Cathal to become a farmer; after obtaining a university degree and spending some time abroad in Australia, he found himself drawn back home to Donegal. After spending a few years working in the food industry, he became concerned about the ethics and sustainability of Irish agriculture—and decided to do something about it himself.

Heather Hill is a young farm, established in 2019, but Cathal intends to keep it in the family for generations. As we join him on a tour of the grounds, helping to feed the animals and tend to the crops, we’ll hear how every aspect of the farm is designed to promote sustainability, from the soil in the ground, to the Native Irish Black Bees in the apiary, and the tight social and economic bonds that Heather Hill maintains with the Donegal community. After our tour, we’ll head to the kitchen where we’ll help Mary and Bridget prepare lunch.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy lunch with the Mooney family on the farm, helping to prepare it with our own hands using locally-grown ingredients. As we enjoy our meal together, we’ll taste the difference that sustainable agriculture makes, and enjoy more opportunity to get to know our gracious hosts and learn about what life is like for a farmer in Ireland.

Afternoon: At around 2pm, we’ll board our private motorcoach and return to Donegal. We’ll arrive at around 2:30pm and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Perhaps you will visit Donegal Castle for a tour or wander through the ruins of the Donegal Friary.

Dinner: On your own in Donegal. You might choose to enjoy a dish of lamb or seafood at a local restaurant.

Evening: You are free to explore more of the area this evening. You may choose to join your fellow travelers at the bar where you can grab a drink and reminisce about your discoveries thus far. Or, you may retire to your room to get some sleep.

DAY 10

Donegal • Optional Glenveagh National Park tour
Destination: Donegal
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Mill Park Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a selection of local and international dishes.

Morning: Today, you have a full day to explore Donegal. Your Trip Experience Leader will be happy to provide suggestions for activities to fill your free time.

Or, join us on our optional Glenveagh National Park tour, during which we'll explore the castle and gardens left behind by the infamous John Adair with a local guide. We’ll depart the hotel around 8:45am for a 1.5-hour drive to the park. We’ll begin with a visit to the Glenveagh Castle on a guided tour. Because of the circumstances surrounding its inception—namely that John Adair forcefully evicted hundreds of residents in order to build his own personal hunting estate—Glenveagh Park was shrouded in a veil of infamy for quite some time. And though the castle was built under his watch, Adair would never live to see his dream fully realized, as he died suddenly in 1885 before completing his estate. Today, the castle’s architecture and lavish style evoke the Victorian tradition that inspired its construction.

Lunch: On your own. Perhaps you'll enjoy a seafood chowder with fresh catch of the day. Travelers who joined the Optional Tour will enjoy lunch in the castle tearoom around 12:30pm.

Afternoon: Free time continues into the afternoon. Travelers on the Optional Tour will enjoy a 1-hour guided walk through the park, witnessing the surrounding mountains and lakes. As a member of a local mountain rescue team, our local guide is well-versed in the region's flora and fauna. In our conversations during the tour, we'll get great insight into the park's history, current conservation efforts, and more. We’ll return to the hotel around 4:45pm, where you'll have about 1.5 hours of free time before dinner.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm in our hotel.

Evening: You are free to explore more of the area this evening. You may choose to join your fellow travelers at the bar where you can grab a drink and reminisce about your discoveries thus far. Or, you may retire to your room to get some sleep.

Glenveagh National Park - $105/person

This optional tour takes us to the enchanting Glenveagh National Park, where we’ll explore the park’s gardens, surrounding mountains, and lakes; and its crowning centerpiece: the magnificent Glenveagh Castle. Because of the circumstances surrounding its inception—namely that John Adair forcefully evicted hundreds of residents in order to build his own personal hunting estate—Glenveagh Park was shrouded in a veil of infamy for quite some time. And though the castle was built under his watch, Adair would never live to see his pipe dream fully realized, as he died suddenly in 1885 before completing his estate. Today the castle still stands, and its well-preserved, lavish architecture—and the idyllic beauty throughout the entire park grounds—evoke images in visitors’ minds of the Victorian retreats that inspired its design. The cost of this optional tour includes lunch.

DAY 11

Explore Drumcliff • Controversial Topic: Lost children & mass grave of Tuam with historian Catherine Corless • Connemara
Destination: Clifden
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Clifden Station House or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today we meet a local historian for a conversation about a Controversial Topic: the lost children of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, where scores of young children died anonymously in the negligent care of an order of Catholic nuns. We'll learn about her work to uncover the truth by obtaining the death certificates of 796 children and advocating for DNA testing to allow mothers to give their children a proper burial. Read more about this activity below.

Activity Note: Today will be a particularly long travel day. Our transfer from Donegal to Connemara will take approximately eight hours, with several included short stops and a 2-hour stop along the way.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring a selection of local and international dishes.

Morning: Around 8:30am, we head to Connemara by private motorcoach, stopping first around 9:45am at Drumcliff cemetery, where poet W.B. Yeats was laid to rest in 1939. His burial was marked with a plaque bearing his words: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by.” We will have around 30 minutes to explore, then around 10:15am, we'll depart for Tuam.

Lunch: We arrive in the town of Tuam around noon, where we’ll stop at the Corralea Court Hotel for an included lunch at the hotel restaurant.

Afternoon: Around 1pm, we'll be joined at the hotel after lunch by the historian Catherine Corless, where we’ll meet her—an experience made possible by O.A.T.’s local connections in the region—to learn about a Controversial Topic: the abuses of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, where the skeletal remains of 120 children were found in an unmarked mass grave in 1975.

Ms. Corless—who grew up in Tuam and passed by the home every day on her walk to school, unaware of what was happening inside—will share her story of how she began the investigation that revealed to the world the abuse that had taken place. During our conversation, which will last about an hour and 15 minutes, we’ll hear about how she went door-to-door in the town, interviewing residents about their knowledge of what took place within the home’s walls; how she obtained the death certificates of 796 children—some whose remains were found in Tuam, and others who were secretly buried elsewhere—and advocated for DNA testing to allow mothers to give their children a proper burial; and how her actions ultimately convinced the government to launch an official investigation in 2014, which remains open today. Ms. Corless’ tireless efforts earned her the Irish Person of the Year award in 2018.

After our conversation, we'll walk to the site where Bon Secours once stood, where we’ll see the remains of the crumbling walls and visit the location of the mass grave where the babies of Tuam were found. We'll have some time to ponder the site on our own before being joined again by Ms. Corless to learn about the history of the dark deeds that transpired here. Between 1925 and 1961, an order of Catholic nuns operated a maternity home in Tuam, ostensibly as a safe place for unwed mothers to give birth, and for their children to have a chance at a good life. The community was rocked in 1975 when a pair of 12-year old boys stumbled upon a mass grave in the home’s septic tank, containing skeletal remains of scores of infants and young children, buried anonymously and unceremoniously.

These revelations shocked the country, and deeply undermined the community’s faith in the Catholic Church as a moral institution. The Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, was “greatly shocked to learn of the scale of the practice,” and described learning about the children who died as a “body blow.” The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference apologized for the church’s role in the scandal, and urged their parishes to mark the graves of home’s former young residents with the appropriate respect and honor.

Take advantage of this opportunity to ask Ms. Corless any questions you may have about this scandalous period of Irish history—such as how much of the community suspected the home of wrongdoing, and how she has seen local people’s opinions of the Catholic Church change during her time living in Tuam.

We depart Tuam at around 2:15pm and continue on to Clifden, a coastal town in the Connemara region, arriving at around 3:30pm. Along the way, we can enjoy views of classic stone walls, sprawling greenery, and the Atlantic coast. We'll enjoy a stroll in the village we'll be staying in with our Trip Experience Leader before checking into our hotel. The hotel is located close to one of the six great national parks in Ireland. Depending on the hotel, it may feature on-site amenities, such as a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and restaurant. Typical rooms have a television and a private, en suite bathroom.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm at a local restaurant. This three-course meal will consist of an appetizer like homemade soup and bread or fish cakes, a main entrée which may be salmon or chicken with vegetables, and a dessert such as pavlova with fruit or fudge cake.

Evening: On your own—you’re free to indulge in more local favorites, sit with locals in one of the many locally-owned pubs, simply relax at the hotel or write down your impressions in a travel journal.

DAY 12

Connemara • Sheep farm visit • Kylemore Estate & Abbey
Destination: Clifden
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Clifden Station House or similar

Activity Note: Today's exploration of Connemara involves a 2.5-mile hike. If you choose to participate, you must be able to walk this far unassisted. If you choose to opt out of the hike, you may take a free shuttle bus to the abbey.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring Irish and American options.

Morning: We’ll depart our hotel around 8:30am for a 45-minute private motorcoach ride to explore Connemara today. Referred to as a “savage beauty” by Oscar Wilde, sparsely populated Connemara offers plenty of natural scenery. While our day may be fast-paced, we'll see a patchwork of bogs, lakes, and mountains adorning the interior peninsula, while secluded beaches, coves, and seaside villages hug the coastline.

We begin our discoveries around 9:15am with a visit to a sheep farm. With a group as small as ours, we'll have the unique opportunity to enjoy a conversation with a local farmer about life in rural Ireland, including the struggles that modern farming families are facing. With little support from the government, and the industry becoming less lucrative than past years, many farmers are having to diversify their skills and rely on professions outside of just their farms. In addition to getting firsthand insight into these issues, we'll also get to witness a sheep dog demonstration. We'll observe as a trained dog acts as a nimble shepherd, working in harmony with its human master.

Around 10:45am, we’ll continue on to the Kylemore Abbey, arriving around 11am. Built in 1868, then gifted to the local monastic order in 1920, this Benedictine monastery sits on a 1,000-acre estate, adjacent to a 6-acre, walled Victorian garden.

Lunch: Included at the Kylemore Estate restaurant. Because we will use vouchers provided by our Trip Experience Leader, you may eat lunch whenever you choose during the visit.

Afternoon: We’ll have free time to explore the estate’s expansive gardens, winding our way through trails flanked by woods and water on either side. Then, we'll enjoy a visit to the Abbey, whose restored rooms reveal tales both romantic and tragic, and whose rich, complex history predates its use as a spiritual and educational center by half a century. We'll depart by private motorcoach around 2pm and arrive back at our hotel at approximately 3:15pm.

The rest of your afternoon can be spent relaxing in your room or exploring the area. Perhaps you may visit the Blaithin de Sachy Art Gallery, which celebrates Ireland through the visual arts.

Dinner: On your own—feel free to take one of your Trip Experience Leader’s recommendations for a restaurant to try. Or, try lamb shank, seasonal vegetables, and champ (mashed potatoes mixed with milk, butter and scallions).

Evening: Your evening is free to enjoy Clifden, an area famous for its music. Or, you can return to the hotel to enjoy a nightcap at the bar or retire early in anticipation of tomorrow’s discoveries.

DAY 13

Galway • Grand Circle Foundation visit: Haven Horizons domestic abuse charity • County Clare • Meet local musicians
Destination: Ennistymon
Meals included: B
Accommodations: Falls Hotel & Spa or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today’s discoveries include a visit to Haven Horizons, a NEW Grand Circle Foundation-supported charity dedicated to combatting domestic abuse in County Clare. We’ll learn how the organization helps to implement educational and judicial policies to raise awareness and end the cycle of violence, and how it helps domestic abuse survivors develop the skills they need to live independent, fulfilling lives. We’ll also have the chance to speak to some of the women who volunteer here to see firsthand how your travel dollars are helping to make a difference in people’s lives. Read more about this activity below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring Irish and American options.

Morning: Around 9am, we’ll board our private motorcoach and transfer to County Clare. We'll stop in Galway around 10:30am for a 30-minute walk around the city with our Trip Experience Leader, followed by an hour and a half of free time. The city's compact center spans both sides of the River Corrib. In the center of Eyre Square stands the Quincentennial Fountain, constructed in 1984 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Royal Charter granted by King Richard III that created Galway as an independent city-state.

Nearby are some of the oldest streets in Galway, narrow winding lanes that curve in and around old wooden buildings, often meandering off toward the Corrib and the docks. Yet turn a corner and you will find modern Galway—certainly one of the liveliest cities in Europe. Artists and musicians crowd the sidewalks and almost every pub seems to offer live music.

Lunch: On your own in Galway, around 11am.

Afternoon: At around 12:30pm, we’ll board our private motorcoach once again and ride to Ennis, arriving at around 1:45pm where we’ll visit Haven Horizons—a NEW Grand Circle Foundation Site dedicated to preventing domestic abuse and helping survivors develop the skills and resources needed to lead independent, self-sufficient lives. During your visit, you’ll see how your travel dollar helps make a difference in the lives of the women the organization supports.

Haven Horizons’ story began in 1993 after a chance meeting between its founders, Mary Fitzgerald and Colette Redington, who bonded over their desire to help women and families harmed by domestic abuse in their community. In rural County Clare, many households still abide by traditional gender roles, where women work as homemakers, subservient to their husbands and dependent on their paychecks for their daily needs. As a result, many women in abusive relationships feel trapped and voiceless; without the skills, community support, and resources required to leave their husbands and build an independent life, these women feel they have no choice but to stay and endure.

We’ll see for ourselves how Haven Horizons is helping to uplift these women during our hour and a half-long visit at the charity. Depending on who’s available, we may be met by Mary or Colette, its founders, or Madeleine McAleer, one of the organization’s directors. They’ll tell us about the work that Haven Horizons does, and take us to the on-site charity shop, which the organization operates to help support itself, and to give local women an avenue to develop their skills. The shop is focused on recycling household goods to keep waste out of the landfills, and offers a range of clothes, shoes, jewelry, books, furniture, and other everyday items. We’ll meet a few of its workers, and spend some time speaking to them about how Haven Horizons has made a difference in their lives.

Haven Horizons uses the funds that it raises to support the survivors of domestic abuse through community outreach and emotional support, and offers courses and adult education to help women learn valuable skills and qualify for employment so they can make a living on their own. Additionally, Haven Horizons is focused on working with the community, police, public agencies, and other institutions to promote prevention and educational policies to help raise awareness about—and ultimately break—the cycle of intergenerational domestic violence.

We’ll spend about an hour and a quarter talking to our host and the women working in the shop. Before you depart, you'll be invited to leave your mark by contributing to an art piece hosted at the facility, a collaborative project designed to foster a message of solidarity with Haven Horizons' vision.

We’ll conclude our visit at around 3pm, followed by about an hour to explore Ennis with your Trip Experience Leader. We will then depart around 4pm and ride by private motorcoach to Ennistymon, arriving around 4:30pm to check into our hotel. Located in the small market town of Ennistymon, with a population of just 1,000, your hotel will offer convenient access to all the town has to offer, with amenities that include an on-site restaurant and pub. Typical rooms feature a TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, wireless Internet, and a hair dryer.

We'll join our Trip Experience Leader for a short orientation walk at around 5pm. Then, around 5:30pm we'll walk to a local community center, where we’ll meet local musicians for a chat, and to hear them play traditional Irish instruments. In our small group, we'll get to ask them about their passion for music, and how they use their talents to keep Irish traditions, culture, and language alive. This visit will last about one hour.

Dinner: On your own around 6:30pm—your Trip Experience Leader will be happy to provide a recommendation. Consider seeking out traditional Irish cuisine, such as stew, bacon with cabbage (also known as boiled dinner), or seafood chowder with salmon and mussels and served with brown bread.

Evening: You have the freedom to explore on your own this evening. Perhaps you’ll stroll past the town’s shops or take advantage of the hotel’s amenities.

DAY 14

Explore County Clare • Optional Aran Islands Tour
Destination: Ennistymon
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Falls Hotel & Spa or similar

Activity Note: Today's optional Aran Islands tour may be cancelled if weather conditions prohibit a visit to the islands. If this tour is not possible, we will instead give you the option to visit Bunratty Castle, where you will enjoy a short tour and get insight into life in an old Irish village.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring traditional hot and cold breakfast items.

Morning: Today, you'll enjoy a full free day to explore County Clare. Perhaps you'll visit the Ennis Friary. Founded in the 13th century, the Friary boasts dozens of 15th- and 16th-century limestone sculptures, including one of St. Francis displaying stigmata, as well as scenes from the Passion story.

Or, perhaps you'll join us for our optional Aran Islands tour. We’ll depart the hotel by private motorcoach around 9:30am and drive to Doolin, where we board a ferry around 10am to cross the water to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the islands. The ferry ride will take 35-45 minutes. The 260 permanent residents of Inis Oirr are very friendly and welcoming and still speak Gaelic and practice Celtic customs in their daily lives. Upon arrival, we’ll take a guided tour of the island with a local guide who is a resident here. We’ll ride over limestone pavements and explore the rich and diverse landscape.

Lunch: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader can provide recommendations on the best restaurants and which traditional dishes you should try in County Clare, such as Irish root soup or shepherd’s pie. Those who took our Optional Tour will gather for lunch and dessert in a local café at around 11:45am.

Afternoon: For travelers who remained in County Clare, free time continues into the afternoon. Those who took the Optional Tour can continue their explorations on the island. Afterwards, we will have some free time until taking the ferry back to Doolin around 4:45pm and arriving back at the hotel around 5pm. Upon arrival, you'll have about 1.5 hours to relax in your room or enjoy the hotel's amenities before dinner.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm, we'll enjoy a dinner of local specialties at our hotel.

Evening: Following dinner around 8:30pm, you’ll have the remainder of the evening on your own. You can gather with fellow travelers at the hotel bar, take an evening stroll, or return early to your room before our departure tomorrow.

Aran Islands - $115/person

At the mouth of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands enchant visitors with reminders of a way of life from long ago. Today, we board a ferry to cross the water to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the islands, but still large enough to be home to a three-story 16th-century castle and monuments from the Bronze age. After we explore the island on a guided tour, we’ll lunch together before our return to the mainland. If weather conditions prohibit a visit to the islands, we will instead give you the option to visit Bunratty Castle, where you will enjoy a short tour and get insight into life in an old Irish village.

Please Note: This tour is weather-dependent.

DAY 15

 

Discover the Cliffs of Moher • Gaelic Games
Destination: Ennistymon
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Falls Hotel & Spa or similar

Activity Note: Typical Irish weather offers low visibility year-round, and it is not uncommon for coastal views, including the Cliffs of Moher, to be shrouded in fog.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring traditional hot and cold breakfast items.

Morning: Around 9am, we'll depart by private motorcoach for one of Ireland's most iconic landscapes: the Cliffs of Moher. We'll arrive around 9:45am. Estimated at about 300 million years old, the cliffs have been incorporated into local folklore since the Celtic Age. For five miles, the cliffs outline the Atlantic, rising 702 feet at their highest point. Irish weather can be fickle, but on the rare cloudless day, you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, and the mountains of Connemara from here. We’ll spend about 1.75 hours here, including a guided walk with our Trip Experience Leader, and time to stroll the cliffs and stop by the visitor’s center on our own.

During a stop around 11am, we'll visit the local Gaelic Athletic Association (“GAA”) club in Lisdoonvarna and delve into Irish citizens' favorite pastime: sports. From Gaelic football to hurling (an Irish sport played with a stick and ball), we'll learn about some of the games that so brightly color Ireland's culture during a short conversation with an employee of the sports club. Then we’ll strap on helmets and practice playing and using the specialized equipment.

Lunch: Around noon, we will enjoy a traditional Gaelic club lunch of sandwiches and buns made by a player’s mother.

Afternoon: We’ll have some time to explore Lisdoonvarna independently before boarding the private motorcoach at 12:30pm to return to Ennistymon. We’ll arrive at the hotel at around 1:30pm, then have the rest of the afternoon to relax or explore independently before dinner. Before we dine, our Trip Experience Leader will join us at around 5:30pm at the hotel for a Farewell Briefing.

Dinner: We’ll meet around 6pm for our Farewell Dinner at the hotel to make a toast to our small group and Ireland discoveries. Sláinte means "cheers" in Gaelic, which you might use when you toast to the discoveries you've made.

Evening: Your free evening continues. You may choose to continue walking through Ennis or grab a seat in a pub for a beer, and perhaps you’ll listen to a traditional Irish musical performance.

DAY 16

Return to the U.S. or begin post-trip extension
Meals included: B
Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring traditional hot and cold breakfast items. For those departing early, a boxed breakfast is available to take on your way.

Morning: You will transfer by private motorcoach to the airport for your flight home, depending on your air itinerary. This transfer takes between 25 and 35 minutes, depending on traffic. Or, begin your Dingle & Killarney: County Kerry’s Rugged Coastline or New! The Heart & Soul of Ireland: The Aran Islands, Tipperary & County Cork post-trip extension this morning.

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