2020 Tour to Ireland
About the tour
An Turas go hÉirinn
Join us in Ireland in 2020!
$1999 per person sharing ($1899 for members of the Friends of Irish Studies)
$299 Single Traveler Supplement
A $300 deposit is due at the time of registration to hold your place.
Cairde Léann na hÉireann – The Friends of Irish Studies
Join the Friends of Irish Studies on a nine-day tour of Ireland this coming summer. This is a journey home, to the place where it all began for many of you. You will see the sites, meet and talk with the people, and immerse yourself in the culture. This tour is about reconnecting with the past and with the soul of a people whose descendants live all over the world. The tour runs from June 18 to June 27, is led by Dr. Traolach Ó Ríordáin, Professor of Irish language and Literature at the University of Montana, and is limited to 20 people.
2020 Tour Itinerary
June 18: Ag Tabhairt fé Éirinn/Heading to Ireland
Today we leave the United States and head across the broad Atlantic to Ireland. So say good-bye to Uncle Sam and hello to Mother Ireland
June 19: Fáilte Romhat go hÉirinn/Welcome to Ireland
This morning we arrive in Shannon, County Clare on the beautiful west coast of Ireland. Pick up your bags, proceed through passport control and meet your genial host in the arrivals area where you’ll receive a nice warm cup of Irish tea and a heavily buttered scone! We’ll board the coach and then off to Galway - the “City of the Tribes” and gateway to the west - via the Burren. The Burren [from the Irish word “Boireann’ meaning rocky place], is an unpolluted and unspoiled expanse of limestone rock that covers over 100 square miles. The barren appearance belies the richness of life here. The Burren is home to a diverse ecosystem of Arctic, Mediterranean and Alpine plants that extends into the Atlantic to form the Aran Islands. Our first stop will be at the Cliffs of Moher to take in the majestic beauty of the cliffs and look out upon the Aran Islands. We will have lunch here before heading north to see Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of the most iconic and frequently photographed sites in Ireland. Meandering along we will eventually arrive in Loughrea, a historic and rural town, known for its hospitality and love of hurling! It’s here where we will spend the first night and experience the hospitality of the people.
Dinner and Overnight: Loughrea
June 20: An Turas Go Conamara/The Trip to Connemara
Today we make our west into the rugged and majestic beauty of Connemara. Our first stop will be in Ceathrú Rua, a little Irish-speaking village on the western Atlantic. Here we pick up our friends, Breandán and Máire, who have forgotten more about this area than most will ever know! We go west to Ros Muc, and the little cottage by the sea where a revolution began. This was the home of Pádraig Pearse, Irish language revivalists and leader of the Easter Rising. From here we continue west, learning about the topography and history of the area. We stop in Cliftden to enjoy lunch and to stretch our legs. After lunch we visit Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s most iconic and most frequently photographed buildings. A little ways further north is Ireland’s only fjord, Killary Harbor, and the village of Leenane where the film, The Field, was made. One the subjects of films, our next stop will be the village of Cong, the location where The Quiet Man, that great Irish American movie directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was filmed. It was here also, in the ruins of a 13th century Augustine abbey, that the last High-King of Ireland, Rory O’Connor spent his dying days. Nearby is Ashford Castle, a five-star luxury hotel originally built as a fortress for the Burke family. We will walk the grounds of Ashford Castle before heading to Galway City. We will have an evening in Galway before returning to our accommodations in Loughrea.
June 21: Cuairt ar Chluain Mhic Nóis/Visit to Clonmacnoise
A fine hearty Irish breakfast will serve your constitution well for the next stage of our adventure. Today we travel northeast to the monastery of Clonmacnoise. Established by St. Ciarán in the 6th century this monastery quickly grew to become a major centre of religious and intellectual life renowned throughout Europe. Its importance declined from the 11th century onwards as Ireland moved from a monastic to a diocesan church. It is still the most well-known of Ireland’s ancient monasteries. Leaving Clonmacnoise we head to Aughrim, the scene of the bloodiest battle ever fought in Ireland when the forces of William of Orange defeated those of James II on July 12, 1690. This battle ended the reign of the Stuart monarchs and established the House of Orange on the throne of England. Our afternoon itinerary takes us to a peat bog where we learn about harvesting and using peat, Ireland traditional source of fuel. We leave the bog and go to a dairy farm to watch the cows being milked and to feed the calves. Nothing like country life to sharpen an appetite, so we leave the farm to spend the evening with an Irish family, eating, drinking, and sharing our stories.
Dinner and Overnight: Loughrea
June 22: Ó Dheas Don Daingean/Southwards to Dingle
A fine hearty Irish breakfast will serve your constitution well for the next stage of our adventure. It is southwards we go through Galway and west Clare, over the Shannon Estuary, and westwards to the beautiful seaside town of Dingle. Our first stop will be at Coole House and Gardens, home to Lady Gregory and inspiration for the great Irish writers of the Celtic Revival. Yeats, Synge, Shaw and many others visited here consulted the Muse, and carved their initials in the copper beach tree that still stands today. You can photograph this tree, walk the grounds at your ease, and get a sense of what inspired some of Ireland’s greatest writers. Leaving Coole, we travel back 14 centuries to the the impressive Kilmacduagh Churches and Round Tower. First built in the 7th century, Kilmacduagh is home to the tallest round tower in Ireland and stands as witness to the golden days of monastic culture in Ireland. Leaving Kilmacduagh, we go south to the beautiful village of Adare where we stop to eat lunch and to relax. Once we have eaten our fill, we head for Dingle and the little Irish-speaking village of Ballyferriter.
Dinner and Overnight: Ceann Sibéal Hotel - Ballyferriter
June 23: Corca Dhuibhne/The Dingle Peninsula
Today will be spent savoring the delights of the Dingle Peninsula, a place celebrated in story, song and poetry for centuries. Our morning will begin with a trip to Slea Head and its panoramic views of Dingle Bay, South Kerry, the Skellig Rocks, and the Blasket Islands. Our first main stop will be the Blasket Heritage Centre in Dunquin, followed by a visit to Gallarus and the ancient monastic site of Kilmalkedar. We return early to Dingle, leaving time to walk the town, visit the shops, restaurants and bars of this popular destination. June 23rd is midsummer’s night, Oíche Shan Sheáin, and we don’t want to miss the evening’s festivities. It could be a long night!
Dinner and Overnight: Ceann Sibéal Hotel - Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry
June 24: Contae Chorcaí/County Cork
We depart Dingle and travel at a leisurely pace to the town and Lakes of Killarney. We will visit Ross Castle and spend some time walking the grounds of Muckross House. This is where we will have lunch before making our way into Rebel Cork. Our stop will be at an old monastic site, St. Gobnait’s Well in Ballyvourney. The church, with its mixture of Christian and pre-Christian icons, testifies to the incorporation of the old into the new and the graveyard surrounding the church holds the bones of some of the greatest singers, storytellers and poets ever recorded. It is at places like St. Gobnait’s the one comes into contact with the ancestral spirit and soul of Ireland. We head from here to Béal na Blath where the man who broke the power of the English in Ireland, Michael Collins, died in an ambush on August 22, 1922. Many have claimed the hopes and aspirations of Ireland died with Collins on that day. I leave it to you to make up your own minds on that question. Having said that, there is no denying that Béal na Blath has become a place sacred to Irish nationalists, a spiritual site that draws hundreds every year to commemorate the life and death of Collins. From here we head to Blarney where we spend the next two nights.
Dinner and Overnight: Blarney Wollen Mills, Cork
June 25: Oirthear Chorcaí/East Cork
East Cork was possibly the last place in Ireland most emigrants saw before embarking for a new life on foreign shores. It is here that the town of Cobh (formerly known as Queenstown) is located. This was the main port of departure for the United States. It was at Cobh that the ill-fated Titantic made its final stop. Cobh is also the resting place of the victims recovered after the sinking of the Lusitania. We will visit Cobh Heritage Center and then walk part of this beautiful seaside town, stopping at the Lusitania Monument and St. Colman’s Cathedral. We will also have lunch here. Leaving Cobh we head to the Midleton Distillery, where all the spirits come out of a bottle! Here is where such well-known liquors as Jameson, Paddy, Power’s, Redbreast and many more are distilled. Everybody who takes the tour leaves feeling much, much better about life!
Overnight: Blarney Wollen Mills, Cork
June 26: Ag Filleadh ar an gClár/Going back to County Clare
This morning we begin our day in Blarney, with a visit to the Woolen Mills or the castle. Some of you may want to kiss the stone; others may wish to do some last minute shopping - it will be up to you. The grounds around the castle are beautiful and, weather permitting, make for a great walk. After this, we head for Bunratty in county Clare where we will tour the folk park and round off the evening with a farewell celebration of Irish music, dance and food.
Overnight and Dinner: Bunratty Castle Hotel
June 27: Slán Abhaile/Safe Home
Make sure you have all your belongings, your bags, gifts and passports because today you leave for home. The bus will take you to the airport two hours before your flight and bid you a tearful farewell. We know that you will return again to the “Land of Hundred Thousands Welcomes” and the home of your ancestors in the not-too-distant future.
Accommodations Confirmed: 8 Hotel Nights
June 19, 20 & 21: Loughrea, Co. Galway – Dinner included June 19 and 21
June 22 & 23: Ballyferriter, Dingle – Dinner included June 22
June 24 & 25: Cork – Dinner included June 24
June 26: Bunratty – Dinner at Bunratty Folk Park included
Clare: The Burren; The Cliffs of Moher; and Bunratty
Galway: Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Clifden, Coole Park, Kilmacduagh
Kerry: Lakes of Killarney, Muckross House
Dingle: Gallarus, Kilmalkedar, Dunquin, Dingle Town
Cork: Ballyvourney; Béal na Blath; Blarney, Cork City, Cobh, Midleton
Limerick: Adare, Newcastlewest
Transportation and Other
Luxury air-conditioned Coach throughout
Professional Irish Driver Guide throughout
All Hotel Taxes and service charges
Hotel Porterage for 1 bag
Reservations require a $300 non-refundable deposit by Friday, April 3, 2020