Scotland and Ireland Spring Discovery Tour
An amazing ramble through Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Featuring castles, pubs, tearooms, spectacular scenery and delightful villages.
May 1st - 17th, 2023
A small intimate tour of Scotland and Ireland limited to 10 people in order to provide a more personal experience. In keeping the tour size small we are able to take advantage of accommodation, restaurant and sightseeing options that would not be available to a larger group. With a small tour size we can veer off the main tourist areas and get a real feel for these warm wonderful countries. We will not rush you from venue to venue and each tour is designed to spend as little time on the minibus as possible. You may find yourself staying in a delightful city guest house, a warm country house hotel or farmhouse and a 200 year old coaching Inn all in the same visit.
Highlights include Ennis, Kilrush, Doolin, the Burren, Poulnabrone Burial Dolmen, Galway and Galway Bay, Cong and Ashford Castle Afternoon Tea, Sligo, Boyle Abbey, Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Parke's Castle, Donegal and Donegal Castle, Walled City of Derry, Dundeverick Castle, Dunluce Castle, the Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast, Belfast, Titanic Exhibit, Larges, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, The Trossachs, Doune Castle, the Falls of Dochart, Glen Lyon, the Fortingall Yew, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl Distillery, Blair Castle, Highland Wildlife Safari, Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, the Kingdom of Fife, St. Monan's Kirk Dunfermline Abbey, Scone Palace and so much more!
Full Irish or Scottish breakfast each morning and all meals as indicated in itinerary. All accommodations. Guided minibus tour with luggage handling. All sightseeing including any entrance fees. All taxes and service charges and no hidden costs!
$8495US per person.
$1295 Single Supplement. All singles filled.
$500 per person deposit.
Pre-tour - April 30th - Arrive into Dublin International Airport and make your way to our accommodation in the heart of Dublin where you will have the day to get adjusted to the time change and relax before the tour starts the following morning. Overnight Dublin.
Day 1 - May 1st - We will meet this morning at our Dublin City Hotel for a short orientation and then we will see the sights of the city aboard an Open Top Bus on Dublin’s most popular Hop-On Hop-Off Tour. You will see attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, and Dublin Zoo, or really discover the true nature of Dublin at the city’s hidden gems like the Little Museum of Dublin, Epic The Irish Emigration Museum, Windmill Lane Recording Stuidios, the Jeanie Johnston, Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Marsh’s Library beside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and many more. Enjoy views of the city’s stunning Georgian Architecture, City Parks, Monuments, as well as the gorgeous Phoenix Park on WiFi-enabled open-top double-decker buses while listening to the best tour guides in Dublin. We will take a break in the afternoon to Board our Vintage Routemaster Bus for a nostalgic journey through the city with 1950s jazz music as we enjoy a Classic Afternoon Tea. You will have the rest of the day to explore Dublin at your leisure and then later on we will gather at our hotel for our Welcoming Dinner. Dinner and Overnight Dublin. (B,D)
Day 2 - May 2nd - We will depart this morning from Dublin and make our way to the west coast of Ireland. Our first stop will be in Roscrea to visit Roscrea Castle and Damer House in the heart of County Tipperary. Roscrea is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and the magnificent stone motte castle dates from the 1280s. It was used as a barracks from 1798, housing 350 soldiers, and later served as a school, a library and even a sanatorium. Sharing the castle grounds is Damer House, named for local merchant John Damer, who came into possession of the castle in the eighteenth century. The house is a handsome example of pre-Palladian architecture. We next stop in Limerick for Afternoon Tea before making our way to the lovely village of Ennis on a bend in the River Fergus is the capital of County Clare. It’s an historical town and is certainly one of Clare’s most characterful and picturesque centres – with its narrow, winding streets, historical buildings and busy market town atmosphere. Many houses and shop fronts line the streets along with the courthouse and cathedral – all of which make up the unique character of Ennis. We then get settled into our accommodation before meeting up for Dinner. Dinner and Overnight Ennis. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - May 3rd - This morning we make our way into The Burren National Park, a unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and Alpine Plants rare to Ireland, grow side by side. There are more than 700 species of flowering plants here, roughly three-quarters of Ireland’s native flora. Our first visit will be to Caherconnell Stone Fort, where from generation to generation, Stone Lined Pathways and Drystone Walls have been crafted with care. The ancient pathways will guide you around this prehistoric site as archaeologists work to unearth the secrets held within their magnificent walls. While here we will also have a Sheepdog Demonstration which was created by the landowner, John Davoren to see the combined skills of the Border Collie and his master. Next we visit the Poulnabrone Dolmen Portal Tomb. The dolmen consists of a twelve foot, thin, slab- like, tabular capstone supported by two slender portal stones, which support the capstone. It is truly magnificent! We then make our way back to Ennis, situated at the heart of the county and is the capital of County Clare. You will afternoon free to find some lunch and do a bit of exploring before we make our way to Bunratty Castle for their Céilí in the Kitchen celebrating the very best in Irish song, music and dance. Dinner and Overnight Ennis. (B,D)
Day 4 - May 4th - This morning we travel north along the coast to eventually end up in Galway on Galway Bay. Here in the southern part of the Burren, limestone gives away to black shale and sandstone to form the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. Even when shrouded in mist, the Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking, rising to a height of 650 feet out of the sea and extending for 5 miles. We next stop in Doolin boasting some of the most breathtaking scenery in Ireland with a colourful and welcoming village, Doolin has something for everyone. Doolin is a vibrant place full of characters, stories, and experiences and we will take some time to experience them and let you find some lunch before we make our way to Lisdoonvarna, the Matchmaking Capitol of Ireland for a quick stop. Next we take a lovely drive along Galway Bay to Kinvarra and Dunguaire Castle, whose history lies at the heart of the Ireland’s Literary Revival in the early 20th century. It was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes Clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. We will have a tour of his restored 16th Century Tower House spectacularly sited on its rocky outcrop on the Shores of Galway Bay. After our tour we make it further around Galway Bay to Galway to get settled in before dinner. Pub Dinner and Overnight Beara near Galway. (B,D)
Day 5 - May 5th - We will spend some time taking in Galway this morning before we make our way north to Sligo. Galway is one of the brightest and most intriguing jewels of the West of Ireland. It marks the halfway point on the Wild Atlantic Way and has a wild and bohemian atmosphere while at the same time full of culture, artistry, exceptional food and music. We will also stop in the lovely village of Cong where the Quiet Man was filmed and where the great Irish writer Oscar Wilde spent a lot of his summer holidays as a youngster. It is a true delight and following our visit we make our way just a few minutes down the road to Ashford Castle to have their amazing Afternoon Tea! We then make our way to Boyle and Boyle Abbey, founded in the twelfth century by monks from Mellifont Abbey under the patronage of the local ruling family, the MacDermotts. It was one of the most powerful of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland and among the foremost in Connacht. It was partially destroyed during the 17th and 18th centuries when it was used to accommodate a military garrison, but Boyle Abbey nevertheless retains its ability to impress the visitor as one of the most formidable of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland. We then get checked into our accommodation before dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Sligo. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - May 6th - This morning we visit the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery. County Sligo is home to the largest and oldest collection of stone circles and dolmens known from neolithic Ireland. These are found at Carrowmore, a collection of burial monuments at the centre of the Cuil Iorra peninsula just west of Sligo town. The tombs are spread out over 1.5 square miles in the shadow of the Knocknarea and Misgaun Maeve(the name suggests that it was built for Maeve, the Iron Age queen of Connacht) with each monument standing on its own little eminence. The Carrowmore complex is located at the heart of the Cuil Iorra peninsula, a parcel of land bounded by water on three sides. Ballisodare Bay lies to the south, the Atlantic ocean to the west and Sligo Bay to the north. Lough Gill is to the east beyond Carns Hill, connected to the sea by the short shelly Sligo river, the Garavogue. After our visit we will take some time to investigate Sligo and also Stop for Afternoon Tea at Eala Bhán. This afternoon we take a lovely drive along the shores of Lough Gill before we visit Parke's Castle, a restored plantation castle of the early 17th century, picturesquely situated on the shores of the Lough. We then continue our drive around the Lough before we return to our accommodation before dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Sligo. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - May 7th - As we have taken over this entire Luxury Country House here in County Sligo, the first part of the day will be spent here in the house and its Private Estate of over 1,000 Acres. The house overlooks a 13th Century Lakeside Castle of the Knights Templar. The Perceval Family home since 1665, the present manor was redesigned in 1864 and enjoys the authentic and unpretentious luxury country house atmosphere. With 1,200 acres of gardens, farm, lake and parkland at your disposal, as well as the house itself, there is a wealth of space in which to relax and play. In the afternoon we make a trip into Sligo for Afternoon Tea before taking time to explore this lovely city. Nestled between majestic Benbulben Mountain to the north, ancient Knocknarea Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, beautiful Lough Gill to the east, and the rugged Ox Mountains to the south, Sligo is one of the most picturesque places in all of Ireland. The town straddles the Garavogue River where it meets Sligo Bay. It’s known for its literary heritage and rugged countryside. Ruined medieval Sligo Abbey has carved tombs and a 15th- century altar. Sligo County Museum displays memorabilia of local poet W.B. Yeats, Paintings and Stone Age Artefacts. You will be able to find some dinner in Sligo before we return home. Overnight near Sligo. (B,L)
Day 8 - May 8th - Our first stop this morning is Donegal and Donegal Castle. Built by the O'Donnell Chieftains in the 15th century, beside the River Eske, the Castle has extensive 17th century additions by Sir Basil Brooke. The Castle is furnished throughout and includes Persian rugs and French tapestries. Information panels chronicle the history of the Castle owners from the O'Donnell chieftains to the Brooke family. We will then explore Donegal and take time for you to find some lunch before continuing on north to Derry. Derry or Londonderry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. The Walls were built during the period 1613-1618 as defences for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately 1 mile in circumference, form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day. We will have a tour of the Walls and City of Derry before making our way to our accommodation to get settled in before dinner. Dinner and Overnight Northern Ireland. (B,D)
Day 9 - May 9th - This morning we make our way Belfast along the Causeway Coast with a first stop at the ruins of Dunseverick Castle. King Dunsobairce of Ireland built a fortress here in 1525BC to rule the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada, the location is named after him. Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited Dunseverick castle in the 5th century AD, where he baptized Olcán, a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland. The original stone fort that occupied the position was attacked by Viking raiders in 870AD. Fergus, the King of Dalriada and brother of the High King of Ireland, Murtagh MacErc used Dunseverick as the 500AD departure point from Ireland of the Lia Fail or coronation stone. Murtagh loaned it to Fergus for the latter's coronation in western Scotland part of which Fergus had settled as his sea-kingdom expanded. Our next stop is the Giants Causeway where 37,000 basalt columns extend from the cliffs and into the sea. No matter how many times I have seen this, the sheer wonder and magic of the columns never fails to impress! We stop for Lunch at the Smugglers Inn before we continue on the breathtaking coastal route famously known as ‘One of the World’s Great Road Journeys’ and one of the most outstanding scenic touring drives in the world. We will have a few photo ops along the way before we reach Belfast and also stop in Carnlough for some of the best ice cream in Ireland! We then make our way to our accommodation near Belfast to get settled in before you find some dinner on your own. Overnight near Belfast. (B,L)
Day 10 - May 10th - We will spend today in Belfast with a first stop at the Titanic Quarter to take in the Titanic Exhibit. Titanic Belfast extends over nine galleries, with multiple dimensions to the exhibition, drawing together special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features to explore the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way. Explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the true legend of Titanic, in the city where it all began. You can find some lunch here and explore to your hearts content before settling you into Belfast's Iconic Black Cabs for a Black Cab Tour of the city. You will hear the real story behind this beautiful city, visit some of its most popular destinations and join in the Craic! Belfast, like many parts of Northern Ireland, may have had a checkered past, but out of the chaos during the troubles came some of Belfast’s most recognizable landmarks, its murals and you will see many of them! Over recent years this vibrant city has moved forward and now boasts an amazing tourist destination. After your tour of the city we make our way back to our accommodation to get rested up before dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Belfast. (B,D)
Day 11 - May 11th - This morning we take the early ferry from Belfast to Stranraer, Scotland. As this is such an early morning crossing we will have breakfast on the ferry. The crossing will take just a little over 2 hours and is a very smooth sailing across the Irish Sea. Once in Scotland, we make our way up the west coast to stopping at several locations along the way giving you the chance to stretch your legs, use the facilities and take advantage of some wonderful photo ops. You will see some wonderful coastline and some beautiful glens and then we make our way along the coast to Ardrossan, Seahill and Largs where we find some amazing fish and chips on our Stop for Lunch. In Largs you will also find Nardini's Ice Cream Parlour which has some of the best ice cream anywhere in Scotland! We then continue further north toward Glasgow and then make our way across the mighty River Clyde and into the Queen Elizabeth Forest park and into the Trossachs to our overnight accommodation to get settled in before dinner. Dinner and overnight the Trossachs. (L,D)
Day 12 - May 12th - This morning we make our way north through Doune, Callander, Balquhidder and Killin with a stop at Doune to visit Doune Castle, a 14th century stronghold which offers a unique view into the life of the medieval royal household. We then head further north to Killin where we find Falls of Dochart. A bridge crosses over the Dochart River just as you enter the village of Killin giving a fabulous view of the falls as they cascade down over the rocks and around the Island of Inchbuie, which is the traditional burial place of the MacNab Clan. If not the most impressive falls in Scotland there are easily the most accessible. This is a wonderful stop and a great place for you to dins some lunch on your own. We then drive along Loch Tay and take a wee mountain road that will take us to Glen Lyon, my favourite glen in all of Scotland! After our journey through the glen we will stop in Fortingall to see the Fortingall Yew Tree which is the oldest tree in Europe st over 5,000 years old! We will then take the leisurely drive to the Highlands Village of Pitlochry where we find our accommodation and dinner waiting. Dinner and Overnight Pitlochry. (B,D)
Day 13 - May 13th - This morning we make our way to just north of Pitlochry to Blair Atholl and Blair Castle. Bonnie Prince Charlie spent 2 days here in this 700 year old rambling, turreted castle with over 32 rooms open to the public. It was long the residence of the Stewarts and Murrays who held the title of Dukes of Atholl. This is a lovely castle in a spectacular setting that should not be missed! After our visit we will have Afternoon Tea in the Castle's Tullibardine Restaurant and then make our way to on the way to Perth and Scone Palace, the home of the Earls of Mansfield. Once the Crowning Place of Scottish Kings, Scone Palace occupies a unique position in Scotland's history. A breathtakingly beautiful place of power and mystery and the rightful home of the celebrated Stone of Scone, Scone Palace is regarded as a national treasure and is revered as the historic jewel in Scotland's crown. You will want to visit the Grounds and Gardens as well before we return to Pitlochry where you will have the rest of the afternoon and evening free for shopping and exploring and then finding some dinner. Overnight Pitlochry. (B,L)
Day 14 - May 14th - This morning before we leave the Highlands behind we will join Highland Safaris as we climb aboard our Land Rover complete with Kilted Guide and journey to the high tops through a land sculptured by the elements and steeped in history, culture, nature, and breathtaking views with no shortage of photo opportunities. We may even be lucky enough to see the Majestic Red Deer, the Famous Grouse, the elusive Mountain Hare or the soaring Golden Eagle as we travel through forests, mountains and moors on private hill tracks. Our safari includes Hot Chocolate, Coffee and Tea, a Dram of Dewars Whisky with Shortbread in their Mountain Bothy. We will have lunch in the Safari Cafe before we make our way to St. Andrews where you can wander throughout this lovely town with its beautiful university, golf courses and lovely shops all throughout. If you are a golfer or know a golfer, you may want to get pictures on the Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course, visit the Clubhouse for some shopping and wander along the links. St. Andrews is also home to St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral. The Cathedral dates from around 1160, and was consecrated in the presence of Robert the Bruce in July 1318. It is almost completely in ruins but still well worth a visit. We then take a lovely coastal drive to our accommodation just a little further up the road where we find dinner waiting for us. Dinner and Overnight Kingdom of Fife. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - May 15th - We will take in a few of the lovely coastal villages of the East Neuk of Fife on our way to Edinburgh this morning. We will stop in Pittenweem to visit the Pittenweem Chocolate Shop for some of the best chocolate in Scotland. We will then visit Dunfermline Abbey in Dunfermline. Dunfermline Abbey was founded about 1070 by Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm Canmore. Margaret was made a saint, and she and Malcolm were buried here. Robert the Bruce's body (apart from his heart, which is at Melrose) is buried here as well underneath the pulpit in the main church. Margaret and Malcolm son David I is also buried here. The future Charles I was born here in 1600, the last monarch to be born in Scotland. Royal interest in Dunfermline waned when James VI became James I of England and he and Anna left for London in 1603, and the palace fell into disrepair. We will stop for afternoon tea before we make our way toward Edinburgh to get checked into our accommodation before you find some dinner on your own. Overnight Edinburgh. (B,L)
Day 16 - May 16th - Today will be spent at your leisure in the city. To make the most of your visit you will have all day tickets for Edinburgh's City Tour Hop Off and Off Bus which will take you to all of the major highlights of the city. On your way about the city you will have opportunities to stop at The Palace of the Holyrood House, The Royal Yacht Britannia, St. Giles Cathedral, Greyfriars Bobby and Deacon Brodie's Pub hopping off and on as you go about the city. The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of the unique character of the Medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town. It covers both the Old and New Towns together with the Dean Village and the Calton Hill areas. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city. You will also have a ticket for Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle is one of the most exciting historic sites in Western Europe. Set in the heart of Scotland's dynamic capital city, it is sure to capture your imagination. The scenery will take your breath away. After thoroughly exploring the city, we will meet up for our Farewell Dinner. Overnight Edinburgh. (B,D)
Day 17 - May 17th - This morning we make our way to Edinburgh International for your journey home. (B)