Secrets of the Emerald Isle - An Adventure to Explore Ireland
September 4 – 17, 2020
Join Your Man in Europe on a unique journey to fabulous Ireland where you’ll immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of this ever-popular destination. This epic travel adventure begins and ends in Dublin, Ireland. We’ll take in the most amazing towns and villages in the southern half of Ireland. Delight in the music, spectacular scenery, hard-to-reach destinations and much more on this private small-group tour of some of Ireland’s best highlights. There’s plenty of magic to go around. Everyone is sure to love this carefully-designed, unique travel experience. Come with us on this 12-night jaunt into lands beyond your imagination. This extraordinary trip is not to be missed!
September 4, Friday – Plan flights to Dublin, Ireland to depart the USA today and arrive in Dublin by 10 AM on the morning of September 5th.
September 5, Saturday – Flights (not included in the trip cost) should be booked to arrive in Dublin by 10:00 AM. We will need to assemble the group no later than 11:00 AM. After we’re all together we’ll go by taxi to the rail station where we’ll board our train that will carry us deep into Ireland (about 2 hours) to the fantastic town of Kilkenny.
The train ride to Kilkenny will be a beautiful experience as we pass by the peaceful Irish countryside, and see why it’s called “The Emerald Isle”. After the long transatlantic flight everyone will probably be a bit peckish, so on the journey to Kilkenny we’ll have a nice train picnic with Irish specialties.
After checking into our wonderfully central hotel we’ll have some free time to explore the old city. Kilkenny is Ireland’s premier medieval town. The town has deep religious roots and many well-preserved churches and monasteries dating from the 13th century. Very close to our hotel is Kilkenny’s great castle, built in 1195 by Norman occupiers. We’ll have great close-up views of it right from our hotel’s lovely riverside terrace.
In the evening we’ll meet back at the hotel for our “Welcome to Ireland” dinner. Afterward a good night’s sleep beckons.
September 6, Sunday –After a great Irish breakfast with a stunning castle view we’re off to explore fabulous Kilkenny. Many cities would be happy with a handful of medieval buildings – even one or two old ruins that withstood the test of time and 20th century development. Kilkenny, however, boasts a whole mile of medieval marvels. Stretching from its iconic castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral, highlights include the atmospheric alleys and lanes (try the Butter Slip, once lined with 17th-century butter sellers) as well as the terrific time capsule that is Rothe House (1594), which we will tour this morning. After our walking tour we’ll stay together to have lunch at an iconic place in the heart of the old city.
Afterward we’re in for a great treat. If we were in France or Italy we might be doing a wine tasting tour; but since we’re in Ireland we’ll make it an ale tasting! We’ll start with the best: Smithwick’s dates from 1710, though Franciscan monks were brewing on the site as long ago as 1231. As visitors we will get hands-on with the brewing process, too - stirring the mash and sniffing the hops as we learn what distinguishes this storied ale from lager and stout. The tour finishes with a generous sampling of all three Smithwick’s Ales. After the brewery tour it may be nap-time, or everyone will have some free time to continue exploring Kilkenny and have dinner on your own.
September 7, Monday (Labor Day in the USA) – After another delightful breakfast our private driver will take us on a marvelously scenic drive to the utterly charming village of Glengarriff set on Bantry Bay, where we’ll have a two-night stay in a fantastically atmospheric historic hotel right at the water’s edge. Our hotel in Glengarriff is a delight, filled with a genteel ambiance and steeped in history. In1850 William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) the famous journalist and writer boarded at the hotel and described it in some of his writings. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) stayed there in 1910/1911 and is reputed to have written extensively during his stay. During the 1920's William Butler Yeats (poet & playwright) was a regular visitor, so much so the hotel’s finest room, the Presidential Suite, is named after him. After settling in for a relaxing stay everyone will have free time to stroll along the waterside, explore the charming nearby village, or just sit on the hotel’s picturesque veranda with a good book.
If you did nothing more than look out at Bantry Bay all day, you would shed years of tension. Gaze at the calm water and men tinkering with their boats, the seagulls, the stillness and silence. It is bliss.
In the evening we’ll get back together for a nice dinner at the hotel.
September 8, Tuesday - After enjoying a lovely laid-back breakfast at the hotel overlooking the water we’ll venture by boat out into Bantry Bay to the completely unexpected sub-tropical island of Garnish. A unique warm current and micro-climate create exactly the right conditions for a vast array of exotic plants and trees to flourish here. Begun in the 1800’s, and continuing on into the 21st Century, the Garnish Island garden has become a botanist’s dream, with an almost unreal atmosphere - something like a lost world. On the way to and from this most remarkable island we’ll pass by dozens of seals basking on the rocks. There’s a very nice café nestled in the trees where everyone may enjoy lunch on your own in the midst of this amazing garden.
After our expedition to the enchanted island (a “Three Hour Cruise…? No, Gilligan!”) there will be some free time to explore the delightful village of Glengarriff, which has been famous as a holiday destination since the 1700s, and boomed in Victorian times as an important stop along the Prince-of-Wales-Route. Today Glengarriff attracts visitors from all over the world. This is one of Ireland's most beautifully situated villages. It is in one of the few areas of Ireland which still has part of the original oak forest which long ago totally covered the country. Visit the charming village nearby to explore the shops, galleries and pubs there; or if you prefer just relax at the hotel, perhaps following the example of some of its famous author-guests, and take some time to write something for your travel journal. Dinner will be on your own this evening, either at the hotel or in the atmospheric village of Glengarriff.
September 9, Wednesday – After breakfast we’ll have to leave Glengarriff for a breath-taking ride through a portion of the Ring of Kerry to Dingle. Along the scenic drive we’ll have casual stops at magnificent viewpoints and sweet little villages, including Sneem; and we’ll stop for a delicious Irish lunch together on the way. In Dingle we’ll enjoy two nights in one of the most historic and mythic locations in all of Ireland. Our wonderful Bed & Breakfast - near the center of the town - offers the best of both worlds: old-style ambiance with every modern convenience. Dingle isn't a hectic, crowded, touristy spot where you'll find the latest fashions and gourmet restaurants - but that's exactly what makes it such a charming place. It has been cited as 'the most beautiful place on earth' by National Geographic!
Everyone will have time to have an early dinner on your own before the evening’s activity. We’ll gather to enjoy a traditional Irish concert at St. James Church (easy walking distance from our hotel.) The blend of musicians and enthusiastic patrons creates a spellbinding experience.
September 10, Thursday - After a terrific home-cooked Irish breakfast we’re off on our private tour of the Dingle Peninsula. The 30-mile drive around Dingle Peninsula will take us the full day. Take in ancient sites at every turn and a verdant landscape including shaggy, wild-looking horses grazing alongside 3,000-year-old beehive-shaped stone huts in the meadows overlooking Ventry Bay.
Further on we’ll get our first view of the Blasket Islands, off Dunmore Head. They're so isolated that the inhabitants' Gaelic traditions and language survived unchanged into the 20th century, until the harsh living conditions forced the families to abandon their village there in 1953, when the Irish government decided that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the remaining population.
We’ll enjoy a tasty pub lunch together in a wonderfully charming place overlooking the bay very near the westernmost point of land in Europe.
After our all-day adventure, we’ll return to Dingle for a relaxing dinner together at an exceptional restaurant in the village. Of course, the night will still be young for those who can’t get enough of Irish Craic (meaning, roughly, “music and fun” or just plain “good times”.) For a genuine pub music session," head for O'Flaherty's Bar. Or just settle in at any pub you fancy for a chat with a local. You’ll have no trouble finding someone who’ll be happy to swap outlandish stories with you!
September 11, Friday – After another excellent breakfast we’ll be checking out of our B&B, but stay in town a bit longer for a must-do activity in Dingle: a boat cruise out into the bay to meet Fungie, the Dingle Dolphin. This remarkable lone dolphin adopted Dingle Bay as his personal territory years ago, and has continued to delight visitors and local residents ever since! Fungie is happy to greet and spend a little time with the many visitors who come out to see him.
Then we’ll resume our epic journey north through the villages and enchanting countryside of west-central Ireland. Along the way there is a wonderful pub restaurant there where everyone will be able to order selections from the menu on your own.
Afternoon brings us to Bunratty, near Shannon. The focal point of this remarkable destination is Bunratty Castle. This fantastic castle is everyone’s ideal of what a real Medieval castle should be.
Bunratty is named after the river Raite which runs alongside this strategic battlement. The spot on which this castle stands has been occupied for over 1000 years. From the Vikings to the Normans, great Irish Earls and noble Lords and Ladies. The present castle was built in 1425. This is our chance to catch a glimpse of Ireland’s past and visit an acclaimed 15th century castle.
After checking into our comfortable hotel near the castle everyone will have some free time to kick back or visit the nearby area of wonderful shops, including a woolen mill shop, all within easy walking distance from our hotel. It’s a great opportunity to pick up gifts for friends and family back home.
Afterward we’ll enjoy a highlight of the entire trip! We’ll go inside the ancient Bunratty Castle for an
evening of great food and entertainment, The Bunratty Medieval Feast. We’ll spend a lovely time
listening to excellent singers and storytellers in an awesome setting as a memorable feast is served.
September 12, Saturday – After a fabulous breakfast we’ll be able to enjoy a restful day with no road trips. Enjoy a free morning to kick back, or maybe even sleep in. We’ll gather for lunch together at a famous – or maybe infamous – pub in the little village.
After lunch we’ll walk over to the nearby Bunratty Folk Park where we’ll experience a re-creation of the Ireland of over a century ago. Set on 26 acres, the impressive park features over 30 buildings in a ‘living village’ and rural setting. Rural farmhouses, village shops and streets are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time, according to their social standing, from the poorest one-room dwelling to Bunratty House, a fine example of a Georgian residence for the gentry. This manor house was built in 1804 as home of the Studdarts, the last family to occupy Bunratty Castle. Enjoy a view of village life in 19th century Ireland. The quaint houses and shops in the Folk Park have been chosen from many different areas, to form a collection of typical old-time urban Irish buildings – including the school, doctor’s house, pawnbrokers, pub, drapery, print works, grocery, hardware shop, pottery and a post office.
We’ll also get a chance to re-visit the castle for a self-guided tour taking in the highlights we didn’t get to see at the feast, including the tapestry room, ‘withdrawing room’ and grand staircase. The area around the castle is surrounded by a network of maze-like alleyways and lanes, and it's an exciting adventure just to see where, and in which century, you'll end up.
After our journey to the past take time to enjoy a nice dinner on your own, after which the evening will still be young! Down near the base of the castle is Durty Nellie’s, a fantastic Irish pub with traditional music and festivities galore. After a pint or two everyone should be in a jolly mood before meandering back over to our nearby hotel for a good night’s sleep.
September 13, Sunday – After a great breakfast our private driver will take us on a short journey to the wonderful little town of Doolin. Our delightful B&B there is as cosy as you can imagine. It just doesn’t get much more charming and quaint than this little seaside village on the northwest coast of County Clare. Surrounded by the rugged Atlantic Ocean and the spectacular Burren region, Doolin is a place of natural and breath-taking beauty. Once a remote fishing village, Doolin now represents the heart and soul of Irish traditional music. In fact, this tiny village is internationally renowned as a center of live Irish music, played in its several great pubs. Experience the vibrant music sessions and spontaneous singing in every bar and pub, or just take a walk at the edge of the village and breathe in the tranquility and solitude.
After lunch together in one of Doolin’s most famous pubs we’ll board a boat right at the edge of town to cruise down the stunning Irish coast to view the breath-taking Cliffs of Moher from the water. The towering sea cliffs are an icon of Ireland’s natural beauty. What a photo-op!
After our sea voyage everyone will have time on your own to find just the right pub in which to settle in with a pint (or two) and then have dinner on your own, accompanied by rousing Irish traditional tunes. (The musical pubs are so popular in the evenings that it’s difficult to get a table for even a small group like ours – so everyone is better off finding free tables for 2 or 4 people.)
September 14, Monday – After a great traditional Irish breakfast we’ll head out for yet another cruise – this time to the Island of Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands. This picturesque island has the true feel of a genuine isolated fishing village. From the pier you are greeted with a pristine white sandy beach and crystal-clear turquoise water, and plenty of fishing boats, their nets, and fisherman returning at the end of the day with their catch.
The main village area is right next to the beach and is enclosed by a small hill with a castle and a fort at the top - as if they are watching over the islanders and its visitors. The island is easily covered on foot. The walk to the lighthouse or the shipwreck of the Plassy is great fun. You’ll see the island’s rugged landscape unfold before your eyes.
Everyone will have free time to explore, take lots of pictures, or just find a vantage point where you can watch the world go by. Rent a bike or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Have a fun lunch on your own at one of the cozy restaurants in the village before we must board our boat back to Doolin.
Who’s up for some Irish music? Well, in Doolin it’s hard to avoid it! After our return from Inisheer head out for dinner (and some fine music) on your own.
September 15, Tuesday – After another lovely early breakfast our driver will pick us up for our last road trip – this time to Dublin. The trip will cut right across Ireland, and will take up much of the morning. Our hotel is perfectly located for exploring old Dublin, so we’ll begin to do just that after we settle in. There’s a great restaurant not far from the hotel where we’ll all have lunch together. Then we’ll get an expert look at Dublin’s highlights on a great walking tour led by a Trinity College history graduate. Our guide will tell us the history of landmarks such as Dublin Castle and the Parliament. As we stroll, we’ll hear from our guide about the city’s history plus topics such as the Northern Ireland conflict, the influence of the American and French revolutions, the Potato Famine, and how Ireland is doing today. Tour highlights include the Trinity College grounds, the Temple Bar area, Dublin Castle, and the Parliament House. Access to these places is included.
After the walking tour we’ll return to our hotel for some welcome rest before the evening’s big event.
We’ll be driven out to the hills overlooking the city to experience Ireland’s very best Irish music and dance show – The Merry Ploughboys! It’s a whole evening extravaganza, including plenty of entertainment and a great dinner. If you’re not Irish, after tonight you’ll wish you were!
September 16, Wednesday – After a grand breakfast at our hotel we have a free day to explore Dublin on your own. Dublin is filled with too much to see and do – wonderful museums, like the Trinity College Book of Kells exhibit or the The National Gallery of Ireland. The gallery's highlights include the Yeats Museum, and works by Caravaggio, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Vermeer. The National Gallery is one of the finest for its size anywhere in the world.
Or choose from among the many guided walks such as pub crawls, literary tours, and ghost walks. For those who haven’t visited this captivating city, Your Man in Europe will be happy to arrange a day of fun discovery. The Jameson Whisky distillery has a great tour, and the tour of the Guinness brewery is exceptional. In addition, the Dublin Tourist Bureau will have all the latest information on the most current shows, exhibits, and attractions. Lunch will be on your own today, but we’ll meet back at the hotel at the end of the day to go out for our “Farewell to Ireland” dinner together.
September 17, Thursday - We’ll enjoy one last breakfast at our hotel before departures to the airport for flights back to the US. Those guests leaving the hotel for very early flights should coordinate plans with the tour members beforehand.
Please Note: For those guests intending to stay in Dublin for a longer visit additional tour opportunities are available. Please coordinate with Your Man in Europe as early as possible for help in making arrangements.
What’s in store for us?
This tour is custom-planned for a small group of no more than 12 guests. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, you have never experienced Ireland like this. We’re sure the magic will captivate you. You’ll be part of a magical adventure - complete with music, gourmet picnics, and surprises that will delight you at every turn.
This is not a “Big Bus Tour”. There will be no wake-up calls at 5 AM to herd onto the buses. Our travelers will have a friendly, extremely knowledgeable guide for the entire trip – not just a bus driver and hum-drum contracted tour guide. We do our best to set the mood, to weave a spell, and to make yours a total experience. Hotels and most restaurants on the entire tour have been selected for their very specific location or high level of “atmosphere”. The small group size allows us to personalize the experience in a way large groups simply cannot do. We make it easy, comfortable and stress-free. No guest has to worry about the details of where we are going next. You will feel as if you are not a tourist, but a guest of your Irish friends.
This is a complete tour; and the prices are not increased during the trip through unexpected charges for “extra” tours and arrangements you must handle on your own. If there will be any optional tours or activities not included in the cost everyone will be advised well before signing up for the tour. Most meals are included, as detailed in the itinerary.
Your Tour Guide: Larry Ivy is the Tour Coordinator and guide for Your Man in Europe, and a long-time veteran of European travel and unique private tour-leading. Larry wants just one thing: for you to have “the best time of your life”!
Complete Prices for the September 4 - 17, 2020 Tour
$4185.00 Per Person
All prices are based on Double Occupancy. Single supplement is an additional $765.
A $500 deposit holds your place on the tour(s). Reservations and deposits for this fantastic opportunity should be made as early as possible, but not later than April 1st, 2020. The final balance is due by August 1, 2020. Make checks payable to “Your Man in Europe”. Guests are invited to use our no-interest flexible payment plan.
Tour Includes: Twelve (12) nights of overnight accommodation (based on double occupancy) in very specially selected hotels and B&Bs, all twelve (12) breakfasts, eight (8) lunches, and six (6) dinners; ground transportation with a private driver (except September 17th airport transfers); and First Class rail travel (where available), admissions to all attractions described in the tour itinerary, knowledgeable guide services, and standard gratuities. There will be no additional charges for the tours and events specifically included by Your Man in Europe. There may be extra charges for tours not included in the detailed in the itinerary. These are optional activities.
Not Included: Airfare to and returning from Dublin, optional travel insurance, extra beverages (meals will include one beverage and will be budgeted accordingly); a la cart or premium menu selections beyond the established meal allowances; between meal snacks; gratuities for extra services such as baggage porters, or for superior service (normal gratuities are included in the trip cost); souvenirs; and privately arranged activities.
Also: All overnight accommodations, as well as railroad and minibus travel will be NO-SMOKING.
This tour is strictly limited to a maximum of 12 guests travelling together
The minimum size of this tour is 6. If fewer than 6 sign up the tour will be canceled.