XIE IRELAND TOUR

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Walking in County Kerry

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Dublin walking tour; Dingle Peninsula - highest concentration of archaeological sites in Ireland; Spectacular coastal walks along Dingle Bay; The fishing village of Dingle with its 50 pubs; Boat trip to UNESCO World Heritage site, Great Skellig Island; Killarney National Park; Boat trip through the Lakes of Killarney; Irish music, song and dance

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 31 Aug 2015Fri 11 Sep 2015 $3480 Last-minute Availability
Mon 13 Jun 2016Fri 24 Jun 2016 $3480
Mon 29 Aug 2016Fri 09 Sep 2016 $3480

Optional Single Supplement: $760 (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


The southwest of Ireland, washed by the Gulf Stream, has a mild climate -- indeed natives call it "sub-tropical." This is reflected in the rich vegetation, particularly the wild flowers and hedgerows, which contrasts with the rugged, craggy coastline and inland mountains and lakes. This tour provides an opportunity to explore the spectacular landscape (including its history and archaeology) of two fingers projecting into the Atlantic Ocean - the Dingle and Iveragh peninsulas in Kerry, using legs of the way-marked long-distance walking routes, the Dingle Way and the Kerry Way.

Regions visited: Western Europe
Countries visited: Ireland


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Dublin
Today we arrive in Dublin, Ireland's capital city.

Since its beginning around AD 988, Dublin has accommodated many diverse nationalities from the Vikings and English invaders, to sailors, traders and writers who settled and lived here over the centuries. Modern Dublin is being transformed by enormous changes brought about by the recent economic boom, though the city will always have a reputation as a great historical city, and its strong links with world literature and the arts are readily apparent.

Overnight in Dublin.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Dublin: City Tour
Today we have a guided WALKING tour of Dublin.

Our tour will likely begin with a visit to Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Founded by Queen Elizabeth I to "civilize" Dublin, Trinity College is Ireland's oldest and most famous college. You can walk in the footsteps of some of the college's noted alumni -- among them Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett.

The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript that is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and is widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure. Transcribed by Celtic monks ca. 800, it contains the four Gospels of the New Testament in Latin. The decorations are all high quality and often highly complex. Some decorations can only be fully seen with magnifying glasses, although lenses of the required power are not known to have been available until hundreds of years after the book's completion!

Merrion Square warrants a stop in order to learn about Dublin's Georgian past. The square was laid out after 1762 and was largely complete by the beginning of the 19th century. It is considered one of the city's finest surviving squares and the best-preserved Georgian era residential architecture. It also contains a statue of Oscar Wilde, who resided in No. 1, Merrion Square from 1855 to 1876. Also nearby are several government buildings and cultural institutions.

Our tour continues to St Stephens Green, a leafy and peaceful oasis located at the top of Grafton St, the main street and commercial heart of Dublin, popular for shopping and people watching. We will stroll down Grafton and enter the area of Temple Bar, located on the south bank of the River Liffey, with it well-preserved medieval street pattern and narrow cobbled streets. It is promoted as "Dublin's cultural quarter" with many pubs and a lively nightlife.

Onto St. Patrick's Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland. Unusually, Dublin has two cathedrals belonging to the Church of Ireland, which act effectively as co-cathedrals. The site of St. Patrick's Cathedral is said to be the earliest Christian site in Ireland, where St. Patrick baptized converts. The present building was built between 1191 and 1270. For friends of world literature this is a pilgrimage and a must -- Jonathan Swift of "Gulliver" fame was Dean and is buried in the cathedral.

Overnight in Dublin.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Dublin - Tralee - Dingle
This morning we travel by train to Tralee (+/- 4 hours), the capital of County Kerry. From here we transfer by road the short distance to Dingle, a harbour town once fortified and steeped in history. Dingle was once notorious for being the location for the country's bouyant smuggling trade, it also served as a base for trading with Spain and France. These days though, people flock to Dingle for its vibrant social scene; traditional Irish music, dancing and a vast array of restaurants, many of which specialise in seafood for which the town is famous.

This compact town is a great place for browsing through numerous craft shops and enjoying the lively ambiance.

This afternoon we strike out on a two-mile walk along the harbour shoreline, over the rocks and sheep pastures to the harbour entrance. We may catch a glimpse of "Fungie," the famous dolphin who has been entertaining the town's visitors for more than a decade. The large male porpoise seems to prefer the company of people to that of the passing schools of his own kind, enjoying nuzzling up to snorklers and frolicking about in the wakes of the "dolphin watch" tour boats.

We'll have a close look at Hussey's Folly, a squatty, castle-like tower made of stone and a relic of the famine years of the 1840's. It was the idea of Edward Hussey, who paid for the construction. The sole purpose of the project was to give employment to relieve some of the distress caused to locals. The building had no special purpose.

Overnight in Dingle. Milltown House Guesthouse (or similar).

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 The Dingle Way to prehistoric Ring Fort
The Dingle Way is one of over 30 long-distance walking trails. Situated in the south-west of the Ireland, the walk completes a circuit of the Dingle Peninsula, starting and finishing in Tralee, the capital of Kerry. The entire trail is 179km long and takes an adult who is reasonably fit an average of 8-9 days to walk.

Today's walk commences at Ventry Harbour. Several small rivers feed into the sea along the strand and are crossed by bridge. This sandy section lasts for around 2.5km before coming back to firmer terrain. This stretch of the Dingle Way passes spectacular scenery on all sides as the trail skirts the base of Mount Eagle. At 160m above sea level, the view over the Atlantic gradually starts to include the Blasket Islands as the trail rounds Slea Head. A curious feature that distracts from the view to the sea is the remnants of clochains -- more commonly known as beehive huts. The mountainside is littered with them in various stages of ruin.

The last part of this stage finds the trail back on the main road for 3km before descending towards a picturesque pier that has become a true icon of Ireland through its depiction on numerous postcards. The next turn to the right leads to the nucleus of Dunquin. The continuation of trail ahead leads to the heritage centre, where the full poignant story of the Blasket Islands can be appreciated.

We return to Dingle.

DAY SUMMARY: Distance - 9.6 km / 6 miles. Ascent - 183m / 600 ft.

Overnight in Dingle. Milltown House Guesthouse (or similar).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 5 Mount Brandon Area
Today we travel by coach through scenic Connor Pass. As it swings towards the south it rises at the side of a large valley formed by glaciers that came from a semi-circle of coums or corries in the surrounding mountains. From the top of the pass there are breathtaking views in fine weather of lowlands, mountains and sea.

We return to Dingle via an old walking path over the Brandon Range through Mullaghaveal. This may have been used as the route to the workhouse in famine times. The hill takes its name from Saint Brendan "The Navigator", who legend suggests climbed to the summit around AD 530 to see the Americas, before setting sail for them.

DAY SUMMARY: Distance - 11km / 7 miles. Ascent - 251m / 825 ft.

Overnight in Dingle. Milltown House Guesthouse (or similar).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 6 Dingle - Sneem - Portmagee
Today's coach transfer takes us along the northern and southern shores of Dingle Bay and continuing on the renowned route, the Ring of Kerry, to Sneem. Sneem is immaculately kept, with traditional buildings, pubs, restaurants and craft shops, painted in an array of beautiful colours. On the village green there is a sculpture of former President of Ireland, Cearbhall O'Dalaigh who had lived in Sneem.

We continue to Portmagee, or Magee's Port as it was formerly known. The name comes from Captain Theobald Magee, a notorious 18th century smuggler. Having served in the army of King James as an officer, Magee 'retired' to a life of merchant shipping between France, Portugal and Ireland. Thanks to the intricately chisled coast around the Southwest, his trade in contraband spirits, textiles and tea and tobacco was extremely hard to police and therefore extremely profitable.

Overnight in Portmagee. The Moorings Guesthouse (or similar).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 7 Skellig Rocks
A visit to the Skellig Region would not be complete without a visit to the Skelligs World Heritage Site. Today's full day boat excursion* takes us to Skellig Michael, the larger of the two islands and the site of the world's finest example of an early Christian monastic settlement. The monastic complex lies 12km off the coast on a rocky pinnacle and dates to the 6th or 7th century. The monastery survived for about six centuries before being abandoned in the 13th century. The monastic enclosure consists of six beehive-shaped huts of mortarless stone construction, two oratories and a church. According to annals, the Vikings raided in 812 and 823 and found an established community.

The overall experience is quite amazing, to be standing 220 metres above the rocks looking down at the rough sea and letting the wind fill your lungs with fresh air.

* If weather conditions are unsuitable, we will walk to the Walk to the beautiful Bray Head on Valentia Island with superb views of the Skellig Islands. Valentia island is rich in wild and marine life, standing stones, sub-tropical flora and also the location of the first transatlantic cable. Visit Knightstown and Valentia grotto in the Slate quarry. Discover the ancient Ogham standing stones dotted around the island. In the afternoon, visit an Irish chocolate factory!

Overnight in Portmagee. The Morrings Guesthouse (or similar).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 8 Portmagee - the Kerry Way - Killarney
This morning we check out of our guest house in Portmagee and continue on the Ring of Kerry to Kells. From here we'll begin our walk along a leg of the Kerry Way with superb views over Dingle Bay and Rossbeigh Beach. This is an early Christian route and a medieval coaching road; we make a couple of detours to view archaeological artifacts and 4,000 year old rock art. We can also make a diversion to Rossbeigh Beach and maybe enjoy a brisk swim in the Atlantic.

We continue by road to Killarney, nestled just off the northern tip of Killarney National Park. Sites of interest in the town reflect it's strong religious and educational history. Killarney was a church foundation from the 5th or 6th century, and settlement began here from around 1500. This evening we'll have a walking orientation of Killarney and its colourful laneways, and historic buildings dating back to the days of the landlord.

DAY SUMMARY: Distance - 17km / 10.5 mi. Ascent - 300m / 1,000 ft.

Overnight in Killarney.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 9 Lakes of Killarney Boat Trip
Today we enjoy one of Ireland's best day trips on an open top boat through the three Lakes of Killarney. We finish our day by with a wonderful walk through the Gap of Dunloe, a beautiful glacial valley in the Macgillacuddy Reeks mountain range, which dominate the skyline of Killarney. The scenery all around the lakes is breathtaking and there are many viewing points.

This evening you can enjoy Killarney's many shops, restaurants, and pubs.

Overnight in Killarney.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Killarney National Park
Today's gentle walk through Killarney National Park allows us to experience the stunning lake and mountain scenery as well as the historical aspect of the park, with a visit of 19th century Muckross House, the Gardens, and the Traditional Farms, where guests walk back in time to a working 1930s farm.

We also visit Muckross Abbey, one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the park. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan Friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor.
It has had a violent history, and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The friars were often persecuted and subjected to raids by marauding groups.

The park also contains many natural features of national and international importance, such as native oakwoods and yew woods together with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs and a profusion of bryophytes and lichens which thrive in the mild Killarney climate. The native red deer are unique in Ireland with a presence in the country since the last ice age. Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by the United Nations.

Later we'll pop into a traditional Irish pub for a celebration of Irish music!

DAY SUMMARY: 10km / 6 miles. Ascent / Descent: None

Overnight in Killarney.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Killarney - Dublin
Today we return to Dublin by train (+/- 3 hours). Balance of the day at leisure in Dublin.

Overnight in Dublin.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Departure
Departure from Dublin.

SLAN ABHAILE!!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Wynn's Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Dublin
Country: Ireland

Situated in the heart of Dublin City Wynn's Hotel is only a few minutes walk to the Abbey Theatre, Trinity
... Temple Bar and Dublin's two premier shopping streets. It has been a well known Dublin landmark for over 150 years providing luxury accommodation to many famous personalities and dignitaries. TV, phone, hair dryer, iron, tea / coffee facilities.

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Milltown House

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Dingle
Country: Ireland

Milltown House is an award winning, family-run guesthouse overlooking Dingle Bay and Harbour. The house has ten bedrooms all furnished
... the highest standards. Milltown House is well over 100 years old, but has all modern conveniences. All ten of the bedrooms have direct dial telephones, televisions, alarm radios, tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryers and en-suite bathrooms with shower and bath.

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The Moorings

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Portmagee
Country: Ireland

This charming gives our guests a typical Irish village experience. They have traditional music and dancing sessions where the locals
... and of course the visitors also join in. Nestled into the picturesque seafront of Portmagee, the guesthouse overlooks the village's busy working harbour. Offering 16 rooms in total, they've created a calm and surprisingly luxurious ambiance through the use of traditional yet contemporary furnishings.




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Arbutus Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Killarney
Country: Ireland

A hotel has overlooked the Fairfield for over 200 years. It became the Arbutus in 1926, when it was renovated.
... room has its own distinctive décor. Rooms are designed as a haven as well as a place to sleep, some where to read, think or chat.


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Cahernane House Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Killarney
Country: Ireland

This luxury Killarney Hotel has much to offer guests. The elegantly furnished and spacious luxury of the garden rooms are
... for relaxing after a day spent walking in the beautiful mountain vistas and unspoiled countryside.


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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily, packed lunches on most days. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters (if available). Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates and early arrivals / late departures if extra hotel nights booked through us.

Exclusions

Local guide gratuities (Dublin & Kerry guide), some lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer and fall, the most popular of which are spring and fall when crowds are thinner. Showers, rain, mist are possible any time of year. Summer's long daylight hours maximize exploration.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Train transport is comfortable and scenic. Other land transport provided by private coach. Distances covered are not great.

Accommodation

Well-located, mid-range hotels and guesthouses (3-4 star) throughout. Many are smaller properties that do not have elevators. All hotels have en suite toilet and bath, though some will have shower only (no tub). Porters are sometimes available but you must be prepared to manage your own luggage.

Staff and Support

Local leadership / guide in Kerry. A local guide will manage your tour of and time in Dublin, including your evening meals and transfers to / from the rail station.

Group Size

9 -12 plus guide