The Emerald Isle
Uncover Ireland's many charms on this intimate exploration of a country steeped in history and rich in culture.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
What a great overview of Ireland's political and religious history, its music, literature and arts. With the small group size, everyone is included in the lectures, activities and experiences. Wonderful adventure!”
Previous Journeys Traveler
Hard to imagine a more rewarding experience.”
My first experience with Smithsonian was beyond all my expectations! I look forward to being a regular traveler with the Smithsonian!”
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Experience the culture of Ireland, a country steeped in history and boasting a rich tapestry of arts and magnificent landscapes. In Dublin, see the famous Book of Kells at Trinity College and enjoy a visit to the National Museum of Archaeology to learn about Ireland’s rich heritage. Head west to the region some consider the “most Irish part of Ireland,” where traditional Irish is often heard. Experience Irish culture and tradition firsthand when a native of the Aran Islands shares stories of their oral tradition, and later near Killarney during a special home-hosted dinner.
Take in breathtaking scenery as you travel through Connemara and the Burren and, farther south, view the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. From Killarney, visit an Elizabethan-style manor house and the Kerry Folklife Centre, and take a full-day excursion to the legendary Ring of Kerry. Explore the ancient monastic sites of Clonmacnoise a medieval castle, and the legendary Rock of Cashel, and before returning to Dublin, stop at historic Kilkenny, also known as Ireland’s cultural capital.
Days 1 & 2 — U.S. and Dublin, Ireland
Depart the U.S. for Dublin, Ireland, and arrive the next day. Check in to your hotel located on St. Stephen’s Green and take time to refresh and relax. Enjoy leisure time this afternoon before this evening’s welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (D)
Day 3 — Dublin
Enjoy a day getting to know the engaging city of Dublin, where almost every Irish writer lived for some time. Highlights of today’s tour feature Trinity College to see the extraordinary Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by monks around A.D. 800, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant followed by a free afternoon to enjoy your own individual pursuits. You may also wish to join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and Tour Director for an optional tour of the National Museum of Archaeology for an in-depth overview of Ireland’s heritage, culture, and natural history. (B,L)
Day 4 — Galway
Head west to the region some consider the “most Irish part of Ireland,” and where traditional Irish is often heard. En route to Galway, stop at the 6th-century Clonmacnoise, Ireland’s most important early monastic site and burial place of the last High King of Ireland. Arrive in charming Galway City in the afternoon and enjoy dinner at your hotel, located in the village of Bearna just outside the city. (B,D)
Day 5 — Galway and Aran Islands
Today’s destination is Inismor, the largest of the fabled Aran Islands, whose unique culture and history have been an inspiration to artists, writers, and film-makers. Located across Galway Bay, the islands feature primitive stone forts, early Christian churches, and medieval castles. Meet a local islander who shares knowledge and stories during a special tour, then enjoy time to explore on your own. Return to the mainland in the late afternoon and explore Galway’s many restaurants and pubs tonight. (B,L)
Day 6 — Galway and Connemara
Evocative and legendary Connemara is a dramatic, rugged landscape of mountains, glacial lakes, and uninhabited bog lands. During a full-day excursion, stop at the beautiful Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s most photographed castles, which was built as a private home in 1861, and visit the quintessential village of Clifden, spectacularly located on a high plateau above Clifden Bay, with the Twelve Ben Mountains in the background. This evening, enjoy dinner at an atmospheric local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 7 — County Clare and Killarney
Traveling south along the fabled coastline of County Clare, stop to admire the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, which rise vertically from the sea and stretch for five miles from north to south. Pass through the Burren, the 116-square-mile rocky landscape of craggy gray karst (limestone) formations. Then cross by ferry into County Kerry, and arrive in the late afternoon in the town of Killarney, set in beautiful Killarney National Park. Tonight, enjoy dinner with a warm and welcoming family outside Killarney. (B,D)
Day 8 — Killarney
Explore this vibrant town from the perspective of a historic jaunting-cart then continue to 15th-century Ross Castle, the last stronghold to fall to Oliver Cromwell’s forces. Travel by boat to Muckross House, a 19th-century Elizabethan-style manor, where you’ll tour the elegantly furnished rooms and informal garden. Also explore the Kerry Folklife Centre, which showcases traditional arts and crafts such as bookbinding, pottery, and weaving. (B)
Day 9 — Killarney and Ring of Kerry
Today, admire and experience the Ireland of postcards — the stunning mountain and coastal scenery of the Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile route around the Ardagh Peninsula. Stop at a 1,000-year-old Ring fort, and view several primitive Ogham stones revealing an ancient alphabet. This evening dine at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a 150-year-old family-run establishment at the entrance to the Gap of Dunlow. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Blarney, Cashel, and Kilkenny
Travel southeast to the small town of Blarney and visit the ruins of the 15th-century castle, with its celebrated Blarney Stone. Continue to Cashel and visit the Rock of the Cashel that served as the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. (B,D)
Day 11 — Kilkenny
A small medieval city, Kilkenny is known as Ireland’s cultural capital. Enjoy a tour of 12th-century Kilkenny Castle, considered one of the country’s most beautiful, then embark on an informal walking tour, noting the many buildings constructed of black limestone or “Kilkenny marble.” Spend the remainder of the day at leisure exploring this charming town with its contemporary craft and design studios and well-preserved historic architecture and monuments. (B,L)
Day 12 — Kilkenny, Glendalough and Dublin
Set out for Dublin this morning, and visit the National Stud Farm, the center of Ireland’s horse racing industry. Mid-afternoon reach your hotel, located just outside Dublin. Tonight celebrate your Irish adventure at a farewell dinner. (B,D)
Day 13 — Depart for U.S.
Depart for the Dublin airport and your return flights to the U.S. (B)