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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Experience the culture of Ireland—from lively Dublin to the western coast—and discover a country steeped in history and boasting a rich tapestry of arts and ethereal landscapes.
- Dublin: Enjoy a day in Dublin, where almost every writer lived for some time, and see the famous Book of Kells at Trinity College.
- Aran Islands and Killarney: Learn about Irish culture firsthand when a native of the Aran Islands shares stories of their oral tradition and during a spe- cial dinner at a local family-run B&B near Killarney.
- Magnificent Landscapes: Take in breathtaking scenery as you travel through Connemara, view the dramatic Cliffs of Moher and the craggy karst formations of the Burren, and take a full-day excursion to the Ring of Kerry.
- Castles and Abbeys: Learn about Ireland’s history during visits to the early monastic site of Clonmacnoise, Kylemore Abbey, Muckross House (an Elizabethan-style manor house), the Kerry Folklife Centre, Blarney Castle, and the legendary Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny Castle.
Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Dublin, Ireland
Day 2 — Dublin
Upon arrival in Ireland’s dynamic capital, check in to your hotel located on St. Stephen’s Green. Enjoy leisure time this afternoon before gathering at a local restaurant for a welcome dinner. (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, 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 nearby village of Bearna. (B,D)
Day 5 — 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. Enjoy spectacular views of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the background. This evening enjoy dinner with traditional Irish entertainment at Padraicins overlooking Galway Bay. (B,D)
Day 6 — Aran Islands and Galway
Today’s destination is Inishmor, the largest of the fabled Aran Islands, whose unique culture and history have been an inspiration to artists, writers, and filmmakers. 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 dine tonight at a local restaurant in the village of Bearna. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, 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 Killarney, set in beautiful Killarney National Park. Tonight, enjoy dinners in local family-run B&Bs. (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. On the return to Killarney, stop for an Irish sheep dog demonstration. Dinner tonight is on your own. (B,L)
Day 10 — Blarney, Cashel, 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 County Tipperary and the Rock of Cashel, once home to the High Kings of Munster. Arrive in Kilkenny late this afternoon. (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 — 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 Dublin for the U.S.
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flights to the U.S. (B)