Experience the essence of Irish culture in Ennis, County Clare, where you’ll view Ireland through the eyes of its people. This exciting new stay program showcases Ireland’s renowned cultural traditions as well as its dramatic landscapes. 

Starting at: $4,390 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Cliffs of Moher  Lively music in a pub. Credit: Brian Morrison, Ireland Tourism  Typical landscape in Ireland. Credit: Ireland Tourism  Landscape of the Burren   The Polnabrone Domen, the Burren  Loop Head Peninsula  Birr Castle in western Ireland  The Great Telescope at Birr Castle  Landscape of the fabled Aran Islands  Dramatic 300 foot cliffs on the Atlantic coast, Inishmore  The ancient stone fort of Dún Aonghusa on the cliffs on Inishmore  Stone fences on Inishmore at dusk  Adare Castle  Typical cottage in lovely Adare  Bunratty Castle  The idyllic town of Ennis

County Clare

A One-Week Stay in Western Ireland

9 days from $4,390

Experience the essence of Irish culture in Ennis, County Clare, where you’ll view Ireland through the eyes of its people. This exciting new stay program showcases Ireland’s renowned cultural traditions as well as its dramatic landscapes. 

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by November 6, 2020!

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Experience the essence of Irish culture in Ennis, County Clare, where you’ll view Ireland through the eyes of its people. This exciting new Cultural Stay showcases Ireland’s renowned traditions as well as its dramatic landscapes. The Old Ground Hotel, situated in the heart of Ennis, provides the perfect base for your discoveries.

Highlights Include

  • Music: Listen to live music throughout your stay in Ennis, a stronghold of traditional Irish music. Enjoy exclusive performances and more informal gatherings in charming local pubs. Plus, meet a musician in his home to hear more about Irish musical history. 
  • Other Cultural Traditions: Gain insight into the Irish game of Hurling, dating back 2,000 years, and the Gaelic Athletic Association. Learn about Irish history and genealogy from a local expert.
  • Dramatic Landscapes: Enjoy walking along the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, special areas of outstanding geology and beauty. You’ll also drive along the Wild Atlantic Way and the scenic Loop Head Peninsula.
  • Aran Islands: Travel to Inishmore, inhabited since ancient times and a center for the Gaelic language. Learn about its history and meet a family who are modern culinary purveyors of seaweed.
  • Castles and Gardens: Learn about Irish castles, gardens, history, and science at Birr Castle and Bunratty Folk Park.

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 – Depart the U.S. for Ennis, Ireland

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Shannon, Ireland.

After arrival at Shannon International Airport, depart by motorcoach for a short drive through the Irish countryside to the upscale and centrally located Old Ground Hotel in the charming town of Ennis. Upon arrival, each traveler will receive a Welcome Package with maps and general information about Ennis and County Clare. Take time to unpack and settle in, then join fellow travelers for a walking tour through the town and discover some of the mythology and legends of the area.

In the early evening gather with fellow travelers for a welcome reception and opening remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Afterward, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel, including an exclusive performance by local musicians and dancers. (R,D)

Day 3 – The Burren and Cliffs of Moher

A full Irish buffet breakfast is served each morning at the hotel. Start the day with a visit to the Burren National Park. Your tour of the Burren starts with a nature walk, guided by a local expert. Learn about this fascinating stark limestone landscape, and about its geology, flora, fauna, and unique farming system. Lunch will be served at a family-run restaurant in the heart of the Burren.

Stop at the former home of Michael Cusack, born in the worst years of the famine, who founded the Gaelic Athletic Association, one of the great sports organizations which still exists today. Cusack’s home is now a museum dedicated to the GAA.

Continue through the Burren and visit the most iconic archaeological burial site in Ireland: the Poulnabrone Dolman. Continue to Ballyvaughan and drive along the Black Head drive, one of the most scenic drives along the Wild Atlantic Way. Continue to the majestic Cliffs of Moher, rising 702 feet at their highest point and ranging for five miles over the Atlantic Ocean. The sheer scale and dramatic visual impact of the cliffs never ceases to amaze and delight travelers. (B, L)

Day 4 – Loop Head

Start your day with a presentation by a local speaker who will talk about Irish history and genealogy. Afterward, depart on an excursion to the Loop Head Peninsula that is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other. Loop Head Drive is part of the Wild Atlantic Way and begins in Kilkee, leading along the spectacular rugged coastline to Loop Head Lighthouse. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Next, visit an informative interactive exhibition that provides a history of the Lighthouse and its operation. Join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Travelers Corner for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. (B, L)

Day 5 – Adare Manor

Travel to the village of Adare in County Limerick and home to Adare Manor, a neo-Gothic architectural masterpiece, once the family seat of the Earls of Dunraven. Today it is cherished as a warm, welcoming five-star luxury resort, defined by its spectacular setting, authentic historic character, and impeccable service. Lunch will be served at the delightful Carriage House restaurant. The Adare Manor has created an exciting menu featuring locally farmed produce, fresh seafood, and Irish dry-aged beef, which take center stage in exquisitely prepared dishes. Adare, Ireland’s prettiest village, founded in the 13th century, abounds with a rich history and a strong heritage, which remain ever present in its monuments, thatched cottages, streets, and people. Enjoy a short walking tour of the village with time afterwards to explore on your own. In late afternoon, return to Ennis and join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Travelers Corner. (B, L)

Day 6 – Birr Castle Gardens and Science Center

Today visit the award-winning Gardens and Science Center of Birr Castle. The interactive center reveals the wonders of early photography, engineering, and astronomy. You'lll find a special emphasis on the design and assembly of the world-famous Great Telescope, built in the early 1840s when it was the largest telescope in the world. Lunch will be served in Killaloe at a local restaurant featuring Irish specialties.

Later, enjoy a cruise on Lough Derg complemented with an Irish Coffee. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Counties Clare and Tipperary. This evening, gather for dinner at The Cloister restaurant in Ennis. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Aran Islands

Today, make an excursion to the Aran Islands. Drive to Doolin and take the express ferry to Inishmore. The island has been inhabited since the Stone Age and Gaelic is spoken as the first language. Tour the island with a local guide and learn about life on the island today and in the past. Meet with a family who are bringing seaweed from tide to table, restoring an age-old tradition. Continue to the mighty fort of Dún Aonghusa. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Dún Aonghusa is the largest of the prehistoric stone forts in the Aran Islands. Excavations revealed significant evidence of prehistoric metalworking, as well as several houses and burials. Afterwards return via ferry to Doolin. 

Your day concludes with a visit in the home of a local musician. Sit by an open fire and listen to traditional songs and hear stories of Irish musical heritage while enjoying a congenial glass of wine. (B, L)

Day 8 – Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Begin the day with an excursion to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Bunratty Castle stands on a strategic spot which has been occupied for over 1,000 years. Gaze through a window into Ireland’s past as you tour the castle, graciously restored in the 1960s and furnished by Lord Gort's personal collection of medieval furniture and artifacts. The Folk Park features over 30 buildings as part of a "living" village in a rural setting. Farmhouses, village shops, and streets are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time. The balance of the day is at leisure so that you can follow your own path. This evening, gather with fellow participants for a special farewell reception and dinner at the hotel. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Depart for the U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to Shannon International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)