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  Irish step dancers  Typical landscape in Ireland. Credit: Ireland Tourism  Landscape of the Burren   Limestone surface of the Burren   The village of Clifden. Credit: Courtesy Ireland Tourism Bureau  Loop Head Peninsula  Birr Castle in western Ireland  The Great Telescope at Birr Castle  Bunratty Castle  Landscape of the fabled Aran Islands  Isle of Aran shop. Credit: Ireland Tourism Bureau  Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay   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 July 3, 2020!

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 stay program showcases Ireland’s renowned cultural 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 an exclusive performance of music and dance, and more informal gatherings in the hotel pub (or other pubs)! Plus, meet a musician in his home to hear more about Irish musical history. 
  • Other Cultural Traditions: Learn about the Irish game of Hurling, dating back 2,000 years, and the Gaelic Athletic Association. Sample the four pillars of Irish whiskey during a pub tour led by a whiskey expert. Travel to Cork for a culinary excursion focused on Irish apple brandy and a special luncheon. 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

Day 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. There’s time to unpack and settle in before joining 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 / 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 and The Cliffs of Moher. Your tour of the Burren starts with a nature walk, guided by a local expert. Learn about this fascinating stark limestone landscape, and learn about its geology, flora, fauna, and unique farming system. Lunch will be served at a family-run restaurant in the heart of the Burren. Continue the tour and stop for a visit to the most photographed Neolithic Dolmen in Ireland; the Poulnabrone Dolmen. Continue to Ballyvaughan and drive to Black Head, one of the most scenic drives along the Wild Atlantic Way. Continue to the majestic Cliffs of Moher, rising to 702 feet at their highest point and ranging five miles along the Atlantic ocean. The sheer scale and dramatic impact of the cliffs never cease to amaze and delight in equal measure. Visit the home of a local musician just outside of Doolin. Sit by the open fire and listen to traditional songs and hear stories of Irish musical history. (B,L)

Day 4 – Aran Islands

Return to Doolin this morning and take the express ferry to Inishmore Island that has been inhabited since the Stone Age and a place where Gaelic is spoken as a first language. Tour the island with a local guide and learn about life on the island today and in the past. Stop to visit a family that harvests seaweed, restoring an age-old tradition to supply the new food generation. Continue to the mighty fort of Dun Aengus, perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. It is the largest of the prehistoric stone forts in the Aran Islands. Originally constructed circa 1100 B.C., excavations revealed significant evidence of prehistoric metalworking as well as several homes and burials. After returning to Ennis, discover the charming pubs nestled along its medieval streets while learning about Irish Whiskey. Experts from the Ennis Whiskey Club will guide you from pub to pub and will present each whiskey for tasting in a relaxed and informal pub atmosphere. (B,L)

Day 5 – Longueville House, Cork

Of the 500-acres that make up the estate of Longueville House, 25 are planted with apple trees from which the O’Callaghan family produces one of the best independent craft apple ciders in Ireland. Some of this is then double distilled to make Irelands only apple brandy. Chef/Proprietor William O’Callaghan along with his team will prepare a luncheon including fresh seasonal ingredients and what’s best available from the estate farms washed down with Longueville House’s cider and finished-off with a toast with apple brandy! Return to Ennis. Later, get together in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for some lively conversation. (B,L)

Day 6 – Birr Castle Gardens and Science Center

Depart this morning to visit the award-winning Gardens and Science Center of Birr Castle. The interactive center reveals the wonders of early photography, engineering, and astronomy with 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 breath-taking views of Counties Clare and Tipperary. This evening, gather for dinner at The Cloister restaurant in Ennis. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Loop Head Peninsula

This morning, start the day with a local expert who will talk about Irish History and Genealogy. Afterward, depart on an excursion to the Loop Head Peninsula that’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shannon Estuary. The 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. Join fellow travelers and your Smithsonian Journeys Expert in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. (B,L)

Day 8 – Bunratty Castle

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. Graciously restored in the 1960's and furnished by Lord Gort's personal collection of medieval furniture and artifacts, you’ll gaze through a window into Ireland’s past. The Folk Park features over 30 buildings in 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)