The Great Sights & Sounds of Ireland!
November 1-10, 2008
Click here for General Conditions
Click here for the Enrollment Sheet
Click here for Cost and What's Included
The true soul of Ireland is to be found in its music - real, true Irish traditional music, not the tourist, pub-song shoutfest featured in so many Irish locations. We're talking the REAL Irish tradition. This tour features a dynamic daytime sightseeing itinerary with top quality optional music events every night, personally arranged by Bill Margeson, radio personality and the most widely read Irish music writer / reviewer in the world. In addition to performances held in warm, open audience settings, you are invited to sit in on some very special informal "sessions" with the very best of the best Irish musicians. Come share the quality and joy of the musical friendships Bill has built over a quarter of a century in the friendly & intimate atmosphere of the Irish pub, where the music is rolled out to the sound of clinking pints, laughter and conversation with musicians and friends all around.
A traditional Irish music "session"
The Great Sights & Sounds of Ireland Tour Itinerary:
Saturday, November 1 - CHICAGO O'HARE TO DUBLIN
Depart Chicago's O'Hare International Airport aboard Aer Lingus, the Irish airline, for an overnight flight across the Atlantic. Enjoy in-flight entertainment and meal service as you travel to start your vacation.
Sunday, November 2 - DUBLIN ARRIVAL, DUBLIN CASTLE & GUINNESS STOREHOUSE
After your morning arrival at Dublin Airport, complete customs and immigration formalities. Then your CIE Tours driver/guide will welcome you to Ireland and escort you and your luggage to the motorcoach. Enjoy an orientation drive around Dublin, through the heart of one of the liveliest capitals in Europe. Stop to tour Dublin Castle, which has featured prominently in Irish history. See the State Apartments where many state functions are held in the richly decorated chambers. Next visit the Guinness Storehouse to see exhibits on how this world famous stout was first created and why it is so beloved today. Finish your visit in the roof-top Gravity Bar, overlooking the city center where you can sample a draft Guinness and enjoy the view of the city. Then check into your hotel, next to one of the lovely public parks at Merrion Square. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to rest or explore some of the city on your own. This evening you are free to choose from the many restaurants and pubs that Dublin has to offer. You may wish to walk a short distance with Bill Margeson through the famous Temple Bar area to find Oliver St. John Gogarty's Restaurant and Pub, where traditional Irish music is offered from 2 p.m to 2 a.m. every day along with a delicious reasonably priced menu.
DINNER: ON YOUR OWN OVERNIGHT: MONT CLARE HOTEL, DUBLIN www.ocallaghanhotels.com
Oliver St. John Gogarty's Traditional Irish Restaurant & Pub
Monday, November 3 - THE MIDLANDS & STROKESTOWN MUSEUM
Depart Dublin and travel through the midlands of Ireland where you can see many types of farms and market towns. Head northwest to Strokestown Park House which dates from the 17th century. This fine mansion shows the lifestyle of the affluent owners and also the conditions of servants and farmers of the area, particularly during the dreadful Famine of the 1840's when many Irish emigrated to the United States. Continue on to delightful Westport to check into your hotel located on the town square. Following dinner in your hotel with your fellow travelers, you may wish to join Bill on a musical pub crawl around town!
DINNER & OVERNIGHT: CLEW BAY HOTEL, WESTPORT www.clewbayhotel.com
A session with David Munnelly on Button Box
Tuesday, November 4 - BALLINTUBBER ABBEY & WESTPORT
After breakfast this morning, drive a short distance towards Castlebar to visit Ballintubber Abbey. Known as the "Abbey that Refused to Die", it was founded in 1216 by King Cathal O'Conor and retains an air of ancient beauty and spirituality, having been restored with simple elegance. It is beside a 5th century monastic site associated with St. Patrick and is a resting place for pilgrims on the route to the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, some 22 miles away. After your visit, return to Westport for the afternoon at leisure for independent sightseeing and shopping. Following an early dinner in your hotel, an exciting traditional music session awaits you at Matt Molloy's Pub. Bill has specially arranged with his friend, David Munnelly, to entertain you with the best of traditional Irish music. Munnelly has won several international Awards, including Group of the Year and Concert of the Year. He is considered one of the great button box players in the history of Irish music. Enjoy superb music in an intimate pub setting along with conversation, laughter and perhaps a few pints!
DINNER & OVERNIGHT: CLEW BAY HOTEL, WESTPORT
Kylemore Abbey in Connemara
Wednesday, November 5 - CONNEMARA SCENIC DRIVE & KYLEMORE ABBEY
Depart Westport and travel through County Mayo, passing by Croagh Patrick, where St. Patrick is said to have spent 40 days and nights at the summit, praying and fasting for the people of Ireland during the middle of the 5th century. Continue on to picturesque Kylemore Abbey, a 19th century neo-Gothic mansion overlooking Kylemore Lake. Originally a private residence, it is now a prestigious international girls' school. Then drive through the awesome Connemara region and admire the sweeping views of boglands and misty mountains. As you drive you will see sheep grazing freely and tracts of bogland where some people hand-cut peat for home heating. Continue your drive to the bustling city of Galway and check into your hotel. Enjoy some free time to relax and settle in before joining your group for dinner.
DINNER & OVERNIGHT: WESTWOOD HOUSE HOTEL, GALWAY www.westwoodhousehotel.com
Thursday, November 6 - CONNEMARA MARBLE FACTORY, CELTIC CRYSTAL, "QUIET MAN" WALKING TOUR
This morning drive outside of Galway to Moycullen to visit the Connemara Marble Factory. The soft green shades of this uniquely Irish marble echo the colors of the countryside from which it is cut. Browse in the small jewelry shop before continuing on to the nearby Celtic Crystal Factory, a family business that specializes in designs based on the shamrock, Claddagh ring and harp - often in colored crystal. Watch a craftsman demonstrate the cutting of designs and see the full range of products in the showroom, including international award-winning crystal creations. After your visit continue your drive to the quaint village of Cong where "The Quiet Man" was filmed in 1952 with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Take a short walking tour to see places associated with the movie, which was the first to feature Ireland's gorgeous landscapes and villages. Finish your walk at the Quiet Man Heritage Cottage, filled with movie memorabilia. Return to Galway for an early dinner in your hotel with your group. This evening, Bill has planned another fabulous session for you, featuring Enda Scahill and fellow musicians. Enda is the five-time All-Ireland Banjo Player and has won several Awards, including Musician of the Year from LiveIreland.com and The Irish-American News. Enjoy tremendous traditional Irish music in an intimate pub setting up close with Enda and Bill.
DINNER & OVERNIGHT: WESTWOOD HOUSE HOTEL, GALWAY
Cliffs of Moher
Friday, November 7 - CLIFFS OF MOHER & BURREN COAST
Drive around Galway Bay and through the Burren Country, a unique region of limestone outcroppings renowned for its flora and prehistoric stone monuments. Stop to view the majestic Cliffs of Moher, a rocky wall that plunges nearly 700 feet down to the foaming Atlantic Ocean. Continue south to take a short ferry ride across the River Shannon to the moutainous regions of County Kerry, to arrive at the town of Dingle. Check into your hotel with some time to freshen up before dinner. Following dinner in your hotel you may choose to join Bill exploring Dingle's pubs, experiencing this delightful small town's rich music and lively atmosphere.
DINNER & OVERNIGHT: DINGLE BENNER'S HOTEL www.dinglebenners.com
Saturday, November 8 - DINGLE PENINSULA & BLASKET CENTRE
Today discover the beauties of the Dingle Peninsula, made famous by David Lean's movie, "Ryan's Daughter". Drive along the breathtaking south shore of the peninsula for plenty of vistas of heathery mountains, sandy stretches of beach and rocky headlands. There will be frequent stops at strategic locations to admire the views and take photos. Continue out western tip of the peninsula to Dunquin and visit the Blasket Centre to learn about the Blasket Islands, inhabited until 1953 by hardy families who eked out a living by farming and fishing. Return to Dingle early afternoon and enjoy some time to relax before re-joining your group for an early dinner and an electrifying performance with Eilis Kennedy at Moriarty's Pub in Dingle. Eilis is an icon in traditional music, and her Awards include Vocal Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. She is internationally recognized as a master singer of real Irish music.
DINNER & MUSIC: MORIARTY'S WITH EILIS KENNEDY OVERNIGHT: DINGLE BENNER'S HOTEL
"Yankee Clipper" at Foynes Flying Boat Museum
Sunday, November 9 - FOYNES FLYING BOAT MUSEUM, LIMERICK PANORAMIC DRIVE & TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC FESTIVAL
Depart Dingle this morning and travel into County Limerick to reach the Foynes Flying Boat Museum on the River Shannon. During the 1930's and 1940's, the port of Foynes was the fulcrum point for international air traffic between the United States and Europe. The Foynes museum recalls the era with a comprehensive range of exhibits, graphic illustrations and a full-scale mockup of the famous "Yankee Clipper" sea plane. You may wish to sample an Irish coffee here, where it was first created. After your visit, drive a short distance to stop at the lovely village of Adare, with it's picturesque thatched cottages along the main street. Then drive to Limerick for a panoramic driving tour of the city, which features the sights made famous by Frank McCourt's biography, "Angela's Ashes." Pass the 13th century King John's Castle in the center of town. This imposing fortress with its massive walls and towers has guarded the River Shannon crossing for the past 700 years. After your tour, drive west through the Shannon region and into Ennis to check into your hotel, located in the heart of the town. Join the annual Traditional Irish Music Festival all around you. Following a farewell dinner in your hotel, wonderful music opportunities await you in the pubs and performance halls of Ennis, as the Trad Fest continues throughout the evening.
DINNER & OVERNIGHT: TEMPLE GATE HOTEL, ENNIS www.templegatehotel.com
Monday, November 10 - RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES
Sadly, today your Irish music vacation has come to an end. Transfer from Ennis to the Shannon Airport in plenty of time to check in for your flight and claim your VAT refund. You may wish to do some last minute shopping at the duty free stores. Then clear U.S. Immigration before boarding your aircraft and flying across the Atlantic Ocean back to the United States.