Visit to Erie'

Groups Only: April - November

Day 1  Arrival in Dublin, Ireland. (Thu.) Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax in the Irish capital. Before dinner join your tour director and traveling companions for a toast to happy touring. (D)

Day 2 Dublin. Boyne Valley Excursion & City Tour. (Fri.) Motor north to the lovely Boyne Valley, scene of a bloody 17th-century battle. Near Drogheda, visit the BOYNE VALLEY VISITOR CENTRE and KNOWTH, where your local guide explains a fascinating passage-grave dating from the Bronze Age. Return to Dublin through history-steeped landscapes. Your afternoon orientation tour takes in statue-lined O'Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Visit Oscar Wilde's TRINITY COLLEGE, famous for the 1,200-year-old Book of Kells and the magnificent Old Library. Tonight your tour director will suggest an optional dinner outing to a fine Dublin restaurant. (FB)

Day 3 Dublin-Sligo. (Sat.) Horse-racing country this morning. Drive across the Curragh to the IRISH NATIONAL STUD at Kildare, whose thoroughbreds command respect on the racecourses of the world. Then north to Longford for a visit to STROKESTOWN HOUSE for a guided tour of the restored 1740's mansion, a stroll through its fine gardens, and at the Famine Museum an insight into the circumstances of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840's. On the way to Sligo stop at Boyle for photos of the Cistercian Abbey ruins. (FB,D)

Day 4 Sligo-Galway. (Sun.) South to Knock, a village that attracts pilgrims from all over the world since townsfolk saw apparitions. Via Westport head for the unspoiled region of Connemara, an area known for its hardy breed of ponies. Visit KYLEMORE ABBEY, a massive yet graceful castle acquired by Benedictine nuns as a precious heirloom for Ireland. At Moycullen visit a CONNEMARA MARBLE FACTORY before arriving in the port city of Galway. Tonight's recommendation: join your tour director for an optional evening at Dunguaire Castle, where the intimate banquet has an enlightening literary theme. (FB)

Day 5 Galway. Excursion to the Aran Islands. (Mon.) At Rossaveal, board a comfortable, modern ferry for the 45-minute crossing to Kilronan on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, where Gaelic is the first language of the islanders. Your fascinating day continues with a visit to the ARAN HERITAGE CENTRE and after a lunch break board a minibus to enjoy your local driver-guide's commentary on a tour of the island, ending with a visit to clifftop DUN AENGUS, one of the most spectacular and dramatic prehistoric stone forts in Europe. After a call into the VISITOR CENTRE, time to shop for unique hand-knitted Aran sweaters before boarding your ferry back to the mainland. Dinner is at your hotel this evening. (FB,D)

Day 6 Galway-Limerick. (Tue.) At RATHBAUN FARM this morning, watch the farmer shear a sheep and maneuver a flock with the help of a sheep dog. Then enjoy your morning coffee and home-baked scones in the 150-year-old farmhouse. Take the scenic route across the desolate limestone plateau known as The Burren, and stop for photos of prehistoric Poulnabrone Dolmen. At Kilfenora, take in THE BURREN CENTRE where the audio-visual and displays bring to life this remarkable region. The newly restored ancient cathedral and mysterious Celtic crosses in the churchyard form an important center of early Irish Christianity: Kilfenora is Ireland's smallest diocese. At the Cliffs of Moher, rising 668 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, savor the breathtaking panorama of the Clare coast. Tonight, why not join your tour director for a traditional Irish night, a fun ceili of song and dance in the setting of a village barn. (FB)

Day 7 Limerick-Killarney . (Wed.) On this morning's city tour view the Treaty Stone and St. Mary's Cathedral, and visit KING JOHN'S CASTLE in the medieval heritage precinct. South now via quaint Adare with its thatched cottages to the popular resort of Killarney, your destination for the next two nights. Tonight an entertaining optional evening in Tralee with dinner at the Galleon Restaurant followed by tickets for Siamsa Tire National Folk Theatre. (FB)

Day 8 Killarney. Ring of Kerry Excursion. (Thu.) Join the famed "Ring of Kerry" for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island's southwestern tip. Plenty on which to focus your camera here: sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and the breathtaking panorama of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. Back in Killarney a special treat: a fun-filled horsedrawn JAUNTING CAR RIDE through the National Park with glorious vistas of the Lakes of Killarney and ancient Ross Castle. (FB,D)

Day 9 Killarney-Waterford. (Fri.) Across the Kerry Mountains drive into County Cork for a visit to Blarney, renowned for its castle and magical Kissing Stone. Time for lunch, to walk up to the castle, and to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts. In the afternoon proceed via Cork, Youghal, and Dungarvan to Waterford, a stronghold founded by the Danish Vikings in 853. Here enjoy a visit to the world-famous WATERFORD CRYSTAL FACTORY. (FB,D)

Day 10 Waterford-Dublin. (Sat.) Today's agenda: Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the
Great Rebellion of 1798; Ireland's oldest HANDWEAVING MILL at Avoca; POWERSCOURT HOUSE and GARDENS with stunning views of the Wicklow Mountains. Back in Dublin tonight, as a fitting farewell to Ireland, your tour director will suggest reserving seats for an enjoyable Irish dinner and cabaret show. (FB)

Day 11 (Sun.) Your homebound flight arrives the same day. (FB)

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BOYNE VALLEY Guided tour of the Bronze Age passage-grave at Knowth
DUBLIN Orientation drive, visit Trinity College
KILDARE Guided tour of the Irish National Stud
STROKESTOWN HOUSE Guided tour of the house and famine museum, and visit the gardens
KNOCK Visit the religious site
KYLEMORE Visit the Benedictine abbey
CONNEMARA Visit a marble factory
ARAN ISLANDS Ferry to and from Inishmore, visit the Heritage Centre, take a minibus tour with a driver-guide, visit Dun Aengus and its visitor centre
RATHBAUN FARM See the farmer at work and enjoy morning coffee in the farmhouse
KILFENORA Visit The Burren Centre
LIMERICK Orientation drive, visit King John's Castle
KILLARNEY Horsedrawn jaunting car ride
BLARNEY Visit the famous woolen mills
WATERFORD Guided tour of the Waterford Crystal factory
AVOCA Guided tour of the handweaving mill
POWERSCOURT Visit the house and gardens
SCENIC HIGHLIGHTS: Connemara, Aran Islands, The Burren and Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Lakes of Killarney and the National Park and Ross Castle, Wicklow Mountains
MEALS: Welcome drink before dinner at your hotel in Dublin; 10 full Irish breakfasts (FB); 5 three-course dinners (D) with choice of menus and coffee

INSIDE VISITS as shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable

DUBLIN Clarion (SF), SLIGO Riverside (F), GALWAY Jurys Inn (F), LIMERICK Jurys Hotel (SF), KILLARNEY Holiday Inn (F), WATERFORD Tower (F), DUBLIN Hilton (SF)

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