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Travel Tips of the Week: March 18, 2014

Ireland Tour

Experience The Best of Ireland

By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor

With St. Patrick’s Day and all its reminders of Ireland, many of us, whether or not we’re of Irish descent,  develop a yen to visit the “ol’ sod.”  This week’s Travel Tips of the Week bring you information about one such tour,  the Trafalgar Tours 11-Day Best of Ireland 2014. This round-trip, in-depth focus will reveal to you how Ireland’s landscapes determine its lifestyle, uniting popular essentials like kissing the Blarney Stone with meetings with local characters, as well as insider moments like foraging for wildflowers, free-growing herbs and seaweed on the untamed Atlantic shore. This is the daily itinerary, following your overnight flight to Dublin:
DAY 2 — In Dublin purchase a hop-on and hop-off bus pass and visit the Guinness factory for a pint. Later meet your fellow travelers and travel director for a sightseeing tour of this wonderful city, before enjoying a welcome reception on a canal barge cruising along Dublin’s 200-year old canals.
DAY 3 — After breakfast, head through scenic Co. Wicklow, known as “the Garden of Ireland,” and on to New Ross — the ancestral home town of the late president John F. Kennedy. Visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship and gain a unique insight into the plight of Irish emigrants. Later in the day you’ll arrive in Waterford and see how the famous crystal is crafted during a guided tour of its visitor center. An optional excursion will be a walking tour with a local guide who also acts as an entertaining and funny seanachie, or storyteller.
DAY 4 —  Leave Waterford and visit the historic seaport town of Youghal, once home to Sir Walter Raleigh. Journey on to Blarney and its castle where you’ll get to kiss the famous stone. Later, arrive in Killarney, your home for the next two nights.  In Killarney, you might want to take one of the traditional pony and trap rides through the streets and into the beautiful Bourne-Vincent National Park.
DAY 5 — This morning you will enjoy one of the most magical and varied places in the whole of Ireland and a true photographer’s delight. You’ll see Daniel O’Connell’s Cahirciveen, the fishing village of Waterville, the Black Valley and Moll’s Gap.  Here, mountains, valleys, lakes and sea blend into a landscape that is often breathtaking beyond words.
DAY 6 — Head to the Dingle Peninsula with its small fishing towns and rugged landscape.  En route you visit Adare, known as one of the prettiest villages in Ireland. Arrive in Limerick with its views of St. Mary’s Cathedral, King John’s Castle and the Treaty Stone.  I recommend an optional evening banquet (including entertainment) at the Bunratty Castle it’s well-worth the money.
DAY 7 — Explore Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, which is dedicated to life in Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries. Then arrive on the dramatic and rugged coast for a unique experience which includes foraging for local wild plants before sitting down for a hearty lunch with spectacular views.  Visit the magnificent Cliffs of Moher and see local history brought to life with a visit to the “Atlantic Edge” exhibition.  Your final destination for the day is Galway.
DAY 8 — Explore the unspoiled region of Western Ireland captured in the film “The Quiet Man” which featured John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.  See the untouched landscape of the Connemarra with its Twelve Bens mountain range and golden beaches that stretch out into the Atlantic. During your scenic drive there is a stop at Kylemore Abbey for a visit to the country’s most romantic castle and walk through the Victorian Walled Garden.
DAY 9 — Head north to the town of Knock to view the Marian Shrine.  You’ll also see the grave of Irish poet W.B. Yeats in the churchyard of Drumcliff. Explore the region of Co. Donegal where old traditions still play a part in everyday life.  And, in the town of Donegal, you’ll see the castle which was once the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan.
DAY 10 — Enjoy a scenic drive along the banks of Loch Erne in Northern Ireland before you arrive in Dublin. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this lively city.  Walk down the main street, Grafton Street, the Trinity College with its famed Book of Kells and Dublin’s many museums.
DAY 11- Transfer to the Dublin International Airport for your flight home.  Or, extend your stay in Dublin to further explore this marvelous city.
The fare for this 11-day vacation is from $2299 per person/double occupancy. For more information consult your travel agent or me at trvwritr2@aol.com.

Jean Strauber

Entertainment Writer

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