Hello Folks, it’s official, the Wail is all set to lead our first fun-filled group tour along the west coast of Ireland Oct 13-22, 2015. We get to bring 21 guests along with the Wail trio. Basically, by day we visit gorgeous coastal scenery, beaches, green hills and valleys, visiting ancient sites, stone circles, fishing villages, and more. Each night we return to our hotel, rest and refresh, and meet up for dinner and music with the Irish. We stay three days and nights at three adjoining counties. We travel in a luxury 25-30 seater coach with an Irish driver and an Irish guide.
The $2300 fee per person (based on double occupancy – limited number of “single room supplements” may be available for an extra $500 for $2800 total) covers 9 nights of lodging during the tour, all breakfasts, three group banquet dinners, all music costs, all museum and heritage center entry fees, and a seat on the luxury coach. We drop folks back off at the Shannon SNN airport the tenth morning Oct 22nd. You pay for your flights, lunches, six dinners, and your drinks and tips and any extra excursions, B & B’s, etc., that you opt for before and after the tour.
Once you’ve decided to join us we’ll need to know your name(s), email address, and whether you need one or two beds. Inishfree Tours will then send out email invoices that can be paid online with a credit card. We normally split the total cost into three payments. Since we are already six months out from the start of the tour, we will be collecting deposits and 2nd payments together. There is a deposit/2nd payment of $1550 per person ($3100 per couple) up front to secure your slot. The final payment of $750 per person ($1500 per couple) will be due 3 months out July 13th. For single rooms, there is a deposit/2nd payment of $1800 with a final $1000 payment due 3 months out July 13th.
So onto the fun stuff, below is our day to day itinerary. Note that the below schedule is often dependent on the weather. We will always have a plan B i case of rain.
Cork – Kerry – Clare Detailed Itinerary
Day 1. We welcome everyone aboard around 9:30 a.m. after your breakfast at the B &B (note: breakfast at all of the hotels and B and B’s is included in the price of the tour) and head southwards to County Cork. Our first stop is in the beautiful town of Adare, a classic Irish village on the scenic River Maigue. Here we will have a chance to stretch our legs before gathering in the beautiful town park for a brief “go around” of introductions of our fellow guests and an overview of our itinerary for the tour. We then drive south to Cork city’s historic English Market where you can procure your lunch from one of the many excellent food vendors at one of the world’s oldest municipal markets (http://www.englishmarket.ie/). From Cork we will drive on to our first hotel in Skibereen, where we will be staying at the West Cork Hotel for three nights (http://www.westcorkhotel.com). You’ll have some time to relax and freshen up before the evening’s proceedings — a group dinner in the hotel restaurant followed by a private set of excellent Irish music.
Day 2. We’ll start the day off with a visit to the Skibereen Heritage Center to delve into some Irish history with an emphasis on the tragic 19th century famine. (http://www.skibbheritage.com/famine.htm). Then we’ll drive west along scenic roads, stopping off in the village of Glandore on beautiful Glandore Bay for lunch before continuing on to the ancient Drombeg Stone circle (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Drombeg.htm) . If we have time and the weather is suitable, we’ll visit Roscarberry Beach for some some fresh sea air before returning to the Hotel. After a rest break, we’ll jump back on the bus and head into the town of Clonakilty, where you can choose from a number of dining options for dinner. Then we’ll gather at Shanley’s Pub for a great night of ceol and craic (music and fun).
Day 3. We’ll make a scenic drive to Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southwesterly point for a look at the historic lighthouse and some fabulous scenery (http://www.mizenhead.net/). From Mizen Head we’ll head into the classic fishing village of Crookhaven (http://www.crookhaven.ie/) for lunch by the bay before proceeding to the wonderfully remote Barley Cove Beach (http://www.myguideireland.com/barley-cove-beach). In the evening guests will have dinner on their own in the town of Skibbereen followed by lively entertainment at our hotel.
Day 4. Today we’ll move on to County Kerry for three days and nights on the Dingle peninsula. We’ll stop off at Molly Gallivan’s cottage and farm museum (http://www.mollygallivans.com/) to experience the classic Irish country life, followed by lunch either at Molly’s or in the nearby town of Kenmare. We’ll pass through the edge of Killarney National Park as we proceed on to the Dingle Peninsula, stopping off at Inch Beach (http://www.myguideireland.com/inch-beach) for an invigorating walk. You’ll have time to rest up and grab dinner at the hotel restaurant before an excellent private concert by talented local musicians.
Day 5. This morning we’ll visit several ancient sites in the area, such as the Gallarus Oratory (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ireland/gallarus-oratory and Kilmakedar Church (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Kilmalkedar.htm). In the afternoon we’ll take in the breathtaking Slea Head drive along one of Ireland’s most scenic stretches of scenery, making several stops including the Blasket Island heritage center ( where we will also eat lunch), and two different beaches. If you haven’t noticed, I love a stroll on the beach whenever possible : ) Then it’s back to our hotel to refresh and rest a couple of hours before our second group dinner. Followed by heading out onto the town for music at one of the many local pubs specializing in traditional music.
Day 6. Today is a partial ‘free day’. A day on your own to do whatever you feel like. We will suggest several options: hiking, shopping in Dingle, an eco tour by boat around the Blasket islands (fee required), golfing, renting a bike, or just hanging out and relaxing or going for a walk in Ballyferriter. Our bus will head into Dingle a few times throughout the day, and we’ll do our best to help get you to whatever spot you choose. We will all plan to meet up at O’Sullivan’s Court House pub (http://www.osullivanscourthousepub.com/) in Dingle at 5 p.m. for a Texas style BBQ and some fantastic Irish music (an interesting but very enjoyable combination).
Day 7. Today we all pack and head out for three days and nights up in County Clare. We’ll cross the famous River Shannon on the Tarbert Car Ferry, stop for lunch in Lahinch, a seaside town along the way, visit St. Bridget’s holy well (http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/stbrigid/St_brigids_well.html), and stop off to view one of Ireland’s most famous and spectacular sites — the Cliffs of Moher (http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/) We will be staying in the quaint town of Doolin (http://www.doolin-tourism.com/), which is renowned for its traditional Irish music scene. Accommodation will be at either B and B’s or a small, comfortable hotel. After checking in and a rest, we will meet at 7:30 at one of the local pubs for dinner on our own followed by rousing Irish trad music.
Day 8. Today, weather permitting, we take a ferry ride over to Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands (http://www.inisoirr-island.com/), a 40 minute trip from Doolin pier. We’ll get a guided tour on a classic covered wagon and grab some lunch at a small, family-run cafe. There are a couple of options for returning. You can choose the early afternoon departure and get an up-close view of the Cliffs of Moher from the sea and an incredible look at hundreds if not thousands of nesting sea birds — kittiwakes, razorbillls, guillemots, and puffins (in season – May thru July). Or if you’d rather have some extra time to explore the sublimely quiet, stone fence-lined backroads of Inisheer or hang out on the beach or mingle with the islanders in the local pub, you can catch the late afternoon ferry back to the mainland. For those who don’t like boats, there is great walking in the Doolin area and a few great shops, pitch and put golf, and pubs if the weather is iffy. In the evening we will meet at another local pub for more great music, food, and fun.
Day 9. Today is our last full day together. We will tour the Burren region of County Clare (http://www.galway.net/galwayguide/visit/burren/) including a talk by a local person about the region. The Burren is a unique limestone landscape with plenty of history encapsulated in ancient tombs, stone forts, old churches and graveyards. We’ll make a stop at the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Poulnabrone.htm) and return to Doolin on the spectacular Black Head drive along the edge of Galway Bay. In the evening we will have our last group dinner and a final “go around” of farewell thoughts on the tour, a few songs, many hugs, and possibly a few tears.
Day 10. We head back to Shannon Airport in the morning. Be sure to let us know your departure time if you fly home, or whatever other arrangements you have made for the rest of your vacation — renting a car, taking a bus, etc.
Note: Most folks come on our tour in large part for the music. Most music sessions ( a group of Irish musicians playing traditional jigs, reels, and songs, usually unplugged) begin around 9:30pm, sometimes 10pm, and continue til around midnight. This can be a bit late for most Americans at first. So be prepared for late nights. The flip side of the coin is that we don’t head out most mornings until 10am, so you can either sleep in or clear your head with a walk before we leave for the next day’s activities. And you are always free to stay in any night. We pride ourselves on our flexibility.
Also, a free full Irish breakfast is provided B & B style at each hotel, normally in the dining room. Usually between approximately 8 – 9:30am.
Also: We want you all to know that if for any reason you prefer to sit out any of our planned day or evening outings to do something on your own or just relax, that is perfectly fine. Just let us know so we know how many heads to count in the bus.
If the above info does not answer all your questions, contact John and Jo at Inishfree Tours below.
We look forward to hearing from you and sharing 10 days and nights in Ireland taking in breathtaking beauty by day and hearing fabulous music with the Irish folks each night.
Thank you for your continued support and belief that music does indeed make the world a better place.
Sims and Maggie and Jeffo – the Wail