The Ireland Connection Tour
15 Wonderful Days
- Leisurely 2 and 3 night stays
- Small groups from just 10 to 28
- Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
- 'My Time' guaranteed
Ireland in depth… a unique itinerary, with longer stops packed with wonderful sightseeing, from Temple Bar in Dublin, Killarney and the Wild Atlantic Way, to the Aran Islands, ancient megalithic tombs and the Titanic Experience in Belfast, plus the fascinating story of the mass emigration and deportation of the Irish to Australia.
Days 1, 2 & 3
- Stay 3 nights in the heart of Dublin
- Visit the the internationally acclaimed Powerscourt Gardens, Wicklow Mountains and beautiful Glendalough
- Enjoy a panoramic city tour of Georgian Dublin
- Take a fascinating ‘below decks’ tour through the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship
- Tour the famous Guinness Storehouse and sample a pint of the ‘black stuff’
- Dine in a beautifully renovated 300 year old church along with live Irish music
Days 4 & 5
- Stay 2 nights in an 18th century country house near Cork
- Visit Kilkenny, learn about Hurling, and enjoy a musical lunch experience in Malzards Irish Pub
- See the moving Australian Convict Memorial at Clonoulty
- Explore the iconic ‘Rock of Cashel’
- Kiss the world famous Blarney Stone and visit the Blarney Woollen Mills
- Enjoy an afternoon exploring the pretty port of Cobh
- Visit the Cobh Heritage centre with its stories of the mass Irish emigration, the ill-fated Titanic and Lusitania
Days 6, 7 & 8
- Stay 3 nights in vibrant Killarney
- Visit the beautiful and haunting ‘church on an island’ at Gougane Barra
- Enjoy a scenic cruise of Lough Léin on board The Lily of Killarney
- Relax on a jaunting car tour of Killarney National Parklands
- Explore the incredibly picturesque Dingle Peninsula
- Visit the Blasket Heritage Centre at Dún Chaoin
- Drive along the Wild Atlantic Way and around the Ring of Kerry
- Enjoy a special visit to Derrynane House, with its fairy garden and windswept beaches
Days 9, 10 & 11
- Stay 3 nights in lively Galway
- Enjoy Irish Coffee and a tour of the Foynes Flying Boat Museum
- Take in the incredible views along the Cliffs of Moher
- Drive through The Burren and reflect at the ‘Boy at the Workhouse Door’ memorial
- Admire the magnificent scenery in Connemara National Park
- Explore Kylemore Abbey and Gardens
- Visit the dramatic Aran Islands
- Experience Ireland’s very best folklore show – the ‘Trad on the Prom’
Days 12, 13, 14 & 15
- Stay 3 nights in a grand 19th century hotel set on 12 acres of beautiful gardens just a short drive from Belfast
- Explore the ancient megalithic tombs of Knowth
- Visit the haunting Monasterboice monastic ruins with its round tower and enormous Celtic High Crosses
- Follow the famous Causeway Coastal route to visit the Giants Causeway
- Enjoy a tour and tasting in the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
- Visit the fascinating Ulster Folk Park and the Titanic Experience in Belfast
- Dine on a Titanic themed menu for a special farewell dinner
Get yourself ready for the Ireland Connection Tour by reading more information on Ireland from our helpful destination section!
Top o’ the morning to you
There are three clear differences about this tour which really make it stand out from the pack. By now, you will know we always emphasise 3 night stops as a standard. Why? So we can see visit and experience so much more. Even though Ireland is considered a smaller, more compact destination, it is packed with incredible sights and experiences, so our longer stays become even more essential. For example, by staying 3 nights in delightful Killarney we see so much and we visit both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Bay (having dinner in a pub in Dingle is also a lot of fun). I believe it would be a huge mistake to ‘do’ just one. Yet sadly if you stay just 2 nights you see so little and are forced to make that choice. Our longer stays mean you can see and do so much more. I feel it would be a terrible tragedy if you went all the way to Ireland and totally missed the incredibly rich history and visually stunning sites dating back to Neolithic times. Think of how you will feel standing in the stunning stone fort of Dún Aengus, perched on the dramatic cliff walls of the wild Aran Islands, or in the megalithic Newgrange Passage Tomb, which is older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. These are such important visits. And at Albatross we have added another overlapping level of interest, by also interweaving the incredible story of the mass Irish migration and convict exportation to here, Australia. We have so many connections with Ireland, do come with us and discover them.
Day 1: Dublin Welcome
Your tour commences this evening in vibrant Dublin. Join us tonight for a welcome drink before dinner. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
Day 2: Dublin sightseeing and 'My Time'
This morning we have included a half day panoramic Dublin city tour which takes in all the sights from Trinity College to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Starting in the beautiful 18th century Merrion Square we get a real sense of the glory of Georgian Dublin. Here many significant Irish lived including Daniel O’Connell, the poet W B Yeats and Oscar Wilde. Nearby we make an intriguing visit to the three masted, Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship to understand what life was really like below decks for those fleeing poverty stricken Ireland two centuries ago. Later we visit the famous Guinness Storehouse, where we learn to pour the perfect pint before enjoying a pint of the ‘black stuff’. Your afternoon and evening is free - ‘My Time’ - in this most beautiful city of poets, literary giants and political reformers.
Day 3: Powerscourt Gardens, Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough
A leisurely start this morning for our visit to the magnificent Powerscourt Gardens. Covering 47 acres, these gardens are ranked the third best in the world by National Geographic! Exploring the formal walled gardens, Italian and Japanese gardens, Dolphin Pond, terraces, ornamental lakes and romantic walkways is a delight. The rest of the day will be spent exploring the beautiful Wicklow Mountains National Park. Our scenic drive takes us though shady woodlands, with streams flowing into peaceful deep lakes. A highlight will be our stop at Glendalough. Founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, this ancient monastic settlement with its 33 metre high ‘Round Tower’ is in a glorious valley setting beside a romantic lake. This evening we have included a special dinner in a beautifully renovated 300 year old church, complete with a giant pipe organ, stunning carved wooden balconies, and a traditional Irish band!
Day 4: Kilkenny, Irish Pub lunch, Clonoulty and Rock of Cashel
This morning we will explore medieval Kilkenny, with its Norman Castle, Cathedral and winding, narrow alleys filled with craft shops and stores. We have also included a lively Irish Pub lunch experience, with music, at Malzard’s Pub. The pub owner will also take you to the Hurling field next door to explain this classic Irish game, and you can even have a hit! Then it is on to the little village of Clonoulty to see the moving Australian convict memorial and hear the intriguing story. Later we have included entrance to the famous ‘Rock of Cashel’ with its sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Standing there at the top by the ruined church it is fascinating to know as you look around that 70% of all Irish emigrants to Australia came from the land within a 50 mile radius. Later we continue to Cork where we stay the next two nights.
Day 5: Blarney Castle and Cobh
This morning we have included a visit to Blarney to explore the castle grounds, ‘poison garden’ and delightful paths through the woodland. After an opportunity to kiss the world famous Blarney Stone, we will enjoy our morning break at the very popular Blarney Woollen Mills. Later we will continue to Cobh – ‘huge harbour’. Here we visit the excellent Cobh Heritage Centre, with its stories of the Titanic (Cobh was its last port of call), the ill-fated Lusitania, the early assisted emigration to the colonies from Cork and the convict transportation to Australia. Between 1791 and the early 1850s Cobh Harbour was the departure point for dozens of convict ships heading for Sydney and Hobart. Later we have time at leisure to explore this attractive, historic Irish port with its waterside cafés, bars and shops.
Day 6: Lake cruise and Jaunting Cars in Killarney
This morning we head west to Killarney. With time in hand, we take the scenic route through Macroom, and side track to visit incredibly picturesque Gougane Barra. This makes a perfect stop, with St Finbarr’s little church set romantically on a small island in the lake. Later we continue to Killarney where we stay the next three nights. This afternoon we have included a scenic lake cruise on Lough Léin on board The Lily of Killarney. Later, at Ross Castle, we board our horse drawn Jaunting Cars, for a tour through the Killarney National Parklands.
Day 7: Picturesque Dingle Peninsula
Today we enjoy a scenic drive around the incredibly picturesque Dingle Peninsula, famous for its beauty and is the setting for many of the scenes in the film ‘Ryan’s Daughter'. At the far end of the peninsula we stop and visit the Blasket Heritage Centre at Dún Chaoin (Dunquin). This fascinating museum focuses on the unique Blasket community who lived on the wild and remote Islands until their evacuation in 1953. With its interactive displays, models and artwork, the centre tells the story of traditional subsistence life on the island, their culture and struggle for existence. All this, with a fantastic back drop of sweeping views across to the islands. Later we make an afternoon stop in the quaint village of Dingle, on Dingle Bay.
Day 8: Ring of Kerry, Derrynane House and Killarney ‘My Time’
Today we will drive along the Wild Atlantic Way around the entire Iveragh Peninsula, known better as the Ring of Kerry. Renowned for its grand scenery, we make a special visit to Derrynane House, which was the ancestral home of the “great Liberator of Ireland” Daniel O’Connell (there is a statue of him by Parliament House in Melbourne). The house makes a fascinating visit having been restored to its former glory with genuine period furnishings. Make sure you take a stroll through its ‘fairy garden’ and along the windswept beach to the rocky headland. The remainder of the day is at leisure in Killarney. The vibrant town, full of shops, restaurants and music bars, is waiting for you. This evening, maybe visit a local pub for some music and the ‘craic’.
Day 9: Foynes, Cliffs of Moher and Galway
Driving north we make our first stop at Foynes to enjoy a guided visit of the Flying Boat Museum. Foynes has some important connections to Australia. The destination of two of the last flying boats ever to leave was ‘Down Under’. Foynes also claims to be the birthplace of Irish coffee and we enjoy a demonstration on how to make it properly. Naturally we must ensure they still make it right, so we enjoy a cup too! We will also stop to reflect at the incredibly moving ‘Boy at the Workhouse Door’ famine memorial near Ennistymon. Later we continue to the Cliffs of Moher to take in the incredible views along the mighty cliffs battered by the incessant Atlantic waves. Driving through ‘The Burren’ we continue to Galway where we stay three nights.
Day 10: Aran Islands
Today we visit the Aran Islands. What an experience! Crossing to Inis Mór (Inishmore) – ‘the big island’- we board our ‘Wild Atlantic Bus’ for a private tour of the island. Home of the Aran sweater, the island is laced with over a thousand kilometres of ancient stone walls and cliff top stone forts that date back thousands of years. Here we visit the remarkable Dún Aonghasa (Dún Aengus) fort. One of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland, this stone fort sits atop the huge cliffs, and the views down to the wild Atlantic rollers are inspiring. In Kilronan town, we will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. Your evening is at leisure in Galway town with its shops, buskers, restaurants and buzzing bars.
Day 11: Connemara National Park, Galway ‘My Time’ and ‘Trad on the Prom’
Today the choice is yours! Relax and enjoy ‘My Time’ to explore Galway, or join us as we travel through Connemara National Park and visit Kylemore Abbey, romantically set in woodlands beside a beautiful lake. We also make sure you have time to visit the stunning Victorian walled garden. This evening after dinner, relax and enjoy what has been voted the best Irish music and dance show in all of Ireland – the ‘Trad on the Prom’.
Day 12: Knowth, Newgrange, and Belfast
Driving across Ireland we reach the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre where we stop to visit the ancient megalithic tombs of Knowth and Newgrange. Stepping back in time, these UNESCO World Heritage listed passage tombs pre-date the Egyptian pyramids and epitomise ancient Neolithic history. Later we visit one of the most emotive sites in Ireland – the ruined monastic site of Monasterboice, with its round tower and tall Celtic high crosses. Peacefully surrounded by trees, the beautiful Muiredach cross is acknowledged as being the finest example of Celtic stonework. Entering Northern Ireland we reach Belfast where we stay the next three nights.
Day 13: Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Distillery
Today we follow the Causeway Coastal route on the Antrim Coast to visit the UNESCO Heritage listed Giant’s Causeway. Supposedly built by an Irish giant called Finn McCool, this unique geological feature consists of 40,000 hexagonal, basalt columns cutting through the broad beaches, forming an intriguing, patterned promontory stretching out to sea. We also enjoy a tour through Bushmills Distillery – the oldest licenced whiskey distillery in the world. Time for a tipple!
Day 14: Belfast Titanic Experience and Farewell Dinner
This morning we explore this rejuvenated city. Highlight of the morning will be a visit to the Titanic Experience. This multi award winning museum is an audio and visual feast as it reveals the story behind 19th century industrial Belfast and how this was indelibly linked to the story of the building of the Titanic. In the afternoon we also visit the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – a heritage time capsule of Ireland, north and south, throughout the centuries. Back at our hotel our farewell dinner promises to be special, as we feast on a Titanic themed menu.
Day 15: To Dublin
Your tour ends today after breakfast. For those departing from Belfast, the airport is a short taxi ride away. We have included a morning group transfer to Dublin, with stops at the airport and the city centre. We recommend you book flights that depart Dublin after 2pm.
Incredible Value Inclusions
- ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
- Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
- Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
- 14 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- 26 Meals – including breakfast daily (B), 2 lunches (L), 10 dinners including a special farewell dinner with ‘Titanic themed menu’ (D)
- Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
- Welcome drink in Dublin, Guinness Storehouse visit and tasting in Dublin,
- Irish coffee demonstration and tasting in Foynes, Bushmills whiskey tour and tasting
- Hand Selected Albatross Experiences – Lake Cruise and Jaunting Cars Killarney, Aran Islands boat ride, Trad on the Prom Folklore show
- Local guides as described in the itinerary
- ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
- Personal audio system whilst on tour
- Free WiFi on most coaches and at hotels
No additional 'on tour' costs!
Riu Plaza The Gresham, Dublin - 3 nights
This 4 star hotel is located in the very heart of Dublin, on the famous O’Connell Street. The contemporary guest rooms are equipped with the most excellent amenities.
Vienna Woods Hotel, Cork - 2 nights
The Vienna Woods hotel is an 18th century country house located in 22 acres of wooded grounds, in the Glanmire Valley, just a 10 minute drive from the centre of Cork. Abundant in vintage charm, the hotel offers modern amenities including complimentary WiFi in guest rooms.
Victoria House Hotel, Killarney - 3 nights
Menlo Park Hotel, Galway - 3 nights
The 4 star Menlo Park Hotel is family run and offers spacious and elegant guest rooms. The hotel is located 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre.
Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast - 3 nights
Originally built as an official Palace for the Bishops of Down, the Culloden Estate stands in 12 acres of beautiful secluded gardens and woodlands. Just a 10 minute drive from the city centre, the hotel features a spa, pool and fitness suite.
This was our 9th Albatross tour and as always it was a fantastic, well planned trip. We are leaving the tour with a greater understanding and pride of the Irish and Australian history and early hardships. The tour guide ensured we enjoyed the tour whilst seeing all the points of interest. This was all in the excellent company of other participants. We leave now to begin our 10th Albatross tour but not our last!
Jenny and Eddie
It was a privilege to be on this tour – the group size was nice and the information and commentary was outstanding. I feel I have really seen and understood the ‘real Ireland’. Thank you.