Fly out March 20- March 29, 2020*
*Arrive into Dublin from ski week or from States ON March 21. If flying from States, you leave on 20th.
9 days / 8 nights from $1699*
Minimum trip size has been achieved as of October 30, 2019. This trip is a GO!
*For single occupancy, room upgrade rates, deposit and cancellation data, trip minimum surcharges, deposits, and final payment details, go to Ireland Logistics page linked below.
This adventure can be done as a Post-Ski-Week trip OR as a Stand-Alone Tour
Columbia employees CLICK for information page.
~ The Emerald Isle ~
Green as far as the eye can see
Music that fills your heart and soul
Sea cliffs towering with majestic views
and where centuries-old ruins fire your imagination
Come share with us what we experienced last April.
Come with us to
and the world’s best Guinness flows.
and magnificent restored castles provide us with luxurious accommodations.
– 8 NIGHTS in 4 and 5-star accommodations with daily breakfast.
– Stays in Dublin, Killarney, Doolin, a 5 Star castle near Donnegal, and a castle near Cavan / New Grange. Three of the nights will be in castles.
– Two gourmet castle dinners.
–Hike the Gap of Dunloe with incredible 1.5 hour boat return thru Killarney Lakes National Park.
( Horse-drawn carriage optional for extra cost.) OR
( Instead of Gap of Dunloe, opt for a driving tour of The Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula.)
-Guided visit to the Rock of Cashel, Ireland’s most famous cathedral/fortress ruin.
– Visit to an abbey ruin containing some of the best ancient stone carvings in Ireland.
– Visit to the Cliffs of Moher, the second-highest sea cliffs in Europe.
(Optional viewing of the cliffs from sea level on a boat tour as well.)
-Optional: Ferry ride to Aran Islands for a glorious day in a very unusual and very old place.
–Guided visit to New Grange, one of the oldest tomb- monuments in the world.
-– ALL ground transportation on private chartered bus.
-As with every one of our tours, Dan and Deb will be right there with everyone enjoying the food, wine, and Guinness with you all! This is the reason we do this business…Exploring marvelous places with friends old and new.
Note: For those doing the ski week in Italy who are joining our Ireland trip, you will have to purchase a one-way air ticket on March 23 from Milan to Dublin, Ireland and book your return ticket to the States from Dublin. Those doing Ireland tour only fly into and out of Dublin. See the Ireland logistics page for all the details.
Read below for the many exciting details of this journey. Take the time to read the descriptions of the itinerary and BE SURE to look at the numerous linked photo galleries of what we saw on our exploratory trip this past March. If you do, you will understand our enthusiasm to return and share it all with you!
We are going back to Ireland. Let us share with you what we discovered.
Journey with us in this enchanted place!
If ever there was an enchanted land inhabited by hobbits, elves, and fairies, it has to be Ireland. It truly is a wonderous place. This past April, Deb and I spent two weeks looking for the out-of-the-ordinary. Our goal was to discover things off the beaten track. We wanted to find charming countryside locales that most tours don’t get to. Mission accomplished! Starting in Dublin, we drove over a thousand miles covering all sections of Ireland, including a bit of Northern Ireland. What an adventure it was! The countryside is right out of Lord of the Rings. It is Middle Earth. We kept expecting to see Hobbits! The green of the landscapes is so brilliant it is easy to see why it is called The Emerald Isle. The rolling hills dotted with castle ruins and sheep are endless. Passing through one charming village after another is fascinating. The food and drink were authentic. We especially loved the soups and the brown soda bread with fresh Irish butter. The Guinness is unlike anywhere else. The music in the Irish pubs is legendary. We have never been to a country where the music so defines a people and which courses through the veins of everyone. You have to be in a pub when every person starts to sing along to some ancient ballad to understand this. It is awesome. And the musicians?…. incredible.
We came away from our journey enthralled and excited. We knew we had to put together the best of what we found and return with friends to the Emerald Isle. Our goal was to find the unusual and the not-so-well known. We have put together a tour that we feel will provide a taste of the real Ireland. It offers what most tours do not. It will give you an intimate and real Irish experience.
Please read the itinerary details below and be sure to look at all the photo galleries related to each place you will experience. We are making this a small group experience and have only 25 available spots. Deb and Dan will be there for the entire glorious trip. We invite you to join us.
How does this tour work?
Our Ireland tour can be done as a post-ski-week trip or for those not skiing with us in Italy the week prior to Ireland, it can be done as a stand-alone trip. If you are doing this as a post-ski week, you will fly from Milan to Dublin, Ireland (fare not incuded), the starting point of your Irish adventure. We can help book this air segment.
For those doing this tour as a stand-alone tour and are not doing our ski week prior, you fly to Dublin from your home airport and meet us in Dublin by the night of March 21. Either way, there is no air component included in the package.
What about the weather in Ireland in Spring time?
Straight up: You never go to Ireland to work on your sun tan. No matter what time of year, there is always a chance of showers. . Spring, summer, and fall are all about the same in terms of chance of rain. I have spent 32 days touring in Ireland in Spring and Fall and I had short periods of rain on 4 of those days and full afternoons of rain twice. So at the end of the day, it is like anywhere. You never know what weather you will get. Spring is as good as any other time to go weather-wise and the temperatures are moderate.
Driving in Ireland: The advantage of leaving the driving to a charter bus driver is immense. For what it costs one person to do our Ireland tour is the same as what we spent renting a car. Plus you can relax and not deal with the driving challenges of Ireland.
For all UPGRADE room options and costs, deposit/cancellation details,
Click Ireland Logistics Page
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DAY BY DAY ITINERARY AND LODGING DETAILS
March 21, 2020: DUBLIN
Everyone must arrive in Dublin on or before March 21. Whether you are arriving after our ski week or from the U.S. makes no difference. You arrive at the Dublin airport and take a cab to our hotel in the heart of Dublin. Our hotel, The Green Hotel is a fantastic Dublin location. You will be a short walk to Trinity College, the Book of Kells, Temple Bar with all the pubs and music. Our hotel is 4 star and excellent on every level. Organized tours: We are going to offer two fantastic options for everyone. Because we are not sure of when everyone will arrive, we are making these optional. Dublin and Ireland’s history is
fascinating and the best way to introduce yourself to it is with a walking tour. We will offer this option on the later side of the afternoon of the 21st. For the evening, we highly recommend the Traditional Irish Music/ Pub tour in Temple Bar. We loved this evening! You visit three very old traditional pubs accompanied by several Irish musicians who play and explain the roots of Irish music while you enjoy some fine Irish Guinness or whisky.
We are only spending one night in Dublin, as the primary focus of our tour is the countryside and the out-of-the-way places. Dublin is a wonderful place and is worthy of a couple of day’s exploration. We advise spending at least an extra day or two here. This is easily done on this tour. You can arrive a day or two early and explore Dublin on your own with some guidance from us beforehand. Or you can add on a night or two at the end of the tour. We can arrange a hotel stay at our fabulous hotel as an option for you…. easy to do. Single occupancy upgrade at The Greens hotel is $119 per night.
Click Dublin gallery
March 22: On the road to Killarney
Jerpoint Abbey, Rock of Cashel, Killarney / Drive time @3 hours
We begin our adventure with a lovely drive to the location of our first two-night stay: Killarney. Along the way we will visit two spectacular sites. Jerpoint Abbey is an old Friary that is around 600 years old. The highlight is the stone carvings on the walls and columns, some the finest left in Ireland.
Click Jerpoint Abbey Gallery
After Jerpoint Abbey will carry on to one of the most famous places in Ireland: The Rock of Cashel. The ruins of a fortress and cathedral situated on the top of a hill with commanding views of the valley will come to life with a short guided tour by a local guide. It is a must-see on any Irish visit.
Click Rock of Cashel Gallery
Killarney was our favorite city of the entire trip. You can walk to everything you need.
The old town center is full of shops, restaurants, and pubs offering some of the finest Irish music to be found. We visited five pubs in one evening and every one of them had excellent music. What a nice way to spend an evening. Our hotel in Killarney is a 4 star beauty that we happened upon by chance. The Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa is gorgeous with grand stair cases, luxurous rooms, and a fab Irish bar or two. Breakfast is included both days. Suite room upgrade is possible for $109 total per person for both nights. Single occupancy upgrade is +$99 for both nights.
Click Killarney Town Gallery
Click Killarney Plaza Hotel Gallery
March 23: Gap of Dunloe with a return boat ride on Killarney Lakes
(or alternative: Drive tours of Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula)
This day will be a scenery overload experience, no matter which activity you choose. We recommend the Gap of Dunloe because it is way less busy and a more active day. But you can opt for a driving day around the beautiful Ring of Kerry or Dingle. All alternatives are included in your tour price.
Killarney is 15 minutes away from the start of the walk up to the Gap of Dunloe. It is a wonderful walk of 7 miles up to a pass (gap). The walk goes through averdant valley with lakes and rivers. It is about a 2.5 hour walk along a paved pathway. There is a good bit of moderate climbing. It is a great activity if you love walking and hiking. ALTERNATIVE: You can experience the same route up to the Gap via a horse-drawn carriage ride. It costs 50 euros per person, but it is a great 1 hour ride. You end up on the other side of the Gap in the adjacent valley, the same as the hikers. It follows the same route. At the end of the hike or ride, you end up at a lake. There is a small restaurant to get lunch or some refreshments. After lunch, we will all board a traditional Irish lake boat for a spectacular 1.5 hour boat ride throught three lakes and several river passageways that make up Killarney Lakes Naitional Parks. It is all wilderness with only an occasional fisherman along the way. It is a special place. We highly recommend this activity.
Alternative activities same day: The same tour company that organizes the hike/lake activity above also offers bus tours to two very popular scenic drives: The Ring of Kerry, which is an all-day ride, and the Dingle Peninsula, which is a shorter tour. Both offer beautiful scenic panoramas of the countryside and the sea. They are a very different experience than the hike/boat ride, of course. You can read about these two drives on line on your own and decide which of the three choices you want. We take care of the details. Evening in Killarney at your leisure.
March 24: Drive to Doolin… The Cliffs of Moher / Aran Islands / Drive @1.5 hours
We are sharing a secret but you have to promise not to tell! The secret is the tiny village of Doolin. Nestled along the rugged western coastline of Ireland, Doolin is in the heart of some must-see big deals. The village itself is tiny, tiny. But in this charming little place is a wonderful 4-star hotel that you will love. The Hotel Doolin is cozy and friendly and the rooms are gorgeous. The hotel sports a pub and a Michelin-rated restaurant. And it is right in the middle of where we want to be for this phase of your adventure. Within short walking distances are two wonderful authentic Irish pubs. One in particular we loved.
In fact, I bought a shirt from this pub which the employees wore. I went into the kitchen and told them I was ready to start taking orders if I could keep the tips. They told me to shut up and that I needed to start my work by cleaning the bathrooms first. I quit. Shortest job I ever had! Anyway, the food in the pubs is excellent and the music was AMAZING! You will have two nights in Doolin to check it all out.
Upon arrival at Doolin, we will check in to our lovely Hotel Doolin. You will enjoy a chilled early afternoon with time for lunch, a walk, or a nap. Later in the afternoon, we will head to the top of the Cliffs of Moher, the second-highest sea cliffs in Europe (15 minute drive). You will have time to walk along the path that skirts the cliff tops. The views are awesome. Further, on the following day, if you go to the Aran Islands, you can buy an optional boat
return ticket that cruises along the bottom of the cliffs. So you can see the cliffs from the top and the bottom. Highly recommended. Upon return to Doolin, we will take you to a surprise destination that Dan found by accident only a few minutes from our hotel. Not telling you what it is… bring your cameras! Night at leisure in Doolin to enjoy dinner and pub music. Single occupancy for all nights total is + $193.
Click Hotel Doolin Gallery
Click Doolin Gallery
March 25: Aran Islands: 30 minute boat ride but hundreds of years away.
We highly recommend taking a short 30 minute boat ride to one of the Aran Islands. It is like going back hundreds of years in time! The first island, Inisheer, didn’t even get electricity until 1967! It features a spectacular WWII-era ship wreck on the shore and miles and miles of stone walls, some of which are over 500 years old. It is a place like none other. Famous for its hand-knit Irish sweaters (of course Deb and Dan each bought one… so warm!) it is a rugged landscape peopled by folks who have lived there for generations. Upon arrival, you can take a 10 euro per person horse and carriage ride that is a blast! You will understand about half of what the driver will tell you (the dialect is crazy!) but they are all characters and fun! After that you can have a leisurely lunch or rent bikes to ride around the island.
Note: Because there are several options regarding your visit to the Aran Islands which require slightly different ferry tickets, we did not include the ferry ticket in your package. You can also choose to visit the third island: Inishmore. It is more developed and has a lot more shopping. It is your call. Either one will offer a great way to spend a day.
Addendum: You will have the option of getting a return ticket at the end of the day that will also include a 40 minute boat ride to the base of the Cliffs of Moher. You will have seen them from the top the day before. You have to see them from the sea as well… very nice. Evening at leisure in Doolin… pub music time.
Click for Aran Inisheer Island Gallery
March 26: On the road to our Castle stay at Lough Eske / Drive time 3.5
This will be our longest drive of the tour, taking us from Southwest Ireland to Northwest. Our castle on Lough Eske (Lough is pronouned “lock” and means lake) is about a 15 minute drive from the town of Donegal. Our plan is to drive straight to Donegal. Once there we will do a short guided tour of the fascinating restored castle in the center of town. The tour will provide some history and insights of the castle and Ireland. Click Donegal Castle Gallery
After the Donegal Castle tour, you will have free time for lunch and a bit of shopping. We will arrive at our 5-star Castle at Lough Eske around 2 PM. Castle Lough Eske will be a highlight of your tour… it is amazing. Afternoon at leisure with plenty of time to explore the grounds, hike around the lake, or take advantage of the full-service spa facilities. In the evening, we will enjoy our first of two included dinners in the dining room of the castle. Single occupancy Courtyard room for entire stay: +$tba. Single occupancy entire stay +$198
Lough Eske Castle is one of the finest properties Skiman has enjoyed in 25 years of European tours. It was the favorite stay of our trip. Click Lough Eske Gallery to fully appreciate.
March 27 Tour of Derry, Northern Ireland
We have all heard so much about Northern Ireland. It was the center of so much suffering and violence in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. All the problems between England and Ireland came to a head in this region and it exploded. Fortunately, in 1998, an agreemet was reached and peace was restored. You will spend a day in the charming town of Derry (1 hour 10 min. drive from castle) and you will learn so much of their story. Derry has one of the only intact city walls left in Europe. We did a walking tour along the top of the wall with one of the most entertaining guides we have ever encountered. I learned more about Northern Ireland in that two hours than I could have imagined. What a story. We will do a walking tour and a short driving tour that features beautiful wall murals depicting different stories related to the stuggles of the times. Derry’s history will amaze you. The town will charm you. It is going to be a day you will remember. We promise. There will be plenty of free time to wander the old town and have a lunch. We will return to our castle by 4’ish, so there will be time for relaxing or for spa treatments should you prefer. Included second dinner at the Lough Eske dining room. Evening at leisure.
Click for Derry, Northern Ireland Gallery
March 28 Visit Newgrange and stay at Cabra Castle
Driving time Castle Eske to Newgrange 2.5 hours, driving time Newgrange to Castle Cabra, 40 minutes
We will leave Castle Eske and journey on to Newgrange, which is the most important archeological site in Ireland. Newgrange dates back to almost 5,000 years! It is one of the most important ancient passage graves in the world. The grave was untouched until 1699 when it was rediscovered. When it was excavated in the 1960’s it was discovered that the structure was built to be a solar observatory, marking the season solstices. It is the oldest such structure in the world. It took over 70 years to construct and has been restored close to its original condition. We did not have the time to visit Newgrange and are excited to experience it with you. We will have a mid-morning tour organized for our group… can’t wait!
Click Newgrange Gallery
After Newgrange, we will drive 15 minutes to the 18th century estate village of Slane. You will have time to walk about, have a lunch, and enjoy this historic town center on the Boyne river. After Slane, we will drive to our last night of accommodation: Boyne Valley Hotel and Country Club… and what a place it is! Relax and have a drink or soak in the beautiful spa area. Enjoy a fine dinner in the castle dining room at leisure on your last night of the tour which is an optional add-on. Single occupancy upgrade Cabra Castle: +$84 cottage room.
March 29 Return to Dublin Airport or Greens Hotel We will leave our castle and head up the road for the 1 hour drive to Dublin. You will either be dropped off at the airport on the way, or you will carry on for your extened stay in Dublin.
Parameters for return air departure times: Do NOT schedule any flight that leaves before 11 AM. We will have you at the Dublin airport in time for flights leaving at 11 AM or later. If you chose to use an earlier flight, you will be responsible to arrange your own transport from the castle to the airport and the expense will be your responsibilty.
Those extending their stay: We are happy to reserve a room for you at The Greens, the same property you stayed in at the beginning of the trip. The cost per night is $145 PER PERSON per night for double occupancy. Single occupancy is $249 a night. The Greens is a very nice property and is perfectly located. Of course, you are free to use other properties that are less expensive. But regardless: EVERYONE extending their stay in Dublin will be dropped off at The Greens Hotel. If your accomodation is elsewhere, you are on your own to taxi to your lodging. NOTE:Any nights added on at The Greens MUST be arranged and paid for at the time of final payment for the tour.
Click Ireland Logistics Page
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