Day 1 - May 6th – Depart home city, overnight flight to Dublin
Day 2 - May 7th – Dublin/Kilkenny/Cashel/Cork (B, D)
Upon arrival, we will be met by our driver/guide and depart for Cork. Don’t be surprised if our guide starts our literary tour with the story of the beginnings of the Guinness Book of World Records, which was founded in Wexford County, Ireland. You will find that our guide is well versed in all things Ireland.
Kilkenny Castle, where you will often see Shakespearean and medieval performances, was built for the 4th Earl of Pembroke, William Marshal and later was the principle Irish residence of the powerful Butler Family for almost 600 years. Kilkenny is rich in heritage and historical buildings. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), world famous writer/satirist renowned for Gulliver’s Travels, studied at Kilkenny College. Visit the Kilkenny Craft Design center – the best craft shop in Ireland.
As we continue to Cork we visit Cashel, home to the iconic Rock of Cashel. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic Art and Medieval Architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Cashel is rich in history, from prehistoric wraths to medieval monasteries and fortified town houses, a Georgian Cathedral and a 21st century library. The Georgian quarter also boasts the Bolton library where you can find the smallest book in Ireland. Arrive in the city of Cork, surrounded by interesting waterways and according the locals, the ‘real capital of Ireland’.
Overnight at The River Lee or similar (2 nights).
Tales of a Tub (1704) by Jonathan Swift
Day 3 – May 8th - Cork (B)
Do you fancy being a writer? Kiss the Blarney stone and you will never be at a loss for words. On this day you will get a chance to do as many literary greats have done before you, kiss the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is built into the over 600 year old Blarney Castle. You will work for your kiss of eloquence. In order to kiss the stone one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk.
On this same day you will enjoy a city tour of Cork with a visit to the English market, Ireland’s most famous covered food market.
On the literary front two particularly accomplished women of literature were born in Clare County and County Cork.
Edna O’Brien (b. 1930), award winning Irish author of novels, plays and short stories has been hailed as one of the greatest chroniclers of the female experience in the twentieth century. Ms. O’Brien was born in the Clare County. A list of her awards includes: 2011 recipient of the Frank O’Connor Prize, the Irish PEN Award for Literature, Ulysses Medal from the University College Dublin, and a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Literature academy. Her 1960 debut novel, The Country Girl, was banned in her native Ireland for its ground breaking depictions of female sexuality.
Alice Taylor, born on a farm near Newmarket in County Cork, edited and published the first issue of Candlelight, a local magazine (1984). She went on to publish an illustrated collection of her own verse. “To School Through the Fields” (1988) received unprecedented success, becoming the biggest selling book ever published in Ireland. Her sequels, “Quench the Lamp”, “The Village, Country Days” and “The Night Before Christmas” were also outstandingly successful. Being a driven, diverse writer, Ms. Taylor published three novels. The first of the three, “The Woman of the House” (1997), was an immediate bestseller in Ireland. Ms. Taylor also has a published collection of poems, “The Journey: New and Selected Poems”.
Evening at leisure.
The Country Girl (1960) by Edna O’Brien
The Woman of the House (1997) by Alice Taylor
To School Through the Fields (1988) by Alice Taylor
Day 4 - May 9th – Cork/Kinsale/Killarney (B, D)
Be prepared to be inspired.
Today we will travel the scenic route via Kenmare, a part of the Ring of Kerry. Pass through Glengariff, famed for its natural beauty, situated on world-renowned Bantry Bay where mountains meet the sea and the gateway to Beara Peninsula.
Folklore is richly associated with the County of Kerry. With the likes of the Irish legend Children of the Lir, leprechauns and fairy changelings, our guide will bring the legends and lore to life.
If you haven’t pulled out your camera already this is the time to do it. At the edge of the Atlantic Ocean is Garnish Island – which boasts a micro-climate caused by the Gulf Stream. Here Henry Peto used this micro-climate phenomenon to create an idyllic garden where alpine plants grow side by side with tropical plants. As your local boatman escorts you to the island you will see hundreds of seals basking on rocks.
Kinsale - The historic Battle of Kinsale was a turning point in Irish history. The result of the battle had a significant effect on Irish literature. We will leave the rest of the tale to our guide; he tells it best.
Your visual cortex will continue to be inundated with wonderful sights as we continue our course to Killarney, drive the Beara Peninsula to the pretty town of Kenmare then up to Molls Gap and down the Ring of Kerry Road stopping at Ladies view for a breathtaking view of the Killarney National Park.
Overnight at The Lake House or similar (2 nights)
Sive (1959) by J.B. Keane
Moll (1991) by J.B. Keane
Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888) by W.B. Yeats
McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy
Shortlisted - Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2014
The Last Armada – Siege of 100 Days: Kinsale 1601 by Des Ekin
Day 5 – May 10th - Killarney (B)
Journey to the tip of the Dingle peninsula and visit the Blasket Centre, a fascinating heritage museum telling the story of life on the Great Island of Blasket. Great Blasket Island, located three miles off the peninsula, was inhabited and left unchanged for centuries. Persistent emigration of its young people led to the island being completely abandoned on November 17, 1953.
A Great Blasket Island native, Tomas O’Crohan’s (1865 – 1937), said his sole purpose for writing was, “To set down the character of people about me so that some record of us might live after us, for the like of us will never be again”.
A rich oral tradition of story telling, poetry and folk tales kept alive the legends and history of the Great Blasket Islands. Tomas O’Crohan, along with the likes of Maurice O’Sullivan (1904 – 1950), and Peig Sayers (1873 – 1958) completed memoirs from within this literary tradition capturing a way of life, which has now vanished. Literature derived from the island is famous throughout the world.
Not to be missed is a visit to the Gallarus Oratory. Built with large cut stones (no mortar) this place of worship has withstood formidable Atlantic elements for over 1200 years. Enhanced by its simple architecture and excellent state of repair the Gallarus Oratory has an austere beauty about it.
Your evening brings a performance at The National Folk Theatre of Ireland, Siamsa Tire (meaning – ‘entertainment of the land’). Where you will be treated to a showcase of Irish music, dance and storytelling. The performance is truly an emotional and an authentic experience.
The Islandman (1929) by Tomas O’Crohan (1865-1937)
Twenty Years A-Growing (1933) by Maurice O’Sullivan (1904 -1950)
Peig (1936) by Peig Sayers (1873-1958)
Day 6 – May 11th - Killarney / Galway (B, D)
On our way to the Shannon Ferry we pass through Listowel. Home to the Listowel Writers’ Week.
"Beautiful Listowel, serenaded night and day by the gentle waters of the River Feale.
Listowel where it is easier to write than not to write,
Where first love never dies, and the tall streets hide the loveliness,
The heartbreak and the moods, great and small,
Of all the gentle souls of a great and good community.
Sweet, incomparable hometown that shaped and made me."
Source: Listowel Writers Week
The Shannon Ferry takes us from Tarbert to Killimer.
As we journey towards Galway, experience the vertical cliffs of Moher, where on a clear day, one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. Walk along the pathway up to O’Brien’s Tower for a view that will take your breath away.
Continuing north, the Burren, a humid, eerie, natural cast limestone expanse is to be explored. Beneath the lunar landscape scarred surface are spectacular caves, streams, underground rivers, lakes and waterfalls. It is reputed that mysterious lakes appear and disappear taking with them maidens who have been turned into swans. Folk legends associated with the Burren say its holy wells can cure bad vision and its caves are home to ghostly horseman.
Clare Counry is a haven for myths and legends of the underworld.
Despite its dire description the Burren is a botanists paradise and has been nominated as one of the wonders of the world. It has been said that one of the most iconic authors of the 20th century, JRR Tolkien, when penning the Lord of the Rings, was influenced by the otherworldly magic of this incredible place.
The afternoon brings a visit to Coole Park, home of Lady Gregory (1852 – 1932) and W.B. Yeats who founded the renowned Abbey Theater in 1904.
W.B. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish literary Revival. In 1932 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for what the committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of the whole nation.”
Visitors here would have signed the autograph tree that still stands today.
Arrive Galway city, where live music brings the streets to life, cafes offer front row seats for observing street performers, and cobblestoned streets allow you to step back in time. Galway has a long rich heritage of theatre and drama.
Walter Macken (1915 – 1967), Ken Bruen (b. 1951) and Liam O’Flaherty ( 1896 – 1984) are accomplished authors with roots in Galway.
Tonight enjoy The Pullman Carriage Dinner.
Overnight at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel or similar (2 nights)
Poem – The Stolen Child (1889) by William Butler Yeats
The Guards by Ken Bruen (2001) – Jack Taylor Series (Mystery)
Famine by Liam O’Flaherty (1937)
Day 7 – May 12th - Galway (B)
Enjoy a walking tour of Galway.
Take a trip to Connemara, one of the most beautiful, unspoiled places you will ever see– from rugged Twelve Bens Mountain range in the north through lake-rich Round stone bog to the golden beaches reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, inspiring writers from Europe over the years.
Look out onto the Aran Islands, which provide the settings for such works as John Millington Synge’s “Riders to the Sea”, Robert Flaherty’s film, “Man of Aran” and Martin MacDonagh’s trilogy of plays, including the “Cripple of Irishman.”
Star of the Sea (2002) by Joseph O’Connor (b. 1961)
Skerrett (1932) by Liam O’Flarety
Seek the Fair Land (1959) by Walter Macken
Day 8 – May 13th - Galway / Dublin (B)
A visit to the Belvedere House is on your agenda. The country house was built in 1740 for Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere. On the estate is the famous jealous wall built in 1760 to block off the view of his estranged brother’s house nearby. Robert also imprisoned his young wife on the property until his death. This house has quite the history. Our guide will suggest how Charlotte Bronte fits in the mix. Yes, really!
Depart for Dublin, the city of O’Casey (1880 – 1964) and Synge. O’Casey, an Irish dramatist and a committed socialist who wrote the first Irish play about Dublin’s working classes. Synge, an Irish playwright, poet, writer and a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre and best known for his play, “The Playboy of the western world.”
Dublin boasts a plethora of authors, playwrights and poets. To name a few: George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Patrick Pearse, Brendan Behan and Deirdre Purcell. There will be no shortage of verbiage from our tour guide come Dublin. Sit back and enjoy the ride down Irish literature lane.
Tour Dublin city visiting Trinity College, which is associated with many Irish writers - Oscar Wilde, Olivia O’Leary, Maeve Binchy, Bram Stoker and James Joyce.
Be sure to see the Book of Kells. Written in 800 AD and displayed at Trinity College it was scribed on calf vellum. The lettering is in iron gall ink and the colours used were derived from a wide range of substances, many of which were imports from distant lands.
If you haven’t already done so, it is time to put our tour guide on stage and have him sing a song for you. He has a lovely voice.
"On Raglan Road" is a well-known Irish song from a poem written by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh named after Raglan Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin. In the poem, the speaker recalls a love affair that he had with a young woman while walking on a "quiet street". Although the speaker knew that he would risk being hurt if he initiated a relationship, he did so anyway.
Evening at Leisure.
Overnight at The Mont Hotel or similar (2 nights)
Jane Erye (1847) by Charlotte Bronte (1861–1855)
Falling for a Dancer (1993) by Dierdre Purcell (b. 1945)
P.S. I Love You (2004) by Cecelia Ahern (b. 1981)
Day 9 – May 14th - Dublin (B, D)
Begin the day with a walking tour following in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde (1851–1900), where this literary legend is brought to life.
Next we will drive through the Wicklow Mountains to visit Glendalough, ‘the valley of two lakes’. Glendalough is a remarkable place that will still your mind, inspire your heart and fill your soul – known for spectacular scenery, rich in history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. While in County Wicklow a visit to Powerscourt House is a must. Powerscourt House overlooks the breathtaking Sugarloaf Mountain and voted Number 3 in the world by National Geographic for their well-kept aristocratic gardens.
Enjoy an evening out to the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland including a pre-theatre dinner at Chapter One restaurant under the Dublin Writer’s Museum. NOTE: The theater schedule is not currently available. Tickets will be priovided for a performance at the Abbey Theatre (or similar).
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) by Oscar Wilde
Circle of Friends (1990) by Maeve Binchy (1940 – 2012)
Day 10 - May 15th - 10 – Dublin/Home City (B)
After Breakfast, transfer to the airport for a flight to your home city.