Ireland: Tales and Treasures of the Emerald Isle

  • Trip Type: Land
  • 10 Days | Round-trip Dublin
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details

 

Across the Emerald Isle, historic treasures and a vibrant culture intermingle against a landscape that is endlessly magnificent. In the company of local archaeologists and historians, visit some of Ireland’s most intriguing monuments—from prehistoric monoliths in the Burren to the crumbling Rock of Cashel—and uncover mysteries from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, and medieval eras. Delve into the Gaeltacht while exploring the windswept Connemara and fishing villages on the stunning Dingle Peninsula, where Irish traditions hold strong. Then venture to the lesser-known County Mayo and set out from our base at a medieval castle to explore some of Ireland’s wildest landscapes.

Trip Highlights

  • Wake up amid the regal splendor of Ashford Castle—a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World—and take an exclusive tour of this medieval retreat with the on-site historian.
  • Visit ancient sacred sites known as holy wells with a medievalist historian who worked on a National Geographic- sponsored project to preserve them.
  • Join an archaeologist at the Irish National Museum in Dublin to examine prehistoric artifacts and fascinating “bog bodies.”
  • Witness traditional Irish farming practices in Connemara, and hear about conservation efforts that earned the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark a National Geographic World Legacy Award.

Itinerary - 10 Days

Day 1 — Dublin, Ireland

Arrive in Dublin and transfer to our hotel. This afternoon, set out on a walking tour to see the city's charming historic center. Then visit the archaeology branch of the National Museum of Ireland. Join an archaeology expert here for an in-depth look at Early Bronze Age gold and jewelry, prehistoric weaponry, and Iron Age “bog bodies.” Cap off the tour with a visit to Sweny’s Pharmacy, featured in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses.
The Dylan Hotel (D)

Day 2 — Dublin/Kilkenny

Begin the day in the Old Library at Trinity College, home to the illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells. Then drive to Kilkenny, a charming medieval town with narrow, winding streets, a 12th-century castle, and many well-preserved churches and monasteries. Check in to our hotel and enjoy dinner on your own this evening.
Pembroke Kilkenny (B,L)

Day 3 — Kilkenny

Join a local guide for a tour of Kilkenny. Explore Kilkenny Castle, and visit the former stables, converted into a design center that houses the National Craft Gallery. Enjoy lunch at the historic Kyteler’s Inn, sip a pint at the Smithwick’s Experience, and climb the ninth-century tower of St. Canice’s Cathedral.
Pembroke Kilkenny (B,L)

Day 4 — Rock Of Cashel/Blarney/Killarney

Head west to the Rock of Cashel, an imposing fortress atop a shamrock-green hill. Step inside the age-old ramparts to discover a Gothic cathedral, high crosses, and a beautifully preserved Romanesque chapel. Then drive to Blarney Castle, home to the legendary Blarney Stone which is said to confer the “gift of gab” on those who kiss it. Continue to Killarney after lunch, stopping in the Gaeltacht town of Ballyvourney to meet with a local medievalist and learn about his work on a National Geographic-sponsored project to preserve Ireland’s holy wells.
Killarney Park Hotel or The Malton Hotel* (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Dingle Peninsula/Killarney

Trace the rocky, wave-beaten coastline of the Dingle Peninsula on one of Ireland’s most scenic drives. Peek into ancient beehive huts that dot steep hillsides, and walk through the seemingly endless shallows at Inch beach. Stop at a local pottery shop, and then tour the colorful seaside town of Dingle, where traditional Irish language and lifestyle still flourish. Later this afternoon, take an optional hike in Killarney National Park.
Killarney Park Hotel or The Malton Hotel* (B,L)

Day 6 — Cliffs of Moher/The Burren National Park

Depart Killarney, crossing from Kerry to Clare counties by ferry. Travel along the Wild Atlantic Way, toward the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, which rise more than 700 feet above the crashing North Atlantic. Then drive through the Burren National Park, an otherworldly limestone landscape strewn with megalithic markings, and marvel at the ancient portal tomb of Poulnabrone Dolmen. Travel to our hotel, nestled in the heart of the Burren. Enjoy a talk about local conservation efforts that led to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark receiving a 2016 National Geographic World Legacy Award.
Gregan’s Castle Hotel (B,D)

Day 7 — The Burren/Galway/County Mayo

Meet the chocolatiers at the award-winning Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory, and sample their artisanal bean-to-bar creations. Then travel to the coastal city of Galway and tour this vibrant center for Irish art, music, and theater. Our next destination is the majestic Ashford Castle, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World that serves as a gateway to the georgeous landscapes of County Mayo. As National Geographic guests, we’ll have the exclusive opportunity to step back in time with the on-site historian, who will share tales from the long and colorful history of this meticulously restored 800-year-old castle. Tonight, dine in the hotel’s elegant George V Dining Room.
Ashford Castle (B,D)

Day 8 — Connemara/County Mayo

Get a feel for traditional farm life in the Connemara region during a private tour of the Dan O’Hara Homestead. Then take a scenic drive along the Sky Road, which follows the spectacular Irish coast over sheep-dotted hills, past vertical cliffs and long beaches, and through lively towns. Stop for a sheep-herding demonstration before returning to the castle. This afternoon, set off on a self-guided nature walk around the property’s parklands or simply relax and enjoy the castle’s amenities.
Ashford Castle (B,L)

Day 9 — County Mayo/Dublin

Take the morning to go on an optional excursion from the castle by kayak, bike, or horseback, before returning to Dublin for an afternoon at leisure. Enjoy a private tasting with a local whiskey expert, followed by a farewell dinner.
The Dylan Hotel (B,D)

Day 10 — Dublin

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
(B)

National Geographic Expert

Killian Driscoll

Killian DriscollNational Geographic grantee Killian Driscoll is an archaeologist who specializes in prehistoric archaeology. He studied archaeology and history at the National University of Ireland, Galway and completed his Ph.D. at University College Dublin. Killian has been a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Barcelona, the Université de Montréal, and University College Dublin. His research focuses on Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic archaeology, particularly on studying stone-tool raw materials and manufacturing techniques, as well as landscapes. His current project in Ireland extends his National Geographic-funded fieldwork and involves investigating the sources of raw materials for stone tools in prehistory. Killian looks forward to sharing his love of Ireland's culture, landscapes, history, and prehistory on this expedition.

Killian will join the following departures:

Apr 20 - 29, 2018
Aug 31 - Sep 09, 2018
Sep 28 - Oct 07, 2018

SEE OTHER EXPERTS »

Dates

2018
  • Apr 20 - 29, 2018
  • May 18 - 27, 2018
  • Jun 22 - Jul 01, 2018
  • Aug 31 - Sep 09, 2018
  • Sep 28 - Oct 07, 2018

*For Days 4 and 5 in Killarney, we will stay at the Killarney Park Hotel, except on the June 22 departure, where we will stay at The Malton Hotel.

Expedition Cost

2018

$6,995

Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,100. Airfare to/from Dublin is not included in the expedition cost.

Activity Level

Light/Moderate

Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.