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Ireland has captured American imaginations for centuries. With its soaring cliffs, crashing waves and rolling hills, the Emerald Isle always reveals something new to those who visit its shores, whether it’s your first or tenth visit. We invite you to step a little deeper into the wilds of Ireland on this nine-day expedition with one of the Los Angeles Times’ most famous columnists. Join Chris Erskine on an extraordinary expedition through the breathtaking beauty of Southern and Western Ireland in summer 2020.
Stroll through fabled fishing villages, hike along the wild Atlantic Coast and indulge all five senses as you travel through the watercolor landscapes of Eire. Walk through the valleys, glens and lochs of both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula, two iconic locations known the world over for their stunning beauty and splendor. Journey through Connemara, over bogs and around lakes, as you learn the history of this fabled locale and explore its topography. Watch as sheepdogs demonstrate their skills on a working Irish farm and learn how to spot edible plants, including seaweed, as you forage for food along the beaches and inlets. Indulge in artisanal foodstuffs and bespoke whiskey as you relish the taste of locally produced items. Above all, catch of a glimpse of what makes Ireland so special as you journey through this magical land.
Jun 17-25, 2020
Jun 28-Jul 6, 2020
Hike two iconic Western Ireland locations — Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry — and revel in their beauty and splendor.
Discover many edible types of seaweed, herbs, roots, flowers and fruits on a foraging walk along the Burren shoreline.
Walk the Roundstone Bog complex, a rare natural bog habitat in the Connemara region, and see one of the largest and wildest lakes in the area — Lough na bhFaoileann.
Experience the culinary offerings of Ireland by pairing handpicked, uniquely Irish whiskeys with local artisanal cheeses, breads, seafood and chocolates.
Immerse yourself in the history and sounds of traditional Irish music.
Arrive at Shannon Airport and meet your fellow travelers before transferring to Kinsale, a historic fishing village in the south of Ireland. Once you arrive, check in to your hotel for the next two nights. Have time to relax and unwind, then enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with Chris Erskine, your expedition host, and the rest of your group. (D)
This morning, enjoy a 90-minute colorful walking tour with Don Herlihy and Barry Moloney, two longtime Kinsale residents who delight in sharing the history of this seaside town. Hear about Kinsale’s progression from a medieval walled town to successful fishing village and learn about events such as the Battle of Kinsale and the sinking of the Lusitania along the way. Afterward enjoy a seafood lunch at the Bulman Bar, then continue your day with a walk around the Old Head of Kinsale Loop.
The famous loop has spectacular views of the wild Atlantic Coast at every turn. There is also an optional spur walk to Garretstown beach for those so inclined. Return to your hotel for an evening of leisure. (B, L)
Today depart Kinsale and travel to Killarney. Along the way stop in Kenmare for a sheepdog demonstration at Kissane Sheep Farm, a traditional working farm with approximately 1,000 mountain sheep and hundreds of lambs. Set in Molls Gap on the Ring of Kerry, the farm has welcomed visitors to learn about sheep farming in Ireland since 2005.
Continue to Killarney this afternoon and, on arrival,
enjoy a walk through the wilds of Killarney
National Park. There experience the
beauty of the park’s mountains, lakes and woods while you keep an eye out for Killarney’s two types of deer: red deer and
Japanese Sika. You might even see the rare Kerry cow on your walk (originally brought
to Ireland by the Celts). Check in to the Dromhall Hotel for the next
three nights. (B, D)
Set out this morning for the Ring of Kerry, the most famous and panoramic route in Ireland. The astonishing beauty of this large peninsula comes from the great diversity of its spectacular scenery — mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Travel through Killorglin, famous for its bay, and continue to Sneem, a village where brightly colored houses are the norm. Then, travel to Molls Gap, the top photographic point on the Ring of Kerry, where a magnificent view of Black Valley awaits. The famous Ladies View, where one can see the three Lakes of Killarney surrounded by the Kerry Mountains, is next.
Stop in Caherdaniel and explore the Derrynane Mass Path Loop. This walk over the hillside and shoreline tells the history of the Irish people in a time when Catholics were banned from celebrating Mass.
You will receive a packed lunch this morning to keep your energy up for the day and, in addition, after you’ve finished your loop walk you will enjoy further refreshments at the Blind Piper Pub. Continue along the Ring of Kerry before arriving back in Killarney in time for a dinner on your own. (B, L)
Some of the finest coastal scenery in all of Ireland can be found in West Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula, our destination for today. Drive around the coast of Dingle Peninsula to Slea Head, where we will enjoy a guided walking tour. Here the blue of the marine landscape surrounds the Blasket Islands, deserted since 1953. In the distance are the two rocky Skellig Islands made famous by “Star Wars.”
Dingle itself is a thriving fishing town where one can savor the atmosphere of a typical Irish town, with its plentiful pubs, narrow streets, great shopping and busy harbor. It is also a “Gaeltacht” (Irish-speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved. You will have the chance to explore this seafront town during the afternoon. Return to Killarney this evening. (B)
Cross the Shannon Estuary this morning and journey to the Cliffs of Moher. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. Standing 230 meters tall at their highest point, the cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in the country. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara.
Next travel to Doolin for some seaweed foraging. Meet with Oonagh O’Dwyer, the owner of a local company focused on regionally sourced food, for a foraging walk along the Burren shoreline. Discover the many edible types of seaweed, herbs, roots, flowers and fruits on this walk, followed by a wild-food picnic lunch.
This afternoon visit Doolin Music House. Christy Barry and his partner, Sheila, have entertained friends and musicians at their home for many years, playing music and telling stories. Learn the history of traditional Irish music and, afterward, listen to a traditional music session around the fire.
This evening is yours to enjoy live performances at one of the many pubs in Doolin, the capital of Irish music. (B, L)
Start your morning with a guided Burren walk. The Burren is a remote karst landscape popular with Irish locals. Once your walk is complete, continue to Galway for some time at leisure before your next excursion.
This evening experience the culinary offerings of Galway on the Deluxe Food and Whiskey Trail. Taste handpicked uniquely Irish whiskeys, which will be paired with local Irish products including artisan cheese, soda bread, seafood from the Atlantic and Dublin Bay, salted caramels and handmade chocolates. Become immersed in the local atmosphere and history, meet the friendly local people and taste the delicious food as we walk from venue to venue. (B, tasting)
Today you will explore the Connemara region of Ireland, located north of Galway. First enjoy a hike around Lough na bhFaoileann (the lake of the seagulls), one of the largest and wildest lakes in the spectacular Roundstone Bog complex. This special walk, featuring extensive rare bog habitat, a series of dramatic lakescapes overlooked by Errisbeg Hill, and the towering Twelve Bens Mountains, is not to be missed.
Have lunch at a local restaurant in Clifden, then depart on a guided walk in Clifden Glen. The landscape on your walk includes native oak woodland, a river, mountainside and panoramic views of the Twelve Bens and Roundstone Bog. Return to your hotel in Galway this afternoon for the farewell dinner. (B, L, D)
Depart the hotel early this morning by private coach to transfer to Shannon Airport for your flights home. (B)