The Ultimate Ireland Homecoming in 2014!
Exploring Ireland realises that coming to Ireland is something very special, akin to a homecoming or a pilgrimage. We know that for many people it is a trip that has being planned for years if not generations. That is something which is very important to us, how could it not be? We take special pride in ensuring that our guests do come home, that they do get to see the real deal. We have carefully put together our fantastic Gathering Coach Tour Series to celebrate your homecoming!
The Gathering is chock full with:
- Hop-on/Hop Off Coach Tour
- Crumlin Road Gaol
- Titanic Tour
- Belfast City
- Giant’s Causeway
- Ulster American Folk Park
- Exploring Ireland Hooley
- Clonmacnoise Monastic Site
- The Burren
- Cliffs of Moher Cruise
- Blarney Castle
- Cork City
- Titanic Walking Tour
- Cobh Heritage Centre
- Dunbrody Famine Ship
- Jerpoint Farm & Sheepdog Demonstration
- Wicklow Mountains Driving Tour
- Croke Park
- GAA Museum
- Ethiad Skyline
- Dublin Bay Cruise
- Irish House Party
- 7 Full Irish Breakfasts
- 6 Evening Meals
- 2 Marquee Events
You will tour in a luxurious modern 22 Seat coach with full touring specification. Please note the maximum on your coach will be 12 people. That’s right – loads of space and just a dozen people, so unlike other tour companies, we don’t pack you in and you can have a two way conversation with your guide, so there is a bunch of cultural transference going on! After all, you guys are here for an education right? And, you will get it – you will go home the seasoned expert on all things Irish!! Also, there will be two coaches travelling, so in the evening’s, you get to mix and meet with double your numbers!
DAY 1 – TUESDAY
PICK-UP FROM DUBLIN AIRPORT
Your guide will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall at Dublin Airport, they will be with you throughout the tour, dropping you back to the airport on the last day. You will travel in style in a 12 Seat Luxury Coach with full touring specification.
CITY SIGHTSEEING DUBLIN
Today is all about relaxing after your long flight and meeting Dublin on your own terms, so we have partnered with the award winning and hands down best way of seeing our remarkable capital – the tremendous Hop On – Hop Off coach tour. You get to see all the city has to offer and pick and choose what you wish to explore in further depth. Check out the fantastic route:
- OVERNIGHT AT THE SANDYMOUNT HOTEL
- Your evening is your own, total freedom to enjoy the world famous Dublin nightlife, or just a nightcap and an early night, in preparation for meeting up with the group on the following morning and hitting the open road!
DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY
- BREAKFAST SERVED FROM 7 – 8.30 AM; YOUR GUIDE WILL MEET YOU FOR 9.00 AM DEPARTURE
Depart Dublin, head north over the Mountains of Mourne, dropping into Belfast, fast becoming one of the hippest cities in Europe. We have chosen two of the newest attractions in Belfast for you, both swiftly hitting the top of the must-see charts.
CRUMLIN ROAD GAOL
The Crumlin Road Gaol dates back to 1845 and closed its doors as a working prison in 1996. After extensive renovations the gaol has re-opened as a visitor attraction and conference centre. Today you can take a guided tour of the prison and hear about the history of the site from when women and children were held within its walls through to the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners and learn about why the decision was taken to close the prison.
During the tour of the gaol you will be taken by your tour guide to visit the underground tunnel that used to connect the gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse, you will get a chance to sit in the Governor’s chair, view all the wings from the circle and of course pay a visit to the condemned man’s cell before seeing the execution cell where the majority of the 17 men were hanged.
This attraction is brand new to the city of Belfast and is amazingly already the Number 1 attraction in the city on the Tripadvisor!
“We have arrived at a new time. Let us realise it.
And with that new time strange methods, huge forces, large combinations – a Titanic world – have sprung up around us.”Winston Churchill, May 23rd, 1909
In the early 20th Century, Belfast was enjoying the greatest boom in its history. The city was a global leader in engineering, ship-building and linen manufacturing, and Belfast’s Harland and Wolff had become the largest shipyard in the world.On entering the exhibition, visitors will learn about the thriving industries and exciting design innovations that led to the creation of RMS Titanic – the largest and most luxurious ship in the world.At the end of this gallery, visitors pass through the original Harland & Wolff shipyard gates and continue their journey to the Arrol Gantry and Shipyard Ride.
During the second half of 1908, two new giant slipways were built and the enormous Arrol Gantry was erected to prepare for the construction of Titanic and Olympic, the largest ships in the world. Visitors will ascend a replica of one of the huge pillars of the Arrol Gantry to embark on the Shipyard Ride – an electronic dark ride that uses special effects, animations and full-scale reconstructions to recreate the reality of shipbuilding in the early 1900s.
Titanic departed Belfast at 8pm, April 2nd 1912 to collect passengers from Southampton, England; Cherbourg, France and Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland before setting sail across the Atlantic, destined for Chelsea Piers on the West Side of Manhattan, New York City.Visitors now join the crew on the ship’s maiden voyage and become acquainted with individual passengers… they discover what life on board RMS Titanic was actually like.
The Ocean Exploration Centre gives visitors interactive engagement with 21st Century technologies, including live links with Dr. Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus and marine research departments around the world.
- OVERNIGHT &EVENING MEAL AT EUROPA HOTEL
DAY 3 – THURSDAY
- BREAKFAST SERVED FROM 7 – 8.30 AM; GUIDE WILL MEET YOU FOR 9.00 AM DEPARTURE
- GIANTS CAUSEWAY
“When you first see the Giant’s Causeway, you’ll understand why the ancients did not believe that it was a natural feature, for the vast expanse of regular, closely packed, hexagonal stone columns dipping beneath the waves looks for all the world like the handiwork of giants”Lonely Planet
ULSTER AMERICAN FOLK PARK
An amazing reproduction of a typical nineteenth century Ulster village at the time of mass emigration to America.
- OVERNIGHT EVENING MEAL AT LOUGH RYNN CASTLE
EXPLORING IRELAND HOOLEY
The Hooley is an Exploring Ireland Institution, run by the phenomenal Pidsy Timoney, it is an evening of old style Irish entertainment – Pidsy and his travelling minstrels make their way to your estate, take over one of the drawing rooms to tell stories in the ancient seanachaí tradition, play Irish traditional instruments and dance Irish jigs. Mighty craic!
DAY 4 – FRIDAY
- BREAKFAST SERVED FROM 7 – 8.30 AM; GUIDE WILL MEET YOU FOR 9.00 AM DEPARTURECLONMACNOISE MONASTIC SITE
Away you go across to Clonmacnoise Monastic Site. An Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. The original high crosses and a selection of grave slabs are on display in the visitor centre. The long and varied history of Clonmacnoise is recounted in an audiovisual presentation shown in the visitor centre. There are also exhibitions that deal with the flora, fauna and landscape of the region.
Clonmacnoise Monastic Site
- THE BURREN
Moving out of the Midlands, over the mighty River Shannon, leaving the province of Leinster behind, venturing into the West! Morning on the Moon? You got it – The Burren –Stretching across northern Clare is the a unique limestone landscape forged beneath ancient seas, shot skyward by a cataclysmic geological phenonomen. The Burren is one the rare karst landscapes, like nowhere else on the planet, walking upon it’s primordial service is like traversing the moon. Most international visitors to Ireland are aware of the mighty Cliffs of Moher, that great bastion of 700 feet of rock that holds back the mighty Atlantic, rawly exposing the foundations that Ireland is built upon. What most people are aware of is that they form the terminal edge of a great limestone plateau that extends many miles inland – The Burren. Believe me the cliffs are worth the trip, it is like standing on the edge of the Old World, one gets swept away by the dizzying emotion. But of equal worth is heading into the Old World. For a few miles, little different is given away, it all looks quite normal. But after dipping through folkie Doolin and bachelor infested Lisdoonvarna, stuff beings to take a turn for the strange; trees and hedgerows disappear with the cattle and the sky and the ground blur. You see, The Burren is not earth, it is ocean floor, like a grandpappy at a grad party, it looks out of place. It was thrust from the ocean floor millions of years ago, formed from shale and limestone on the seabed; but it ain’t a softie, in places it is more than 3,000 feet thick!! A few ice ages ground it flat, upon which are flung as if by giants, huge boulders which educated guys call erratics. From the blacktop, the whole shebang appears like a desert floor f stone, but walking upon, you see it is cratered, moon-like.
CLIFFS OF MOHER CRUISE
- “My husband and I hosted our wedding in Ireland in September of 2008. We came over from the States, with 63 family and friends, and our entire group went on one of your ship tours of the Cliffs. The experience was the talk of the trip! Everyone had a wonderful time – the cruise was not only a great learning experience but a fabulous way to really appreciate the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher and the West coast of Ireland. Everyone associated with Doolin2Aran Ferries was a delight and treated our group with courtesy and kindness. We’re looking forward to visiting you again on our next trip to Ireland!”
Jill and Patrick Cullinan, Maryland, US
DAY 5 – SATURDAY
- BREAKFAST SERVED FROM 7 – 8.30 AM; GUIDE WILL MEET YOU FOR 9.00 AM DEPARTURE
- BLARNEY CASTLE
By this time, you will be an old sweat, a veteran in all things Ireland, well versed in the banter and discourse of the Irish specimen, time now to get the gift of the gab by kissing the Blarney Stone held aloft at the top of incredibly magical Blarney Castle.
The Titanic Trail Cobh (Queenstown) Cork, Ireland, is a fascinating guided tour that explores the town of Cobh in Cork Harbour which was the last port of call of RMS Titanic. This Irish heritage walking tour takes visitors through the historic town of Cobh where the buildings, streets and piers have not changed since the Titanic’s sinking over 100 years ago.
The entertaining and innovative Titanic Trail has been operating every day since 1998. The one hour escorted tour, with specially trained guides, brings to life the story of Titanic, and the events in the town on the day Titanic left her last anchorage to sail into her icy fate in the North Atlantic.
Dr. Michael Martin
Cork historian, Dr Michael Martin, the creator of the Titanic Trail, offers a truly authentic Titanic experience. Other fascinating tours include the Spike Island Tour and an eerie Ghost Walk of the town which highlights the haunted sites and paranormal activity in Cobh. New this year is the 2012 Centenary Tour which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic.
The Titanic Trail has been filmed by 20th Century Fox, National Geographic and many other travel documentaries.
COBH HERITAGE CENTRE
From 1848 – 1950 over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland – over 2.5 million departed from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration.
This exodus from Ireland was largely as a result of poverty, crop failures, the land system and a lack of opportunity. Irish emigration reached unprecedented proportions during the famine as people fled from hunger and disease.
Many famine emigrants went initially to British North America (now Canada) because of fare structures and government regulations, but the majority subsequently settled in the United States. The famine resulted as a consequence of widespread potato crop failure. Failure of the crop was not unusual in Ireland so the partial failures in 1845 did not cause particular concern. In 1846 the potato crop failed completely and in the years 1847-1849 there was either total or partial crop failure of whatever potato crop could be planted. Escape was seen by many as the only chance for survival : between 1845 and 1851 over 1,500,000 people emigrated from Ireland This was more than had left the country in the previous half century.
Annie Moore Statue in Cobh
Located outside the Cobh Heritage Centre is the statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers.
Annie Moore became the first ever emigrant to be processed in Ellis Island when it officially opened on 1st January 1892. Annie and her brothers sailed from Queenstown on the SS Nevada on the 20th December and arrived after 12 days of travelling in steerage. The statue outside Cobh Heritage Centre was unveiled by President Mary Robinson on the 9th February 1993. A similar statue of Annie can be found in Ellis Island, New York which represents not only the honour of her being the first emigrant to pass through Ellis Island but also stands as a symbol of the many Irish who have embarked on that very same journey.
- OVERNIGHT & EVENING MEAL AT MARYBORUGH HOTEL
DAY 6 – SUNDAY
- BREAKFAST SERVED FROM 7 – 8.30 AM; GUIDE WILL MEET YOU FOR 9.00 AM DEPARTURE
- DUNBRODY FAMINE SHIP
Dunbrody Famine Ship is one of the premier tourist attractions in the South East of Ireland. Centred on an authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel, it provides a world-class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience. Incorporating guided tour, costumed performers and themed exhibitions of the highest quality, ‘The Dunbrody’ provides a unique insight into the bravery and fortitude with which Irish people faced up to a desperate situation.
As well as the Ship’s Tour, the Dunbrody Visitor Centre houses a charming river-view café and the Irish America Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame commemorates the critical contribution of Irish men and women to US history, as well as acknowledging the continuing contribution of contemporary Irish-Americans. Each year the Hall of Fame inducts new members; most recently Donald Keough, Michael Flatley and Maureen O’Hara.
Enjoy the history of Jerpoint Farm with a guided tour of the amazing footprints of a deserted 12th century medieval town. When it was founded near a crossing point on the River Nore not far from Thomastown Co. Kilkenny and the Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey. The site contains the standing remains of st. Nicholas’s church and a domestic tower, plus a fine 14th century tomb effigy of St. Nicholas (bishop of myra).”One of Irelands’s best examples of a deserted 12th century medieval town” a quote from The Heritage Council of Ireland. Experience the special ambience of the house and grounds, where you can relax and enjoy the spectacular setting, where delicious homemade delights are served in our elegant Tea Rooms to valued guests during the summer months. All capped off by Cap the amazing sheep dog who can gather anything from sheep to geese and cattle!
- WICKLOW MOUNTAINS DRIVING TOUR
DAY 7 – MONDAY
- CROKE PARK STADIUM TOUR& ETIHAD SKYLINE TOUR
Experience the magic of a match day and follow in the footsteps of legends on the Croke Park Stadium Tour!Attracting visitors from all over Ireland and around the globe, the Croke Park Stadium Tour offers an in-depth behind the scenes look at one of the most historic and modern sporting arenas in the world.Join us on a stadium tour and immerse yourself in our sporting and cultural heritage. Visit the dressing rooms, walk pitchside via the players tunnel and take a seat in the VIP area. Our guides will also bring you to the Players Lounge, corporate suites and finally to the media centre on the top tier of the stadium where you will enjoy a spectacular bird’s eye view of Croke Park!The Etihad Skyline Tour has just opened to public and is a fantastic new addition to Croke Park Stadium. During the Etihad Skyline Tour, visitors are accompanied by an experienced tour guide, visitors will ascent to a walkway 44 metres above the ground to take in panoramic views of the Irish capital and find out more about Dublin’s key landmarks. The Etihad Skyline includes stops at five viewing platforms along Croke Park’s 0.6km rooftop walkway. Each stop gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the highlighted buildings and sites in their line of vision through multi-lingual audio guides.
DUBLIN BAY CRUISE
New to Ireland, this fantastic ninety minute voyage sails you around the the beautiful vista of Dublin Bay, but it also helps you to travel through time and to understand how and why the modern city of Dublin developed to become the capital city of Ireland as you cross the beautiful bay taking in Dun Laogaire Harbour, James Joyce tower, Dalkey Island, Dublin Docks, Clontarf, Bull Island, Baily lighthouse, Irelands Eye Island and Howth Harbour. On board you can enjoy a commentry on each attraction while you enjoy a beverage of your choice or just sit and gaze and enjoy the beautiful views on the bay on the shadow of the Dublin Mountains. Your guide will be waiting for you when you dock on the far side of the bay.
IRISH HOUSE PARTY
The Irish House Party is organised by Irish musicians and Irish dancers who feel that the Irish tradition is not being properly portrayed in Dublin, a city which often offers cheesy ‘Irish nights’ or staged Irish music shows in packed super pubs.When looking for things to do in Dublin many of the so called ‘Irish Nights’ you’ll find are stage shows geared solely towards tourists and pedalling the overly twee image of traditional Ireland or drawing on the influence of Irish music and dance shows such as ‘Riverdance’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’ This is so far away from a proper Irish experience that we feel a real Irish house party is essential for Dublin. We are proud of the fact that Irish guests regularly attend the show. We are also very proud of the standard of our performers at the show and the quality of the Irish music, Irish dancing and entertainment that we provide. Many of our musicians are all-Ireland champions and combined with humorous presenters who tie the whole night together, it’s a wonderful experience. A testament to the quality of the evening can be seen by reading our reviews on TripAdvisor. The Irish House Party show has also gained a reputation as being the most authentic Irish experience in Dublin, and has been attended and highly recommended by Noble Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney and world renowned pianist John O’Connor among others.
DAY 8 TUESDAY
- FINAL DAY TRANSFER
DEPARTURE DATES (ALL TUESDAY DEPARTURES)
All inclusive at 1,690 Euro per person (Based on two people sharing)
Single supplement is 270 Euro.
Also everyone will receive an Exploring Ireland T-Shirt& Hat to wear in Ireland and show you are members of your gang! The Full Irish Gang!
Please note we can arrange pre and post nights at 60 Euro per person sharing, 90 Euro for singles
Terms & Conditions
DEPOSIT PAYMENTS: A non-refundable land deposit of 20% per person is required.
FINAL PAYMENTS: Full payment must be made no later than 60 days prior to departure date.
LAND CANCELLATIONS:Penalties per person apply: 60 – 35 days prior to departure – forfeiture of deposit; 35 – 0 days – 100% per person.
NOTIFICATION OF CANCELLATIONS: All cancellations must be advised in writing (by e-mail) to Exploring Ireland Tours prior to tour departure during normal business hours (9:00 am to 6:00 pm GMT, Mondays through Fridays). Notification shall be deemed to have taken place on the date of receipt of such written notification by Exploring Ireland. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that any notification of cancellation is received by Exploring Ireland Tours. Minimum cancellation penalty is the deposit amount.
TRAVELERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: Clients who require particular assistance must advise Exploring Ireland Tours at time of booking and must travel with a qualified travel companion. Exploring Ireland Tours drivers and guides cannot provide individualized help for walking, getting on/off motor coaches or other personal needs. As coaches are not equipped with wheelchair ramps, all tour members must be able to mount 3 or 4 steps into coach. Motorized scooters are unsuitable for touring. Exploring Ireland Tours is not responsible for denial of services by carriers, hotels, restaurants, or other independent suppliers, nor any additional expenses incurred. Due to space restrictions, passengers wishing to take wheel chairs, oxygen tanks, walkers or other assistive devices must send a request in writing for approval. Exploring Ireland Tours reserves the right to remove any individual from a tour who has not provided the advance notification.
COACH TRANSPORTATION: Coach tours are usually operated by 35 seat motor coaches. When passenger numbers are low, a smaller coach may be used.
VISITS, ENTERTAINMENT, ITINERARIES AND OTHER FEATURES: Exploring Ireland Tours reserves the right to substitute visits, entertainment and other features when establishments are closed or cannot be visited for reasons beyond our control, or for the general convenience of the group.
EXPLORING IRELAND TOURS CANCELLATIONS: If it becomes necessary to cancel a coach tour prior to departure, Exploring Ireland Tours will offer the next available date at no additional land cost or will make a full refund of all monies paid to Exploring Ireland Tours. Exploring Ireland Tours cannot accept responsibility for any additional costs or fees relating to such a tour booking or for any cancellation penalties due to
non-refundable airfares, unless ticket is purchased from Exploring Ireland Tours.
GUARANTEED COACH TOURS: Due to events beyond our control, it may be necessary for Exploring Ireland Tours to cancel a guaranteed coach tour. Under these circumstances we will offer either the next available date at no additional land cost or 100% refund of all payments made to Exploring Ireland Tours.
LUGGAGE: Handling of one piece of luggage per person is included in the cost of all coach tours. Size should not exceed 30 x 20 x 10 inches and weight should be under 50 lbs. Luggage is carried at owner’s risk throughout the tour unless insured. Airlines impose their own restrictions, with which clients must comply. Please check with your carrier regarding luggage restrictions and costs.
TIPS: Tips for personal services and to tour directors and drivers are not included in tour cost and left to your discretion.
SMOKING POLICY: Smoking is not permitted on any motor coach.
NOT INCLUDED: All items of a personal nature (room service, beverages, telephone charges, laundry, special food requests, etc.) and meals not specified on the tour itinerary are not included and must be paid by the client.
UNUSED TOUR ARRANGEMENTS: Exploring Ireland cannot make refunds or exchanges for unused accommodations, services or features of any tour unless agreed upon in writing prior to departure.
RESPONSIBILITY: Exploring Ireland, its employees, directors, officers and shareholders does not own or operate any person or entity which is to or does provide goods or services for your trip, including, for example, lodging facilities, transportation companies, local ground operators, including, without limitation, various entities which may utilize the name Exploring Ireland . As a result, Exploring Ireland is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such person or entity. In addition, Exploring Ireland is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any person or entity it does not own or control, nor for any act or inaction of any other third parties not under its control. You may see the name Exploring Ireland affixed to motor vehicles, on signs around the hotel or elsewhere. This use of those names is for reasons of identification and does not denote ownership, supervision, or control by Exploring Ireland in any way. Without limitation Exploring Ireland is not liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damage, injury, death, loss, accident, delay, inconvenience or irregularity of any kind which may be occasioned by reason of any act or omission beyond its control, including, without limitation any willful or negligent act, failure to act, breach of contract or violation of local law or regulation of any third party such as an airline, train, hotel, bus, taxi, van, local ground handler or guide, financial default or insolvency of any supplier which is, to, or does supply any goods or services for this trip. Exploring Ireland is not liable for any loss, injury, death or inconvenience due to delay or changes in schedule, overbooking of accommodation, default, insolvency or bankruptcy of any third party, attacks by animals, sickness, the lack of appropriate medical care, evacuation to same, if necessary, weather, strikes, acts of God or government, acts of terrorism, or the threat thereof, force majeure, war, quarantine, epidemics, or the threat thereof, criminal activity, or any other cause beyond its control. Exploring Ireland reserves the right at its sole discretion to alter the itinerary as it may deem necessary or dvisable.
Exploring Ireland reserves the right at its sole discretion to decline to accept or retain any passenger on any of its tours if it deems accepting or retaining any such person as being detrimental to the tour. In the event anypassenger is removed from a trip, Exploring Ireland’s only obligation is to refund to that person that portion of the payment allocable to unused services. Each provision of this clause is severable and if any provision is held to be illegal, void or unenforceable in whole or in part, the legality, validity and enforceability of the remaining provisions shall not be affected or impaired.
It is the travellers’ responsibility to obtain the correct travel documentation (passport, visa, identifications) for the destination(s) to be visited. Exploring Ireland is not responsible for penalties incurred for tickets, international or domestic, not issued by Exploring Ireland due to schedule and/or flight changes.
Exploring Ireland reserves the right at its sole discretion to decline to accept or retain any passenger on any of its tours if it deems accepting or retaining any such person as being detrimental to the tour. In the event any passenger is removed from a trip, Exploring Ireland’s only obligation is to refund to that person that portion of the payment allocable to unused services. Each provision of this clause is severable and if any provision is held to be illegal, void or unenforceable in whole or in part, the legality, validity and enforceability of the remaining provisions shall not be affected or impaired.
It is travellers’ responsibility to obtain the correct travel documentation (passport, visa, identifications) for the destination(s) to be visited. Exploring Ireland is not responsible for penalties incurred for tickets, international or domestic, not issued by Exploring Ireland due to schedule and/or flight changes.