The 2020 Tour Includes:
- Meet at Dublin Airport by 9am
- 3 Nights in Dublin
- 2 Nights in Kilkenny
- 1 Night in Killarney
- 2 Nights in Dingle
- Final Night in Ennis
- Daily Full Irish breakfast at each hotel
- 4 Hotel Dinners
- Paid admissions to all touring sites
- Daily doses of harp & trad music!
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Driver/Guide Seamus Buckley
See our 2019 tour story. It's Ireland! There's plenty of history, breathtaking scenery and there will be plenty of traditional music! Here is our proposed route and some of the highlights along the route. Sightseeing events are subject to change, depending on weather and a variety of other unanticipated factors.
Jury's Inn, Christchurch
THURSDAY OCTOBER 1
Day 1: You arrive and Meet up with us at Dublin Airport by 9am.
First stop is Trinity College to see the holy grail of harps, The Trinity College Harp (sometimes called the Brian Boru harp) in one of the world's most beautiful libraries, The Long Room, and the "must see" Book of Kells.
We'll have a tea & scone break before heading to an exclusive "behind the scenes" showing at the National Museum at the Collins Barracks of the historic harps of Ireland in the storage area of the museum. This has been a real highlight of our 2018 and 2019 tours. This year we'll get a chance to see these harps! Read my 2018 account of the visit to the Barracks.
Dinner at the hotel. Daily dose of music with Grainne Hambly.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 2
We'll have a visit to the Docklands along the River Liffey and visit EPIC, the Irish Emigration Musuem (voted one of the top museums in Europe), followed by a walk over to Jeanie Johnston, the sailing ship moored along quay which has been turned into an incredible Famine museum (pictured above with the harp bridge also known as the Samuel Becket Bridge).
The rest of the day "on your own" to explore the city. You can get some ideas from our previous tour travelogs of Dublin sites: 2017 Tour, 2018 Tour, 2019 Tour
SATURDAY OCTOBER 3
Trip to Nobber, O'Carolan's birthplace, and exclusive seats at the O'Carolan Festival. There are workshops during the day, plus a harp competition, followed by an evening concert at George Eogan Cultural & Heritage Centre. We'll lunch at Nana's Kitchen, our "usual" spot in Nobber!
Those who are not interested in the harp-centric day in Nobber can remain in Dublin and sample a myriad of all the museums, historic sites and theater that the city offers. There's a long list of sightseeing just within walking distrance of our hotel.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 4
Day 4: We'll leave Dublin and on our way to Kilkenny, we'll drive to the Valley of the Two Lakes in Wicklow Mountains National Park and see the early Medieval monastic settlement Glendalough, founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century.
We'll continue our foray into Ireland's Ancient East with our stay in Kilkenny with its famous Medieval Mile, including of course a visit to the Medieval Mile Museum. Our hotel is a 10-minute stroll from the center of this 800-year old town. You can amble down its narrow streets and take in Kilkenny Castle, the Black Abbey, and the 12th century St. Canice's Cathedral.
We'll have a lovely dinner at the hotel followed by evening concert and session with our special guest, noted wire-strung harper Siobhan Armstrong.
MONDAY OCTOBER 5
Day 5: We're heading to Tipperary (it's not that long a way!) and we'll stop in at the Tipperary County Library in Thurles to see the 17th century O'Fogarty Harp, which is still owned by the descendants of Cornelius O'Ffogharty, who played it.
Our next stop will be the "most haunted castle in Ireland," Leap Castle, a fun place we visited on our first tour in 2017, one of the many highlights of that trip! We'll also get our daily dose of music with a session from the castle's owner, our host and one of Ireland's notable tinwhistle players, Sean Ryan.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 6
Day 6: We leave In the morning and head to Killarney, stopping on our way at the iconic Rock of Cashel. Cashel dates back to the 4th century as the seat of power of the kings of Munster. St. Patrick himself visited there in the 5th century. Brian Boru was crowned here in 990. There is a 12th century roundtower and high cross as well as a Romanesque and Gothic church.
Our daily dose of music will be a stop in at our coachdriver Seamus' home pub the Sandpit for something to eat (part of the tour package) and your daily dose of music.
After checking into our hotel in the afternoon, you'll be able to explore the charming town of Killarney on your own and grab a meal with your new-found tour friends.
Dingle Benners Hotel
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7
Day 7: On our way to our hotel in Dingle, our most excellent coach driver Seamus will take us on a magnificent sightseeing tour of the famous Ring of Kerry.
The charming town of Dingle looks out over Dingle Bay to the Blasket Islands.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 8
Day 8: We'll do another grand coach tour of the Dingle Peninsula with its stunning views.
No trip to Dingle is complete without a view of the Blasket Islands so we'll also stop in to the Blasket Island Centre and learn about the fascinating history and culture of this unique community, which was abandoned in 1953.
We have an exclusive invitation to join one of Ireland's great singers, Seamus Begley, at his shebeen in Dingle for our daily dose of music. He and Grainne Hambly tour together every year for the Irish Christmas in America show so we're going to have a blast.
Temple Gate Hotel
FRIDAY OCTOBER 9
Our Last Full Day in Ireland! We'll set out from Dingle for another gorgeous and scenic drive en route to Ennis.
We'll make a stop in the lovely town of Tralee. Yes, it's that town from the song Rose of Tralee, which means you'll be visiting the Rose Garden, one of the largest urban parks in Ireland.
When we get to the bustling market town of Ennis on the River Fergus you'll get a chance to walk its narrow streets and take in the shops and local historical sites. This was the stronghold of the O'Brien clan.
We'll have our final dinner at the hotel and our final harp session.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 10: early morning trip to the airport for departures
music music music
We encourage the players coming on this tour to bring their fiddles, flutes, tinwhistles, concertina and other trad instruments easily gotten on a plane. Don't worry harpers! We'll be arranging to have harps waiting for us in Ireland! We'll have to share but you will be able to get in some playing while you're there.
Gráinne Hambly and Kathy DeAngelo & Dennis Gormley will be our resident, lead musicians.
Guest Musicians we've lined up so far: Gráinne Hambly & William Jackson (of course!), Dearbhail Finnegan, Siobhan Armstrong, Seamus Begley, and a few surprises along the way.
For the harpers: an optional activity harp workshop at the Carolan Festival in Nobber. We'll arrange for the harps. Don't worry about what playing level you're at.