- Wake up amid the regal splendor of Ashford Castle and take a private 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.
Across the Emerald Isle, history 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 Rock of Cashel—and uncover mysteries from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, and medieval eras. Delve into the Gaeltacht, where Irish traditions hold strong, while exploring the windswept Connemara and fishing villages on the stunning Dingle Peninsula. Then venture to the lesser-known County Mayo and settle into our base at a medieval castle to explore the stunning landscapes and culture of the Irish countryside.
Arrive at the Dublin Airport (DUB) 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.
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.
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. After lunch at the historic Kyteler’s Inn, visit St. Canice’s Cathedral.
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. 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.
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.
Depart Killarney, crossing from Kerry to Clare counties. Travel 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. Continue to our hotel, a lovely 18th-century manor house just outside Galway. 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.
Spend the morning discovering the coastal city of Galway on a tour of this vibrant center for Irish art, music, and theater. After lunch, meet a whiskey expert for a private tasting. Then discover our next destination, the majestic Ashford Castle which serves as a gateway to the gorgeous landscapes of County Mayo. As National Geographic guests, we’ll have the 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.
Get a feel for traditional farm life during a sheep-herding demonstration this morning. Then return to the castle and enjoy the rest of the day to explore its grounds and enjoy its amenities. Take a self-guided nature walk around the property’s parklands, go boating on Lough Corrib, or simply relax and enjoy the castle’s spa. This evening, celebrate your Irish adventure during a farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the Shannon Airport (SNN) and catch your flight home.