Ireland for Mr & Mrs Jack Macallister

I

reland is nothing if not a mix of fact and fancy. The Irish have woven tales forever, creating in the process the myths and martyrs for which its people are so well loved. Stories have poured forth from the Emerald Island as freely and as easily as stout flows from her innumerable pubs. Remember, James Joyce was an Irishman.

Ireland is a thing of beauty too, a place where orchids, of all things, grow beside thorny, fragrant pines, and where the furious Atlantic beats up against stony black cliffs with an anger that sends seabirds flying. And Ireland is full of contrasts. Sleepy hamlets lie tucked into velvety valleys where folk live a life unchanged for centuries. Meanwhile, twentysomethings fill the theaters in Galway , and designer wear sells in swank shops along Grafton Street in Dublin .

A Bit of History

 

Evidence of life on the Emerald Island stretches back 9,000 years to a tribe of Mesolithic hunter-fishers who inhabited the coasts of Ireland . In 500 B.C. the Firbolgs, who lived on the island, met their first conquerors, the Celts (or Gaels), master horsemen from Spain and France . They brought with them a primitive tribal structure, the raw material for what would become a well-organized society. Saint Patrick brought the word of Christ to Ireland in 423 A.D. As Christianity spread, monasteries became the center of population clusters, and it was here that clan kings

 

stowed their treasures. Monks’ elaborate manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells, still survive as an early testament to the Irish talent for storytelling. Beginning in the ninth century the Irish people suffered repeated attacks by the Vikings. It was not until King Brian Ború defeated the Vikings in 1014 at the Battle of Clontarf that the Norse tyranny was brought to an end. The Irish, however, would suffer continued invasions throughout their history. The Normans were the next to arrive, sent to Ireland by King Henry II of England at the request of Dermot MacMurrough, who had set his sights on the throne of Ireland . For the next 300 years the Normans dug in their heels, establishing a powerful foothold, buying up large plots of land, building fortified castles, and introducing feudalism. Henry VIII proclaimed himself king of Ireland in 1541 and insisted that Irish lords surrendered their land to the crown, which would then “regrant the land by the grace of the king.” Royal clansmen, who had ruled regionally for centuries, fled to Spain . King James I of England is remembered in Ireland for the Plantation of Ulster, in which he ordered Protestant Scotsmen and Englishmen to settle in Ulster . The religious mix simply did not work, and the chronic unrest between Catholics and Protestants began. In 1641 Ulster Catholics in Portadown attempted to recover their confiscated land. Twelve thousand Protestants were killed during the rebellion. Nevertheless England continued its push to suppress the practice of Catholicism in Ireland . Resentful Catholics staged the Great Rebellion, but they were defeated by Oliver Cromwell, whose 20,000 troops killed one-third of Ireland ’s Catholic population by 1652 and handed over its land to Protestants. When James II, a Roman Catholic, ascended to the English throne, Irish Catholics were hopeful, but their optimism was short-lived. James was defeated in 1690 at the Battle of Boyne by William of Orange. Catholics in Ireland became the persecuted majority. Penal codes barred them from holding public office or indulging in a variety of social activities. Land ownership was forbidden. Inheritance laws dictated that when a Catholic property-owner died his land was divided up between his sons unless one son converted to Protestantism— in which case that son got everything. By the mid-1700s only seven percent of Ireland was owned by Catholics. Pressure for change built steadily. In 1782 the Irish Volunteers, 80,000 strong, posed such a threat that the English granted Ireland its independence—more or less. In fact the Irish still owed their allegiance to the British crown, Catholics were still denied a role in the politics of their own country, and the English Parliament still manipulated policy in Ireland . Disaffection with English rule reached a climax in 1798 with a significant rebellion. In six weeks of fighting 50,000 people died. Two years later the Act of  Union made Ireland a part of the United Kingdom . The Irish Parliament was dissolved and instead Ireland was represented by 100 members of Parliament in the House of Commons—none of whom was Catholic. Daniel O’Connell, a Catholic lawyer from Kerry, campaigned for the right of Catholic Irishmen to become members of  Parliament. In 1828, in a stunning victory, O’Connell won that right, and went on to call for home rule, the right of Ireland to decide domestic policy as an independent government. His countrymen lent strong support to O’Connell, but fate interrupted with the Great Famine of 1845. Failed potato crops for five years caused the death of one million citizens and prompted another million or so to set sail for America in search of a better life. In the later half of the 19th century the Irish Republic Brotherhood dedicated itself to Irish home rule, assisted by a branch in the United States that called itself the Irish Republican Army. As home rule became more and more the dominant theme, Ireland became more and more divided. Protestants in the north were not interested in separating from the protectors in Great Britain , while Catholics sought an independent Irish identity. On 24 April 1916 the Easter Rising took place in Dublin . Bands of armed rebels—this time middle-class intellectuals—brought the city to a halt, taking over the post office, a biscuit factory, a brewery, and a bakery, among other things. Later the leaders of the Rising would be executed, and they would be remembered forevermore as Ireland ’s greatest martyrs. From 1919 to 1921 the Anglo-Irish war raged, with the IRA gaining the upper hand against the British. Finally, in 1922 Ireland —excluding the counties of Northern Ireland with Protestant majorities, namely Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh, and Derry—became a free state , adopting its own constitution in 1937. The free state of Ireland left the British Commonwealth and became the Republic or Ireland in 1949. But not every Irish citizen was happy with the state of affairs; many still believed that the country should be united and free. A civil war was inevitable. In fact, it is a struggle that continues today, though now since the peace process, in a democrtatic political way.

 

 
24th May
The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co Limerick                                     Tel: +353 (0)69 68508

   

Arrive 6.15 am at Shannon where Rupert will be waiting for you.  He will transfer you straight to Echo Lodge where you can relax for a bit, breakfast and then explore. 

 

You might first want to explore Ballingarry itself, a charming and sleepy village.  Afterwards maybe visit Limerick City - The Lock Pub does a pleasant lunch and is beside St Mary's Cathedral, The Castle and The Hunt Museum, a magnificent collection of treasures—from the ninth century Antrim Cross to Chinese porcelain and even a painting by Pablo Picasso. The collection was amassed by John Hunt, a medievalist, who left it to the nation when he died in 1976 and are housed in the 18th century customs house.   The Georgian House is where some of the movie Angela's Ashes was filmed.

 

 

25th May

   

Carry on to the stone age circles at  Lough Gur and maybe as far as Cashel in Tipperary , exploring Skehan coutryside around Newport .  Cashel is a limestone outcrop rising from the plain and crowned by the cathedral and round tower. Sheltering at its foot is Bru Boru, a entertainment of Irish music and dance. The back road to Cahir, through Golden, will bring you past the riverside ruins of Athassel Abbey and the legendary Motte of Knockgraffon. Cahir has a huge castle in a fine state of repair and a wonderful "Swiss Cottage" built as a folly in the Regency period. It is also a centre of antique shopping.  Return to Echo Lodge via Adare  which has been called Ireland ’s most beautiful town. The streets here are lined with lovely cottages, many with thatched roofs and most with colorful front gardens. They were constructed by the Earl of Dunraven, who lived in the Victorian-Gothic Adare Manor.

     

 

26th May

County Clare and The Burren

    

It is worth stopping at Bunratty Castle , which was built in 1425 by the MacNamaras and then passed to the O'Briens who were Earls of Thomond. The Castle is furnished with mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings.  Bunratty Folk Park recreates rural and urban life in the 19th century Ireland . Visitors can for example view farmhouses of various economic backgrounds, a watermill, church and village street. The Walled Garden at 19th Bunratty House has been sensitively restored and is a must-see for all garden enthusiasts

 

Rising 650 feet from the roiling Atlantic, the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare take our breath away. From their majestic height we see the Aran Islands in the distance, and we observe kittiwakes, puffins, razorbills, and other birds catch the dizzying coastal winds. “Not enough wood to hang a man, not enough water to drown him, and not enough clay to cover his corpse.” That was how one of Oliver Cromwell’s generals described the Burren. Words, however, simply cannot do justice to this eerie, peculiar 193-square mile area of ancient seabed that suffered glacial activity during its long history. Today we see treeless meadows of limestone karst that forms natural pavement interspersed with lush flora. Burren means great rock, and the rock formations do dominate the landscape, but many visitors come to study what grows between the rocks—an amazing mix of arctic, alpine, temperate, and tropical vegetation growing side by side. Twenty-two varieties of orchids thrive here, nourished by underground rivers and rich soil. Scholars of history can scour the Burren for tombs, chambers, and dolmens (two stones that support a horizontal slab), traces of Stone Age inhabitants.

 27th May

Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa, Killarney, Co Kerry                                   Tel: +353 (0) 64 31766

Curragh Chase Askeaton Foynes Flying Boat Museum

At Rathkeale the remains of the Augustinian Priory, founded in the 13th century by Gilbert Harvey can be seen. If you divert from Rathkeale on the R518 you will come to the Askeaton (8 miles), where Askeaton Castle is located, principal residence of the Earls of Desmond during the 15th and 16th centuries. Ruins covering much of an inlet in the river Deel, including a 15th century tower, with the large Desmond Hall nearby. You can also visit the Franciscan Friary, founded in 1389 but later restored by James, Earl of Desmond in the 15th century. Nave, chancel and north trancept with well-preserved cloister arcade. some fine carvings and other remains within the friary. Travel west from Askeaton (6 miles) you will arrive in Foynes. Once the centre of trans Atlantic aviation, there is now a museum celebrating that era when flying boats ruled the skys.

 

Killarney itself is a busy town with lots of shopping.  South and west of the town of Killarney are the world famous Lakes of Killarney . Killarney National Park , 10,236 hectares in extent, comprises the mountains and woodlands surrounding the Lakes as well as the three Lakes themselves. The Park includes the peaks of Mangerton, Torc, Shehy and the Purple mountains while just to the west of the Park rises MacGillycuddys Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland .

 The nucleus of the National Park is the 4,000 hectare Bourn Vincent Memorial Park , formerly known as the Muckross Estate, which was presented to the State in 1932 by Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Bourn and their son-in-law Senator Arthur Vincent to be Ireland 's first National Park. In recent years, lands and waters of the former Kenmare Estate have been added, including Knockreer, Ross Island and Innisfallen 

 The most familiar part of the National Park is the Muckross Demesne, of which the focal point is Muckross House.   The House, to which there is an admission charge, is presented primarily as a late 19th century mansion. In the former stables of the House is a restaurant and craft shop.  Muckross Gardens , are renowned for their fine collection of rhododendron species and hybrids and azaleas. There is an extensive water-garden and a rock-garden on a natural limestone outcrop. Many tender and exotic trees flourish in the mild climate and sheltered location around the large expanse of informal lawn and in the Arboretum.  Muckross Abbey, in the grounds,  provides the visitor with a wonderful experience - follow the old narrow stairways to get a feeling of how the old monks would leave their living quarters and make their way to prayer. Donal McCarthy Mor founded the Abbey, a Franciscan Friary, in 1448. These well-preserved ruins were the burial place of local Chieftains.  Overnight at The Aghadoe Heights Hotel

 

May 28th

The Ring of Kerry is a circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula .  It is best to do it in an anti clockwise direction - Killorglin, Glenbeigh, etc.   Hightlights are :

Killorglin situated on a hill overlooking the wide and graceful River Laune, a river offering salmon and trout angling. Dominating the landscape to the south are the MacGillycuddys Reeks. It is the location of the famous "Puck Fair" festival - On the bridge into the town is a salmon smoke house called The Fishery.

The Bog Village is situated half way between Killorglin and Glenbeigh on the main Ring of Kerry route. It is a must for you to stop off and enjoy a step back in time to the early 18th century to recapture the way life would have been at that time. Peat, or turf as it is usually called in Ireland , is harvested from bogs and is still used as domestic fuel. The village is here to preserve the past for your enjoyment. This is a most worthwhile and historic visit to see the real Kerry life as it was, in the heart of Kerry's bogland. The Bog Village is adjacent to the Red Fox Inn Bar and Restaurant, which is open seven days a week.

 

Glenbeigh is a popular holiday base nestled at the foot of a well-wooded mountain and close to the head of Dingle Bay .  It is dominated by the strange ruin of Wynn's Folly, or Hedley Towers , once home of the Winns, Barons Headley. The Title dated from 1797. Wynn's Folly was burnt down in 1922. The view from 'Wynn's Folly is superb, and provides a breathtaking view of the village and surrounds of Glenbeigh.  After Glenbeigh you will pass through Kells Bay where a local shepherd gives demonstrations of working sheep dogs

From Cahirciveen you can divert to the right and take the car ferrry to Knightstown on Valentia Island .  Be sure to visit The Slate Quarry, Glanleam Gardens and The Tetrapod Trackway -   In 1993 an undergraduate geology student (Iwan Stossel) made the discovery of a lifetime. While examining rocks on the island's coast he came across a rock platform containing a set of ancient animal footprints. The tracks have since been dated to almost 400 million years ago and are regarded as among the earliest footprints known to science, and certainly the oldest known footprints in Europe .

Valentia is an island of unique scenic beauty, tropical vegetation, breathtaking cliffs and magnificent seascapes. The island is an excellent centre for sea angling and diving in unpolluted waters. The bridge was built at Portmagee in 1970. The island, about 11km long by 3km wide is one of the most westerly points of Europe . The surface is bold and rocky, two prominent features being Geokaun Mountain 268 meters on the north and Bray head 180 metres on the south, both are splendid vantage points for the sightseer. The Skellig Experience is located here. This is where the story of the Skelligs is told. The themes include the monastic settlement, the lighthouse, the bird and underwater life.

 

 Head on to Ballinskelligs via St Finans Bay .  In Ballinskelligs is the Cill Rialaig Centre - once a deserted and almost forgotten pre-famine village of thatched stone cottages situated on the Bolus road near Ballinskelligs, it is now an international artists' retreat .

On through Charlie Chaplin's Waterville and Cagerdaniel where, by golden beaches, stands Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O'Connell, lawyer, politician and statesman. Today some 120 hectares of the lands of Derrynane, together with Derrynane House, make up Derrynane National Historic Park . Plantations and garden walks were laid out in the 18th and 19th centuries, principally north and west of the house. Some features of the demesne are strongly associated with Daniel O'Connell, including the old Summer House. The main area of the gardens, set inland and to the north of the house, can be reached through a tunnel under the road.

Between Waterville and Derrynane you will see a Neolithic Stone alignment on the ridge above the LHS of the road.  Outside Caherdaniel is a ruined Iron Age fort on the RHS.

  At Castlecove, some distance to the left off the main road, is Staigue Fort - probably the finest example of a stone fort in Ireland , and is about 2500 years old. It is built of local stone and is almost circular, 27m in diameter. The walls are almost 4m thick at the base, and 2m thick at the top. The north side is still perfect with some of the old coping stones still in position. There are two small chambers in the wall, one on the west side and one on the north side. The stairways are probably the most interesting feature of the fort, and run inside the wall almost to the wall's full height. They lead to narrow platforms on which the fort's defenders stood.

  Through Sneem and back to Killarney.

May 29th  

Tour The Dingle Peninsula  - Dingle is the main town on the Dingle Peninsula, the westernmost point in Ireland. It is just big enough to have all the necessary services for tourists, and a steady night time beat for Irish traditional music.Dingle is traditionally Irish, being in theheart of the Chorca Dhuibhne Gealtacht. The main industries here are farming and fishing.The harbour is always busy with fishing boats and yachts, and its few streets are lined with brightly painted shops, pubs and restaurants. In 1970, Dingle was introduced to the world through the film Ryans Daughter, and Dingle fans from all over the world flock to the small town every year. In the 1990's, the town has gained fame in the world of music, history, gastronomy, scenery and not least it's friendly dolphin. From Dingle travel on and visit Slea Head, Dunquin, Ballyferriter and back into Dingle. You now take the northern route via the lovely Conor Pass, to Stradbally, Camp and Tralee. There is magnificent coastal scenery at the Western end of the peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula – has been inhabited for almost 6,000 years. The first settlers on the peninsula were nomadic hunters and gatherers who foraged on the coast for their food. Later Stone Age man and Bronze Age man were to build their tombs, erect their standing stones, and toil the land for the first time. The Celtic population arrived in the couple of hundred years before the birth of Christ and brought their ancestoral goddess "Duibhne", after which the Dingle Peninsula has been named in Gaelic: Corca Dhuibhne, the seed or tribe of Duibhne. In the centuries that followed, the peninsula was to be visited by Vikings, Normans and English. It is also a centre of craft workers, some inspired by the talented Mulcahy family



Each wave of settlers left their mark on the locality and it may be said that the locality left its mark on them. They sustained life here only with great difficulty. Sometimes they warred with each other; at other times they lived side by side in peace and in neighbourliness. They intermarried until with the passage of time they became fused into one people – the people of Corca Dhuibhne of the present day, a people who still speak the Irish language and foster the native culture and who in their daily lives bear witness to indigenous values.

It is certain, then, that the settlers have been of different racial strains. There are very few written accounts of their doings, but they have left behind them a great number of material remains as proof of their journeying and their settling here.

This is one of the richest areas in archaeological remains on the west coast of Europe, with almost 2,000 sites. Here are the largest collections in the world of clocháns or beehive huts, of the stones with the unique ogham writing, of dúnta or ring forts. These remains, including the Oratory at Gallarus and the cross stone of Reasc, give evidence of skilled craftsmanship.

May 30th 

Hayfield Manor, Perrott avenue , College Road , Cork                                    Tel: +353 (0) 21 484 5900

To Cork City  via Macroom and  Blarney Castle, one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, built around 1446. An ancient stronghold of the MacCarthys, Lords of Muskerry and one of the strongest fortresses in Munster, its walls are eighteen feet thick in places. Located on the parapet of the castle is the famous "Blarney Stone". According to local legend, after kissing this stone, you will have the gift of eternal eloquence, or "the gift of the gab". To kiss the stone, you must first lie on your back, then leaning your head backwards and downwards, you kiss the underside of the stone.   

To fill a day around Cork is no problem - You could easily spend a week exploring the Cork area and still not have seen all the highlights. The bells of Shandon church, The English Market, St Finbarre's Cathedral & The Crawford Gallery are a few of the highlights of the city. Blarney Castle , with its eloquent stone is a short drive to the north. The Cobh Heritage centre presents a fascinating story of emigration to America and as you rejoin the main road to Cork the gardens of Fota Island are worth a visit.


Overnight Hayfield manor


May 31

 

Start the day by heading down to Kinsale and maybe, if it is of interest, visiting the old fort there. An ancient seaside town, Kinsale is full of style and character. It is also a winner of the National Tidy Towns Competition. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was an important English naval base, and it still has a distinct Georgian flavour. With its yacht-filled harbour, brightly painted cottages, bow-winded houses and displays of flowers in pots, tub and handing baskets, it marks the beginning of scenic West Cork, and well deserves it's booming tourist industry. Only 18 miles from Cork , it is ideally placed as a deep-sea angling and yachting centre. In 1601 Kinsale was the scene of a battle in which English troops defeated a mixed Irish-Spanish force. It was followed by the 'Flight of the Earls', when many of the Irish aristocracy surrendered their lands and fled to mainland Europe . In 1960, after his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne, James II escaped from Kinsale to exile in France . Not long after, in 1703, the 90 tonne Cinque Ports sailed from the port with Alexander Selkirk on board. Selkirk's survival, after being marooned on the Pacific Island of Juan Fernandez, gave Daniel Defoe the idea for his novel Robinson Crusoe. The town's Dutch-gabled 18th century courthouse is now the Kinsale Regional Museum . Among its fascinating exhibits is a toll-board giving the sums levied on food and other goods passing through the town gates. It includes the waiver 'No fee is to be taken out of a smaller quantity of potatoes than three weights brought to town on women's or children's backs.' Other notable buildings include the 13th century St. Multose Church with its massive west tower. The north transept and font are probably original and both are noteworthy. The 16th-century Desmond Castle, a tower house used in Napoleonic times to house French prisoners of war, is also worth a visit. Two miles outside the town, at Summer Cove , are the 40ft walls of Charles Fort, dating from 1677. It is one of Europe 's best -preserved star forts, so called from their star shaped ground plan. The barracks inside were occupied by British troops until 1922. Not only dose this town lay claim to being the oldest town in Ireland , but it is also renowned internationally for the number and quality of restaurants in the town. It is hailed as the gourmet capital of Ireland .  An early luch here and then on to Clonakilty and the stone circle at Drombeg, returning via the town of Bandon .


Overnight Hayfield manor

 

June 1

  

To Mallow with its Elizabethan Castle and then to the Gardens of Annesgrove at Castletownroche.  On to Lismore for Lunch and return to Cork by way of the Irish Whskey distillery at Midleton.

Overnight Hayfield Manor

June 2

Dunbrody Country House Hotel, Arthurstown, Co Wexford                                   Tel: +353 (0) 51 389 600  

 

A must see is the church in Youghal, where Sir Walter Raleigh worshipped. Ardmore is just to the east of Youghal, with a stunning medieval church. From Dungarvan a very scenic road follows "The Gold Coast" through Annestown  and Tramore  Tour Waterford Crystal (be sure to see the cathedral whilst you are there). A ferry ride will bring you to the Village of Arthurstown , named after an ancestor of the marquess of Donegall who used to live at Dunbrody House.  

Overnight Dunbrody House

 

June 3

Some of the sites to see today might include the Kennedy homestead at New Ross, the gardens of Kilmokea at Campile, Tintern Abbey and The Lighthouse on Hook Head and the Dunbrody, a replica sailing ship and the beaches at Carne which  were used for the movie "Saving Private Ryan."

 

Overnight Dunbrody House

June 4

Tour to Dublin

 

   

 

Follow the valley of the River Nore to Bennetsbridge, with its many craft workers studios.  In Kilkenny you should first explore the city, full of medieval laneways, inns with tales of witches, a great castle and of course lots of shops.  Lunch at The K Club in the Ryder Cup Club House.

 Overnight The Merrion

 

June 5th 

Merrion Hotel, Upper Merrion Street , Dublin 2                                 Tel: +353 (0) 1 606 0600 

 

Tour of Dublin's Fair City

Bank of Ireland , College Green
The prestigious offices of Ireland 's national bank began life as the first purpose-built parliament house in Europe . Completed in 1739 it served as Ireland 's Parliament until the Act Of Union in 1801  
Trinity College
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth. Among many famous students to attend the college were playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Beckett. Trinity's lawns and cobbled quads provide a pleasant haven in the hearth of the city. The major attractions are the Old Library and the Book of Kells, housed in the Treasury. Exit form the front of the Trinity complex and walk from College Green to Dame St and Continue west passing:
The Olympia Theatre - Dating back to the 1800s, this Victorian music hall-style theatre has a capacity of 1,300. It presents an eclectic schedule of variety shows, musicals, operettas, concerts, ballet, comedy, and drama. As a variation, for the late-night crowd, live bands are often featured after regular programs.  A brief diversion here will bring you into the trendy Temple Bar area. Across the Street is  
City Hall 
Erected between 1769 and 1779, and formerly the Royal Exchange. It is a square building in Corinthian style, with three fronts of Portland stone. Since 1852, however it has been the centre of the municipal government. The interior is designed as a circle within a square, with fluted columns supporting a dome shaped roof over the central hall. The building contains many items of interest, including 102 royal charters and the mace and sword of the city. Adjacent to City Hall is:
Dublin Castle
Built between 1208 and 1220, this complex represents some of the oldest surviving architecture in the city, and was the centre of English power in Ireland for over seven centuries until it was taken of by the Irish Free State in 1922. Highlights include the 13th-century record tower, the largest visible fragment of the original Norman castle and the State Apartments, once the residence of English viceroys and now the focal point for government ceremonial functions, including the inauguration of Ireland 's presidents. At this point Dame St takes on the name Lord Edward St , and leads to  
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Ireland 's largest church was founded beside a sacred well where St. Patrick is said to have baptised converts around 450A.D. A stone slab bearing a Celtic cross and covering the well was un-earthed at the turn of the century(20th). It is now preserved in the west end of the cathedral's nave. The original building was just a wooden chapel and remained so until 1192 when Archbishop John Comyn rebuilt the cathedral in stone. Much of the present building dates back to work completed between 1254 and 1270.  Cut back to  
Powerscourt Town House Centre
The townhouse of a famous Georgian family. Today the building houses one of the cities nicest shopping centres. In the 1960's major restoration turned it into a centre of specialist galleries, antique shops, jewellery stalls, cafés and other shop units. Carry on to Grafton Street down the narrow Johnson Court Alley  

 

Explore the Great Georgian Squares and Doorways.;  Visit the famous Phoenix Park, Home of our President Mary McAllesse;  See the delights of the city of Roddy Doyle, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Sean O' Casey, Oscar Wilde and Nobel Prize winners W.B Yeats, George B. Shaw and Samuel Beckett.; See Guinness Brewery, O' Connell Street;  The U2 Wall, The National Museum & Gallery

 

 And of course Molly Malone herself

"In Dublins fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow, through streets broad and narrow, Crying cockles and mussels,
alive, alive o!

Overnight The Merrion

June 6th  

Explore either South of Dublin, into the Wicklow mountains, visiting Powerscourt Gardens, just 24km south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. Its 47 acres of garden are famous the world over. They were begun in the 1740s by Richard Castle and continued by Daniel Robertson. During the middle years of the last century he directed an army of 100 men with barrows, horses and carts in carving out terraces from the hillside and enlarging the lake. The resulting Italian gardens contain beautiful statues and urns collected by the Powerscourt Lords. The Estate contains the highest waterfall in Ireland at 398 feet set in a wooded deerpark where Lord Powerscourt introduced the first herd of Japanese Sika deer to Europe..  Also worth visiting is the Earl of Meath's  Kilruddery House.   Killruddery is unique in having the most extensive early formal gardens, still in their original style, surviving in Ireland. Dating from the 1680s they are amongst the most important gardens of their type in these islands and should be regarded as mainly the work of the 4th and 6th Earls of Meath. Killruddery Estate has been in the ownership of the Brabazon family (the Earls of Meath) since 1618. The core of the gardens is a pair of canals (550 feet long) which focus on the House at one end and on an avenue of lime trees at the other.  Return to Dublin via Glendalough and Russborough. At Glendalough the early Christian monastic site was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Set in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses. The Visitor Centre has an interesting exhibition and an audio-visual show. French, Italian and Spanish guided tours are available all year by advance booking. The Visitor Centre is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities. Access to the site is very difficult for wheelchair users.  The road leads through the Wicklow Mountains to Blessington where Russborough House stands.  Russborough was built for Joseph Leeson, later Earl of Milltown. Building began in 1741 and took ten years to complete. The architect was Richard Castle (Cassells). The house is built of granite and is in the Palladian style. Important features in the house include stucco ceilings by the Lafranchini brothers, marble mantelpieces, inlaid floors and lavish use of mahogany in doors, dados and staircase. . The house which is beautifully maintained also contains fine displays of silver, bronze, porcelain and fine furniture collected by the Beit family of de Beers diamond mines.

Alternatively head north to the valley of the river Boyne.  Leaving Dublin by way way of Newbridge House at Donabate to Drogheda to vist Brugh na Boyne.  Newbridge house was designed by George Semple, built in 1737 for Charles Cobbe later Archbishop of Dublin, was sold by Dublin County Council complete with much of the contents. The house and its furniture now provide an intimate insight into the past. In 1760 the Archbishop's fashionable daughter-in-law, Lady Elizabeth Beresford, added a large wing to the back of the classical mansion containing the magnificent red drawing-room. One of the finest Georgian rooms in Ireland, it was designed to display her husband's collection of 17th and 18th century paintings. The unique museum of curiosities dating to 1790 is full of weird and wonderful objects brought back by the widely travelled Cobbes.   The Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre interprets the Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Downth. The extensive exhibition includes a full scale replica of the chamber at Newgrange as well as fully model of one of the smaller tombs at Knowth. Newgrange, one of the world's most famous ancient monuments, was built around 3150BC. It is surrounded by giant standing stones and has a kerb of 97 stones. At Winter Solstice, the sun shines into the passage and chamber through the roofbox. Knowth was built around 3300BC and has two passages facing towards the east and west. The carved stones contain a quarter of Western European neolithic art. An extensive excavation has revealed a wealth of information about the site.  At the nearby Oldbridge Estate was fought The Battle of the Boyne, between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II, on 1 July 1690 (11 July according to our modern calendar). Both Kings commanded their armies in person, 36,000 on the Williamite side and 25,000 on the Jacobite side - the largest number of troops ever deployed on an Irish battlefield. At stake were the British throne, French dominance in Europe and Protestant power in Ireland. Return to Dublin

 

Overnight The Merrion

 

June 7th Depart Dublin EI 514    7.00A  Leave Merrion Hotel at Circa 4.45