O'Bama US Presidents' Tour

Discover the Irish birthplaces of many US Presidents' ancestors as they escaped famine stricken Ireland aboard Coffin Ships bound for America visiting the counties of Offaly, Tipperary, Laois , Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, Cork & Wicklow.  

This is one of Adams & Butler's two US Presidential Tours of Ireland.  The other tour can be seen if you click here.

Price from $731 per person includes 6 nights accommodation in Inns, Manor Houses and a 5* hotel on the last night with a compact self drive car 
  This tour can be tailored to both your budget by upgrading to 5* properties with a chauffeur drive, and to your particular interests as everything we do is customized   

Call +353-1-288 9355   US Canada & US Toll Free 1-800-8945712   Fax +353-1-288 9282
e-mail ireland@irishluxury.com


Day 1   Dublin City

Arrive Dublin Airport.  Transfer to your hotel for the next two nights.   We would suggest a walking tour of Dublin's historic center either on your own or we can arrange it with a top local expert - visit some of the glitzy stores on Dublin's Grafton Street, explore the elegant Georgian interiors of the Powerscourt townhouse and grab a coffee in Bewley's famous coffee house or a pint of Guinness in Davy Byrnes - James Joyce's moral pub.  We will provide a list of a la carte 'must-sees' and information before your departure so that you can plan your days in Dublin.  Click here to see some of what we would also cover on a Dublin City Tour.   
Overnight at a city centre hotel.

       

Day 2  Dublin, Wicklow, Meath or Kildare

Continue exploring the city of Dublin - visit the 17th Century Royal Hospital, overlooking the Phoenix Park.  See Lord Charlemont's townhouse, now the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art.  Dublin has long been a centre of art and culture. Stroll through the elegant Georgian streets and  Squares,  explore the collections of the National Museum and National Gallery. The city is over a thousand years old, and many of the towns and settlements that surround it are equally ancient. Successive centuries have left their distinctive overlays of character and architecture which means that Dublin has a wealth of historically significant and fascinating sights to explore such as Dublin Castle, where the Normans ruled from the 12th Century, St Patrick's Cathedral, of which Jonathan Swift was Dean, and Trinity College, famous for The Book of Kells and for its alumni who include Oscar Wilde and Oliver Goldsmith.    In Dublin, if you are interested, it is always worthwhile to check to see if any hurling or Gaelic (Irish soccer) matches are on at that time and any horseracing.  

         

Alternatively travel further afield to Glendalough, Powerscourt Estate Gardens & Waterfall, the megalithic passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth, the Hill of Tara, Malahide Castle, the Stud Fams of Kildare or Newbridge House.  For some enjoyable itineraries click here.  

   

Bear in mind some worthwhile if touristy options. Firstly, Johnny Foxes is the highest pub in Ireland with a good restaurant. Particularly good are the mussels, seafood chowder, and smoked salmon. The pub is full of memorabilia. It is an ideal luncheon stop when touring the Dublin/Wicklow hills about 40 mins from the city-centre by car. Roundwood Inn is also a brilliant restaurant, but not decorated the same way as Johnny Foxes, useful if travelling from Powerscourt to Glendalough.  It is a local for many Irish Glitterati -  Daniel Day Lewis, John Hurt, and the like.

Secondly, The Irish House Party combines all the singing and dancing of a traditional Irish house party with a real learning experience where house guests learn about Irish music, dance and culture in a fun way. The venue creates an intimate and personal atmosphere where house guests can meet and talk with the musicians and presenters in the private bar and maybe even perform something themselves. The evening consists of a humourous multimedia introduction to Irish culture, traditional music and Irish writers presented by the fear an ti (man of the house). There is also a live traditional music session with house guest participation with an Irish Traditional song and poem book for each guest. A song in our native Irish language will be taught as well as Ceile Dancing where the house guests can learn simple Irish dances. It has been very popular with young and old alike. This needs to be booked and paid for in advance and is approx EUR 58 per person to include a traditional Irish Dinner.  Overnight Dublin.

   

Day 3   Kilkenny 

Depart Dublin and head for Kilkenny, birthplace of James Hoban, Architect of the White House, home of US Presidents in Washington DC.  Have lunch at Kilkenny Design Centre with its wonderful home cooked local organic produce and superb local handicrafts.  Kilkenny is an enchanting medieval city full of medieval laneways, with a fine castle, cathedral and lots of inns with tales of witches.  Visit Kilkenny Castle, a 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands which was the principal seat of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde.  Due to major restoration works, the central block now includes a library, drawing room and bedrooms decorated in 1830's splendour, as well as the beautiful Long Gallery.  A suite of former servant's rooms is the Butler Art Gallery , which mounts frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary art.  The castle stands breathtakingly above the River Nore.  Saint Canice's Cathedral is one of Ireland's finest. Completed in 1285, it occupies the site of an earlier church and contains rich carvings, worked in both timber and stone, some dating from the 13th century. It has colourful stained glass too and everywhere the authentic air of a structure that has served the community for over seven hundred years. A one hundred foot round tower is open to visitors.  Visit Rothe House, now a museum, it was once the house of Elizabethan merchant John Rothe and his 12 children.  Built in 1594 and preserved as it was, it gives a splendid idea of how such a merchant lived.  As you stroll through the city you will find many quaint and interesting shops.  Take time to visit the memorial to James Hoban near Callan outside Kilkenny put up by the students of the Catholic University of Washington.  

     

After lunch drive to Wexford where you will spend the night in an award winning Georgian Guesthouse originally built in 1830 and located on the Hook Peninsula.

Day 4   Irish National Heritage Park, Wexford, New Ross, Dunbrody, & JFK Kennedy Park

Start the day by visiting The Irish National Heritage Park.  An unforgettable walk through 9000 years of Irish History. Enter a special place, where Ireland's heritage comes alive. From campsite to Ringfort, from mill to Fulacht Fiadh, from Crannog to Viking house, every activity is an unexpected adventure into 9000 years. The world you enter is an authentic recreation of Ireland's heritage. Homesteads, places of ritual, burial modes and long forgotten remains will enlighten the casual visitor and interest the scholar as will the Celtic farm with it's ancient breed animals.

Then wander around the Viking town of Wexford for lunch, birthplace of Commodore John Barry, founder of the US Navy.  John Barry was born in a modest thatched cottage in 1745 at Ballysampson, Our Lady's Island, County Wexford, an area with a strong maritime tradition. Yet Barry's father was a poor tenant farmer who was evicted by his British landlord. The family was then forced to relocate to the village of Rosslare.  At Rosslare, the youth's uncle, Nicholas Barry, was captain of a fishing skiff, and the young man determined at an early age to follow his uncle to sea. In the space of 58 years, he rose from humble cabin boy to senior commander of the entire United States fleet. Intrepid in battle, he was humane to his men as well as adversaries and prisoners.  There is a statue of Commodore John Barry at Crescent Quay in  Wexford Town

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The magnificent tall ship JFK Dunbrody is moored on the New Ross South Quay as a floating exhibition center, where President John F. Kennedy once addressed the people of New Ross. Offering visitors a chance to "experience history for themselves", the Dunbrody recreates the conditions surrounding the 19th century mass migration from Ireland. Over 60,000 people visit Dunbrody annually to learn more about this chapter in Ireland's history.  A 176-foot-long cargo vessel with three masts, the original Dunbrody was built in Quebec in 1845 by Thomas Hamilton Oliver, a Derry-born Irish-man for the Graves family of New Ross . Although thousands of Irish did not survive their trans-Atlantic crossing, the Dunbrody sustained an excellent success rate, largely due to the leadership of their Captain John Williams.  Dunbrody was primarily a cargo vessel and carried timber from Canada, cotton from the southern states of the USA and guano from Peru. The ship was fitted out with bunks and facilities for passengers desperate to escape the harrowing conditions at home. From 1845 - 1851, between April and September, she carried passengers on her outward journeys to Canada and the USA. She usually carried 176 people but on one crossing, at the height of the Famine in 1847, she carried 313. The present ship is a reconstruction of the original Dunbrody and was completed early in 2001. 

The JFK Trust created a database of all Irish immigration to the US, from 1845 to 1890 on the famine ships which carried millions away from potato famine stricken Ireland to America.  These ships were also called Coffin Ships - a nickname given due to the number of people who died on board. The 3 million records were computerized in New Ross from the original ships' manifests. This database is available to visitors of The Dunbrody and on www.dunbrody.com.

Recent interest on Barack Obama's Irish roots led staff member Peter Reidy to search the records and find the details of President Obama's Irish ancestor Fulmoth Carney's passage. Carney (sometimes spelled Kearney) travelled via Liverpool to New York on the Marmion, arriving on the 20th March 1850. He was aged 19 years and was bound for Ohio.

From the Famine Ship travel to the The Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F. Kennedy's great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, which celebrates the story of five generations of the Kennedy dynasty and is still today farmed by his descendants.  There is hardly a family so world-renowned than that of The Kennedys. 
The Kennedy family legacy is an integral part of daily life in Co. Wexford. The achievements of a distinguished family are celebrated in three heritage sites - The Kennedy Homestead, The Emigrant Ship "Dunbrody" and the JFK Arboretum.  From humble beginnings the Kennedy family typified the indomitable Spirit Of Ireland venturing from Dunganstown to New Ross and onwards to a glorious life in the New World.  It is debatable whether Patrick  Kennedy and his wife Bridget Murphy left with  the multitudes of Irish fleeing the Great Famine in 1848,  or whether he set off a little earlier with his cousin the land agent Captain Kennedy, who was wanted for embezzling GBP 27,0000!   Once in the United States his descendants were to become the world's most famous family. You will see the homestead and view family photographs of the President's visit to Dunganstown in 1963 with his wife Jacqueline. A family member will tell the history of his ancestors, the immediate family of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  It was during that historic visit that President Kennedy remarked to the people of New Ross "When my great grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great grandchildren have valued that inheritance." Spend a second night at the Georgian Guesthouse.

 

Day 5  Waterford, Midleton Distillery Cobh Heritage Centre Blarney Castle, Cork

Today you will visit Waterford - Ireland's oldest tourist destination - first visited by Vikings in 852 AD and nowadays well known as the Crystal City. Waterford was settled by a Celtic tribe called the Deisi, and is still widely referred to as 'The Decies'. Recent archaeological excavations revealed the evidence of a Viking settlement here as early as the 10th century - not quite obliterated by the Anglo-Norman's who followed. The City's English name comes from the Norse word 'Vadrefjord'. 

Continue outside the city to visit and tour and world renowned Waterford Crystal Factory (hopefully still open), home of the world's finest crystal. 'Waterford' - the very word conjures up images of brilliant sparkling crystal. Each piece is a miracle of light, heat and the skill of master craftsmen and celebrates a tradition of perfection. Before commencing your journey into the world of crystal, the staff will introduce you to the crafting process through the eyes of the crystal makers. You will see the master craftsmen at work. They will share with you their craft skills of cutting and engraving and offer you an exclusive once in a lifetime opportunity to blow and engrave the glass yourself … giving life to the legend that is Waterford.  In the Gallery, you can experience the world's largest display of Waterford crystal. You will also find available the prestigious brands of Wedgwood Tableware, Rosenthal, Stuart crystal, John Rocha at Waterford Crystal and Marquis of Waterford. Non E.U. residence can shop tax-free and the factory will arrange to mail your purchases to your home address.

     

From Waterford travel to Ballymaloe & Midleton Distillery.  Shanagarry, 23 miles from Cork City off the main Waterford - Cork road, is the birthplace of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania State. His ancestral home is now in ruins. The famous cookery school and gardens of Ballymaloe, with its shell house and associations with William Penn, is just to the South of Midleton, home of Irish Whiskey. The Edwardian Gardens here have been restored by Darina Allen and greatly extended to incorporate a herb garden laid out in French parterre style, a formal vegetable garden and an ornamental fruit garden. Recent additions include a pond garden with folly, a water garden and memory arboretum.  In Midleton experience the history of Irish Whiskey, see the world's biggest Pot Still and after your tour enjoy a sample of Irish Whiskey.  The finest Irish Whiskey has been made here in Midleton since 1825. A tour through the Jameson Heritage Centre is a journey through the history of Irish whiskey. Everyone who visits the Centre is invited to sample the famous Jameson brand. The Jameson Heritage Centre comprises 11 acres of grounds and is both architecturally and historically unique. The Mills, Maltings, Corn Stores, Stillhouses, Warehouses and Kilns have been lovingly restored and extensively refurbished. Today it is the only self-contained 18th c. industrial complex of its kind in Britain and Ireland. There are historic illustrations and photographs, audio visual shows, exhibitions, demonstrations, graphic panels, intriguing display cabinets, timeless artifacts and working models.  Lunch at either locations. 

   

The Cobh Heritage Centre presents a fascinating story of emigration to America.  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. 

Then on to Blarney Castle & Blarney Woolen Mills.  Dermot MacCarthy had the gift of 'plamás', the Irish word for soft-talking flattery. MacCarthy tried to talk his way out of handing over Blarney Castle to an agent of Queen Elizabeth I. He prevaricated until the Queen declared "I will hear no more of this Blarney talk", and gave the English language a new word. The legend persists that anyone who kisses the famous stone high up on the castle parapets will be endowed with the "gift of the gab". Aside from the magic stone, the castle, added in 1446 by Cormac MacCarthy to an earlier tower, is well worth a visit. The massive four storey keep changed hands during the Civil and Williamite Wars and was used at one point as a prison for the Protestants of Cork. The gardens known as Rock Close were laid out by the Jefferyes family in 1759. Beside the castle is the Victorian Scottish baronial home of the Colthurst family. In the village are The Blarney Woolen Mills, one of the largest and best craft shops in Ireland.

You could easily spend a week exploring Cork City 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. Overnight Cork for one night.

Day 6   Ballyporeen, Cahir Castle, Rock of Cashel, Moneygall Offaly & Round Tower at Timahoe in County Laois

Today the highlights are not as much the places but the people who came from them.  A lot of the US Presidents' ancestors emigrated from the poorer villages outside of the larger towns.  The first place of call will be Ballyporeen, the ancestral home of President Ronald Reagan.  His grandfather, Michael Regan (who changed the spelling of his name later on), was baptized in the town in 1828 and lived there until his emigration to the United States in the 1860s. President Reagan visited the town in 1984 and delivered a speech to its residents, during which he discussed his ancestry and what he called the "Irish-American tradition". Today, numerous establishments in the town carry the name of Ronald Reagan, including a pub and the tourism office. Shortly after Reagan’s death, the Ronald Reagan Pub, where President Reagan drank a pint of beer twenty years earlier was transplanted all the way from Ballyporeen, County Tipperary, and rebuilt as part of the new Air Force One Pavilion.

   

From Ballyporeen visit Cahir Castle & the Rock of Cashel.  Cahir Castle is a mainly 15th century structure with the only working portcullis in Ireland.  The castle has been fully restored.  Cahir, on the banks of the River Slaney has the largest complete Norman castle in Ireland. to the South of the town is Swiss Cottage, a delightful Regency cottage ornee designed by Nash. 

Then on to the Rock of Cashel. The rock itself is of limestone and rises some 200 feet out of the plain. This alone would have been dramatic, but with the ruins, it becomes a spectacle. You round a 20th century bend on the road and you are transported back 1500 years. There, standing proud of the plains, is the great 4th century fortification of Cashel - the stone fort. This was the seat of kings and mediaeval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century. Indeed, there was a settlement here from pre-christian times, traces of which have long since vanished. Interwoven into the turbulent history of the 'Rock' is an impressive ecclesiastical fabric which spans the Middle Ages. In the 5th century St. Patrick converted Aenghus, the King of that time, and made Cashel a bishopric. This great monument in stone has seen war and peace, scholarship and devotion over a millenium and a half. It is fitting, therefore, that once again, the great traditions of learning and art which kept the flame of scholarship alight in a Europe dimmed by the Dark Ages, should have an echo at Cashel today.  Bru Boru - the palace of Boru ( Brian Boru was King of all Ireland ) - is a national heritage centre at the foot of the Rock of Cashel. this cultural village is designed around a village green and is home to the study and celebration of native Irish music, song, dance, storytelling, theatre, genealogy and Celtic studies. Visitors to this unique centre will be entertained by the resident BRU BORU group who have given Irish traditional music, song and dance a whole new stature in the world of entertainment. They have entertained the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Australia, An Taoiseach, many Ambassadors, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli and thousands of fans from all over the world.

 

Next stop is Moneygall in Offaly home to President Barack Obama's Irish ancestor Fulmoth Carney, the son of a wealthy shoemaker, left the village for New York in the 1850s and the rest of his family followed him. Before last year, the most famous descendant of Moneygall, Co Offaly, was Papillon, the horse that won the Aintree Grand National in 2000 in England.  But after a Church of Ireland vicar of the 200-year-old Templeharry church in nearby Cloughjordan, uncovered records in the home of an elderly parishioner which tied the political leader to the village, it has been basking in the spotlight.  President  Obama last year on St Patrick's Day promised to visit his ancestral home and to sip a pint of the stout there.  Nothing remains of his homestead and surrounding field, known as Kearney's Gardens, which was recently acquired by Offaly County Council to build housing but who now hope to build a monument there shortly.

     



Then on to Timahoe in Laois to visit its Round Tower.  An extraordinary carved doorway makes this the most elegant round tower in Ireland. Carvings of human heads, with flowing beards and moustaches, decorate the main entrance, about five metres from the ground. Smaller carvings decorate a second storey window. No one knows why the monks at Timahoe carved such a beautiful doorway. They may have used it to display a sacred relic to pilgrims, or the elegant decoration could reflect the monastery buildings that have disappeared from this site.  The round tower was built some time in the 1100s, on the site of a religious community founded by St. Mochua around 600. The tower rises almost 30 metres high and is more than 17 metres wide at its base. Its walls are nearly 2 metres thick. Inside there are five different floors, which were reached by ladders.  The tower made it easy for travellers to find the monastery. Bells would be rung to call the monks to prayer, and to signal when the monastery was under attack. When the alarm sounded, monks would grab all the treasures of the monastery and scramble into the tower. Once they had drawn up the outside ladder and bolted the door, the thick stone walls kept them safe.  The tower stands in a lovely setting across a footbridge that crosses the Bauteogue river. Nearby, the former Church of Ireland is now used as a library and a ruined 17th century castle contains elements from a 15th century church.   Presdient Richard Nixon numbered Irish Quakers among his forebears. His great-great-grandfather, Richard Milhous, was born at Timahoe, County Laois. In 1970 when in Ireland he visited the grave of one of his ancestors there. Whilst in the White House, the Nixons owned an Irish setter they named King Timahoe.

     

 

The night will be spent at the 5* Heritage Hotel not far form Timahoe in Killenard.

Day 7

Depart hotel for Dublin Airport

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