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Virtual Tour of Ireland

Below is a description of our trip to Ireland on the CIE Irish Classic Tour in September/October of 1999 with relevant links to sites we visited.

Monday, September 20, 1999: Bunratty & Knappogue Banquet
Arrived at Shannon Airport and transfered to the Fitzpatrick Bunratty Shamrock Hotel, located beside Bunratty Castle in Bunratty, County Clare. Toured the Bunratty Folk Park in the afternoon, which featured cottages from various parts of Ireland and a 19th century street capturing the atmosphere of a bygone era. In the evening, attended a medieval-style banquet with spirited entertainment at Knappogue Castle.

Tuesday, September 21, 1999: Cliffs of Moher & Galway Bay
Drove through Ennis and along the Atlantic coast of County Clare. Stopped to view the Cliffs of Moher, an impressive wall of rock that rises 700 feet above the pounding waves. Journied through the Burren country, a unique area of limestone hills where a wide variety of wildflowers thrive. Followed the route along part of the scenic Galway Bay, made famous by a song, and into Galway City where principal sights were visited, including Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch. Checked into the Ardilaun House Hotel in Taylor's Hill, Galway.

Copyright 1999 Kristin Erin Scroope

Wednesday, September 22, 1999: Connemara & Kylemore Abbey
In the morning, travelled around Connemara which is renowned for its misty mountains, the Twelve Bens. Drove through Spiddal, a village on Galway Bay where the Irish language is still spoken. Travelled on through Maam Cross in the heart of Connemara to Clifden on the Atlantic coast. Visited the romantic 19th century Kylemore Abbey, now a girls' school. Returned to Galway mid-afternoon to enjoy some leisure time for shopping and sightseeing.

Copyright 1999 Kristin Erin Scroope

Thursday, September 23, 1999: Leenane & Westport
Drove north via Oughterard and Maam Cross to Leenane, for a stop in the village where the movie "The Field" was made in 1990. Continued north into County Mayo to Westport, an attractive planned town with a central mall, Georgian houses and tree-lined streets. Visited Westport House which dates from the 18th century to see the elegant furnished rooms and splendid plasterwork. Drove to the Breaffy House Hotel in Castlebar, County Mayo for dinner and overnight.

Friday, September 24, 1999: Yeats' Country & Donegal
Drove north today through County Mayo and into Sligo, which is known as "Yeats' Country," as the Nobel-winning poet found great inspiration from the attractive landscapes among which he spent much of his life. Visited Drumcliffe Graveyard to see his final resting place. Continued along the Atlantic coastline of Donegal Bay to visit the Belleek Pottery Factory. Saw skilled craftspeople create intricate basketweave designs in delicate china. Journied north through Donegal town and past the misty Blue Stack Mountains on the way to Ballybofey. Continued through the rugged landscape to Derry. Checked into the Trinity Hotel in Derry City, County Derry.

Saturday, September 25, 1999: Derry & Ulster American Folk Park
In the morning, took a walking tour around the center of Derry which still retains much of its medieval encircling city walls. Travelled through Strabane and Omagh to visit the Ulster American Folk Park. The Park is located on the farm of Thomas Mellon, whose cottage home has been preserved to form a rural museum together with other cottages. Exhibits trace the strong connections between Ulster and colonial America and at least twelve U.S. presidents have had Ulster ancestry.

Sunday, September 26, 1999: Giant's Causeway & Glens of Antrim
Headed east this morning via the scenic coastal route to the Giant's Causeway, hexagonal columns which were formed over 60 million years ago. Then visited Bushmills Distillery to see the manufacture of whiskey and enjoy a sample. The distillery was founded in 1608 making it the oldest in the world. Experienced the "Nine Glens of Antrim," which offer wonderful views of mountains, valleys and coastline. Drove around the major points of interest in Belfast before heading to Clandeboye Lodge, in Clandeboye near Bangor for dinner and overnight stay.

Copyright 1999 Kristin Erin Scroope

Monday, September 27, 1999: Somme Heritage Centre & Boyne Valley
Departed Bangor and drove a short distance to Newtownards to visit the Somme Heritage Centre, a reconstruction of this important battle of World War I and Ireland's role in the conflict. Continued south through Newry and Dundalk to visit the Boyne Valley Visitor Centre which displayed the nearby underground burial chamber which dates from 2,500 BC. Drove into Dublin to check into the Mont Clare Hotel, located close to Trinity College and Merrion Square. Dined at an Italian restaurant in the city nearby, and then walked over to the Clarence Hotel, owned by the popular band U2. Had a few pints of cider in the Octagon Bar in the hotel while waiting for the Kitchen, a night club beneath the hotel, to open up.

Tuesday, September 28, 1999: Dublin Tour & Jurys Cabaret
Took a half-day sightseeing tour of Dublin today with a local guide. Saw the elegant 18th century Georgian houses and squares and many of the public buildings in different architectural styles. Visited the historic St. Patrick's Cathedral which is associated with Dean Jonathan Swift, author of "Gulliver's Travels." Then toured the State Apartments of Dublin Castle, parts of which date back to the 13th century. Walked around the city shops. In the evening enjoyed Jurys Cabaret and dinner.

Wednesday, September 29, 1999: Glendalough & Waterford Crystal
Drove south through the Wicklow Mountains to visit the 6th century monastic remains of Glendalough, nestled in a deep valley. The Visitor Centre related the history of the settlement. Then saw the round tower, churches and Celtic crosses. Travelled along the Vale of Avoca to Arklow and Enniscorthy and on to Waterfordfor a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory where we watched how skilled craftspeople blow and cut the glass. Also saw the huge display of trophies and tableware in the showrooms. Continued to Dungarvan, County Waterford to check into the Park Hotel.

Copyright 1999 Michael Straub

Thursday, September 30, 1999: Cobh Heritage Centre & Blarney
Travelled along the south coast via Youghal, where Sir Walter Raleigh was once mayor, to Cobh. Toured the Cobh Heritage Centre, which traces the history of emigration from this port to the United States over the past century. Then drove through Cork and on to Blarney where we climbed to the battlements of Blarney Castle to kiss the famous stone. Shopped at Blarney Woolen Mills, which offers a wide range of quality merchandise, before driving on through Cork and into the hilly countryside of Kerry and finally to the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney (County Kerry).

Friday, October 1, 1999: Ring of Kerry Tour
Journied around the Ring of Kerry for a full day tour of constantly changing mountain and coastline scenery with plenty of stops to admire the lovely views. Drove through the remote villages of Cahirciveen and Derrynane to the colorful village of Sneem. Continued via Moll's Gap and Ladies's View to take a guided tour of the gracious 19th century Muckross House that is filled with antiques and memorabilia. Returned to Killarney by horse drawn jaunting car (in the pouring rain!!!) through Killarney National Park.