• Legendary Landmarks and Landscapes of Ireland: Second Departure

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    September 27th –  October 6th 2015—£2,795 .00 (approx $4,472)

    Our break to Dublin and Northern Ireland explores unspoilt countryside, dramatic natural wonders and uncovers many hidden gems. We examine some of the stories behind Northern Ireland’s grandest houses and compliment our journey by staying at some of the finest historical hotels of this intriguing country.

    Sunday September 27th: Arrival

    On arrival at Dublin airport, a complimentary transfer will take you to the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, our base for the next two nights. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.

    Monday September 28th: Dublin, Trinity College and Dublin Castle

    In the morning we travel into the Republic’s wonderful capital of Dublin for a guided tour that includes a visit to Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland. Here we can view the famous Book of Kells, housed in the Old Library building. Widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure, this lavishly illustrated book is a masterwork of Western calligraphy. We then head to Dublin Castle, with time to look at the historical collections contained inside.

    Tuesday September 29th: Casino Marino, Beaulieu House and Crown Bar

    After breakfast we check out and travel to Casino Marino on the outskirts of Dublin. One of the finest 18th-century Neo-Classical buildings in Europe, this ‘little house’ was designed as a pleasure house for the Earl of Charlemont. Despite its small size, our tour uncovers an interior that actually contains 16 finely decorated rooms on three floors.

    As we journey north, we stop to visit Beaulieu House, a beautiful historic house dating back to the late 17th century with some delightful interior decorations and a grand staircase. The house has remained in the same family for 11 generations and also boasts a lovely walled garden and landscaped demesne.

    From here we travel to the Merchant Hotel, arriving in time to unpack and freshen up before an early dinner. Afterwards, we pay a visit to the most famous pub in the city, which belongs to the National Trust. The Crown Bar dates back to 1826 and still boasts period gas lighting, cosy snugs, brightly coloured tiles and stained glass.

    Wednesday September 30th: Belfast and Titanic Experience


    We enjoy a guided tour of Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city. Now a thriving, modern metropolis, Belfast has a colourful history and, as a key player in the Industrial Revolution, was the center for the Irish linen and tobacco industries.

    Belfast is still home to Harland & Wolff, the shipbuilders that built the Titanic, so it’s fitting that we visit the fantastic Titanic Experience that opened in 2012 to mark the centenary of the liner’s doomed maiden voyage.

    Back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk on Belfast’s history by a guest speaker.

    Thursday October 1st: Castle Ward, Strangford Lough and Mount Stewart

    Castle Ward 2We head to Castle Ward, an eccentric 18th century house that features a curious mixture of architectural styles, set in 820 picturesque acres of demesne with superb views over Strangford Lough. We enjoy a late lunch and a guided tour that offers an insight into the Ward family life.

    We also stop off at Strangford Lough, studded with islands, hidden coves, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops and sheltered inlets. The shores of the Lough have recently been used as a film location for the smash hit television series Game of Thrones.

    In the afternoon, we visit the magnificent Mount Stewart House and Garden. This family home reopens its doors in 2015 following a three year, £7 million restoration programme with never before seen rooms accessible to the public. The property’s wonderfully atmospheric garden is one of the most inspiring and unusual gardens in the National Trust’s ownership. We enjoy an early evening reception here before returning to our hotel where we are free to venture into the city and have dinner in our own time.

    Friday October 2nd: Divis, Giant’s Causeway, Portstewart and Bushmills Whiskey Distillery


    A view of the dramatic coastline at the Giant's Causeway, County Antim, Northern Ireland, taken in the sunshine with rocks visible in the foregroundWe leave Belfast and enjoy a scenic drive via Divis and the Black Mountain then up to the Giant’s Causeway following the beautiful coastal route.

    Giant’s Causeway is so-named for the enormous basalt columns produced by volcanic eruptions some sixty million years ago. Interactive displays, exhibitions and audio guides in the state-of-the-art visitor centre unveil the stories and science that surround this natural phenomenon.

    We then make our way along the beautifully scenic coastal route to Portstewart Strand, a two-mile stretch of golden sand that is one of Northern Ireland’s finest beaches. Owned and managed by the National Trust, its precious habitat is an important nature conservation site with the dunes behind the strand acting as a haven for wild flowers and butterflies. We also enjoy lunch at the award-winning beachside restaurant, Harry’s Shack, which serves fresh fish and delicious, simple food in a National Trust building.

    Our final visit is to Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, Ireland’s oldest working distillery. We enjoy a guided tour through the heart of the distillery to view the whiskey making process as it happens.

    From here we check in to the Causeway Hotel where we stay overnight.

    Saturday October 3rd: Downhill Demesne, Coleraine to Londonderry train and Springhill

    This morning, we explore the stunning landscapes and beautiful gardens at Downhill Demesne with their beautiful views across the awe-inspiring North Coast.

    Next, we board our train in Coleraine for a beautifully scenic rail journey to Londonderry. Described by Michael Palin as “one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world”, we can sit back, relax and enjoy the passing views of lush green countryside, unspoilt beaches and rolling Atlantic waves.

    We then pay a visit to Springhill, a charming 17th-century plantation home surrounded by walled gardens and parkland. Here there are ten generations of Lenox-Conyngham family stories to discover on our guided tour as well as a celebrated costume collection which features some fine 18th to 20th-century pieces.

    The evening is free to make our own dinner arrangements.

    Sunday October 4th: The Argory and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

    The ArgoryWe take a step back in time with a guided tour of The Argory. A Neo-Classical Irish gentry house built in the 1820s, the eclectic interior is a fascinating Victorian time capsule full of period items. The hillside location offers wonderful views over the delightful gardens and riverside estate.

    We then head to Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the home of the Secretary of State since the 1970s and ohome of the Secretary of State since the 1970sofficial residence of the Royal Family official residence of the Royal Fafficial residence of the Royal Family when visiting Northern Ireland. This late Georgian mansion is very much a working building, serving as the venue for official royal and state functions. We view the elegant State Rooms on our guided tour before having time to wander around the beautiful gardens with their mix of ornamental gardens, peaceful woodland and waterways.

    Monday October 5th: Rowallane, Georgian House and Guinness Connoisseurs Experience

    After checking out of the hotel, we journey to Rowallane Garden. Created in the 1860s by the Reverend John Moore to celebrate exotic species from around the world, it includes a walled garden, rock garden, woodland and wildflower meadows.

    We head back into Dublin and visit the Georgian House Museum. Furnished with original artefacts from the years 1790 to 1820, this elegant townhouse reveals what life was like for an upper middle class family.

    Next stop is the seven-storey Guinness Storehouse located in the heart of the Guinness Brewery. Here we enjoy an exclusive Connoisseurs Experience; an intimate tutored tasting session with an official Guinness Connoisseur.

    From here we travel back to the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, where we’ll enjoy dinner before departure the next day.

    Tuesday October 6th: Departure

    A complimentary transfer will take you back to Dublin airport.

    Please note: This tour involves a fair amount of walking, especially around the Giant’s Causeway.

    What’s Included

    • Airport transfers
    • 3 nights at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel
    • 5 nights at the Merchant Hotel
    • 1 night at the Causeway Hotel
    • Welcome drink
    • Full English breakfast
    • 3-course table d’hôte dinner on 7 nights
    • After dinner tea and coffee
    • 2 lunches
    • Services of a tour director throughout your stay
    • Travel by comfortable motor coach
    • All entrance costs
    • Porterage

    Special extras included in your itinerary

    • Guided city tour of Dublin, Trinity College and Dublin Castle
    • Guided tour of Belfast and the Titanic Experience
    • Lunch and guided tour at Castle Ward
    • Reception at Mount Stewart
    • Lunch at Harry’s Shack, Portstewart
    • Guided tour at Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
    • Scenic rail journey from Londonderry to Coleraine
    • Guided tour at Springhill
    • Special interest tour at The Argory
    • Guided tour of Hillsborough Castle
    • Connoisseur Experience at the Guinness Storehouse
    • Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

    Your Hotels

    Nights One to Two and Night Nine

    The Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel is situated in the prestigious south Dublin suburb of Killiney, overlooking Dublin Bay. Dating back to 1740, this luxury, family-owned castle hotel offers two restaurants, a library bar and leisure facilities including a fully equipped gym, indoor swimming pool, whirlpool spa, sauna and steam room.

    Nights Three to Five, Seven and Eight

    Located in the historic Cathedral Quarter of Belfast city centre, the Merchant Hotel is a harmonious blend of Victorian grandeur and Art Deco inspired sleek modernity. The luxurious rooms are well appointed while other features include a restaurant, a selection of bars, a rooftop gym and hot tub plus a spa with hydro pool, sauna and steam room.

    Night Six

    Newly refurbished, the National Trust-owned Causeway Hotel enjoys an idyllic location within five minutes’ walk of the world-famous Giant’s Causeway on the magnificent North Antrim coastline. All the well-equipped guest rooms are located on the first floor while the hotel’s restaurant offers beautiful views across the bay to the Atlantic Ocean.

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