Legendary Wales and Ireland’s Ancient East

Tour Highlights

This tour takes in two Celtic countries with constantly changing landscapes, seascapes and myth-filled countryside waiting to be explored!
North Wales is one of Britain’s oldest established tourist regions - rich in history, steeped in legend, distinct Celtic traditions and heritage, some of Britain’s most spectacular mountainous scenery (Snowdonia) and a pace of life more relaxed than the rest of Britain. The Ancient Welsh tongue is one of the oldest languages in the world ... we can start by learning ‘Croeso’ - the legendary Welsh welcome!

After our visit of Wales we will wander through time in Ireland's Ancient East. The first impression here is a land carpeted by lush landscapes and idyllic towns, framed by the River Shannon and the Irish Sea. But this region is also full of secrets (just ask the locals and the stories will spring to life). With over 5,000 years of history, there are legends here from both ancient times and modern day. 

Tour Highlights:

  • Llandudno - one of Wales’ most popular seaside resorts
  • Betws-y-Coed and Snowdonia National Park
  • Conwy Castle - a masterpiece of medieval architecture
  • Bodnant Gardens - one of the oldest and most visited formal gardens in Wales
  • Welsh Male Choir
  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
  • Kilkenny - the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East
  • Waterford - Ireland’s oldest city
  • Rock of Cashel
  • Tullamore Distillery
  • River Shannon Cruise and Athlone Castle
  • Bru Na Boinne - one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes

*** Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

We depart for Manchester, direct from Toronto.
Upon arrival we transfer to Llandudno for a 3-night stay. This is one of Wales’ most popular seaside resorts due to its sandy beaches and picture-perfect promenade. This evening is our Welcome Dinner.
We begin with an orientation tour of this Victorian seaside resort, and then board The Great Orme Tramway - Britain's only cable-hauled street tramway. We will have free time to stroll on the immaculate seafront with its ornate pier and nearby canopied shopping streets (the Victorian forerunner to the shopping mall). Tonight we attend a rehearsal of one of Wales’ famous Male Choirs.
Conwy is one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval towns, with Europe’s most well-preserved ancient walls, cobbled streets and historic buildings. We’ll visit Conwy Castle - a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as The Smallest House in Britain.
Our first stop is Bodnant Gardens - one of Wales’ oldest and most visited formal gardens. Established in 1874, the garden includes fine Italianate terraces, a gorge garden and waterfall. Then we visit the deeply atmospheric Gwydir Castle - an ancient Welsh house situated at the foothills of Snowdonia and one of the finest Tudor houses in Wales. We proceed to Betws-y-Coed for a 3-night stay.
Since 1896 visitors have travelled here to enjoy the rail journey to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales or England, so we’ll board the Snowdon Mountain Railway - one of the world’s most unique rail trips. We spend the afternoon at Nant Gwrtheyrn - home to the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre, located in a former quarrying village on the north coast. We will learn about the Welsh language and enjoy a “cuppa” tea and Welsh cakes.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the most famous landmarks of Britain’s 19th century industrialization. This spectacular 18-arched stone and cast iron structure is the world's highest navigable aqueduct, and the longest in Britain. We will board a boat to cross this incredible structure, then return to Betws-y-Coed for some free time in the town.
We proceed to Holyhead and board our ferry to Ireland. Dinner this evening will be at Taylor’s Three Rock - Ireland's most loved pub and entertainment venue, for a rousing evening of traditional Irish song, dance and food!
We travel through County Wicklow with its majestic peaks sweeping down to the coast, and stop at Avoca - one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. We’ll visit the original Avoca Handweavers - a large store and café with one of the world’s oldest working hand weaving mills on site. Then we proceed to the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East, Kilkenny, with its famous 800-year-old castle perched dramatically on a plateau that dominates the town. The castle is a complex structure of many architectural styles. We end at our scrumptious hotel set amidst 170 acres on the outskirts of Kilkenny, for a 3-night stay.
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city. Our walking tour takes us through the Viking Triangle (with its narrow streets and oozing character this is the city’s cultural centre). Our visits will include the world-famous Waterford Crystal and the Bishop’s Palace built in 1743. After some free time we return to our hotel, with time to enjoy the surroundings and facilities.
We first visit Holycross Abbey - a restored Cistercian abbey founded in 1168. This was a place of great medieval pilgrimage, Catholic Mass and religious events which continue to be celebrated here. Next is the Rock of Cashel - a spectacular archaeological site. For 1,000 years it was a symbol of royal and religious power, and many medieval Irish Kings were crowned here. Our final visit is a local Sheep Farm where we watch a demonstration and enjoy tea and scones!
We start at Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum, which tells the story of the families who lived and died here before, during and after the Great Famine. Then at Tullamore we learn about Irish whiskey-making and listen to tales about the characters who made this whiskey world famous. We end at our luxurious hotel for a 2-night stay.
A fabulous day of memorable experiences related to Ireland’s past. We begin at Athlone Castle - an ancient bold defensive structure where we learn about the settlement in this part of Ireland’s Ancient East. Then we’ll board a Viking ship and cruise down the River Shannon to the famous monastic settlement at Clonmacnois.
We first visit the Neolithic site of Brú na Bóinne, where we’ll learn about the life of farmers and families in the period before written history. Next is the 12th century Mellifont Abbey - the first Cistercian foundation in Ireland, and then the Battle of the Boyne Visitors Centre - the site of a famous 17th century battle. We end at the Portmarnock Hotel in a suburb of Dublin - a splendid home for our final 2 nights.
On our tour of Dublin we’ll see the statue lined streets, elegant Georgian squares and the townhouses with the famous coloured doors. For a special treat on our last day we’ll go to Dublin’s oldest pub - The Brazen Head, where we enjoy Irish folklore, storytelling, live traditional music and ballads and a traditional Irish lunch. After some free time we return to our hotel for time to take in the impressive amenities and surroundings. Our Tour Manager will host a Farewell Reception, allowing us to have dinner on our own at one of the fabulous hotel restaurants.
We fly home, direct from Dublin to Toronto.

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