From the Prodigals mailing list:
THE PRODIGALS IRISH
NEW YEAR'S EVE 2007-2008!
[Please note, CELTIC TOURS is our new booking
agency for this year! Please contact Marc Kavanagh or Kathy Gordon
at: 800-833-4373 or 518-862-0042]
Day 01, Wednesday, December 26: "UP,
UP & AWAY!": USA-IRELAND.
Depart JFK or Chicago for overnight flight
to Ireland. Dinner and in-flight movie; but you are encouraged to skip all that,
and sleep as much as possible so as to hit the ground running, and best exploit
your very first day in IRELAND!
Day 02, Thursday, December
27: "DUBLIN'S FAIR CITY!": DUBLIN.
Morning arrival at Dublin Airport where
we are met by our professional Irish Driver/Guide. Out on the road! First things
first: we have our first sizzling Irish breakfast, washed down with our first
creamy pint of Guiinness on Irish soil! Then it's on to DUBLIN, the humming
capital of Ireland, a city that has been growing by leaps and bounds every year,
but still retains a unique Georgian heart and charm. We have a panoramic
overview of the city to help us get our bearings, before looking closer at a
couple of extraordinary historical sites. Full guided tour of Dublin Castle, a
seat of power since a Viking fortress in 930, with the present building dating
from 1204; then it's on to Kilmainham Jail, scene of some of the pivotal moments
of the movement for Irish independence since the 1700's. From there it's on to
our hotel in the heart of Temple Bar, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Dublin
and now the epicenter of its restaurants, pubs, and general nightlife. It's 5
minutes walk to Trinity College, to Leinster House, national museums, to pretty
much most places you'll want to go. And for the first time in years, we are
spending TWO FULL DAYS in the city...time for folks to have fun, and get into
trouble, to shop, to pint, to their hearts' content. (More nocturnal plans in
the offing, details still evolving!) PLEASE NOTE: meal plan option available,
and warmly recommended! Details available from Celtic Tours.
Friday, December 28: "ROUND TOWERS & PINTS!" DUBLIN - GLENDALOUGH.
After a full warming Irish breakfast, we head into the wilds of the Wicklow
Mountains, across bogs and moors and soldiers' roads, to Glendalough,
an extraordinary monastic settlement of St. Kevin from the 6th century.
It is a haunting place, with the ancient monastery tucked between two dark lakes
and surrounded by mountains, beautiful and wild, but with a feeling of mystery
hallowed by time that will raise goosebumps. FYI, the weather can as well - layers of clothes to anticipate all of weather's vagaries is the secret of
happiness! No mystery as to why pubs thrived in Ireland's soft climate... And on
that topic! the final instructive stop today will be the Guinness Brewery, where
after we learn the secret of the black magic pint, we'll have a chance to nurse
away the hangovers with a hair of the dog, and some remarkable views of Dublin.
Then a relaxed day, to wander through the Georgian squares, shop in vibrant
Grafton Street, maybe take in the mighty Panto or a play at the justifiably
renowned Gate or Abbey Theater. Overnight again at the Temple Bar
Day 04, Saturday, December 29: "HOME IS WHERE THE HEARTH IS!" -
A leisurely start, then drive on to County Cavan, where Gregory
still has his childhood farm. Cavan is popularly dubbed Lakeland, a fisherman's
paradise of pristine lakes and drumlins, rolling hills left by the receding Ice
Age. We'll stop for a toast at Gregory's farm,
featuring a magic potion that cannot be put into print, and a follow-up pint
visit to the wattled-ceiling 1800's hostelry in the neighboring town, the Seven
Horse Shoes. Shopping stop at Cavan Crystal for those who wish, and then head to
the superb 4-star Radisson SAS Hotel, housed in Lord Farnham's palatial
mansion, part of a 400 year-old estate. Stroll through the grounds, rent
horses or enjoy superlative cuisine featuring local ingredients. The coach will
pick us up for an 8.30pm return to Belturbet, 10 minutes away; it
is Gregory's hometown, where we stopped earlier in the day. There will be a
monster seisiun (informal traditional music jam) at the
Harbour, a pub owned by the family who used to baby-sit him when
he was a child. The visit to Belturbet has been a highlight of the band's
previous trips, a genuine family homecoming in a town of 2,000 neighbors (and 23
pubs!) Truly, "arrive a stranger, leave a friend." The coach will return to the
Harbour Pub at 1am to bring us back the hotel.
Day 05, Sunday,
December 30: "INTO THE WEST": GALWAY.
A relaxed start to nurse the
hangover! Full Ulster breakfast, and then coach departs directly to
Galway, the wonderful "City of the Tribes", our destination today.
There is a reason that we are heading there directly; this is an extraordinary
place, and truly merits a leisurely and lovely full day exploring the nooks and
crannies of a vivacious and delightful 13th-century West of Ireland city and
port. Galway has unique cultural mix, ranging from native Irish fleeing the
English, to sailors from the Spanish Armada, wrecked off the coast. Ramble along
the cobbled streets, enjoying superlative seafood, perhaps making a visit to the
Church of St. Nicholas where Columbus is said to have prayed before his voyage
to the New World, and certainly having a pint at the wonderful pub
Day 06, Monday, December 31: "CENTURIES IN A DAY!" ARAN
ISLANDS - LIMERICK.
After breakfast, we go to the Aran
Islands, the first time ever on a Prodigals tour. This is truly one of
the most incredible places you will ever visit, anywhere. Three rocks in the
middle of the wild Atlantic, the Aran Islands have been preserved in a kind of
living time capsule. It feels like nothing else in Ireland today, and on arrival
you step back into a world that has long disappeared from anywhere else on the
island. Men still earn their living battling the waves and fishing, donkeys
still are a principal form of transportation and farming help, The only caveat
here is, we are dependent on the same waves that make Inis Mor (literally, "the
big island") the magical place it is; if (and only if) the weather makes it
impossible to cross, we will then go to Plan B, which is to tour around the
other wonder of the Western World, which is Connemara. Wild mountains, crystal
lakes, soaring skyscapes...poetic in a way that the most jaded traveler will be
stunned by. Then it's on to Limerick City, of Angela's
Ashes fame. Because of its location on the River Shannon, Limerick has
always been recognized as a strategic stronghold; this is reflected in the
massive King John's Castle, built in the 13th century as an instrument of royal
authority and a military fortress. Located across from King John's Castle, over
the medieval Thomond Bridge, is the Treaty Stone, where the treaty was signed
ending the Siege of Limerick in 1691. Time to shower and shave before superb
3-course New Year's Eve Dinner and the PRODIGALS NEW YEAR'S EVE GIG, at
the foremost live venue in the West of Ireland. Pure lovely madness to welcome
Day 07, Tuesday, January 1: "BACK HOME, FULL OF STOUT &
Leisurely departure for nearby Shannon
Airport and our flight home - latest flights available! For those flying to
Boston or NY, there is an option of visiting Bunratty; for all travelers, plenty
of time before boarding our flight for last minute duty-free shopping and that
last magic pint on Irish soil...Brilliant!!!!!
Booking and all
details, please contact Marc Kavanagh or Kathy Gordon at Celtic Tours /Group
Dept. at: 800-833-4373 or 518-862-0042
I already have sent off an email asking about the pricing for this trip. Awaiting reply. I'll update this post when I receive it.