Hike, Horseback Ride, Pub & Fiddle Crawl Thru Castles, Celtic Ruins, Manors and More On 12-Day Vagabond Giant Irish Adventure :
COUNTY WICKLOW – Glimpsing how people lived in times gone by is part of the fun of exploring Ireland and a painless way to absorb history.
On an active 12 Day Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland “Giant Irish Adventure” that circumnavigates the island nation out of Dublin, guests poke around impregnable fortresses, ring forts, beehive huts, manor houses and everyone’s favorites – castles. The theme common to these sites is stone – indestructible and a metaphor for the Irish spirit.
Nature’s stone edifices also play a role in the Giant Irish Adventure that includes Ireland’s highest mountain range called the Macgillycuddy Reeks or black stacks of glacial-carved sandstone; the Cliffs of Moher of shale and limestone overlooking the Atlantic; and the Giant’s Causeway, a natural sculpture playground of basalt columns created by volcanic activities in the Atlantic Ocean a millennia ago.
Per person double rate of €2,769 includes the services of a highly trained professional Vagabond tour guide for 12 full days; 11 nights accommodation (4 nights B&B, 6 nights hotel, 1 night in a castle); 11 full Irish breakfasts; guided walks; entrance to most of the historical and archaeological sites and to some natural sites; demonstrations of local craftsmen at work; and all relevant fees and taxes.
This tour answers the needs of active travelers who want time aplenty to explore where they are by foot, including all the must see castles in Ireland. Hikes of up to two hours are daily highlights. Some activities such as horseback riding, sea kayaking and surfing are optional, as is biking in Killarney National Park. The tour is flexible and guests can arrange to opt out of one activity and into another.
Following are a sampling of the historic stone structures that guests have the option to visit on this tour. Each tells its own story about how people have lived and worked here for the past 2,000 years and longer.
- Dunluce Castle is a cliff-edge ruin from the 13th century, with views over the Irish Sea to Scotland.
- Stone Ring Fort (1700 BC) comes with 360˚ views the Celts would have enjoyed. Bronze Age farmers constructed defenses against cattle thieves, using easily accessible materials, building earthen mounds with timber that fenced in the flat, lush green pastures of the Midlands or by the coast hauling granite to strategic heights to create circular stone forts. These were stone structures of such precision that no mortar was required.
- Uragh (Neolithic) Stone Circle
- Dry stone walls coursing across Dingle Peninsula are a fraction of its 6,000-year-old history reverberating with Stone Age standing stones.
- Glenveigh Castle and Gardens is a Victorian (1867) edifice in now-Glenveagh National Park. The original owner drove poor tenants from the land so he could transform it into an aristocrats’ hunting playground; today an Irish-American philanthropist has gifted it back to the Irish nation.
- Donegal Castle was built in the 15th century on the site of a one-time Viking fortress.
- Abbeyglen Castle Hotel where the mountains of Connemara meet the sea was constructed in 1832. Vagabond guests overnight here.
- Aughnanure Castle is an Irish tower house from 1500 and the lore of the O’Flaherty clan whose motto “Fortune favours the strong” sets the tone for its setting on a rocky island.
- Dunguaire Castle is 16th century fortress.
- Listowel Castle is a 15th century fortress.
- Beehive huts (Clochán) date to 5th century monastic settlements (think Luke Skywalker’s retreat in Star Wars).
- Blarney Castle dates to medieval times; kissing the Blarney Stone is said to bestow the gift of eloquence.
- Rock of Cashel or St. Patrick’s Rock from the 12th century boasts a Romanesque chapel harboring ancient frescoes.
- The tomb on Knocknaree Mountain is thought to be that of Celtic warrior Queen Maeve who in her 60-year rule had five (known) husbands.
- Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian walled garden date to the 20th century, thanks to the Benedictines.
- Ancient monastery on Skellig Michael, an island.
On the daily walks and hikes intrinsic to this tour, guests will access:
- Slieve Gullion Mountain, the highest point in Ireland which harbors Neolithic passage tombs
- Cliffside Trail including 132 steps to Giants Causeway
- Glenveagh National Park’s low mountain trail leading to Glenveigh Castle
- Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe
- Croagh Patrick, the famous holy mountain where every step taken means a sin forgiven
- Cliffs of Moher, 700-foot sea cliffs
- Kilkee Cliff Walk overlooking the Atlantic
- Glacial valley of Lough Annascaul
Throughout the journey, the Vagabond staff will arrange stops at locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the company’s mission is to have their guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a 4×4 Land Rover or Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ that allows intimate access beyond where regular tour buses go.
About Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland
Since 2002, Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. In 2013 the company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top 50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland was named a “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism Awards. In 2016, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification and was the recipient of the Irish 2017 Green Awards in the Tourism and Travel category.
For details on all of Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and for 2018 reservations, please visit http://vagabondtoursofireland.com/.
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