Planning a trip to Ireland? For your next Ireland vacation, consider experiencing the magical, authentic, and undiscovered Midlands, part of Ireland's Ancient East. Roam the homelands of Ireland's High Kings and ancient gods as you immerse yourself in a past from long before recorded time.
Many visitors to Ireland arrive in Dublin and head to the coast but this strategy misses the magical Irish Midlands where there is so much to see! On this unique and intimate excursion, group size is limited to a maximum of eight persons. We begin by exploring the mystical Irish Midlands before swinging west to visit Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands. Our tour concludes in Dublin with plenty of time to explore Ireland's capital before heading home from your Irish experience. We cover Ireland's Ancient East to the Wild Atlantic Way with the Magical Midlands in between.
Day 1: Sacred Center of Ireland
Uisneach is the mythological and sacred centre or Ireland and is said to be the home of the sovereignty goddess, Ériu, after whom Ireland is named. Ériu, according to legend, rests under the Catstone. It is at the Catstone, or Aill na Mireann, where the five provinces of Ireland meet. Uisneach is also linked with the Sun God, Lugh. It is said that Lugh, who gave rise to harvest celebration Lunasa, was drowned in a lake on the Hill and rests beneath an adjoining tumulus. According to one theory, the God Lugh, with his ‘long arm trailing behind him’ and his face too bright to look at, was actually a comet. Every year during the first week of May, the Bealtaine fires are lit atop the hill and when seen, people on the surrounding hillsides also light bonfires as it has been done since ancient times. Bealtaine celebrates the beginning of the summer season. This is a private tour for your group and is always a special experience. After the tour, we stop at the Visitor Centre for a cup of tea and a chat.
Venturing from Uisneach, we next head to three ridges known as the "Witches Hops" where we find Loughcrew. We walk to the central summit to explore Cairn T, the largest of the passage tombs. As seen from Uisneach, Cairn T will align with the midsummer sunrise.
Extending the same radial line from Uisneach another 65 kilometres, we would be inline with Slieve Gullion in County Armagh which connects sacred Uisneach with both Leinster and Ulster.
The midwinter sunset also aligns, reversed back through Uisneach completing the 180 degree cycle from midsummer sunrise to midwinter sunset.
After exploring the mythology and archaeology of Uisneach and Loughcrew, you will transported to a welcome dinner at Weirs award winning Bar and Restaurant in the charming little village of Multyfarnham. Here, we share tales, yarns, truths and your Guide is available to answer the many questions provoked by today's activities.
Weirs Bar & Restaurant, Multyfarnham, in County Westmeath is a charming old world, family run pub that serves some of the best food and drink in Ireland in a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere. All of their food is home made on the premises, from their soups and sauces right through to their delicious desserts. They also have available specialty coffees and a full range of liqueurs.
After your Angus beef steaks, the night warms up with a little lesson in Úisce Beatha, better known as whiskey - single malt, blended, aged, Irish and Scottish. You will sample the delights and may quickly come to recognise what you like and want out of any whiskey. Ferried back to your accommodation, your first night's sleep beckons.
Day 2: Athlone
After a good night's rest and a hearty breakfast, we hop on our transport for a short, 40 minute drive to Athlone. Situated on the mighty river Shannon, Athlone serves as the gateway between Ireland's Ancient East and the West.
Our first stop will be Athlone Castle. Experience a magnificent journey through history at the Athlone Castle Visitor Centre. Climb the steps to the Castle Keep and enjoy the views across the majestic River Shannon or climb higher still to the Castle battlements and look across the town's rooftops. Take a step back in history through playful interactive exhibits, touch screen animations and an immersive 360-degree cinematic experience that brings the Great Siege of Athlone to life.
Swords, cannon balls and stunning sculptures gives these ancient stories great depth. Vibrant displays with historic artifacts will lead you along a 3D timeline that illustrates Athlone’s last 200 years. Enjoy the wonderful voice of John Count McCormack in a display dedicated to the memory of the world-famous Athlone tenor. Rain or shine, this is a Castle with a story to tell.
Afterwards we pause for lunch before heading over to Ireland's oldest bar, Seáns Bar Athlone. When you walk into Sean's Bar, you are in the oldest pub in Europe, never mind Ireland! You join the uncountable number of visitors who have been stopping here for a drink, a chat and maybe a bit of music for more than a thousand years and they have the distinctions to support it.
The rest of the afternoon is free time in Athlone for you to explore this charming Irish town. Take in the Luan Museum where there is always interesting art to be found, do some shopping or take one of the river cruises on the Shannon. After exploring Athlone, we grab more of Athlone's culinary delights with dinner and head back to our base in Mullingar for a good night's rest.
Day 3: The Wonders of Westmeath
After another serious breakfast you will be collected and brought to the heritage village of Fore Co. Westmeath. Fore Village is off the beaten track but is wedged with rewards for the people who visit her; from the Stories of the Seven Wonders of Fore to the ancient Benedictine Monastery that will have you walking through its cloisters in the footsteps of the original French speaking monks. French Monks in Westmeath,you ask? Come and walk in their wake and all questions will be answered such as why some locals hadn't much time for the Benedictines, who was St.Feichin of Fore, what's an anchorite in a cell and what are The Seven Wonders of Four.
Lunch will be in the Village of Castlepollard
It is here that we encounter the famous story of the Children of Lír and visit Lough Deravarragh, where legend has it they lived for 300 of their 900 cursed years.
Next port of call will be to visit a graveyard of An Górta Mór, sometimes known as The Great Irish Famine. A reflective and oft too forgotten chapter in Irish history.
Day 4: All about Love
Day four is all about love. So after you've guessed it, after a serious Irish breakfast we are going to Belvedere House and Gardens. Where love and jealousy collided amongst family to a legacy that lasts to today.
Dinner will be earlier today and you will be overlooking during your meal Lough Ennell where the last High King of Ireland An Ard Rí Mallachí II lived. The restaurant will be in The Bloomfield House Hotel.
The love theme continues today as we chase our love of food: home baked bread! You will get to make, bake and eat your own fresh bread. Real butter will near evaporate on your delicious results and with a guiding hand your new bread making skills will shine through to make all at home hungry with envy.
That night there will be music, we will endeavour to attend a traditional Irish session with players unannounced dropping in and out of the songs as is their want. Transport to and from the venue is provided.
Day 5: From Love to War
Yesterday was love and today is war. We will be visiting the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne. This is a fantastic venue to learn about so much of today's Irish history. See the how William of Orange took on King Charles II and how decisive the battle became. The impact of the Battle of the Boyne is still with us today as Ireland is still divided between the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland and the 6 northern counties which remain part of the UK.
Lunch in the tea rooms here at the visitor centre is highly recommended as is lunch in the nearby village of Slane. The choice is yours.
War, war and more war! Off we go to 1914 and the trenches. The Irish Military War Museum offers fascinating insights into Irish participant’s involvement during both World Wars and other conflicts throughout history. The museum is a non-political, educational and historical resource to be enjoyed by all. It is very much a museum which gives a memorable experience entwined with knowledge.
Evening’s entertainment will be a story of stories by a modern day Seanchaí. The venue will ideally be outdoors weather permitting. Transport arranged.
Day 6: To The Wild Atlantic Way and Edge of the Known World
Today, we leave our base in Mullingar and travel west to explore the Aran islands!
We will drive to Doolin where we catch our ferry to the biggest island, Inishmore, taking in the spectacular Cliffs of Moher along the way. The cliffs are breath taking and are voted a must see every year with visitors to Ireland.
Upon arrival at Inishmore, an excellent Visitor’s Centre, Ionad Arainn, provides a solid introduction to the history and culture of the island. Sites to see include the interesting remains of Arkin’s Castle, a Cromwellian fort that maintained a garrison (British Army troops) during the 17th and 18th centuries. St. Ciaran’s Monastery, east of the village, where can be seen also several early cross-slabs, pillars and a holy well dedicated to the early saint. Also in this locality is the very early St. Soorney’s Church.
To the west of Kilronan is the church of St. Enda, the saint most closely identified with the spread of Christianity on Aran. Kilmurvy is the other main village on Inishmore; it lies about seven kilometres west of Kilronan, and in its vicinity is the Church of St. Colman Macduagh, and the Church of the Saints. Undoubtedly the most famous and certainly the most impressive site on Inishmore is the great stone fortress of Dun Aonghus, perched dramatically on the edge of a sheet 300 ft cliff that falls away into the Atlantic Ocean. Altogether this massive fortress covers almost 11 acres and consists of three enclosures constructed of large limestone blocks.
After our island visit we head to Galway and check into our hotel with plenty of time for you to explore the many fine shops, pubs and restaurants in Galway City.
Day 7: Back Home in Dublin
No Ireland vacation is complete without spending time in Dublin, so after the obligatory full Irish breakfast, we board our coach and to Dublin we go! After dropping our bags at our hotel, we meet for a 2 hour guided walking tour of central Dublin followed by free time on your own.
Our walking tour ends in Dublin's city centre and your guide will provide you with many optional activities to explore. As with any major European city you will be spoiled with choices from rides on open top buses, to premier shopping areas like Grafton Street, to craft pubs and the famous Temple Bar area along the Liffy, to feeding ducks in St Stephens Green. Your tour guide will have many suggestions but today you get to pick what tickles your fancy.
Once more, we start our day with a full Irish breakfast and then gather our things as we board our transport to the airport. At the airport, your guide will bid you farewell and your trip to Ireland concludes as you embark upon your journey home, full of memories and anticipating your next visit to this magical land.
- Tour Highlights
- Included in Package
- Tour Map
Hill of Uisneach and Loughcrew Cairns
Battle of The Boyne Visitor Center
Fore Abbey and Village
Irish War Museum
Cliffs of Moher
Seven night's accommodation
Full Irish breakfast each morning (except day of arrival)
Comfortable Passenger Van
Full 24x7 Support during your visit
Entrance to all Listed Attractions
Dublin Airport Transfers
GROUP SIZE LIMITED TO EIGHT PERSONS
5 nights - Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar
2 nights - Galway
1 night - Central Hotel, Dublin
We reserve the right to substitute alternative hotel accommodation or activities based on availability and seasonal factors beyond the control of Ancient Ireland Tourism, Ltd. All bookings are subject to our Terms and Conditions.
As with all of our itineraries, we are always pleased to accommodate extended stays, additional destinations and any customization that your group of four or more requires. Simply contact us and we will work with you to ensure that your trip to Ireland is nothing short of magical and memorable. Visit Ireland your way!