Ireland – Best of the Southwest

April 2018

Kathleen McKern Verigin, Director/Guide
Paddy Downes, Driver/Guide

The Southwest of Ireland exudes a romance like nowhere else in Ireland. It boasts an unsurpassable beauty and wild drama that is inextricably linked to the region’s culture, traditions and people.


ARRIVAL DAY         Thursday, April 12                 Overnight: Shannon

Travelers are encouraged to arrive at Shannon Airport (west of Ireland) a day early in order to acclimate. ACTours will cover the cost of your room while you cover costs of taxi, food and other amenities. Our tour officially begins on Friday morning after your first of many complimentary breakfasts.


DAY 1         Friday, April 13                 Overnight: Clonakilty, Co. Cork
After enjoying your Full Irish Breakfast, we will load our bags and hop aboard Paddy Downes’ comfortable and cozy 18-seater bus—our traveling home for the duration of the tour. We’ll pass through Limerick town, the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the location for the best-selling book, Angela’s Ashes. Our first stop will be at the Grange Circle of Stones. Bronze Age people who lived around Lough (Lake) Gur in 2100BC built Grange Stone Circle. It is the largest stone circle in Ireland. At dawn on midsummer’s morning, they performed rituals at the stone circle that we know little about. Kathleen will share a welcoming ritual taught to her by a local Druid.

We’ll travel on to Cork City, enjoying two hours on our own to have lunch, walk about and explore. After that we’ll head southwest to our home for three nights.

Clonakilty, sometimes shortened to Clon, is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is located at the head of the tidal Clonakilty Bay and is surrounded by hilly country devoted primarily to dairy farming. The town’s population is 4,592.  It is an integral part of West Cork’s tourist attraction and noted for its vibrant culture and night life. Clonakilty is also rich in ancient monuments and dwelling places of early and pre-Celtic settlers. We’ll enjoy a complimentary group dinner at our hotel.


DAY 2         Saturday, April 14                 Overnight: Clonakilty, Co. Cork

After breakfast, we will visit The Heritage Museum in Skibereen, home to two fascinating exhibits: one on the Great Famine, the second on Lough Hyne. We’ll enjoy a 45-minute tour with a private guide. The Museum also provides a genealogy service for the greater West Cork area. (If you have ancestry information, bring it. You never know what you’ll find out!) Our visit also includes contemplative time at a famine graveyard. Our lunch stop will be in “glimmering, shimmering Glandore, the most picturesque harbor village in Southwest Ireland.” Nearby is Drombeg Stone Circle, known as the Druid’s Ring. There we will learn about and experience sacred ceremony similar to what our Celtic ancestors might have performed. Evening is free to explore Clonakilty.


DAY 3         Sunday, April 15                 Overnight: Clonakilty, Co. Cork

After a delicious hotel breakfast, we’ll enjoy a full day exploring Mizen Head, located on Ireland’s most Southwesterly Point. At the end of the Mizen Peninsula, the cliffs of Mizen Head rise high above the Atlantic Ocean, where the currents meet from the west and south coasts, and waves from the mid-Atlantic crash into the land.

Dare to cross the iconic foot bridge high above the gorge where we can watch for seals and their pups in the swell below. We’ll enjoy a stop at the mysterious Altar wedge tomb and the little holy well across the road. For lunch, Mizen Cafe is known for good home cooked food, snacks, drinks and ice cream for lunch and tea. Evening is open.


DAY 4         Monday, April 16                 Overnight: Dingle, Co Kerry

Today, after breakfast, we’ll load our bags onto our private coach and head northwest to the Dingle Peninsula. The Peninsula boasts some of the most spectacular mountainous and coastal scenery in Ireland. On our way we’ll visit Molly Gallivan’s Farm, a 200-year old family-run cottage & traditional farm and visitor center. There we will experience the simple country lifestyle in rural Ireland before the days of electricity & modern conveniences. We’ll have an opportunity to witness sheep sheering and spinning of wool, or poitin (whisky) and soda bread making. On the farm we will also visit the ghostly ruins of a family dwelling from the era of the Great Famine, plus a Neolithic Stone Row that forms part of an ancient sun calendar. Experience 5,000 years of history on a gentle 1/3 mile walk.

Our lunch stop will be at the village of Kinmare, renowned for its traditional lace. Weather permitting, we will enjoy a leisurely walk along Inch Beach. Imagine dipping your toes into the Atlantic Ocean, off the west coast of Ireland! We’ll enjoy another complimentary group dinner at our hotel.


DAY 5         Tuesday, April 17                 Overnight: Dingle, Co. Kerry

Today we’ll enjoy breakfast at our leisure for a later departure. Stops will include Reisk, an excavated monastic settlement dating from the 6th century.

The enclosure contains the remains of a small chapel, several cross-inscribed slabs and an inscribed pillar. Once a pagan center of worship, Kilmalkedar is home to a ruined Irish church with stone carvings. The graveyard still contains primitive pagan stones, a cross and sundial. Nearby is Gallarus Oratory, a relic of early Irish Christianity. We’ll enjoy a stop at Blasket Island visitor center. The Island is where a community of Gaelic speaking people lived for centuries until 1953. They left behind a rich treasure chest of writings, on display at the Visitor Center. After returning to our hotel, dinner is on your own.


DAY 6         Wednesday, April 18                 Overnight: Dingle, Co. Kerry

***FREE DAY*** ACTours will provide a list of possible excursions that you can book for yourself. Golf? Horseback riding? Vigorous hike? Spa treatment? It’s your day!


DAY 7         Thursday, April 19                 Overnight: Doolin, Co. Clare

After a generous breakfast at our hotel, we’ll load our bags onto the bus and drive north through County Kerry. We’ll pass through Tralee, a modern bustling town that inspired the traditional Irish song, “Rose of Tralee.” We’ll travel on through Listowel, a Heritage and market town situated on the River Feale. The town is sometimes described as the “Literary Capital of Ireland” because a number of internationally known playwrights and authors have lived here. Our journey continues with a ferry ride across the River Shannon. Back on land, we’ll enjoy a magnificent drive north into County Clare, Kathleen’s favorite part of Ireland. We’ll enjoy a lunch stop at Lahinch, a small, welcoming and truly lively resort town with an atmosphere and energy that’s all its own. It nestles at the head of Liscannor Bay, beside a 1.25 mile long beach of golden sand. Lahinch has earned a reputation as a top surf center. Later in the afternoon we’ll drive on to Doolin, our home for three nights. Doolin is the home of traditional Irish music, with plenty of song and “craic” to be had every night. We’ll enjoy another complimentary group dinner & possible visit by Ireland’s premier storyteller.


DAY 8         Friday, April 20                 Overnight: Doolin, Co. Clare

After breakfast, we’ll drive east into The Burren, which in Gaelic means “rocky land.” The Burren is a unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and alpine plants, rare to Ireland, grow side by side. We’ll experience this up close with a visit to the mysterious Poulnabrone dolmen. This dramatic site, on the karstic limestone pavement of the Burren, is one of the most famous Irish dolmens. The name Poulnabrone literally means “the hole of the sorrows.” It’s considered a portal burial tomb, dating back to the Neolithic period, over 5,000 years ago. We’ll have extended time here to roam and ponder.

We’ll continue on to the majestic Cliffs of Moher, standing 702 feet at their highest point, and stretching for 5 miles. The area affords nearly 4 miles of pathways and viewing platforms along the cliff edge that allow the visitor to enjoy a cliff walk. Other travelers may wish to stroll along the easily accessible route near the visitor center and shops. Weather permitting, we’ll enjoy a boat ride that takes us below the Cliffs. Our lunch stop will be in the quaint little village of Ballyvaughan, perched along Galway Bay. There Kathleen will treat you to a visit to what she believes is a “fairy forest.” In the afternoon we’ll pay a visit to St. Brighid’s Church and Holy Well in Liscannor. Evening is free.


DAY 9         Saturday, April 21                 Overnight: Doolin, Co. Kerry

After breakfast, and weather permitting, we’ll enjoy a ferry boat ride from the Doolin Pier to Inisheer, one of the three tiny Aran Islands hovering off Ireland’s west coast. It’s a beautiful island of big skies and shimmering seas, a dynamic mix of new and old. Inisheer’s wonderful collection of archaeological features and cultural landscapes are vestiges of a rich prehistorical and historical past, and boast examples of Bronze Age, Pagan, Celtic, Early Christian, Norman-Irish, Pastoral, Maritime Navigational and more recent artifacts, all accessible to the visitor and free of entry charge. We’ll take the return ferry and enjoy a free evening in Doolin.


DAY 10         Sunday, April 22                 Overnight: Shannon

After breakfast, we’ll load our bags one last time as we journey south to Shannon town. Travelers are welcome to visit Bunratty Folk Park and the numerous shops and pubs in the area. We will close our journey at the lively, entertaining and scrumptious Bunratty Castle Banquet.


DAY 11 – Departures



Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin
Anam Cara Tours LLC

14850 SW Hidden Hills Road
McMinnville, OR 97128 USA