Upcoming Departures:October 22 - 29, 2017
Tour begins: Dublin, Ireland
Tour concludes: Dublin, Ireland
Price:$2,895/person (DO)$3,295/person (SO)
Combines With: Great Castles of Britain
Scotch Whisky Connoisseur
Ireland has always been a land of contrasts. This is true of both its stunning, natural beauty and its political history. In fact, from the very first written account – nearly 2,000 years ago – though its ancient poetry (some of which is thought to go back even further), we read that Ireland has been a land of petty kings and almost continual fighting and raiding. So much so that by the end of the tenth century there were up to 150 kings within Ireland – a relatively modest area roughly the size of the state of South Carolina. That’s just over an aver of 213 square miles per kingdom.
Even by the fourteenth century the area of English control – known as the Pale – was just the area around the city of Dublin. In the outlying regions, various Anglo-Irish kings, princes and lords vied for supremacy in their small pieces of the world. To achieve this end they built myriad castles. These enigmatic structures – now in various stages of ruin – speckle the stunning Irish landscape. Each of them reveals a fascinating slice of Ireland’s history and by visiting them, one can begin to piece together the fascinating story that is Ireland.
Our journey begins near Dublin where the great Trim castle was built with the most extravagant and overawing keep. In Ulster John Courcy’s great castle at Carrickfergus still dominates entry to Northern Ireland and was last defended in anger during the Napoleonic wars. To the south lies Dungarvan, the only castle founded by Prince John and the only shell keep in the country. Inland lies Cahir, once the most powerful castle in Ireland, surrounded on all sides by a river and still inhabited until 1961. In the beautiful west lies Limerick – a Norse settlement that scared away English settlers in the late twelfth century and still boasts a beautiful riverside fortress. Inland lies the stunning tower of Nenagh and the great decagonal keep of Athlone. Further in the heart of the country lie the great sites of Cashel and Dunamase, both extensive and ready for exploration. There is also beautiful Adare and Askeaton beside their rivers and who could miss hanging upside down from a 100 foot high tower and kissing the Blarney stone?