A Singing Journey to Ireland

Length: 11-Days

Venues for Your Choir:

  • Belfast – Concert
  • Killarney – Sung Mass
  • Dublin – Concert

TUE, DAY 1: DEPART USA

We Depart en route to Dublin with complimentary meals & beverages served aloft.

WED, DAY 2: ARRIVE DUBLIN / TRANSFER TO BELFAST

We arrive at the Dublin Airport, where we meet with our coach driver/guide and depart for Belfast. We will travel through the town of Down Patrick and enjoy a visit to Down Cathedral. Down Cathedral overlooking Downpatrick, stands close to what is believed to be the mortal remains of Patrick, the Patron saint of Ireland. We can access the cathedral via gardens at the back of the St Patricks Centre or through English street from the town centre.

Choir Tour to Ireland

The Cathedral is impressive inside and has a wonderful organ and a very interesting seating arrangement. A retail area is housed at the entrance of the Cathedral. It is generally accepted that the main walls of the Cathedral date from the years after 1220. It suffered destruction on numerous occasions including during the wars with Edward Bruce in 1316 and finally, on the suppression of the monasteries in 1541, the Cathedral was laid waste. Notwithstanding its ruinous state which lasted until 1790, King James I granted a Charter to the Cathedral in 1609, providing for a Dean and Chapter. Rather than lose the connection with Patrick, the name began to be used for the growing town, which assumed the name Downpatrick. Rebuilding of the Cathedral began in 1790, it was consecrated in 1818 and the tower was completed in 1829.The Cathedral was closed again for repairs and renovations in 1986/7. Attacks of rot were so extensive that the Cathedral Board, acting on professional advice decided to remove almost the entire interior plaster walls and vaulting. What the visitor sees now is an almost entirely new interior, a replica of that which it replaced. The cost of this was upwards of £750,000 which was all raised voluntarily. We will enjoy some free time for lunch on our own in Downpatrick.

The Ards Peninsula is a peninsula in County Down, Northern Ireland which separates Strangford Lough from the North Channel on Ireland’s northeast coast. A number of towns and villages are located on the peninsula, such as the seaside town of Donaghadee, with the surrounding area known as the Ards district. Newtownards, situated inland from the peninsula, is the largest town in the area, another town in the Ards is Portaferry.

After we take the ferry from Strangford to Portaferry, we will continue on to Belfast to check into our hotel for dinner and the evening. (D)

THU, DAY 3: BELFAST: CITY TOUR & IMPROMPTU SINGING

After a full Irish breakfast, we meet with our local guide and enjoy a sightseeing tour of Belfast City. A guided city tour is an excellent way to discover Belfast City.

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The tour will take us to the leaning Albert Memorial Clock tower (Irelands answer to the Tower of Pisa) and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. Your tour will pass by the City Hall, the Opera house, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queens University and the Botanic Gardens. We will also visit the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard, where the Titanic was built and launched in 1912. A visit to the Shankill and Falls road will be of interest as it will give the visitor an indication of how life was in Belfast during the troubles.

Located in the heart of Belfast, the Titanic Belfast recreates the story of the world’s most famous ship in a new iconic, six floor building right beside the historic site of the original ship’s construction. Opened in April 2012 to coincide with the centenary of its launch, the self-guided journey begins on entering the building’s giant atrium, where the visitor is surrounded by the four ‘ship’s hull’ shaped wings which house the Titanic Experience. As you journey through the nine large galleries of the interactive exhibition, you will uncover the true story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. Highlights include breathtaking views to the slip-ways where the Titanic was launched and the Voyage to the bottom of the sea in the unique Ocean Exploration Centre with live links to contemporary undersea exploration. The centre includes restaurants and the Titanic Store for a shopping experience.

The balance of the day is at leisure. Tonight we visit with folks at Methodist College Belfast and enjoy a possible joint concert performance in Belfast. We end the evening with a pub dinner. (B, D)

FRI, DAY 4: BELFAST / ENNISKILLEN / BELLEEK / SLIGO / CASTLEBAR

After a full Irish Breakfast, we check out of our hotel in Belfast. We stop in Enniskillen en route to Belleek. The Belleek Pottery building is an imposing Victorian building with modern facilities. It features a museum, tearoom, video theatre and a showroom. The guided tour covers all of the production areas offering guests the possibility of meeting with the craftspeople, observing their craftsmanship working on the different handmade pieces. As you walk through the museum you will experience the journey through the life of the Pottery from the early earthenware days to the present day fine translucent Parian China. We enjoy some free time for lunch on our own.

The capital of County Sligo is an attractive town with good bars and restaurants, theatres, art galleries and delicatessens. Sligo is the largest town in the north-west, with a heritage going back 6,000 years. Its name literally translates as ‘the place of shells’ – the town’s prehistoric residents had a huge appetite for shellfish, and the remains of the unfortunate crustaceans can be found buried all over the area. Sligo town makes a good base for a range of activities – horse riding, golfing, walking, cycling, fishing and water sports are all very popular.

We enjoy some time at leisure in Sligo before continuing on to Castlebar for dinner. (B, D)

SAT, DAY 5: CASTLEBAR / GALWAY / BURREN / CLIFFS OF MOHER / KILLARNEY

We will have a full Irish breakfast, before travelling towards Galway City where we will get a chance to stretch our legs in the city before continuing on to the Cliffs of Moher.

Choir Tour to Ireland

Continuing on our journey, we visit the Burren, part of which forms the 100 square km Burren National Park. It is a Karst limestone region of approximately 300 sq. km, which lies in the northwest corner of Co Clare. It is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern. This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and rivers which suddenly flood when it rains. The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 12th century. We will discover small villages abandoned during the famine period and green roads where we could walk for miles without ever seeing a car. The flora on the Burren is a mixture of Arctic, Mediterranean and rare flowers such as gentian, orchids and bloody cranesbill are the rule rather than the exception. The Burren is truly an exceptional part of Ireland.

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Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. To the south of the cliffs is Hag’s Head and was once the site of a castle. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’ Brien’s Tower. Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle), built a Tower at the cliffs in order to enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The Tower is adjacent to the seastack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife.

We continue our journey onto the Shannon Car Ferry over to Co. Limerick, on our way to Killarney for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

SUN, DAY 6: KILLARNEY: ST. MARY’S CATHEDRAL MASS PLUS LAKE CRUISE

This morning, after enjoying a full Irish breakfast, we offer a sung mass at a local church. We will enjoy some free time in Killarney before embarking on a restful cruise on Lough Leane this afternoon. Relax on board as we enjoy Killarney’s Lakes and Mountains.

The balance of the day is at leisure for some personal shopping or sightseeing in Killarney. We will enjoy dinner at a local pub and a pub crawl. (B, D)

MON, DAY 7: KILLARNEY: RING OF KERRY & LEISURE:

We begin our morning with a full Irish breakfast. The Ring of Kerry (166km) is the most famous and panoramic route in Ireland. The astonishing beauty of this large peninsula, Iveragh, comes from the great diversity of its scenery, which offers incessant contrasts. On our journey around the Ring, we take in spectacular scenery – mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. We pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair, then to Glenbeigh where the cliff road affords panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay. Continuing to Cahirciveen, you’ll pass the birthplace of our National hero, Daniel O’Connell. Next, we continue on through peat bogs to the town of Waterville and then to Sneem Village, famous for its brightly coloured houses. The road continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View which have superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney.

We continue on to visit the Muckross House and Gardens. Muckross is a magnificent Victorian mansion built in 1843 and is one of Ireland’s leading stately homes. Built on the shores of Muckross Lake, it is beautifully situated amidst the spectacular scenery of Killarney National Park. The elegantly furnished rooms portray the lifestyle of the landed gentry, while downstairs in the basement area one can experience the working conditions of the servants employed in the house. The Gardens of Muckross House are famed for their beauty worldwide. In particular they are noted for their collections of azaleas and rhododendrons. However, the extensive water garden, the children’s sunken garden and the outstanding rock garden, hewn out of natural limestone, are just some of the features to be discovered.

TUE, DAY 8: KILLARNEY / BLARNEY CASTLE / DUBLIN

Before checking out of our hotel, we enjoy a full Irish breakfast at our hotel. We visit Blarney Castle and the Woollen Mills. Attracting visitors from all over the world, Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney village, 8 km from Cork City. An ancient stronghold of the McCarthy’s, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles, and indeed one of the strongest fortresses in Munster.

Choir Tour to Ireland

Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend. The Castle gardens covering 60 acres of land are under constant change and over the past few years, a water garden, fern garden and poison garden have been developed and are all open visitors.

We continue on to Dublin for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

WED, DAY 9: DUBLIN: CITY TOUR & FORMAL EVENING CONCERT

This morning after our full Irish breakfast, we meet with our local guide and enjoy a panoramic city tour of Dublin. A panoramic tour is the ideal introduction to “Dublin’s Fair City”. The tour will introduce us to the principal sites, which we can revisit at our leisure. You will visit the elegant Georgian squares, famous for its architecture and of course its famous doors. Pass by Trinity College, with the 8th century Book of Kells and the long room with its 200,000 books. We continue our journey to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Built in 1192, it is one of Ireland’s largest Cathedrals made famous by its former dean Jonathan Swift, author of “Gulliver’s Travels.” You will also see Christchurch, built by the Anglo-Norman’s in 1172 to replace an earlier Church built by the Vikings in 1038, on your way to the Phoenix Park with its many monuments including the Papal cross. We return to the city centre via the Quays, passing by the Guinness brewery, and Collins Barrack, now part of the national museum, before arriving back into O’Connell Street and the city centre.

Next, we pay a visit to Trinity College with Book of Kells. Thomas Burgh built the Old Library building in the 18th century. Today it houses one of Ireland’s most illustrious books, the 9th century “Book of Kells”. Before viewing the famous book visitors pass through an excellent exhibition based on the book of Kells and other important books written in monasteries around Ireland from the 9th century. After viewing the book of Kells visitors are invited to visit the long room built in 1745. Once the principal library of the University, it now contains over 200,000 books and manuscripts of Trinity’s oldest volumes. Brian Boru’s harp said to be the “ oldest harp in Ireland” and a copy of the 1916 proclamation, one of the most important documents relating to Irish history are also on display in the long room.

The balance of the afternoon is at leisure in preparation for tonight’s formal concert. Tonight enjoy an evening concert in Dublin. After the concert tonight, we have dinner and return to the hotel for the night. (B, D)

THU, DAY 10: DUBLIN: LUNCHTIME PERFORMANCE, FUN & LEISURE

This morning after breakfast, we enjoy some free time in Dublin for some personal shopping or sightseeing.

We will offer an informal lunchtime performance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. The parish church of Saint Patrick on this site was granted collegiate status in 1191, and raised to cathedral status in 1224. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion). St Patrick’s is Gothic in style and its splendid interior is adorned with funeral monuments, such as The Boyle Family Memorial and the grave of Dean Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels). Swift was dean here until his death in 1745. The Chancel has ornate stained-glass windows, and spectacular choir stalls, once used by the knights of St Patrick, adjoin the Altar. The massive west towers, houses a large peal of bells whose ringing tones are so much part of the character of Dublin. The balance of the day is at leisure in Dublin.

This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner and entertainment at Merry Ploughboy’s Pub. This is a state-of-the-art music venue open seven nights a week, all year round. Their lively show features contemporary Irish dancing and well-known guest artists. Fine food is a very important element. At Merry Ploughboy’s Pub, youthful vibrancy has successfully combined with traditional craftsmanship to provide an excellent evening entertainment. (B, D)

FRI, DAY 11: RETURN USA

After a final farewell breakfast at our hotel, we depart for Dublin Airport for our return flight home. (B)


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