AIA Tours: land

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Tour Dates: Sunday, June 9, 2019 to Sunday, June 23, 2019 (15 days)

Tour Leader(s): Stephen Mandal ,

This journey takes you through the archaeology, history, and landscapes of Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way,” from south to north along the west coast of Ireland. Explore the breathtaking landscape of the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, visiting numerous off-the-beaten-track monuments from all periods of Irish history. Heading northwards into the incredible karst limestone region of the Burren, County Clare, you will enjoy stunning cliff-top views out to the Atlantic and visit intriguing sites set in a unique geological and ecological landscape. Travel onwards to Clare Island, off the coast of County Mayo, the most surveyed island in the world in terms of geology, ecology, and archaeology. From here we head to County Sligo and Yeats’s country, where you will explore the lives and monuments of the first farmers in Ireland and walk in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims, who in turn respected the traditions of even more ancient peoples. The final leg of your journey will be in Northern Ireland, learning about the region’s turbulent modern history, and venturing into the wonderfully remote and stunningly beautiful County of Donegal. Travel in a small group of no more than 12 travelers and enjoy the personal attention and service of a highly respected Irish academic lecturer/host and a charming tour manager, plus a host of specialist guest guides.

 


Tour prices per person (13 nights)

Double occupancy (10-12 participants) $8,895

Double occupancy (8-9 participants) $9,695

Single Supplement (limited availability) $945

Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required. With fewer than 8 participants a small group surcharge may be applied.

For questions, and to reserve your space, please contact AIA Tours at: 800-748-6262 or aia@studytours.org

Download the complete brochure

Alice and Gwendoline Cave © Stephen Mandal

Gallarus, on the Dingle Peninsula © Stephen Mandal

The Burren National Park © Stephen Mandal

Cliffs of Moher © SA 3.0

Creevykeel © Stephen Mandal

Travelers at Poulnabrone Dolmen © Stephen Mandal

Itinerary


Sunday, June 9, 2019: Depart Home
Monday, June 10: Arrive Shannon, County Clare, Ireland | Limerick, County Limerick | Welcome reception
Tuesday, June 11: Lough Gur | Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry | Ballyferriter
Wednesday, June 12: The Dingle Peninsula
Thursday, June 13: Alice and Gwendoline Cave, County Clare | The Burren | Cliffs of Moher | Lahinch
Friday, June 14:  Cahercommaun | Parknabinnia | Temple Cronan | Poulnabrone dolmen
Saturday, June 15: Kilmacduagh | Corcomroe Abbey
Sunday, June 16: Doolin Ferry for Inishmore, Aran Islands | Dún Aonghasa | Inishmore Ferry for Rossaveel | Galway
Monday, June 17: Westport, County Mayo | Roonagh for Clare Island
Tuesday, June 18: Clare Island | Roonagh | Sligo, County Sligo
Wednesday, June 19: Knocknarea | Culleenamore Strand | Carrowmore | Sligo
Thursday, June 20: Drumcliff | Creevykeel | Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Friday, June 21: Derry-Londonderry city tour | Grianan of Aileach
Saturday, June 22: Clonmacnoise, County Offaly, Ireland | Shannon, County Clare | Farewell reception
Sunday, June 23: Fly Home

View Detailed Itinerary

Sunday, June 9, 2019: Depart Home
Depart the U.S. on independent flights to Shannon, Ireland.
Monday, June 10: Arrive Shannon, County Clare, Ireland | Limerick, County Limerick | Welcome reception
Arrive in Ireland at Shannon Airport (SNN), where a group transfer (time TBD) will take you to our hotel in Limerick city, about a half hour away. At 12:30pm you will meet your AIA study leader, Dr. Stephen Mandal, and your tour manager, Lisanne O’Loughlin. After a light lunch, take the opportunity to rest a while, or go on a short walk through Limerick. We return to our hotel for a welcome reception and introductory lecture, followed by dinner. Overnight at the 4-star Strand Hotel. (L,R,D)
Tuesday, June 11: Lough Gur | Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry | Ballyferriter
1 mile and little ascent – rough pathways; plus optional 1 mile and steep ascent
(Connor Pass mountain walk)

This morning we drive the short distance to Lough Gur, a lake that has seen over 6,000 years of human activity and habitation, from the Stone Age through to the post-medieval period. Highlights of our gentle walk here include the Early Christian ‘crannog’ (a man-made island that served as a defended dwelling); ringforts; an early prehistoric wedge tomb; and the Great Grange Stone Circle, Ireland’s largest stone circle, comprising 113 standing stones. After a picnic lunch at Lough Gur, we continue on to Dingle, County Kerry. Some of Ireland’s finest coastal scenery can be found in West Kerry, on the Peninsula, and the road around the Peninsula is truly spectacular. This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and its Christian churches. It is also a ‘Gaeltacht’ (Irish-speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved. Dingle town itself is a thriving fishing town with plentiful pubs, narrow streets, and a busy harbor. You have the options of either exploring the town of Dingle or driving/walking to the spectacular Connor Pass, which dramatically divides the peninsula’s north and south. Check in to our hotel/B&B in Ballyferriter and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 3-star Ceann Sibéal Bed & Breakfast for two nights. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, June 12: The Dingle Peninsula
Combined 2 miles and little ascent with short drives in between – some rough pathways
This morning we will be joined by local archaeologist, folklorist, and traditional musician Dr. Billy Mag Fhlionn for a tour of the breathtaking Dingle Peninsula. Visit the enigmatic Reask Monastic site (An Riasc), the ruins of an early Christian religious community, where we enjoy a picnic lunch. The afternoon will be spent exploring the most hidden of archaeological sites, as well as the iconic Early Christian church of Gallarus. This evening, back at our hotel, there will be a short lecture on the archaeology and history of music, including some demonstrations (and you can have a try yourself!) using ancient instruments made and played by Dr. Mag Fhlionn. (B,L,D)
Thursday, June 13: Alice and Gwendoline Cave, County Clare | The Burren | Cliffs of Moher | Lahinch
2 miles and ascent by steps – pathways; Alice and Gwendoline Cave includes walking on unmarked, rough paths
Today we depart the Dingle Peninsula and begin our journey northwards along the Wild Atlantic Way. Our first stop is Alice and Gwendoline Cave, scene of a remarkable archaeological discovery that established the earliest date of human occupation of Ireland to be 2,500 years earlier than previously thought. We will be joined there by the lead author of the study, cave archaeology expert Dr. Marion Dowd. Continue on through the Burren, a National Park with a dramatic landscape renowned for its unusual geology and unique mixture of Arctic and Mediterranean flora. This limestone wonderland boasts archaeology from the Neolithic, early Christian, and early medieval periods. After a picnic lunch we visit the iconic Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Five miles long and 750 feet at their highest point, the Cliffs offer one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara. At our hotel in Lahinch this evening, we enjoy a lecture by Dr. Dowd on the archaeology of Irish caves, and she will join us for dinner afterwards. Overnight at the 4-star Lahinch Golf and Leisure Hotel for three nights. (B,L,D)
Friday, June 14:  Cahercommaun | Parknabinnia | Temple Cronan | Poulnabrone dolmen
2 miles and steep ascent in places – hill walk on karst limestone, 1 mile and little ascent – pathway (Poulnabrone)
Today we further explore the Burren landscape, including its archaeology, history, mythology, geology, and ecology. Our first stop will be at the spectacular 9th-century Cahercommaun triple stone ringfort, excavated as part of the Third Harvard Archaeological Expedition, led by Hugh O’Neill Hencken in 1934. From here, we will stop at Parknabinnia wedge tomb, before making our way to the tiny village of Carran for a hearty pub lunch. After lunch we will visit Temple Cronan, a stone oratory believed to be built on the site of a wooden church founded by St. Cronan in the 7th century. Our final stop for the day will be at the iconic Poulnabrone dolmen, a dramatic Neolithic portal tomb and the earliest megalithic tomb in Ireland, built ca. 3800 B.C. Enjoy the evening at leisure in Lahinch, with dinner on your own. (B,L)
Saturday, June 15: Kilmacduagh | Corcomroe Abbey
2 miles and steep ascent in places – mixed walk; roads, paths, uneven terrain
This morning we will explore the Burren further, starting with a visit to Kilmacduagh, just north of the county border into Galway. This is a beautifully preserved ruin of a mul ti-period monastic site, founded in the 7th century by Colmán mac Duach (St. Colmán) and later the site of an Augustinian Friary in the 13th century. Time permitting, we will stop at Finavarra Point to visit an excellent example of a Martello tower, one of the approximately 50 small, circular forts built in Ireland in the early 19th century to defend the area against possible attacks from France. After a delicious lunch at Monks of Ballyvaughan, we will journey back to Lahinch, stopping at the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey, a 13th-century Cistercian monastery set in a beautiful Burren landscape. This evening, enjoy some free time and an independent dinner. (B,L)
Sunday, June 16: Doolin Ferry for Inishmore, Aran Islands | Dún Aonghasa | Inishmore Ferry for Rossaveel | Galway
3 miles and steep ascent in places – mixed walk; roads, paths, uneven terrain
This morning we travel west to the fishing port of Doolin, where (weather permitting) we will catch a ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. With a population of about 800, the island is famous for its strong Irish culture, loyalty to the Irish language, and a wealth of Iron Age and Christian ancient sites. Perhaps its most notable monument is Dún Aonghasa (Dún Aengus), a semi-circular stone fort built ca. 1100 B.C. at the edge of a 300-foot-high cliff, offering spectacular views out over the Atlantic. Take the ferry back to Rossaveel, return to Galway, and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 4-star Park House Hotel, Galway. (B,L,D)
Monday, June 17: Westport, County Mayo | Roonagh for Clare Island
1 mile and some ascent – rough pathways and uneven grass
This morning we drive to the beautiful, historic town of Westport, on the west coast of County Mayo. After an early picnic lunch, we continue on to Roonagh, where we take the ferry to Clare Island. Clare is the largest of the 365 islands in Clew Bay, and this vibrant island has a population of about 160. The survey of Clare Island (1909-1911) was the first multidisciplinary (zoological, botanical, archaeological, and geological) survey of its kind ever conducted in the world. In fact, even today it is still the principal survey in Ireland and Britain, and it paved the way for the ongoing New Clare Island Survey, which commenced in 1991. We will have the incredible treat of being joined by a genuine polymath, Professor John Feehan, who will journey with us on the island and give a pre-dinner talk on all aspects of the surveys. Our accommodations tonight are at a bed and breakfast with private bathrooms. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, June 18: Clare Island | Roonagh | Sligo, County Sligo
3 miles and 200 ft. of ascent – rough pathways and uneven grass
This morning we travel to the westernmost part of Clare Island and enjoy a walk back to the ferry port in the company of Prof. Feehan. Along the way we see numerous layers of human impact on the island, evident in the field walls, stone mounds and circles, ruins, and crop marks. There is no better way to understand the complexity of human habitation in Ireland than in a once densely-inhabited place. We catch the lunchtime ferry back to Roonagh, on the mainland and, after a quick stop in Westport, drive onward to Sligo town. We enjoy a pre-dinner talk by Sam Moore, lecturer in Applied Archaeology at the Sligo Institute of Technology. Overnight at the 4-star Glasshouse Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, June 19: Knocknarea | Culleenamore Strand | Carrowmore | Sligo
1.5 miles and 900 ft. of ascent – rough terrain (Knocknarea), 0.5 miles and no ascent – beach and grassy pathways (The Strand / Carrowmore)
This morning we explore the Sligo area (Yeats’s Country) in the company of Sam Moore, who is finalizing his Ph.D. on the archaeology of the area and is a true expert on all aspects of the archaeology, history, and folklore of this spectacular landscape. Our morning will be spent (weather permitting) climbing to the top of Knocknarea to visit the iconic Queen Maeve’s Tomb (a Neolithic passage tomb of monumental proportions). A gentler alternative will be available for those who do not wish to attempt this long climb. Afterward, walk along the coast to Culleenamore shell middens, remarkable in their age, extent, and sheer scale; people have feasted on seafood here for millennia. After lunch in a local pub, we drive to Carrowmore, one of the four large passage tomb complexes in Ireland, to discuss their siting, construction, purpose, and extent in this breathtaking landscape. Dinner is on your own this evening in the town of Sligo. (B,L)
Thursday, June 20: Drumcliff | Creevykeel | Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Very little walking – pathways
We drive northwards this morning, stopping in Drumcliff to visit the grave of W.B. Yeats, in the shadow of the beautiful Benbulben Mountains, the inspiration for much of his work. Also visit Creevykeel, one of Ireland’s finest examples of a full-court tomb, dating from the Neolithic period but reused in Early Christian times by iron smelters. From here we continue on to the town of Enniskillen, County Fermanagah (in Northern Ireland), where we check-in to our hotel and gather for dinner. Overnight at the 4-star Enniskillen Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)
Friday, June 21: Derry-Londonderry city tour | Grianan of Aileach
1.5 miles and 150 ft. of ascent – pathways (Derry-Londonderry), 0.5 miles and 350 ft. of ascent – mountain pathway (Grianan of Aileach)
This morning we drive to Derry-Londonderry, where we are joined by a local guide for a tour of the city, which was pivotal to so much of Irish, British, and European history. Derry-Londonderry is the only completely walled city in Ireland, and its impressive, early-17th century walls acted as a defense from Scottish and English attacks. Derry-Londonderry has a turbulent past and was divided as a city during ‘The Troubles,’ also known as the Northern Ireland Conflict, which began in the 1960s and ended in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. We will see the city murals, known as ‘The People’s Gallery’; these 12 paintings depict key events during ‘The Troubles.’ After lunch we drive to Grianan of Aileach, an impressive stone fort that dates back to 1700 B.C. and was restored in the late 19th century. Here we explore the intersection of mythology, history, and archaeology. Dinner is on your own in Enniskillen this evening. (B,L)
Saturday, June 22: Clonmacnoise, County Offaly, Ireland | Shannon, County Clare | Farewell reception
2.5 miles and little ascent – pathways and uneven grass (Clonmacnoise)
This morning we drive to the Midlands of Ireland and board a Viking-style boat captained by local ‘Viking Mike’ to approach the Early Christian site of Clonmacnoise via the River Shannon. This is the perfect way to commence a visit to the monastery, as it emphasizes the importance of the water networks to the first settlers here, and to the Vikings who later raided. The monastery was founded in the 6th century by St. Ciaran in a strategic position, at an ancient crossroads where the River Shannon and Esker Way meet: the ancient east-west pathway across the wetlands of Ireland from earliest prehistory. By the 9th century, the monastery became a center of learning, craftsmanship, and trade, and its remains include two round towers, high crosses, and several churches from the medieval period. After lunch we drive to Shannon, where this evening we enjoy a farewell reception and dinner at our hotel. Overnight at the 4-star Treacys Oakwood Hotel. (B,L,R,D)
Sunday, June 23: Fly Home
Transfer as a group (time TBD) to Shannon Airport (SNN) for independent flights homeward. (B)


For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

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