GARDENS OF IRELAND
with the Alaska Botanical Garden
April 30 – May 10, 2017
“May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent!”
Across thousands of years and thousands of miles, the myths and magic of Ireland beckon us… We hear the invitation to visit in her music, her dance, her stories and her smiles.
Join the Alaska Botanical Garden along with a group of happy garden lovers as we delve into the enchanting and mysterious Gaelic culture. The journey begins in Dublin, where we’ll visit Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College, and the city’s renowned botanical gardens.
Then, we’ll take in the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and the delightful Dingle Peninsula. No trip to Ireland would be complete without pub crawls, traditional music and historical walking tours with colorful local characters. Throw in our signature leisurely pace and time for independent discovery and you have the ideal recipe for a fantastic adventure. The Irish await you… “Cead Mile Failte”—a hundred thousand welcomes!
TRIP AT A GLANCE
3 Nights Dublin, Ireland’s Capital
2 Nights Kilkenny, Land of Castles and Monasteries
3 Nights Killarney, Gateway to Dingle
2 Nights Galway and the Cliffs of Moher
3 Nights Post tour add on to Edinburgh, Scotland
Powerscourt Gardens ♦ National Stud Farms Estate and Japanese Gardens ♦ Muckross House and Gardens ♦ Visits to Ireland’s most beautiful gardens and parks ♦ Historical Dublin: Trinity College, The Book of Kells and St. Patrick’s Cathedral ♦ The Spectacular Rock of Cashel ♦ The Wild Wicklow Mountains ♦ The gorgeous Dingle Peninsula ♦ The Ballymaloe Cookery School & Gardens ♦ Medieval Kilkenny ♦ Boat cruise to the Cliffs of Moher ♦ Lively town of Galway ♦ The dramatic landscape of the Burren ♦ Thoor Ballylee—home of W.B. Yeats (if open) ♦ A wonderful group of like-minded fun travelers.
- Travelling with the Alaska Botanical Garden
- An expert Earthbound Expeditions guide
- Four star accommodations in charming, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts, six traditional lunches and five multi-course dinner
- Historic tours with interesting local experts
- Multiple visits to both private and public gardens
- Transportation on an air -conditioned motor coach
- A musical evening
- Entrance fees to all museums and sights listed in itinerary
- Gratuities for guides and drivers
- Small group of fun, garden-loving traveling companions
12 Days/11 Nights (when including international air)
$3,975 per person, double occupancy (Land price with 22 to 28 guests)
$799 Single Supplement
Depart the US no later than Saturday, April 29, 2017
Tour begins: Sunday, April 30, 2017
Tour ends: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Not Included: Travel insurance and any items not listed in your itinerary.
- Pay your final balance by check or money order and save $100 per person
- Alumni save $100
- Reserve your space before January 1, 2017 and save $100
Click here to view a printable version of this itinerary.
“Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised
for sins committed in previous lives.”
Your Irish Cultural Adventure Begins…
Meal key: B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner
Day 1: April 29 – Depart for Dublin, Ireland
Today you’ll need to depart for Dublin. Air tickets are available online. We suggest looking at www.kayak.com for rates and availability.
Day 2: April 30 – Welcome to Dublin!
Arrive in Dublin and transfer to your centrally-located hotel. Freshen up before we meet to stretch our legs and have a walking orientation of this remarkable 1000-year-old city. Tonight enjoy a “Welcome to Ireland” feast with our Alaska Botanical Garden hosts. Sleep in Dublin (D)
Day 3: May 1 – Explore the Heart of Dublin and Dublin’s Botanical Gardens
A great city for walking, we’ll stroll through Dublin’s statue-lined O’Connell Street, view elegant Georgian squares and marvel at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We’ll visit Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College, see the ancient Book of Kells and enjoy a hearty pub lunch before setting out for the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Your afternoon is free to explore the lively streets and cafés of Dublin at your own leisurely pace before heading out for an evening of music. Sleep in Dublin (B, L)
Day 4: May 2 – Mount Usher Gardens and Kilruddery House and Gardens
After breakfast we’ll set out for the Mount Usher Gardens, located in Ashford. Just a short drive from Dublin, Mount Usher Gardens is home to some 5,000 species of plants. Located along the River Vartry, this garden was voted the best garden in Ireland in 2009 and 2010 by Gardener’s World Magazine.
Enjoy an independent lunch at the gardens before making our way to Kilruddery House and Gardens, Bray. Killruddery is a living, working house, with gardens and a farm. It has been home to sixteen generations of the Brabazon family. The 3rd and 6th Earls of Meath were mainly responsible for the creation of the gardens. On our way back to our hotel we’ll stop and visit a private home garden.
Gather this evening for dinner and a sharing of stories. Sleep in Dublin (B, D)
Day 5: May 3 – South to Historic Kilkenny via Powerscourt Gardens and the National Stud Farm
After a hearty Irish breakfast we depart Dublin to the magnificent 18th century estate at Powerscourt. Its gardens are thought to be among the finest in Europe (you may recognize the setting for Barry Lyndon, Excalibur and Henry V).
After lunch we make our way to the Japanese Gardens located on the grounds of the National Stud Farm. This peaceful enclave is based on the traditional designs of Japanese gardens. A Japanese specialist planned the structure and its symbolism and most of the plants and stones were imported from Japan.
We then make our way to the place many consider to be the loveliest large town in Ireland: Kilkenny, on the River Nore. Towering over the town is the 12th century stronghold of the Butler family, Kilkenny Castle. Enjoy a walking tour of the medieval town center followed by dinner. Sleep in Kilkenny (B, D)
Day 6: May 4 – An Exciting Outing to the Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
After breakfast, board the coach for an exciting day in the County Tipperary. There we’ll visit several historical sites including the Rock of Cashel. Legend associates the Rock of Cashel with St. Patrick, but the name comes from Caiseal, meaning “stone fort,” and the hill was originally the residence of the kings of Munster. Excavations have revealed some evidence of burials and church buildings from the 9th or 10th
century, but it was in the early 12th century that the Rock began to be developed into a major Christian center. The frescoes in Cormac’s Chapel, which are the oldest Romanesque wall paintings in Ireland, were covered with whitewash at the Reformation and remained hidden until the 1980s! Enjoy a country lunch before returning to Kilkenny. Sleep in Kilkenny (B, L)
Day 7: May 5 – Kilkenny to Dingle via the Ballymaloe Cookery School
We leave lovely Kilkenny this morning for the beautiful Ballymaloe Cookery School gardens. Once we walk through the little wooden gate at the entrance to Ballymaloe Cookery School, we step into a veritable Eden. Beyond the main cookery school building (once an old apple store), lie several captivating gardens – some carefully designed and highly ornate, others allowed to grow wild at certain times of the year. Each space has a unique personality and a special story of its own to communicate. After enjoying some time in the garden we’ll have a special lunch at the celebrated Ballymaloe Cookery School restaurant.
We arrive in Killarney in the late afternoon where we’ll have a bit of time to explore this charming town before finding a cozy café for an independent dinner. Sleep in Killarney (B, L)
About Killarney: For centuries the Killarney Valley has been recognised far and wide as Ireland’s most beautiful destination – being aptly titled as “Heaven’s Reflex”. It inspired Poet Laureate Alfred Austin to write – “If mountain, wood and water harmoniously blent, constitute the most perfect and adequate loveliness that nature presents, it surely must be owned, that it has, all the world over, no superior”. Prepare to be amazed by the incredible beauty, rich history, fascinating legends and wonderful culture of this special place.
Day 8: May 6 – The Spectacular Dingle Peninsula
After breakfast, we depart for the beautiful Dingle Peninsula. We’ll have lunch in the charming town of Dingle and visit the greatest concentration of ancient sites in all of County Kerry, if not all of Ireland.
Our travels will take us past the sites for the films Ryan’s Daughter and Far and Away on the way to the magnificent Blasket Center, an impressive heritage center where the ancient language and culture are celebrated. We continue our journey to the 1200-year-old Gallurus Oratory, an early Christian stone church with a uniquely cobbled stone roof that is watertight to this day! Along the way, taking a step back in history, we see a few of the ancient Beehive Huts. Sleep in Killarney (B, L)
Day 9: May 7 – Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens
South and west of the town of Killarney in County Kerry is an expanse of rugged mountainous country. This includes the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland which are over 3,400 feet high. Nestled at the foot of these mountains are the world famous lakes of Killarney. Here, where the mountains sweep down to the lake shores, their lower slopes covered in woodlands, lies the 26,000 acres, Killarney National Park. The distinctive combination of mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls under ever changing skies gives the area a special scenic beauty.
Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), part of a world network of natural areas which have conservation, research, education and training as major objectives. Killarney National Park was the first national park established in Ireland, created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932.
The focal point of the National Park for visitors is Muckross House and Gardens. During the 1850s, the former owners (the Herberts) undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the twentieth century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed.
The house, which is presented as a late 19th century mansion featuring all the necessary furnishings and artifacts of the period, is a major visitor attraction. Sleep in Killarney (B, L)
Day 10: May 8 – Killarney to Galway via 13th Century Castle of Bunratty
We depart this morning for Galway, via County Limerick. Our first stop will be the 13th century Bunratty Castle. Then maybe it’s time for a pint at Durty Nelly’s pub, built in 1620. We then make our way through the verdant Irish countryside, catching glimpses of castles and forts along the way to the home of W. B. Yeats at Thoor Ballylee*. The 14th century Norman tower was where he penned The Tower and The Winding Stair. We re-board the coach and continue on our journey to Galway. Check into our centrally-located hotel and enjoy drinks and dinner with friends. Sleep in Galway (B, D)
Day 11: May 9 – The Awe Inspiring Cliffs of Moher
Today we visit two of Ireland’s greatest geologic wonders: The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. The 600 feet high Cliffs of Moher are spectacular, especially when viewed from the water. Weather permitting we’ll board a large boat and cruise the Atlantic for a breathtaking view of the cliffs.
After a tasty farewell lunch we are off to the Burren, a most unique and extraordinary karst (formed from limestone) landscape, one of the largest in Europe. Everywhere are traces of megalithic tombs, ringforts, holy wells and stone rows. We also make a visit to the little seaside village of Doolin and the high crosses of Kilnefora before retuning to Galway. Sleep in Galway (B, L)
Day 12: May 10 – Return home via Shannon Airport or Continue on to Scotland!
Return home with a lifetime of happy memories! See the following page to learn about the three night post tour to Scotland!
* Thoor Ballylee should be open in time for our visit. Two years ago a large storm damaged the property and since that time it’s been under restoration.
-Tour Itinerary Details Subject to Change-
POST TOUR TO SCOTLAND…
4 Days/3 Nights (including air from Shannon to Edinburgh)
$999 per person, double occupancy (Land price with 10 + guests) )
$299 Single Supplement
Tour begins: On May 10, as you depart Shannon for Scotland
Tour ends: On May 13, after breakfast.
- Air ticket from Shannon to Edinburgh
- Airport transfer to Shannon
- Airport transfer from Edinburgh to your hotel
- Three nights stay at a superior three star centrally located hotel (within walking distance of major sites)
- All breakfasts plus 1 multicourse lunch and dinner
- Entrance tickets to the Royal Botanical Gardens
- Guide services upon arrival
- A half day walking tour including museum entrances
DAY 12: Fly North and East to Regal Edinburgh, Scotland
After an early breakfast, we depart the hotel for Shannon Airport, where we will catch our flight to regal Edinburgh, Scotland. Upon arrival in this regal city, we’ll check into our centrally-located hotel, and then set out by foot to discover one of Europe’s most stunning cities. Lose yourself in Old Town’s labyrinthine alleyways along the Royal Mile and find your way along the canal-side walk through Dean Village to coastal Leith. Pick up some lunch along the way at one of Edinburgh’s many restaurants. A “Welcome to Scotland” dinner is included this evening. Sleep in Edinburgh (B, D)
DAY 13: Discover the Heart of Edinburgh & Royal Botanical Gardens
Today, our journey takes us further through cobbled alleys, elegant streetscapes, handsome squares and quiet parks of Edinburgh. Enjoy an in-depth walking tour, which includes the birthplace of the city: Edinburgh Castle. You’ll also enjoy a visit to the National Museum of Scotland. We’ll end our walk just in time for you to enjoy an included lunch followed by a free afternoon to explore the Edinburgh’s charms at your leisure. Sleep in Edinburgh (B, L)
DAY 14: Royal Botanical Gardens of Scotland
Garden lovers won’t want to miss the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Gardens The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was established in 1670 and during the 20th century acquired three Regional Gardens – the mountainous Benmore in Argyll; Dawyck in the wooded hills of the Scottish Borders and Logan on the Gulf Stream-warmed southern peninsula of Dumfries & Galloway. Together they represent one of the world’s largest living collections of plants. Tickets and guided visit included.
Looking for ideas and other activities? Why not signup for an optional day of discovery in the Scottish countryside and highlands? The Heart of Scotland Co. offers some pretty amazing options to get out and see the real Scotland: For information visit: https://www.heartofscotlandtours.co.uk/ Sleep in Edinburgh (B)
DAY 15: Return home with a lifetime of happy memories
PLANNED GARDEN VISITS
Kilruddery House and Gardens, Bray: Killruddery is a living, working house, with gardens and a farm. It has been home to sixteen generations of the Brabazon family. The 3rd and 6th Earls of Meath were mainly responsible for the creation of the gardens. Today the grounds host many events such as a weekend farmers market, eatery nights, family days, garden talks, a film festival, as well as weddings.
National Botanical Gardens, Dublin: The gardens were founded in 1795 by the Dublin Society (later the Royal Dublin Society) and they have grown to hold 20,000 living plants and many millions of dried plant specimens. There are several architecturally notable greenhouses. Today the Glasnevin site is the headquarters of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland which has a satellite garden at Kilmcurragh in county Wicklow. The botanic garden participates in national and international initiatives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
Mount Usher Gardens: Just a short drive from Dublin, Mount Usher Gardens is home to some 5,000 species of plants. Located along the River Vartry, this garden was voted the best garden in Ireland in 2009 and 2010 by Gardener’s World Magazine.
Powerscourt Gardens (County Wicklow): This grandiose Irish garden is set amid the natural splendor of the Wicklow Hills just outside of Dublin. The sprawling, manicured gardens and the wild beauty of the Powerscourt waterfall make this a great day’s outing, and a respite from the noise and congestion of the city. http://www.powerscourt.ie/gardens.
Japanese Gardens (County Kildare): On the grounds of the National Stud Farm, this peaceful enclave is based on the traditional designs of Japanese gardens. A Japanese specialist planned the structure and its symbolism, and most of the plants and stones were imported from Japan. http://irishnationalstud.ie/
Muckross House and Gardens: During the 1850s, the Herberts undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the twentieth century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed. http://www.muckross-house.ie/house-garden.html
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was established in 1670 and during the 20th century acquired three Regional Gardens – Together they represent one of the world’s largest living collections of plants.
Plus private home gardens!
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