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Giant Irish Adventure 12 Day Tour of Ireland

Finn McCool, the legendary Irish giant, was apparently so tall that you could see all of Ireland between his legs. And like Finn, who could travel the length and breadth of the island in a few easy steps, this epic 12 day adventure effortlessly explores more of Ireland than most Irish people will visit in their lifetime. From the Giant’s (that would be Finn’s) Causeway in the very north east to the Blarney Stone in the south west the trip packs in loads of great scenery, walks and outdoor activity, historical and legendary sites and lots more. And if the weather is clear, you might even see Finn McCool himself...

Northern Ireland: In 2007 Northern Ireland was named as one of the top ten places in the world to visit by Lonely Planet travel guides. Not surprising really when you consider the great scenery, fascinating history and political situation, the activity options and the genuinely warm welcome. Plus, of course, for many it is a completely new area to be explored as the peace has unfolded over the last ten years. All the highlights such as Belfast, Derry, The Antrim coastline and the Giant’s Causeway are covered – plus plenty of secret places of our own.

Northwest and Western Ireland: Heading across to the northwest Imagine a country of wild moorland, rugged mountain ranges, and endless uncoil beaches. Counties Donegal, Sligo and Mayo feature some of Europe’s least population regions – at times we will have the landscape all to ourselves as we walk in the hills of Donegal or explore the megalithic tombs at Carrowkeel. There are of course a few well-known highlights, like Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain (named after St Patrick of course) and plenty of breathtaking lesser-known locations, such as Slieve League cliffs – the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Again too, the range of historical sites and activities is wide ranging, and also we have the option of hot seaweed baths in county Sligo – an unbelievably relaxing way to unwind.

Western Ireland: The Western section of the tour weaves it way down the coast from county Mayo into counties Galway and Clare and down towards the mighty River Shannon. Firstly we enter a Connemara, as favorite area for Irish people to come on holiday due to the rugged scenery, local friendliness and culture. If you asked an Irish person what their favourites place in Ireland was, for many it would be Connemara. Continuing south, either through or round Galway city we enter the southerly province of Munster and county Clare to explore the unique landscape of the Burren, enjoy the live traditional Irish music in Doolin and marvel at the Cliffs of Moher. Next stop, County Kerry once we have taken the ferry over the river Shannon…

South West Ireland: The southwest is the most popular area of Ireland for visitors, and with good reason. We spend four nights in Counties Kerry and Cork exploring the three peninsulas of Dingle, Iveragh (the Ring of Kerry) and Beara. Each has its unique scenery and atmosphere, from the green rolling fields and buzzing town of Dingle, to the majestic mountains of the ring of Kerry and the remote and uncoil wilderness of the Beara Peninsula. We take trips to islands, sea-kayak with seals, visit ancient archeological sites and enjoy first class Cork and Kerry hospitality before heading inland and back through Limerick and Tipperary to Dublin.

This really is a giant Irish adventure.



Some typical highlights include:
Revel at some of Europe’s very best scenery, including:

  • The Glens of Antrim
  • Walk in the Mourne Mountains (Sleive Gulliam)
  • Galway’s Connemara Region
  • The Wild Moorlands and Mountains of County Mayo
  • Ireland’s highest mountain range The Macgillycuddy Reeks
  • The Green fields and stone walls of Dingle
  • Ireland’s wild and rugged Atlantic coastline from the Northeast corner all the way to the south west
  • The Burren Limestone Plateau
  • The Caher Mountains of the Beara Peninsula

  • The green inland scenery of areas such as the Golden Vale in Tipperary

  • Enjoy some of Ireland’s most popular and worthwhile tourist destinations:
  • The Giants Causeway and Carrick a Rede rope bridge
  • Blarney Castle to kiss the magical Blarney Stone
  • Killarney National Park
  • The Cliffs of Moher

  • Enjoy some fantastic activity options
  • Walking and hiking through some of Ireland’s best scenery
  • Horse-riding on the Dingle Peninsula
  • Sea-kayaking with the seals in West Cork
  • Try your hand at surfing an Atlantic Wave
  • Learn the ancient art of “Vagaball’!
  • Optional trip to the Aran Islands
  • Enjoy a BBQ on a wild and remote beach

  • Wonder at some of Ireland’s historical treasures and experience the rich historical past of the region, from Stone Age man to the modern age.
  • Clamber over the cliff-top ruins of Dun Luce Castle
  • Climb Knocknaree Mountain to Queen Maeve’s tomb
  • Visit The Rock of Cashel
  • Optional trip to the Skellig islands, one of Ireland UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Ancient Neolithic Stone circles, Celtic ring forts, castles, monastic sites and built tombs
  • Take a Black cab tour of the fascinating Belfast city
  • A walking tour of Londonderry/Derry city

  • Explore three of Ireland’s most diverse south western Peninsulas and the West coast:
  • The majestic Iveragh peninsula (better known as the Ring of Kerry)
  • The rugged Beara Peninsula (also known as the ‘undiscovered peninsula’)
  • The rolling hills of the Dingle Peninsula
  • The lunar limestone landscape of the Burren, Country Clare

  • Take some free time to explore local communities and meet the Irish people in locations such as:
  • The vibrant and buzzing Galway city
  • The galleries and pubs (about 54 in total!) in Dingle town (pop. about 2500) where we now spend two nights
  • The shops and boutiques of picturesque Kenmare

  • Some fun little side trips:
  • Relax in a hot, rejuvenating Seaweed bath
  • Visit a working sheep farm for a demonstration of working dogs and also sheep shearing
  • Take a boat trip to try Spot Dingle’s most Friendly occupant – Fungi the Dolphin in Dingle Bay

  • And at night:
  • Live music and excellent food in some of Ireland’s best pubs and restaurants.
  • Overnight in quality, locally owned guesthouse and small hotel accommodation in small, friendly local communities.

  • Itinerary Please note that this itinerary is a framework for the tour. The overnights are pretty much set in stone and then we base each tour on the items in the list below. Your guide will discuss the options with you throughout the tour and make a plan from there. This gives us flexibility to adapt each tour to suit you and fit in with the weather conditions. This of course means that some things may not be included in your tour, but if there is something that you particularly want to do or see on your tour, mention it to your guide and they will make sure it is included. Please also note that this tour runs in both directions.



    DAY 01 —

    The first day of an amazing journey around Ireland, we first go north and after a walk to the highest cairn in Ireland, we head for Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast. You can wander the city or take an excellent Black Cab tour of the city. We leave Belfast for the evening and stay in Carnlough, nestled at the foot of the Glens of Antrim.

  • Meet at Dublin Tourism Centre, Suffolk St. Dublin 2 at 8.30am
  • Head north out of Dublin and toward Belfast
  • Cross over border and walk to summit of Slieve Gullian Mountain for great views over South Armagh
  • Drive into Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland for lunch and optional Black Cab tour of the city. This tour is very highly recommended as it gives visitors an incredibly close hand experience of the city and its turbulent past.
  • Depart Belfast late after noon and head along the coast into the scenic Glens of Antrim
  • Overnight in the costal area of the Glens of Antrim


    DAY 02 —

    One of our most active days on tour anywhere with very little driving, some amazing walks, a rope bridge, natural geological phenomena, a distillery, castles, the list goes on. It’s a brilliant day.

  • Continue North around the coastline including the rugged Torr Head area
  • Test your head for heights at the Carrick a Rede rope bridge (summer only)
  • Visit the ancient McDonald Stronghold of Dun Luce Castle
  • Experience the natural phenomenon of the Giants causeway
  • Walk a section of the Famous Antrim Coastline
  • Optional surfing stop in Port Stewart
  • Optional visit to Bushmills Whiskey distillery. The oldest whiskey distillery in the World
  • Overnight in traditional B&B on the North Antrim coast


    DAY 03 —

    Leaving the Antrim coastline behind we head for the maiden city (London)Derry for an inspiring and positive walking tour of the city. Then its back across the border into the Republic and into County Donegal, one of Ireland hidden corners – its wild, rugged and beautiful – and we have it all to ourselves.

  • Drive/walk down stunning Downhill Strand beach.
  • Take a Vagabond shortcut off-road to find great views down over the Foyle River and across to the Inishowen Peninsula
  • Head into Derry city for optional walking tour of the city including the Bogside area synonymous with the Bloody Sunday massacre (highly recommended)
  • Stop at the ancient stone fort of Grianan of Aileach
  • Cross border back into Donegal and the Republic of Ireland
  • Scenic drive/walk through the Glenveigh National park area.
  • Overnight in the award winning Nesbit Arms Hotel in the cultural village of Adara


    DAY 04 —

    We now start to head south along Ireland’s Atlantic Coastline, working our way around Donegal Bay to County Sligo. There are some great beaches, walks, horse-riding and boat trips options along the way.

  • Visit a traditional weaver to see how hand made Donegal tweed is still made
  • Go for a walk and explore the caves on the amazingly remote Mahares Beach
  • Drive through the scenic Granny pass to west Donegal
  • Walk to the 2000ft Slieve League sea cliffs. (Also optional fishing trip in summer)
  • Head into Donegal town for a pint.
  • Visit the grave of WB Yeats in Drumcliffe.
  • Walk to Queen Maeve’s tomb atop Knocknaree with amazing views of the Sligo coastline
  • Another surfing option in Strandhill
  • Or
  • Take a fantastically relaxing hot seaweed bath, with mysterious healing properties in Enniscrone.
  • Overnight in the Waterfront Guesthouse, Enniscrone


    DAY 05 —

    After your relaxing seaweed bath, you will be ready for more exploring, and there is plenty to be done today. Including Ireland’s holiest mountain, Ireland’s only fjord and also Ireland’s most romantic building.

  • Travel through North Mayo – one of Europe’s least populated areas
  • Shopping stop in the bustling and bright town of Westport, Co Mayo
  • Croagh Patrick – St Patrick’s Reek – from where the snakes were banished. Take a stroll up this epic pilgrimage mountain. Lose a sin with every step
  • Picnic on the slopes and look down upon the panorama of Clew Bay
  • Heading south into the Connemara region, famous for its wild and rugged landscape and stunning scenery.
  • Leenane- Quick pints in ‘The Field Pub’, named after the movie which was filmed here, at the head of Killary Harbour
  • Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord.
  • Kylemore Abbey -One of Ireland’s most beautiful buildings
  • Overnight in Connemara, Co. Galway


    DAY 06 —

    A very flexible day on tour, with either the option of staying with the vehicle and driver for the day or striking out across Galway bay by ferry, via the Aran Islands.

  • Optional trip to the Aran Islands

  • How it works: We start the day in Connemara, on the north side of Galway bay. You have the option of taking the ferry from Connemara to one of the three Aran islands (which one depends on tides and ferry timetables). You can then spend much of the day out on the islands before taking another ferry south to Doolin in County Clare, on the south side of Galway bay. In the meantime, the driver-guide and vehicle (plus any passengers who opt not to go to the Islands) drive around Galway bay, via Galway city and meet you on the other side.
  • Mamturk Mountains – Go for a walk in the mountains and follow the footsteps of St Patrick
  • Arrive Galway city for lunch.

  • Kinvarra village with: Dunguire Castle – ancient seat of the High Kings of Munster Hookers – Traditional Sailing boats
  • Corcomroe Abbey
  • Poulnabrone Dolmen – Megalithic tomb
  • Lisdoonvarna – Matchmaking Festival

  • Overnight in the Falls Hotel Ennystimon



    DAY 07 —

    Lots to see and do today as we travel through the greenest, least mountainous section of Irelands west coast, though south County Clare, across the might River Shannon and through North County Kerry, before the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula loom into sight.

  • Cliffs of Moher – 700 ft. sea cliffs
  • Take the ferry over the River Shannon
  • Stop in the pleasant market town of Listowel and possible free tour of Listowel castle (subject to availability)
  • Drive through Tralee town, home of the Rose of Tralee festival
  • Watersport options in Castlegregory – Surfing, windsurfing, kayak rental or a fantastic walk along the beach
  • Take Conor Pass, Ireland’s highest road
  • Walk and view over Dingle Bay
  • Overnight in Dingle Town – a town of 2000 people and 54 pubs


    DAY 08 —

    A great day spent enjoying Dingle town and the Peninsula, you can do as much or little as you like on day eight as we spend two nights here in the town. At some stage while we are in Dingle we normally take the group out on a tour of the Peninsula, to the most westerly point in Ireland that you can drive to and a selection of the stops we see along the way are below. Plus we can also organise other options for you if you would like something more active, or relaxing. The Dingle Peninsula Tour out to Slea Head:

  • Head out along the Slea Head Drive past Ventry beach
  • Stop at Europe’s most westerly point with views over the Blasket Islands
  • Walk down to Coumeenoule Beach (Film set of Ryan’s Daughter)
  • Dunchaoin Harbour – real old Ireland
  • Photo stop at Smerwick Head – views of back up the Dingle Peninsula and of Mount Brandon,

  • Optional Activities on day eight:
  • Boat trip to see Fungi the Dolphin or free time in Dingle town
  • Go horse riding on Ventry Strand
  • Rent Bikes and explore the area
  • Surf an Atlantic Wave on Inch Strand or in Castlegregory )
  • Cooking Lessons – We are hoping to add this option for anyone interested in learning how to prepare some traditional Irish recipes
  • Go for a walk along the Dingle Way from the centre of Dingle town up into the Hills

  • Chill Out in Dingle
  • Wander the picturesque town of Dingle, with its brightly coloured street, numerous shops, excellent galleries, numerous local craftspeople, restaurants and of course pubs
  • Overnight in Dingle Town


    DAY 09 —

    Its time to say goodbye to Dingle and head for the Ring of Kerry. Today we weave our way around Dingle Bay, exchanging the gently rolling mountains of the Dingle Peninsula for the majesty of McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountains in Ireland as we head out onto the Iveragh peninsula, following the world famous ‘Ring of Kerry’. We join the Ring half way through the day, when all the coaches have gone, so we will have it to ourselves.

  • Walk to waterfalls above Lough Annascaul
  • Lunch in Tom Crean’s South Pole Inn
  • Drive along Inch Strand for fun and games or BBQ
  • Head for Iveragh Peninsula via Killorglin (Goat Fair) and Castlemaine (Wild Colonial Boy)
  • Join Ring of Kerry scenic route on the Iveragh Peninsula
  • Horse-riding at Rosbeigh Strand Beach (even riding in the surf)
  • Overnight in the fishing village of Portmagee


    DAY 10 —

    It’s our second day on the Ring of Kerry, as we follow the route around southern half of the Iveragh Peninsula to Kenmare. Not forgetting the option of a boat trip to the incredible Skellig Islands, which are truly breath-taking – though not for the faint hearted! There are also beaches, walks and stunning views across to the Beara Peninsula to enjoy along the way (Irish mist permitting!)

  • Possible visit to the breathtaking Skellig islands – the best place in Ireland.
  • Fabulous views down over Caherdaniel
  • Vagaball on Derrynane Beach
  • Walk amongst Macgillycuddy Reeks Mountains
  • Visit Staigue Fort (amazing views)
  • Views down over Killarney, the lakes and the national Park
  • Adopt a Sheep – see the running of a real Irish sheep farm
  • Walk the ‘Old Kenmare Road’ through the ancient oak forest of the Killarney National Park
  • Leave Ring of Kerry scenic route on the Iveragh Peninsula
  • Overnight in the Coachman Inn and the Brass Lantern Guesthouse, Kenmare

  • (Please not that if we visit the Skelligs Islands today then it affects the activities and itinerary for the rest of the day. The trip takes until about 3pm in the afternoon and we then have to drive around the southern half of the Ring of Kerry, so it does mean that activities like walking on the Old Kenmare Road or visiting the sheep farm may not be possible. Also if only some of the group want to go to the Islands, if you wish the guide will of course look after anyone staying on land and take you around the Portmagee area and across the bridge onto Valencia island)



    DAY 11 —

    An action packed day as we journey out on to the ‘undiscovered’ Beara Peninsula. It is an amazing coastline, wild and rugged and extremely scenic. And while we are there we have to option of some great walks, sea-kayaking, castles and lunch in one of Ireland’s most famous pubs. There is also the option of some free time in the morning in Kenmare.

  • Shopping in picturesque Kenmare
  • Head out onto Beara Peninsula, the undiscovered Peninsula
  • Great views of the Caher Mountains and Sheepshead Peninsula
  • Visit the ancient Uragh Stone Circle
  • Quick pint at McCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere – front cover of the book itself
  • Take the Healy Mountain pass, Ireland’s bendiest road with great scenery north and south
  • Special Vagabond shortcut over the mountains and through the old copper mines
  • Arrive in the stunningly located village of Allihes and pick up lunch
  • Sea-Kayaking optional activity at the base of Hungry Hill Mountain
  • Bantry Bay Seal Spotting in Glengarriff
  • Overnight in the stunning Gougane Barra Hotel


    DAY 12 —

    Sadly, its time to go home. After seeing more of Ireland than most Irish people will ever do, there are still a few ‘must-do’s’ on the way home. No visit to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the Rock of Cashel (ask Queen Elizabeth II) and of course the Blarney Stone still needs kissing.

  • Follow Lee Valley from the source of River Lee
  • Kiss the World Famous Blarney Stone
  • Pass through Cork, Ireland’s 2nd city
  • The Magnificent Rock of Cashel
  • Pass through Curragh Racecourse – Braveheart film set
  • Head home via Kildare.
  • Arrive Dublin, 5.30-6pm for tearful farewell hugs and a few pints