Ireland - Skellig Michael Island, Co Kerry - Star Wars Movie Set
Northern Ireland - Giants Causeway
Northern Ireland - London Derry Walls
Northern Ireland - Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge
Northern Ireland - Titanic Experience, Belfast
Ireland - Traditional Music Session
Ireland - Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
Ireland - Musicians
Ireland - St Patrick's Day
Ireland - St Patrick's Day Parade, Dublin
Ireland - Trim Castle
Ireland - County Kerry
Ireland - Rock of Cashel
Ireland - Cliffs of Moher
Ireland is waiting to be discovered – with breathtaking landscapes and rural idylls, buzzing urban hubs and amazing festivals. Plus you will be made welcome by some of the most charming and friendly people anywhere in the world. The verdant green island of St Patrick is caressed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, so don’t be surprised to see palm trees in the South West of the country. Yet some of its coast has a wild, raw beauty … where huge Atlantic rollers crash and churn, shaping jagged ocean crags, archipelagos and inlets, and the sheer granite walls of Europe’s tallest sea cliffs.
But there is more to Ireland than its spectacular scenery. Dublin and Belfast are vibrant and fascinating cities to visit – and can be a great idea for a shorter city break during the hard Canadian winter. And don’t forget Cork, Galway, Killarney and some of Ireland’s other up and coming cities.
Here are some of the many reasons to visit Ireland this year!
Choice and competition on flights to Ireland
First and foremost - getting to Ireland has never been easier. Aer Lingus and Air Canada rouge are now flying year round from Toronto to Dublin, and Air Transat will continue their seasonal service from Toronto and Montreal to Dublin. WestJet will also fly seasonally from Toronto/St. John’s to Dublin. And ASL airlines, formerly Europe Airpost also provide seasonal service Halifax to Dublin.
The awe-inspiring Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way, stretching all the way from the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal to Kinsale in Co. Cork is amongst the world’s best driving tours. It stretches along 2,500 km of the wildest, most captivating scenery found anywhere - with lots to do and see along the way. Go whale watching and then enjoy an amazing seafood dinner in County Cork; take a walk along the dramatic Cliffs of Moher and stop for homemade ice cream. Or see the Northern Lights along the Donegal coastline.
Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route
As well as the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland has more than its fair share of stunning coastal scenery. In Northern Ireland the majestic Causeway Coastal Route, famed for its dramatic landscapes, is counted as one of the world’s great road journeys.
Ireland’s Ancient East
Ireland’s Ancient East represents a wonderful opportunity to experience 5,000 years of European history in a compact area. The Ancient East area allows visitors to get off the beaten track to see, hear, touch and feel the imprints made over millennia by the settlers in this beautiful landscape.
Ancient Man, Early Christians, Medieval Lords, Colonial Settlers and their descendants have all been seduced by Ireland’s lush, green and fertile lands. And it’s easy to explore as visitors can go at their own pace to discover tombs older than the pyramids, a Viking settlement or castles and fortresses. And, as everywhere else you go in Ireland, there are stories from the friendly locals who are some of the best story tellers in the world.
Not to be missed is the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Newgrange - a Stone Age monument in the Boyne Valley, County Meath. Newgrange was constructed about 3,200 B.C., which makes it older than both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound is ringed by 97 large kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art.
Ireland showcased at the movies
Much of the Fantasy blockbuster TV series “Game of Thrones” is filmed on location in Northern Ireland. If you are a fan – Northern Ireland is the epicentre of all things Game of Thrones. Aside from the landscapes that evoke true fantasy - there’s a good reason why Northern Ireland was picked by Game of Thrones location scouts. There are castles everywhere; incredible structures that catapult you right to the heart of the mythical land of Westeros.
Northern Ireland offers fans a self-drive tour through scene-stealing locations along the Causeway Coast and Glens. And the Titanic Studios in Belfast are also frequently used for filming.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is sending the global box-office into hyper drive. Since 1977, the record-breaking movie franchise has travelled through more than a few galaxies. This time around the cast and crew jetted into a little town called Portmagee, County Kerry, on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, to discover a dream filming location. The heart stopping scenery of Skellig Michael was depicted as the hideout of Luke Skywalker in the movie. Skellig Michael, a remote island in Co Kerry, housed a monastery from around the 6th to the 12th century, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition the popular TV series “Vikings” on the History Channel is filmed in Co Wicklow. This is a very appropriate setting as Viking heritage runs deep in Ireland’s Ancient East.
Year round festivals
St Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s day of pride, heritage and celebration. And while St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other countries - if you really want to get a piece of the party, you’ve got to go to Ireland. Ireland on St Patrick’s Day is unlike anywhere else in the world and the celebrations go on throughout the land.
In Dublin, St Patrick’s Festival runs from 17 – 20 March, 2016. The four-day festival embraces everything from salsa dancing to céilís (traditional dances) and culminates in a huge parade. The oldest St Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland is in County Wexford. It began in 1917 and is still going strong. For the earliest, you’ll need to head out west, to Dingle. They kick things off at 6am, with the Dingle Fife and Drum Band taking to streets. While Limerick uses St Patrick’s Day to host the International Band Parade and Competition.
County Armagh is where St Patrick founded one of his churches, so it’s only natural that they throw a week-long festival in his honour. While Derry-Londonderry’s Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week) is a lively and linguistic build-up to the big day, with events throughout the city.
But St Patrick’s Day is only one of the far too many to mention festivals that go on year round throughout Ireland. No matter when you visit you will discover the folk in Ireland having a good time at fantastic, fun, foody, or downright frivolous festivals! Check out www.ireland.com for the full calendar.
Jump into Ireland with Royal Irish Tours! With a depth of knowledge and understanding of Ireland, plus friendly and well-informed staff, Royal Irish offer an exciting range of tours - or they can customize your own itinerary.
Royal Irish is Canada’s leading tour operator to Ireland with the largest and most diverse range of holidays - and they have just celebrated 15 years of offering tours to the Emerald Isle.
Royal Irish offer 8 first class coach tour vacations with leisurely itineraries that allow you lots of time to explore and to enjoy the relaxed pace of Irish life. In many cities you stay 2 nights at each stop – and with all tours you get a full Irish breakfast and 3 course evening meals, plus an abundance of visits showing the very best of Ireland. It’s a great way to see Ireland worry free. Everything is taken care of for you and your Tour Director is with you every step of the way.
There are also a wide choice of rail tours offering the perfect alternative for travelers who prefer not to drive in Ireland, but want to see as much of the Emerald Isle as possible. Sit back and relax, taking in the beauty of the Irish countryside as you let the train take the strain. The choice is yours between an independent package with the freedom to travel as you please, or departures that include local guides. Rail tours range from 1 to 5 days in length, starting from Dublin. Examples include a 5 day tour that covers a large part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a two day tour to Belfast City and The Giants Causeway and a 1 day tour including Cork and Blarney Castle.
Royal Irish small group sightseeing tours have a maximum of 16 people and take you along the back roads and off the beaten path. The 5 day Great Atlantic Way sightseeing tour takes you along some of the most dramatic coastline in the North and West of Ireland.
If you want to travel more independently – with unbeatable value and choice – Royal Irish have 14 self-drive itineraries. This is a great way to meet the friendly Irish people. Royal Irish take care of the car rental arrangements for you – plus you can select accommodation from self catering cottages and B&Bs to chic city centre hotels and Irish Manor Houses and Castles. And if you don’t want to do the driving – Royal Irish even have the option for chauffeur driven tours.
And lastly Royal Irish have city stay options in Dublin, Belfast, Killarney, Galway and Cork. Short Rail Tours and city breaks are great options to combine with other Royal Irish Tours – you can “mix and match” to make your vacation exactly as you wish it to be.
Here are just three of the popular Royal Irish Tours available to Ireland.
The Irish Twist – 8 day Pub and Heritage Tour is a different take on the traditional tour with more free time and plenty of opportunities for dinners with Irish music and dancing in the evenings.
The custom designed Castle Explorer provides the opportunity to discover the picturesque southern counties of Ireland while staying in luxurious accommodations. Your driving holiday finishes on a high note at Dromoland Castle, one of the most impressive and distinguished castle hotels in Ireland.
And the Shamrock Royal 15 day coach tour is a perfect introduction to the best that Ireland has to offer.
With all Royal Irish vacations, not only are you being looked after by Canada’s leading Irish specialist, you also have the option to book your flights to Ireland as well. Royal Irish offer you the choice to fly with multiple different airlines including Air Transat, Air Canada, Aer Lingus & Westjet.
Irish Twist – 8 day Pub and Heritage Tour
Relax and let someone else do the driving on this first class coach tour of Ireland.
Your tour includes:
Castle Explorer – 8 day driving holiday
A great vacation at an incredible price.
Shamrock Royal – 15 day Coach Tour
You will truly enjoy the best of Ireland on this delightful, fully inclusive, tour.