The traditions of Irish music offer a full body experience embracing heritage and spirit with upbeat tempos for a jig or slow melodies for a ballad. Your custom tailored Irish tour creates an immersive musical experience of seisún and céilí, to celebrate both informal musical gatherings and those moments that make you want to get up and dance. Discover customs and legacy at Blarney and Bunratty Castles, walk along the enchanting landscape of the Cliffs of Moher and listen to new songs with a classic style that promotes new legends of small towns when indulging in the traditional music of Ireland. Music and dance vary from country to country and even city to city. In Ireland, the sounds and movement of traditions can vary between counties. Your 10-day Ireland tour highlights the captivating music steeped in ancient heritage and shaped by the land, cultures, and elements of the Emerald Isles. Your musical journey begins with your arrival at Dublin International Airport. The private transfer escorts you to a luxury hotel in the heart of the capital city.
Explore the fascinating depths of the aristocratic grounds and bask in your first live performance of traditional tunes inside a classic pub in the Cultural Quarter. The culture of Ireland has long encouraged and supported the melodic qualities through the generations, preserved in the captivating defenses of Kilkenny Castle and the festive traditions of Dungarvan, a town renowned for its traditional Irish music. Relish the chance to meet local musicians, visit ancient monasteries, and sing with locals happy to welcome a friendly face to the historic pubs. You can sing a verse dedicated to the myths of the Blarney Stone when you visit Blarney Castle before learning the ways a modern poet sings the ballads of his town Inchigeelagh. Find pleasure in the marvelous beauty of Gougane Barra National Park, an area that has inspired verse, song, and dance throughout Irish history. Visit Killarney and the surrounding historical sites before basking in the beauty of seaside Dingle, which includes a fascinating concert shining a spotlight on the heritage of Irish music.
Traverse the Dingle Peninsula where legend, poetry, and music are interchangeable. Bring history to life at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park before speaking to a local musician about the gathering inspiration from the past. The Cliffs of Moher captivate you, the landscape of the Burren move you to awe, and the Irish Traditional Music Center in Milltown Malbay offers the perfect place to wind down your exploratory Ireland tour with an eclectic montage of the music of Clare County.
(1) Meet popular musicians who carry on and nurture their heritage with captivating songs and sounds inspired by traditional Irish music.
(2) Indulge in Irish legends and fascinating history when visiting Blarney Castle to kiss the celebrated Blarney Stone.
(3) Walk along the tops of the Cliffs of Moher for views spanning the Atlantic coast dropping down to the crashing waves.
(4) Spend time learning about the past with a storyteller turned balladry, who sings and poeticizes the tales of Inchigeelagh in the spirit of Irish tradition.
(5) Traverse the sensational scenery of Dingle Peninsula to discover enchanting landscapes and ancient artifacts, including the 6th-century Gallarus Oratory.
(6) Visit Bunratty Castle and Fold Park as it brings to life the 13th century culture in town and the grandeur of the aristocracy within the castle.
(7) Relish the time you spend inside the classic Irish pubs encouraging musicians, poets, and artists to continue Irish oratory and music.
Day 1 : Dublin - Arrive in Dublin with a Captivating Introductory City Tour
Dublin celebrates its modernity and its customs with effortless enthusiasm. The cobbled lanes wind between traditional pubs, which lead into hidden alleys filled with literary charm. The scent of leather-bound books and aged crisp pages fill the Long Room at Trinity College, emanating from the 200,000 copies of rare volumes in the collection. The aroma of coddle, a traditional stew made from pork sausages, bacon, potatoes, and onions drifts out of local restaurants.
After settling into the comforts of your hotel, your guide leads you on an elaborate tour of Ireland’s capital city, arriving at Dublin Castle. The 18th-century complex was the seat of British rule in Ireland until the early 1920s, before being ceremoniously handed over to the Provisional Irish Government. The defensive structure retains its Norman adornments of thick stone fortifications and dramatic towers. The building’s interior features the aristocratic grace associated with historic castles and government buildings, with state apartments glistening with gilded molding and crystal chandeliers. The Throne Room dates back to the mid-18th century and contains the throne erected for King George IV’s visit to Ireland. Outside of the castle, your guide takes you to the Cobblestone Pub in Smithfield. The pub is known mostly to Dubliners eager for a taste of traditional music, often accented with a modern touch.
Day 2: Dungarvan - Explore Kilkenny Castle and the Festivities of Dungarvan
In the morning, the doors to the Guinness Storehouse open. The dark, creamy beer is associated with Ireland and is almost as iconic as their whiskey. The brewery opened in the mid 18th century along the banks of the Liffey River. The aromas of buttery scones and blackcurrant jam fill the hotel dining room. The pubs around the city offer full Irish breakfasts, providing sizzling sausages, fried eggs, bacon, soda bread, and herbaceous Irish tea. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you south to County Waterford to explore Kilkenny Castle.
The sensational stronghold rises above the banks of River Nore with foundations dating back to the 12th century. The castle’s current features were erected in the Victorian era and resemble a perfect storybook structure with circular towers and crenulated walls. The Long Gallery has a painted roof and fireplace carved from a marble slab. The paintings of the Butler family, the former owners of the castle, display a noble air, with the oldest portrait painted in the 17th century. Celtic and medieval motifs adorn the timber ceiling. Locals visit the tea room for an excellent array of pastries decorating the white marble and gleaming copper features of the castle’s former kitchen.
Continue to Dungarvan, a gorgeous town nestled between the Atlantic and the Comeragh Mountains. Brightly colored homes line the waterway and look out to the small sailboats docked in the marina. The breeze carries the semi-sweet aroma of the ocean. Dungarvan is known as a festival town rich with traditional Irish music, dance, and language. In the evening, you venture to The Local, a welcoming pub erupting with enchanting Irish music since the 1960s. You find a seat on a barstool and bask in the sounds of the uilleann pipes and bodhran filling the pub.
Day 3 : Dungarvan - Discover Heritage in Lismore and a Ring Music Session
Fishermen return to the shores after an early morning on the water. They carry their buckets filled with mackerel and cod to nearby markets where locals are eager to buy their seafood fresh. Framers display fresh produce, organic coffees, and delicious cheeses crafted on the plains outside of the city. You travel outside of town in the morning to reach the town of Lismore. The first castle erected in the 12th century, now features impressive battlements and a steep slope plunging into the Blackwater River.
The Ballysaggartmore Towers rise above the treetops outside of town where a gothic gateway acts as the entrance to the grounds. The marketplace roars to life with fresh seafood, and fabulous cakes made fresh that morning. The Heritage Center presents a history of Lismore with an immersive audio-visual tour that takes you on a journey beginning with the arrival of St. Carthage in 636. The paths turn to cobbled lanes lined with cottages, peppered with interesting facts about the history of the various buildings across town.
You continue to Ring, a parish in the Irish speaking area of County Waterford. The role the Irish language plays in the community offers a sense of identity in touch with the rich history of the Emerald Isle. Horses graze on the shining grasses outside of town. You enter into Mooney’s Pub, a popular establishment where writers, poets, filmmakers, and artists have frequented for years. The pub has become a center for sean-nós, the traditional style of Irish signing.
Day 4 : Ballyvourney - Visit Blarney Castle and Enjoy a Private Dance Lesson
In the morning, you indulge in the aroma of herbaceous black Irish tea accompanied by the buttery scent of fresh scones. After a delicious meal, you head into the countryside to visit legendary Blarney Castle. The medieval stronghold was erected in the 12th century and rebuilt in the mid-15th century. The house represents the prestige of the 18th-century aristocracy, while the main keep and tower soar above the grasslands. You take the stairs above the battlement, lay down over the edges of the precipice, and kiss the stone darkened from centuries of pilgrims keen on gaining the gift of eloquence.
In the town of Ballyvourney, you meet with an experienced dance instructor for a private lesson in the art of traditional Irish movement. The music pulses and beats inside the studio. Your instructor provides the seven basic steps from which all the dancing derives. You raise your right foot to towards your left knee and spring onto your right foot before repeating on the other side. The traditions of the Irish sound continue in the evening when you meet a local musician carrying on the proud traditions of indigenous music, offering demonstrations of the evolution of the music from its inception to classical, Eastern, and European influences.
Day 5 : Ballyvourney - Learn Storied Songs at Inchigeelagh and Gougane Barra
Before written language, stories would often be told through song to help the orator remember the tales correctly. Your guide introduces you to a traditional singer carrying on the traditions of telling oral history through the art of balladry. You listen to the stories created, as the teller weaves the tales seamlessly into song before turning to verse, and back to the melodic tones of the original saga. He recalls ancestors of the village and characters known to ancient legends, recalling the days of heralds, ballads, and minstrels. You drift through the graveyard of the Inchigeelagh church of West Cork, listening to the vibrant history of those that came before you.
You bid farewell to the storyteller and venture to Gougane Barra National Forest Park. The River Lee rushes through the emerald plains passing the early Christian monastery founded by St. Finbarr. As you walk along the trails winding beside the riverbanks in view of the mountains, crag, lake, and forest, you can’t help but think of the melodic stories from earlier in the day. The lake shimmers beneath the sunlight against the small island chapel glowing with refined stained glass depicting Celtic saints. The aroma of pine emanates from the woods. The trail of Slí Sléibhe leads into the mountains for a spectacular view over the ridges and reflective lake.
Day 6 : Dingle - Traverse the Tranquil Streets of Dingle and Relish the Music
In the morning, the sunlight washes over the emerald grasses and sporadic trees covered in jade leaves. The Irish countryside offers a majestic ambiance through the various greens naturally on display throughout the day. Your private transfer greets you after breakfast and escorts you to the town of Killarney en route to Dingle. Killarney located in County Kerry near the Atlantic coastline is famous for its picturesque lakeshores, trickling waterfalls, and dramatic mountain peaks. Boats row across the rippling waters of the lake to reach Innisfallen, located on a small island across from the pier at Ross Castles. The 7th-century monastery contained the Annals of Innisfallen, a major text of Irish history.
Legend states that Brian Boru, the king who ousted the Vikings in the 11th century, studied at the monastery. Red sandstone glints in the sunlight along the northeast edges of the 12th-century church. The island maintains native trees to Ireland, featuring rowan, ash, yew, and holly. You reach Dingle Town and let the quaint ambiance welcome you without haste. Pubs also work as shops, allowing visitors to enjoy a pint, sing a song, and meet with local fishermen or blacksmiths with a friendly smile. Hilly streets wind around colorful buildings amidst locals speaking Gaeilge to one another. You enter into Dick Mack’s, a fabulous pub known for the small leather shop attachment and the cozy ambiance where you can sip a Guinness and enjoy the sounds of the town.
Day 7 : Dingle - Delight in a Full Day Excursion around the Dingle Peninsula
Surfers take to the waters around the Dingle Peninsula to enjoy crashing breaks and scenery of the magnificent beaches. Hikers and naturalists take to the trails around the mountains to bask in the majesty of the great outdoors. The scent of honey and cardamom drifts out of Murphy’s, a favorite ice cream shop on Strand Street known for its delicious and unique homemade flavors. The day is yours to explore the grandeur of the Dingle Peninsula at your preferred pace, taking to the Gap of Dunloe and Ross Castle.
The landscape offers an open-air museum of ancient Irish history. The Gallarus Oratory was erected in the 6th century and resembles an upside-down boat. The simple architecture has withstood the elements of the Atlantic for over 1,200 years with stones fitted carefully together like a puzzle. Small traces of mortar on the interior wall suggest plaster support on the inside. The structure stands more than 26 feet long and 16 feet tall. The ascent takes you to a summit surrounded by uninterrupted views of the hills and lowlands to the east, with the yawning azure waters of the Atlantic on the west.
Day 8 : Ennis - Travel to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park for Harmonious Traditions
At breakfast, you can’t help but think back to the 2,000 monuments decorating the Dingle Peninsula. The beauty of the landscape continues to inspire poets, writers, and musicians with hints of melodic heritage amidst the sounds of crashing waves or the winds sweeping over the tall grasses. You travel to the charming town of Adare in the morning and immediately fall for the enchanting thatched roofs and whitewashed walls of the cottages lining the cobbled lanes. Adare has gained fame as Ireland’s “Prettiest Village,” with views to the elegant 19th-century English manor once home to the Earl of Dunraven.
The image of Irish heritage continues at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The marvelous edifice stands beside the River Ratty atop foundations of a settlement founded by 10th-century Vikings and overrun by 13th-century Normans. Smoke coils upwards from the chimneys peaking atop the thatched roofs. Forges lick with flame as blacksmiths toil on horseshoes and weaponry. The present image of the castle was erected in the 15th century and features furniture as elegant timepieces depicting the 14th to 17th centuries.
Paintings and tapestries line the wide walls and great halls. The dungeon is damp, dark, and fits the depiction of a cell worthy of a fairytale. Stroll down the village streets for a collection of typical 19th-century urban life, from the doctor’s home to the pawnbroker’s shop, and the quintessential pub of MacNamara and Sons, which fills the air with song. In the evening, you listen to a fabulous music recital with a renowned musician happy to play and answer questions about Irish traditions related to the melodies of the heritage music. The harmonious sounds remind you of the deep roots of Irish storytelling and the range of music between uproarious fun and soothing melodies.
Day 9 : Ennis - Venture to the Cliffs of Moher and the Irish Music Center
After breakfast, you venture to the edges of the fabled Cliffs of Moher, known for their relentless beauty and dramatic heights. The Atlantic waves crash against the sandstone rocks below, splashing mist over the patches of moss above the cobalt water. Puffins build their nests in the hidden niches along the steep precipices. The colonies prefer isolated areas without hunting competition. Hawks and guillemots circle over the coastline. The wind sweeps over grasses on the plateau and carries hints of the saltwater.
The oldest rocks attached to the cliffs date back 300 million years, displaying traces of the old river channels that once cut through the rugged base. With the wind wiping away the sporadic clouds, you have a marvelous view of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay in the distance. Continue to the Burren Center in Kilfenora for an introduction to the magnificent scenery and ancient ruins decorating County Clare. The fantastical view encompasses nearly 100 square miles, comprising of villages and archeological intrigue.
After strolling over the limestone tiles overlooking the rippling waters of Galway Bay, you find the distinctive remains of the Caherconnell ring fort. The medieval stronghold has a diameter of nearly 140 feet long with walls more than six feet tall and six feet thick. Sheep graze on the grasslands and frolic in the open spaces around the historic ruins. Your final evening on the Emerald Isle brings you to the Irish Traditional Music Center in Milltown Malbay. You listen to stories, legends, and histories about the origins of music in County Clare.
Day 10 : Shannon - Depart for Home
In the morning, the scent of freshly brewed coffee emanates from Saus Coffee House, located on the top floor of Carraig Donn. The views spread across town and over the waters of River Fergus. The colorful homes and quiet stone bridges shimmer beneath the returning sunlight. The river flows quickly east towards the Shannon Estuary. The medieval charm remains in the narrow lanes and the ruins of the 13th-century Ennis Friary. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you from the hotel to Shannon International Airport. You enjoy the scenic drive while listening to the songs you’ve accumulated, each telling a different story of your time in Ireland.