Monday, August 30, 2010

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
The Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare, are one of Ireland’s top Visitor attractions, with close to 1 million visitors per year. A visit to this majestic natural wonder and you’ll know why. The Cliffs stand 702 feet high at its highest point, stretching roughly 5 miles, offering breathtaking views of the beauty of Ireland’s west coast and the sheer power of the Atlantic Ocean. Even on a calm day, the great ocean waves ceaselessly pound the shore with white surf continually showing white surf at the base of the cliffs.

O'Brien's Tower is a round stone tower at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of Ireland's High King Brian Boru, in order to impress female visitors. O'Brien's Tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. The Cliffs of Moher take their name from a ruined promontory fort “Mothar” which was demolished during the Napoleonic wars to make room for a signal tower.

The exciting eco-friendly Visitor’s Centre offers an array of interactive media, exploring topics such as the origin of the Cliffs, the bird and the fish life, and others. The site has been developed by the Clare County Council to allow visitors to experience the Cliffs, without the distraction of overly-imposing man-made amenities and facilities. In keeping with this approach the “Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience” is built into a hillside approaching the Cliffs, blending naturally with the surrounding countryside. The centre is environmentally sensitive in its use of renewable energy systems including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and greywater recycling.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beehive Huts of the Dingle Peninsula

Beehive-huts, a type of Clochan, are dry-stone huts with a corbelled roof. These huts are believed to date from the 1100’s when Norman conquerors forced the Irish off the best land and out onto the far reaches of the Dingle Peninsula. They are commonly interpreted as the secular dwellings of Early Christian Monks. Having survived the test of time, these huts are available for viewing for small fees, usually around 1 Euro.

These stone structures are scattered around County Kerry, but there is a good concentration of them along the Slea Head Drive, on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Several of them are linked together to form little compounds or communities, with walls to enclose livestock.

It is fascinating to walk through these structures and imagine making one of these huts your home. It must have been a rugged lifestyle, but perhaps the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean were worth it.

Join Celtic Tours for a drive through the Dingle Peninsula to view these Beehive-huts on our Celtic Dream Premier Escorted Motorcoach Tour of Ireland. This amazing itinerary is available in 2 options 12 or 13 days! Other sights you will see along the way: Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilkenny Castle, Cobh Heritage Center, Blarney, Foynes Flying Boat Musuem, Cliffs of Moher, Rathbaun Farm, Galway Crystal Factory, Belleek Pottery Factory, Glenveagh Castle and National Park, Fort Dunree, Moville Pottery, Giants Causeway, Titanic Docks & Pumphouse…Wow, what an amazing Celtic Dream. Learn more about this tour.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gallarus Oratory: A Masterpiece of Simple Architecture

The Gallarus Oratory is a masterpiece of simple architecture. It was built by local farmers as a place of worship. This historic church is believed to date back to the 6th century. Simple architecture built only of local stones fitted carefully together, using no mortar.
Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

The Gallarus Oratory is in an excellent state of repair despite the fact that it hasn’t been restored. This perfect example of a dry stone building style has withstood the formidable Atlantic elements for over 1200 years! Additionally, this remarkable structure withstood, like most of Ireland, attacks by successive invaders. Vikings and Anglo-Normans burned, pillaged and destroyed the settlements around Gallarus.

Inside the Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
The Gallarus Oratory is shaped like an upturned boat. There is no separate roof, but only walls that meet on top. There is just one door and one tiny window.

The Gallarus Oratory is situated at the south eastern corner of Smerwick Harbour on the Dingle Peninsula. And is well worth the stop!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle stands dramatically on a strategic height guarding a crossing on the River Nore and dominates the ‘High Town’ of Kilkenny City.

Known as one of the most recognized buildings in Ireland, the castle is steeped in Irish medieval history. It was built in 1195 for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke to control a fording-point of the River Nore. The Castle is seen as a symbol of Norman occupation. Kilkenny Castle later became the principal residence of the powerful Butler family for almost 600 years.

Through the eight centuries of its existence many alterations and additions have been made to the building, making it a complex structure of various architectural styles. This 800-year-old Norman castle remains in remarkable condition with many of its original features. Two wings of the castle have been restored to their 19th Century splendor and include a library, drawing room and the magnificent long gallery. The river wing houses the Butler Gallery of contemporary art. Additionally, a state-of –the-art conference center is situated in one of the castle’s 12th Century towers.

Set amid 50 acres of charming and extensive gardens and woodlands, overlooking the River Nore, the castle has a long established rose garden, mature trees and an ornamental lake. The castle gardens around Kilkenny Castle are well worth a visit.

Visitors can explore the castle and their grounds at their leisure. In addition to an information sheet, dedicated guides offer information about the castle’s rich history in its period rooms.

Celtic Tours features Kilkenny Castle on a number of our tours of Ireland. Please visit our website for more information.

Friday, August 20, 2010

10 Things to do in Ballina/Killaloe

Visit the beautiful, historical twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe which span the River Shannon at the southern point of Lough Derg. Steeped in history, you can explore such breath taking sites as Brian Boru’s Fort and St. Flannans Cathedral.

Killaloe, on the Clare side of the river, is made up of charming narrow streets, flanked by old shops along the steep hill looking down over the 13th century cathedral. The town was home to Brian Boru, the High King who united Ireland against the Vikings, so this picture perfect town with its Victorian streets and old canal banks was once capital of all Ireland.

Ballina on the Tipperary side, offers a newly rejuvenated tree lined Park along the riverbank on what was once a railway line, with plentiful moorings and Derg Marina catering for the leisure craft that make Killaloe/Ballina one of the best centres for water activity breaks in Ireland. You will find first-class pubs and eateries along the Main Street and old quayside.

10 Things to do in Killaloe/Ballina

St. Flannans Cathedral
The early monastery on this site at the southern end of Lough Derg was founded by St. Fachnan, and he was followed as Abbot by St. Flannan who died around 639. The Cathedral was founded about 1185 by Donal Mor O’Brien. The Cathedral incorporates some of the finest examples of Hiberno-Romanesque architecture.

St. Flannans Oratory
In the grounds of the Cathedral is St. Flannans Oratory, a 12th Century Romanesque church.

St Moluas Church
In the grounds of St Flannans Catholic Church, further up the hill, is St. Moluas oratory. It originally stood on Friars Island in the Shannon, but was removed stone by stone, and re-erected there when the island was flooded and submerged in the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme in 1929.

An ancient church and the family burial ground of the O’Hickey Clan – physicians to some of the great clans of Ireland like the O’Brien’s of Thomond and the O’Kennedys of Ormond.

Tobermurragh (Murroughs Well)
Ancient lore tells us that it was here the son of Brian Boru was christened. The well is remarkable for the abundant supply of crystal water it provides – even in the driest of summers.

Beal Boru (Brian Borus Fort)
A great earthen fort of the end of a spur, giving a commanding vantage at the point where the Lough narrows to form the River Shannon once more.

Graves of the Leinster Men
To the East of Ballina lie the Arra Mountains whose highest peak Tountinna (Hill above the Wave) is 465m. It is from these mountains, which skirt the shores of Lough Derg between Ballina and Portroe, that the true majesty of the Shannon’s greatest Lake can be appreciated. The mountains contain one of the most celebrated sites of ancient Ireland – The Graves of the Leinstermen. The pre-historic bronze age chamber tomb dates from about 1000BC and is believed to have been one of the first inhabited places in Ireland. Tradition tells us that the Kings of Leinster and his men were ambushed here on the orders of Brian Borus wife Gormliath, because she feared the Leinster King was to marry her daughter. As the King lay dying he asked to be brought to a spot from where he could see his cherished Kingdom of Leinster.

Play a Round of Golf
Play a round of Golf at one of the several nearby Golf Courses. Our inhouse golf experts, at Celtic Tours can help you choose the right one!

Mollys Bar and Restaurant
Formerly an RIC police station dating back to 1829, is now renowned for its food, drinks, friendly atmosphere and lively traditional and modern music sessions.

The Lough Derg Way
The Lough Derg Way stretches from Limerick City to Killaloe, a distance of 26kms (16 miles) and from Killaloe/Ballina to Dromineer 32Kms (20 miles) along the banks of the River Shannon, the old Shannon Navigational Canal and the eastern shores of Lough Derg. The canal bank dominates a major part of the southern section of the walk from Limerick to Killaloe and the extended route to Dromineer is an uphill climb overlooking the majestic Lough Derg.

Top Off Your Trip to Killaloe with a stay at the Lakeside Hotel, Killaloe

The Lakeside Hotel is situated in a stunning location on the banks of the river Shannon proudly overlooking the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe Co. Clare with its famous 13 arch bridge and 13th century cathedral, St. Flannans. With its innate sense of peace and warmth, it is often described by locals as “Irelands Best kept secret”.

The Lakeside Hotel is a three star hotel accommodation in Clare which has been designed for your comfort and convenience. These accommodations in Killaloe Co Clare offers 46 en-suite guest rooms with in-room amenities to ensure you have a pleasurable stay.

Relax and unwind in the Leisure Complex with the most up to date exercise equipment and first class leisure facilities. The gym at the Lakeside Hotel & Leisure Centre hosts a complete range of cardiovascular equipment, many with their own integrated entertainment systems. Or relax in the sauna or steam room – perfect to ease tired muscles, promote relaxation and alleviate strains after exercise. The Kids will love the spectacular 120ft figure-8 waterslide!

The Lakeside Hotel is a featured accommodation in Celtic Tours Deluxe Deluxe Self Drive Package. Learn More about this great package.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tour 14.3 Million Pints of Guinness

No trip to Dublin would be complete without visiting the Guinness Storehouse. The Storehouse was originally built in 1904 to house the Guinness fermentation process. There are seven floors that surround a glass atrium and the best part is that it is in the shape of a pint of Guinness, stretching up from the ground floor to The Gravity Bar in the sky. If filled the giant pint would hold approximately 14.3 million pints of Guinness!

The Guinness Storehouse tour guides visitors through the ingredients of Guinness, the fermentation process, and the history of Guinness. Highlights of the tour are learning the art of pouring your own pint of Guinness for which you will receive a certificate to prove that you have mastered the craft. Visitors will also get the chance to enjoy traditional Irish cuisine that uses Guinness as a defining ingredient. At the end of the tour, visitor’s can reflect on their journey through the best known Irish exports while enjoying a complimentary pint of Guinness in The Gravity Bar, with 360 degree views across Dublin.

Learn More About Celtic Tours Premier Escorted Motorcoach Tours in Dublin

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dublin Sightseeing Tours

Hop On/Hop Off Dublin Bus Tour

Experience the attractions of Dublin with a Dublin Bus Tour. All tours offer live commentary by accredited and experienced tour guides. 

The Hop On Hop Off tour offers a fun day out for the whole family. This tour has been carefully designed to give you freedom to explore and experience the history and culture of Dublin at your leisure.

Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Zoo, the National Museum and Dublin’s most fashionable shopping district Grafton St are just a few of the 23 stops on the Dublin Bus Tour.

What a perfect complement to your Dublin City Stay! Celtic Tours has included this wonderful bus tour in our new Endless Possibilities Package. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Endless Possibilities Package

Amazing Price Tag and Endless Possibilities

7 Night Stay land starting at $559 PP Sharing

With this package the choice is yours:

~Tour the modern and cosmopolitan city of Dublin with the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass. This sightseeing bus stops at all of Dublin's major attractions. St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Zoo, the National Museum and Dublin's most fashionable shopping district Grafton St. are just a couple of options for your Dublin City Stay.

~Cash in on the savings with the Shannon Region 25% discount off entrance to the Shannon Regions top Attractions and Activities.

~Enjoy 4-nights B&B accommodations throughout Ireland - offering over 1700 B&B and farm homes to choose from.

~Enjoy a 1-night luxurious stay at the Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, County Galway (Other Castle choices available).

~Tour Ireland with a 5-day compact automatic car rental - Includes CDW Insurance!

~Enjoy a luxurious stay at the Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, County Galway.

~Take advantage of our optional tours of the Aran Islands and the Ring of Kerry. Or we can arrange a round of golf or other tours for you.

The Endless Possibilities package includes:
  • 7 nights stay throughout Ireland: 2 Nights Dublin City Stay, 1-Night in luxury at the Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara and 4 Nights Your-Choice B&B accommodations
  • Full Irish Breakfast Daily
  • 5 Day Car Rental-Compact, Automatic, Includes Insurance (Larger groups will need to upgrade to larger vehicle)
  • 1 Hop-On Hop-Off Dublin Bus Pass
  • 1 Transfer from Hotel to Airport 
  • FREE Celtic Tours 5-Minute Phone Card
  • Shannon Region 25% discount off entrance to the Shannon Regions top Attractions and Activities

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


When life hands you lemons, fly to Italy and drink Limoncello!

Limoncello, a refreshing, intensely lemony cordial hails from southern Italy. It originated on the Isle of Capri in the 19th century, where innkeeper Vincenza Canale treated her patrons to her homemade liqueur. Word spread among travelers about her delightful liqueur and eventually the family began bottling it commercially.

For many Italians, sharing a glass of lemon liqueur with friends, new or old, is the essence of hospitality. When dinner is done, out comes a bottle of fragrant limoncello. Prepared from grain alcohol, infused with lemon peel and sweetened with sugar, it can be sipped as is or drizzled over poundcake, fruit salad or ice cream. One nip tingles the tongue and subsequent sips pack a surprising wallop.

What better way to enjoy this delightful beverage than in Italy! Celtic Tours is pleased to announce the Special Date Tour: Tuscan Experience: Learn more

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ireland Golf Links Courses

A links golf course, is the oldest style of golf course, first developed in Scotland but most common in Ireland. The word comes from the Scots language and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes. Links are located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, often amid dunes, with few water hazards and trees. This reflects both the nature of the scenery where the sport happened to originate, and the fact that only limited resources were available to golf course architects at the time. Any earth moving had to be done by hand, so it was kept to a minimum.

The challenges of links golf fall into two categories. Firstly the nature of the courses themselves, which tend to be characterized by uneven fairways, thick rough and small deep bunkers known as “pot bunkers”. Secondly, due to their coastal location many links courses are frequently windy. This affects the style of play required. As many links courses consist literally of an “outward” nine in one direction along the coast, and an “inward” nine which returns in the opposite direction, players often have to cope with opposite wind patterns in each half of their round.

Ireland is home to over 408 Golf Clubs, 53 of them links courses, choosing can be difficult. So our golf experts, at Celtic Tours, have played the courses and tailored itineraries to suit the average and expert golfer alike. For a limited time only these packages are on sale!

Click Here for more information on Celtic Tours’ Golf Packages

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Have you ever wanted to stay in a castle?

Think Indulgent Thoughts

At Clontarf Castle Hotel, 111 guest rooms and hotel suites range from the luxurious to the truly extravagant, with design that mesmerizes your senses, and all the in room touches you need to ensure the perfect nights rest.

From the fashionable style and comfort in their deluxe bedrooms to the definitive in opulence in their individually designed executive rooms and suites, many with four-poster beds and views of the Dublin mountains.

Nearby Attractions:

The Birthplace of Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker, author of the world famous novel, “Dracula” was born in Clontarf in November 1847. This Gothic Horror novel was only outsold by the Bible and has been hugely successful in theatre and cinema productions to date. Stoker died in April 1912, after a successful life as novelist and columnist for newspapers such as the Dublin Daily Mail. The Bram Stoker Park commemorates him, at his ancestral home at number 15 The Crescent, in close proximity to Clontarf Castle Hotel.

Guinness Storehouse
As you wander up through Guinness Storehouse, you'll discover what goes into making the Black Stuff- the ingredients, the process, the passion.

Old Jameson Distillery
The Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield Village is in the heart of Old Dublin.Irish whiskey can trace its history back to the 6th century. Almost like a tour of a working distillery you can follow the fascinating craft of whiskey making.

Croke Park Stadium in Dublin
The GAA Museum at Croke Park Stadium is designed to facilitate an experience of an integral part of Irish life and heritage through an exploration of its culture, history and unique national sports. Croke park is the proposed setting for the famed Notre Dame vs Navy 2012 Rematch.

Trinity College in Dublin
Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland.The college is famed for the great treasures it has the honour to be guardian of. These include the Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated manuscript, the books of Durrow and Armagh and an early Irish harp.

Learn More About Celtic Tours Dublin Vacations on Sale Now!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hiking in Ireland: Mount Brandon

Ireland offers something for everyone, here is a great hike for the expert climber and the tourist alike. Mount Brandon on Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry takes its name from Saint Brendan, “The Navigator”, who legend suggests climbed to the summit around AD 530 to see the Americas, before setting sail for them.

Mount Brandon is the second highest mountain in Ireland. On a clear day, the summit commands spectacular views right across the west coast. Nevertheless, being on the Atlantic coast, clear days are few and far between. The western slope of Mount Brandon presents a huge contrast from its eastern side, as it largely escaped the gouging effect of the glaciers, with the result that it presents an almost unbroken grassy slope.

There are several main routes up the mountain. The main tourist route would be from the West from Ballyrack. This is a nice gentle slope to the summit, ideal for the average tourist, as it is a little more than a nice walk. For the serious hiker, the best route is from the East. Beginning in the village of Cloghan. This route includes quite a steep incline involving some hands and knees scrambling to reach the top and is not recommended for casual walkers. It involves walking along the knife-edge Ridge, with quite impressive drops away on both sides. Either way, Mount Brandon is quite a sight to see.

Dublin Shopping

In Dublin's shops you can find much more than kitschy leprechaun designs. There's a tremendous variety of stores here, many of which are quite sophisticated—as a walk through Dublin's central shopping area, from O'Connell to Grafton Street, will prove. Department stores stock internationally known fashion-designer goods and housewares, and small boutiques sell Irish crafts and other merchandise.

Grafton Street
Dublin’s most fashionable area. Grafton Street is now pedestrian only and offers a choice of department stores: Brown Thomas, Marks & Spencer and the many small shops and boutiques in The Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.

O’Connell Street
Located in the city center, is a legend in the history of Dublin. Cleary’s Department Store is steeped in tradition and considered one of the oldest department stores in the world, and is a veritable one-stop shop of Irish crafts. Also in this area are smaller shops, notably, The China Showrooms (Lower Abbey Street), which has a vast selection of Waterford, Cavan and Galway crystals, as well as Irish and English china.

Henry Street
The first “pedestrian only” district in Dublin is accessed from O’Connell Street. Known as the main shopping street, on the north side of the city. One is spoiled for choice here, from Arnotts, Ireland’s largest department store, offering an unparalleled choice of Irish and European brands, to the Ilac Centre, a small complex off Henry Street, with a wide variety of stores to choose from.

Nassau Street
You will find a large selection of everything Irish on this Street; The House of Ireland, The Door Store and the Blarney Woollen Mills store, to name some.

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