Monday, November 29, 2010


A colorful town with a unique place in Ireland’s heritage, Cobh has a rich maritime history as the embarkation port for Ireland emigrants.

The Great Island on which the town of Cobh stands is the largest island in Cork Harbor. The towering French Gothic St Colman's Cathedral stands at the top of the hill overlooking the tall brightly colored buildings of Cobh and the dockside of the most important port of emigration in the country. Following a visit from Queen Victoria in 1849, the port was renamed Queenstown,  until it reverted back to its Irish name in 1922.

Cobh's long maritime history starts as the world's first yacht club, the Royal Cork Yacht Club established in 1720. Continuing through history, the first steamship to sail across the Atlantic, the Sirius, sailed from Cobh in 1838. Cobh was also the last port of call for the Titanic on her tragic maiden voyage and Cobh was where survivors of the Lusitania were brought after the ship was torpedoed by German U-Boats off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. 150 victims of the Lusitania are buried in graves in the Old Church just north of Cobh.

The town is best known however, as the country's main emigration port following the great Famine of 1846-1848. Once called "the saddest place in all of Ireland", Cobh was the embarkation port of some 2.5 million Irish emigrants fleeing famine and povert. Their tale is told in the award winning exhibition centre, the Queenstown Story, housed in the disused Victorian Railway by the dockside. The Cobh Heritage Centre is one of the many stops on Celtic Tours premier escorted motorcoach tour the Celtic Dream.

Though a town with a sorrowful past, Cobh is a vibrant hub of activity and interest. A quaint town of narrow streets, winding up steep hills, Cobh has a number of old-fashioned pubs and good quality restaurants. Cobh is a popular spot for sailing and there are harbour cruises around Haulbowline Island and the former prison of Spike Island.

Learn more about Celtic Tours escorted motorcoach tours to Cobh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rugged Wonderland of County Galway

County Galway, a remarkable county with a truly unique atmosphere: the vibrancy of Galway City’s bright entertainment scene, the history and culture of Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht (Irish Speaking) region, the spectacular beauty of the diverse landscapes of the vast mountainous Connemara and the rich farming plains of Galway East. On top of all this, Galway has great beaches, soaring mountains, lovely villages, fabulous pubs and some of the friendliest people in Ireland.

Galway City
Galway City is an excellent walking city with pedestrian only streets. Galway is legendary around the world for its entertainment scene. Brightly painted pubs surge with live music on any given night, the winding cobblestone streets are filled with a frenzy of musicians and other street performers, known as buskers. Galway’s streets are steeped in history, yet have a contemporary vibe. The remains of the medieval town walls lie between trendy shops selling traditional Irish goods and more.

Connemara, in the northwest of County Galway, West Ireland has scenery like that out of a fairy tale. Its mountains are a deep and rich color of green and when the clouds roll in it seems almost magical. Its barren windswept landscape is compelling and inspiring. The blanket bog covering the region houses some beautiful and varied flora. The ancient mountains have been raked to their bones by long thawed glaciers, leaving patches of grey granite and jutting outwards, and potato rows still visible from the desperate times of the Great Famine. The fields are divided by hand-made stone walls, often collapsed. Irish is widely spoken in Connemara, and is the native language of all the locals. And will appreciate if you tried to speak a little Irish to the locals, however they will not expect you to speak in Irish.

Sightseeing Highlights

Dun Aonghasa, Aran Islands

This dramatic stone fort is perched on a clifftop almost 300ft above sea level. It’s an extremely important, and vulnerable, archaeological site.

Kylemore Abbey & Gardens
Originally a Victorian-era castle, the Abbey now serves as home to the Benedictine nuns in Ireland. The gardens contain a magnificent 10,000 trees.

St Brendan’s Cathedral, Clonfert
St. Brendan’s is famed for its beautiful Romanesque doorway, which dates back to about 1200. The cathedral is on the site of St. Brendan’s monastery, which dates back to the sixth century.

Spiddal Craft and Design Centre
This center includes a number of workshops producing traditional Irish crafts including candles, leatherwork, pottery, woodwork, screenprinting and bodhráns.

Galway Crystal Factory
Galway Irish Crystal has long been one of the world's best known and loved brands of traditionally crafted Irish lead crystal. Nestled in the heart of the West of Ireland, on the shores of Galway Bay, Galway Irish Crystal is steeped in the rich and diverse heritage of this unique hinterland. Our Master Craftsmen are continuously inspired by the sheer beauty of the surrounding countryside - Connemara, Galway Bay and Lough Corrib - and influenced by the wealth of history and folklore which is synonymous with Galway, the famous City of the Tribes.

Take a trip into the rugged wonderland of County Galway for an experience of a lifetime.

Galway is a featured stop on a number of Celtic Tours Escorted Motorcoach Tours of Ireland. Learn more about Celtic Tours Escorted Motorcoach Tours

Monday, November 15, 2010

10 Attractions in County Sligo

Sligo has a special quality that entices visitors back time and again. Positioned on the North West of the island of Ireland it is a county steeped in heritage and tradition. Sligo has a green and lush landscape, dominated by sheer limestone ridges such as towering Ben Bulben, very distinctively recognisable as a 'typical Sligo' shape. It boasts spectacular sandy beaches at Rosses Point, Strandhill, Easkey, Enniscrone and Mullaghmore, many with EU blue flag beaches.

Carrowmore megalithic cemetery, the most extensive in Europe, is situated here and it is amazing to think that it pre-dates the pyramids of Egypt. Immortalised in poem by W.B. Yeats and through the paintings of his brother Jack, there is something in Sligo to suit everyone - surfing beaches of international renown, the monastic island of Innismurray, Coney Island (its New York counterpart was named after it), championship links golf, or sunset cruising on Lough Gill.

Music and song are alive and well (think Coleman, Westlife & Dervish - all Sligo grown) and the craic you will have here is second to none. Eateries from beach front thatched pubs to Georgian mansions and river front café’s to impressive castles offering the finest and freshest fare you will find anywhere in the world.

10 Things to Do & See in Sligo

1. Yeats Memorial Building
The Yeats Society occupies a delightful heritage building in the centre of Sligo and presents a fascinating photographic exhibition of the life and times of W.B. Yeats and his family.

2. Golf
Take in a round of golf, with several golf links courses to choose from. Let the golf experts at Celtic Tours help you decide.

3. Carrowmore
This is the largest megalithic cemetry in Ireland and amongst the oldest and most important in Europe.

4. Ballymote Castle
Richard de Burgo, the "Red Earl" of Ulster, built the remains of this Anglo-Norman castle in AD1300 and it was the strongest fortress in Connacht.

5. Drumcliff Round Tower and High Cross
This site is an monastic settlement, and also the burial place of the famous Irish poet W.B.Yeats. Its importance dates from 574 AD when St. Colmcille founded a monastery here.

6. Sligo Abbey
Like many Norman towns in Ireland, Sligo had an Abbey and castle. Founded by Maurice Fitzgerald, the Chief Justice of Ireland, in 1252/3.

7. Trad Music Session
Catch a Trad Music Session, for a truly Irish experience

8. Dolly’s Cottage
Dolly’s Cottage is a 200-year-old traditional thatched cottage, the only one of its kind in the area, which is open to the public. It is a stone built cottage with two rooms and a loft with original walls, roof, roof beams, fireplace and pouch bed.

When you step through the little red door it’s like stepping into the past. Dolly’s Cottage has hardly changed in its 200 years and provides an experience of how people lived until the not so distant past.

9. Eagle’s Flying – Irish Raptor Research Centre
At Ireland’s largest sanctuary for Birds of Prey and Owls, you can enjoy Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Falcons and Vultures flying closely over your head. During the interactive shows, scientists will inform you about these magnificent birds, some of whom can be touched. For the ones who prefer cuddly animals, there is a large pet-zoo in the centre. Eagles Flying is located outside Ballymote near Temple House and Ballinacarrow on the N17.

10. Sligo Folk Park
Sligo Folk Park is located in the beautiful village of Riverstown, Co Sligo. This community based attraction gives a true experience of rural life and Irish heritage at the turn of the late 19th Century.

With so much to do and see in County Sligo, why not visit this lovely area on Celtic Tours premier escorted motorcoach tour Celtic Dream. In addition to visiting County Sligo, you will also visit Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, Killarney, Galway, Limerick and Belfast. Learn More about this exciting Ireland vacation at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clan Donald Centre

History, tradition and beauty elegantly entwined: discover the history of the Scottish Highlands, gaze upon the Book of Remembrance and stroll through 40 acres of magnificent woodland gardens at the Clan Donald Centre on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Armadale Castle is a ruined country house in Armadale, Isle of Skye, former home of the MacDonalds. A mansion house was first built here around 1790. In 1815 a Scottish baronial style mock-castle, intended for show rather than defense, was built next to the house. After 1855 the part of the house destroyed by fire was replaced by a central wing. Since 1925 the castle, abandoned by the Macdonald family, has fallen into ruin. The gardens around the castle have been maintained, and are now home to the Clan Donald Centre, which operates the Museum of the Isles.

At the award-winning Museum of the Isles you can trace the history of the Highlands and Islands through the eyes of the MacDonalds, or Clan Donald, from the days of the medieval Lordship of the Isles, to the sadness of clearance and emigration. Six interconnecting galleries, each with their own theme, take you through 1500 years of history and culture. Clan Donald is considered one of the largest and most powerful Scottish clans. The Clan’s Leaders were Lords of the Isles. In 1493, the Scottish King took their title away, however their influence survived.

Armadale Castle Gardens and Museum of the Isles is set in the heart of a 20,000 acre Highland estate. The nature trails at Armadale lead the visitor out of the gardens and into areas of beautiful mixed woodlands. Magnificent trees, some almost 200 years old, tower above stunning carpets of bluebells, orchids and wildflowers in spring and summer. Sheltered below the giants are the young firs and growing collections of elegant birch and beech trees. After a stroll through the Woodland Gardens, gaze upon the beautifully decorated and inscribed Clan Donald Book of Remembrance. The Book provides a simple and dignified memorial to Clan members. One page of the Book is allocated to each day of the year. The Book is displayed so that memorial entries are seen on the relevant dates.

Join Celtic Tours on a visit to the truly historical and memorable Clan Donald Centre on our 10 Day Scottish Dream Tour.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle holds a dominating position, atop the volcanic Castle Rock, overlooking the capital city of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle has commanded its surroundings with majesty for centuries. Today the castle continues to welcome visitors to its rocky perch.

Evidence shows inhabitation at Castle Rock dating back to 900 BC, when it was called Din Eidyn, ‘the stronghold of Eidyn’. Ever since the invasion of Angles around 638 AD, the rock has been known by its English name – Edinburgh.

In the Middle Ages, Edinburgh Castle became Scotland’s chief royal castle. As one of the most important fortresses in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has been involved in many historical conflicts, from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century up to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions.

The oldest standing building on the premises is the tiny and charming chapel, built by King David I in the 12th century, in memory of his mother, St Margaret.

Edinburgh Castle is known well for being the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots son James VI, in 1566. The Castle continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603 when James VI, King of Scots, also became King James I of England.

In 1996 the Stone of Destiny, Scotland’s coronation stone, was placed in the Crown Room alongside the nation’s Crown Jewels. In 1995 the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were inscribed as a World Heritage Site, and the castle remains its most important building. Edinburgh Castle is also the backdrop for the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

All visitors to the castle can join the popular guided tour free of charge. Filled with intriguing tales and castle secrets for all. Visitors to this glorious castle will marvel at Scotland’s glittering crown jewels, tour the Royal Palace, The Great Hall and St. Margaret’s Chapel. Visitors will also get to view Mons Meg, one of the world’s oldest cannons, which was fired to celebrate the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots.

Edinburgh Castle is considered one of the top visitor’s attractions in Scotland, and is a featured stop on Celtic Tour’s Scottish Dream Tour of Scotland. Learn More about this amazing Scotland Vacation.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

A whirling and colorful kaleidoscope of music, dance and display set against the world famous backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favorite for over 60 years!

2009 marked the Tattoo’s eleventh successive sell-out season, with over 217,000 in attendance and over 100 million watching in the 30 countries it is televised in. The Tattoo is set up and run for charitable purposes. Over the years it has gifted some $8 Million to service and civilian organizations. This amazing event should not be missed!

The show is always fresh, exciting and alive. Performers from over 40 countries have presented here, delivering a new and unique show every time. Types of performances range from exciting, with daredevil motorcycles at top speed and the breathtaking re-enactment of battles, to exotic, with Turkish music or Chinese dancers; or simply the best of Scottish, with Scottish Highland dancers wheeling and swirling to a fiddle orchestra.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo begins as the massed bands march out in their hundreds across the drawbridge, flanked by effigies of William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, emotions run high: this matchless spectacle unfailingly enthralls, symbolizing the Scotland that everyone holds dear in their heart. The shows finale brings together all 1000 or so performers on the Esplanade, column after column of marchers, dancers and bandsmen. The audience joins in the great chorus of singing and cheering, applause and cries, before a hush falls for the singing of the Evening Hymn, the sounding of the Last Post and the lowering of the flags. From the castle ramparts, a single spotlight cues the Lone Piper to play his haunting lament. The high notes echo across the dark city and night sky, and slowly die. Fireworks then burst out against the black sky, and Tattoo-goers all, united by international friendship and the shared love of a nation, its music and its traditions.

From the opening act to fireworks you will be glued to your seats, left with a hope to return. Catch this great show on Celtic Tour’s Scottish Dream Tour, available for only three of our departures July 30, August 13 and August 20. Book now to reserve your seat!

Scottish Dream Tour

Scottish Dream - 10-Day Option!

Enjoy an Edinburgh Twilight Tour with dinner, Highland Entertainment, Loch Lomond Scenic Cruise, Culloden Moor, Edinburgh Castle, and Speyside Distillery.

If you would like to arrive in Glasgow a night or two before the tour begins, Celtic Tours will be happy to arrange a pre-night for you. Please call our reservations department at 800-833-4373.

Your Scottish Dream 10-Day tour includes:

* Group transfers on arrival and departure
* Sightseeing by luxury coach throughout
* Edinburgh open-top bus tour
* Services of a professional Scottish tour director
* Superior first class hotels with private bath/shower for 8 nights
* Full Scottish breakfast daily, except for day of arrival
* Six (6) dinners including
Dinner at Prezzo Italian Restaurant in Leith, near Edinburgh
5 table d'hote dinners
* Welcome get-together drink
* Sightseeing tours of Glasgow and Edinburgh
* Scenic cruise of Loch Lomond
* Ferry to the Isle of Skye
* Sheepdog trials at Leault Farm
* Ceilidh in Inverness hotel with singers, piper and dancers
* Whisky tasting and tour at Glenfiddich Distillery
* Scottish afternoon tea and scones at Falls of Feugh
* Twilight tour of Edinburgh
* Reserved seats for Edinburgh Military Tattoo on July 30 to August 20 departures
* Visits and admissions to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Inveraray Castle, Clan Donald Centre, Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Kiltmaker Visitor Centre, St. Andrews and Edinburgh Castle
* Deluxe flight bag, ticket wallet, luggage tags & strap
* All local taxes, hotel service charges & porterage for one suitcase per person

Book your Scottish Dream Vacation Today!

This amazing vacation is  available in a 9 day option. View the itinerary

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