Friday, September 30, 2011

Killmallock Walled Town

Kilmallock was one of the most important towns in Munster during the 13th and 14th centuries when town walls, castles, gatehouses and magnificent churches were built. So well built that many still remain for you to visit.

Take in an art exhibition, play, film or show at the Friar's Gate Theater which is also home to the Ballyhoura Heritage Information Center - a must see for the Heritage Enthusiast.

Visit Kilmallock Museum, which reflects local life during the 19th and 20th centuries and houses a model of Kilmallock in medieval times. Ramble around the medieval town at your leisure or enjoy the guided walking tour that departs from Kilmallock Museum.

Kilmallock celebrates its medieval heritage each August with an action packed medieval festival featuring battle re-enactment, medieval fun, markets and concerts.

Visit the medieval walled town of Kilmallock on your next self-drive vacation in Ireland with Celtic Tours

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Discover Medieval Ireland's Historic Legends

Step into Ireland’s lively and colorful Medieval past with a medieval themed vacation filled with castle banquet feasts, traditional music and art, spectacular cathedrals, medieval ruins, fully-restored 12th century houses and old world villages – you can even stay in a Medieval Castle and learn about the ancient art of falconry.

Despite violent incursions by the Vikings and the spread of Christianity, medieval Ireland maintained a distinctive identity due to its relative isolation by water. Much of this magical land with its many medieval treasures, were left intact. Today there are a plethora of medieval sites and experiences to be had, here are a couple of the ones that cannot be missed by those wishing to discover Ireland’s medieval legends.

Powerscourt is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland. Situated in the mountains of Wicklow, it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century. By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name. The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O'Tooles and the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare.

Irish National Heritage Park
A visit to the Irish National Heritage Park is like no other you can imagine. Surprises await around every turn as you explore 35 acres of this remarkable heritage trail. From campsite to Ringfort, from mill to Fulacht Fiadh, from Crannog to Viking house, every activity is an unexpected adventure into 9000 years. The world you enter is an authentic recreation of Ireland’s heritage. Homesteads, places of ritual, burial modes and long forgotten remains will enlighten the casual visitor and interest the scholar.

Rock of Cashel
Eclipsed in legend, the Rock of Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. According to local mythology, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil's Bit, a mountain 19 miles north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock's landing in Cashel. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for hundreds of years prior to the Norman invasion.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Feast your eyes and spirits on St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, there has been a church on the site since the 5th century. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland with a 140 foot spire and is one of two Church of Ireland cathedrals.

National Museum of Ireland, Archaeology
The Medieval Ireland exhibition contains three galleries entitled Power, Work and Prayer, reflecting the three-fold division of medieval society - nobles, common people and clergy. The lifestyle of nobles is explored, while surviving arms and armor reflect the distinctive characteristics of warfare in medieval Ireland. The exhibition looks at the different forms of agriculture (pastoral and arable), which were practiced. Finds from urban excavations illustrate Ireland’s import trade and the various crafts and industries operating in towns. The Irish church changed fundamentally in the 12th Century, although many older church traditions survived. The exhibition also looks at religious practice and devotion as well as church furnishings, including a fine selection of late medieval reliquaries: book shrines, bell shrines and crosiers.

Adare, Old World Village
Renowned as Ireland's prettiest village, Adare is a major tourist destination with many tours of Ireland stopping off in Adare. The local heritage centre gives a deep insight into the history of the village and also hosts a number of craft shops and a restaurant. With thatched roof cottages and Tudor style houses, beautiful gardens and ivy clad medieval churches in beautiful surroundings on both sides of the street beside the river Maigue. For those who want to linger and learn more visit the Heritage centre and step back in time.

Trinity College and the Book of Kells
16th Century Trinity College is the home to the greatest surviving product of mid-8th century Irish monks, the illuminated Book of Kells. The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells surpass that of other Insular Gospel books in extravagance and complexity.

Bunratty Castle Banquet
The most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland, a colorful folk park and the famous Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquets. This is one tourist attraction you are not going to want to miss! Each night the Ladies of the Castle, aided and abetted by the Earl of Thomond’s Butler, welcome guests from the four corners of the globe to dine at The Earl’s Banquet at Bunratty Castle. The entertainment provided by the world renowned entertainers is a fitting compliment to a mead reception in the Great Hall of the castle, a four course traditional feast and of course good wine.

Craggaunowen Castle
Craggaunowen Castle, built in 1550, is a fortified tower house located near Sixmilebridge, County Clare, Ireland. It was built by John MacSioda MacNamara, a descendent of Sioda MacNamara, who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. It stands on a crag overlooking the lake in the grounds of Craggaunowen Park, an archaeological open-air museum.

The Ancient Art of Falconry at Ashford Castle
Why not round off your Medieval Vacation with a stay at an authentic 13th century castle? Stay at medieval Ashford Castle, located deep in the heartland of Mayo and set against a spectacular backdrop of forests, lakes and mountains. The stately architecture, surrounded by magnificent gardens makes Ashford Castle, a place where time stands still.

Ireland’s First School of Falconry, at Ashford castle, offers visitors the chance to experience the ancient art of Falconry first hand on a private Hawk Walk. They specialize in lessons using beautiful Harris hawks, but in addition to hawks the school is home to a variety of eagles, owls and falcons. Within minutes of arriving, you will have a hawk on your glove and be setting off to fly your hawk or hawks in the gardens and woodlands surrounding Ashford Castle.

As you travel through the lush green countryside of Ireland, you can imagine the Ireland of centuries gone by: ladies at court, fine feasts, jousting knights and a world where magic was still very much alive. The turbulent history of Ireland with raiders coming from all directions will come alive before your eyes as you learn about historical events, the arts, religion and the multiple facets of life in medieval Ireland. Discover Ireland’s historic legends on a medieval tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours.

With many self-drive vacations to Ireland, let Celtic Tours help plan your medieval vacation to Ireland. Have a group of people that want to experience Medieval Ireland? Try a Celtic Tours group tour of Ireland. We can create a customized Ireland vacation to suit you and your groups needs! Give us a call today 1-800-833-4373 to start planning your group tour today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Aillwee Cave

Ireland's Premier Showcave is an experience which should be a part of everyone's visit to the Burren. Not only is it a stunning walk, Aillwee Cave is also home to Ireland's largest display of Falcons, Harris Hawks, Owls, American Kestrels and White Tailed Sea Eagles.

Guided tours of the cave every fifteen minutes. It is an easy walk alongside the hibernation pits of the long extinct uros arctos bears. Over the bridged caverns, under waterfalls, marvel at the stalactites, stalagmites and unusual formations. Climb the mountainside behind the cave to appreciate the landscape spreading out below and walk over the typical limestone pavements to view the spring gentian or mountain avens.

Shop and browse through distinctly different craft shops such as the Farm Shop where cheese, stock jams, chutneys and home made fudge are produced.

Bring the whole family for a fun packed day touring the caves, wandering the majestic Woodland Trails, watching falcons and hawks at the Birds of Prey center or enjoy a peaceful stroll through our Mountain Walks. Visit Aillwee Cave on your next self-drive tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Number Twenty Nine Georgian House Museum

Number Twenty Nine Museum is Dublin's Georgian House Museum. Visitors take a guided tour from the basement to the attic, through rooms which have been furnished with original artefacts as they would have been in the years 1790 to 1820. Number Twenty Nine Lower Fitzwilliam Street was first occupied in 1794, during a time of great change and expansion in Ireland's Capital.

The first occupant was Mrs Olivia Beatty, the widow of a prominent Dublin wine merchant. Visiting the exhibition gives young and old alike a chance to experience what life was like for the fortunate who lived in such elegant townhouses, and the less fortunate who worked in them.

The exhibition is a partnership between Electricity Supply Board and the National Museum of Ireland and has been playing an important role since 1991 in making the history of late Georgian Dublin more accessible.

Visit Number Twenty Nine on your next self-drive tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dunbrody Emigrant Ship

Visitors to New Ross, County Wexford will immediately be drawn to the magnificent sight of masts and rigging of the historic emigrant ship Dunbrody towering over the quayside. Dunbrody is a full scale replica of the original ship which was built in 1845 for the Graves family of New Ross which carried thousands of emigrants from Ireland to North America over a period of thirty years, trading extensively all over the world. The ship itself is a beautiful authentic recreation and visitors will experience the sights, smells and sounds of a tall ship crossing the ocean, as well as meeting the captain and crew and encountering emigrants telling their stories.

Dunbrody recalls the romantic age of sailing ships while giving a unique insight into the mass emigration during the Great Famine. Visit the Dunbrody on your next self-drive vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

National Library of Ireland

Founded in 1877, the National Library of Ireland holds the single most important collection of Irish documentary heritage in the world. Among the treasures held by the library is the collection of Yeats manuscripts and books donated by the poet's family over a number of years.

Every year thousands of people visit the library to carry out family history research. Library material used by family history researchers includes the microfilms of Catholic parish registers, copies of the important nineteenth century land valuations (the Tithe Applotment Books and Griffith's Valuation), trade and social directories, estate records and newspapers.

Whether visiting Ireland to research your family history or to learn more about the literary history of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland is a must see. Book your next self-drive vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old Jameson Distillery

A visit to the Old Jameson Distillery is so much more than just a tour, it is an exciting and engaging experience guaranteed to enlighten and entertain any visitor. Re-live the story of John Jameson & Son through the history, the atmosphere and above all the taste. You will discover the time honored secret of how three simple ingredients: water, barley and yeast are transformed into smooth golden spirit that has always been and continues to be Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Visit the Old Jameson Distillery on your next self-drive tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Athlone Castle

This Norman Castle in Athlone, County Westmeath dominates the town center and commandes the traditional gateway to the West of Ireland. Features exhibitons and audio visual presentations on the siege of Athlone, John Count McCormack, River Shannon wildlife and history with folk and military museums.

Visit Athlone Castle in County Westmeath on your next self-drive tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kells Heritage Town

Located less than 40 miles northwest of Dublin, the heritage town of Kells is a living town over a thousand years old has its ancient and medieval remains everywhere in evidence. A walk through the town will lead visitors to realize that its physical treasures are the monastic layout of the town, the Monastic enclosure with the High Crosses, Round Tower, St. Colmcilles House and the famous Scriptural Market Cross which now dominates the entrance to the Heritage Center.

The monastery at Kells is thought to have been founded around 804 A.D. by monks fleeing from St Colmcille's Iona monastery to escape Viking invasions. The name Book of Kells is derived from the Abbey of Kells in Kells, County Meath, which was its home for much of the medieval period. Today, the Book of Kells can be viewed at Trinity College in Dublin.

Visit the heritage town of Kells on your next self-drive tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dublin City Gallery - The Hugh Lane

Located in Dublin's city center, the Hugh Lane Gallery houses one of Ireland's foremost collections of modern and contemporary art. The original collection, donated by the Gallery's founder Sir Hugh Lane, has grown to almost 2000 artworks, ranging from the Impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to works by leading national and international contemporary artists.

Dublin City Gallery - The Hugh Lane
Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1
Tel: 01-222-5550

Visit The Hugh Lane on your next self-drive tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Best of Britain

Best of Britain
Your Best of Britain Tour Includes:
  • 9 Nights Accommodations
  • Breakfast daily, except day of arrival
  • Car Rental: Group C Standard Shift Car*
Your Best of Britain Itinerary:

Day 1 Arrival at own discretion in London. Collect your hire car and make the short trip to Cambridge. There should be some time to this charming University town with its ancient colleges, stunning architecture and medieval streets. Overnight in the Cambridge area.

Day 2
You might want to spend some more time in the morning discovering Cambridge. Late morning though it is time to depart and head for the north of England. On your way to the North of England we suggest a stop in the Peak District. The Peak District's natural beauty and sheep-grazed crags contrast with the factories of nearby valley towns. Visit Chatsworth House and Gardens, one of Britain's most impressive stately homes. The house has beautiful gardens, landsaped in the 1760s by Capability Brown and developed by the head gardener, Joseph Paxton , in the mid-19th century. Overnight in York/Harrogate area

Day 3
In the morning we will have time to explore York, the quaint town in the North of England. The city of York has retained so much of its medieval structure that walking into its centre is like entering a living museum. Walking through the town you will see the famous York Minster, the largest Gothic church north of the Alps. After exploring York your journey will take you to Edinburgh via Jedburgh and Melrose. Stop at picturesque Jedburgh Abbey to learn about the Augustinian monks who once lived here and Melrose Abbey, once one of the richest abbeys in Scotland. It is here that Robert the Bruce's heart is said to be buried. Overnight in Edinburgh, where you will be staying for 2 nights. 

Day 4 Spend the morning discovering Edinburgh with all its nooks and crannies. Scotland's capital city is really made up of 2 smaller “towns”. Edinburgh's medieval origins were in the narrow cobbled streets around the Royal Mile - a long road linking the 2 ancient royal residences. The city has been the home of great politicians, religious leaders and inventors throughout the centuries. Nearby are the university and the new Scottish Parliament while the city skyline is dominated by the imposing Edinburgh Castle. Later, in contrast, admire the elegant tree-lined crescents of the 18th century “New Town” - built by Robert Adam in the classical style of that era and representing the largest area of conserved Georgian architecture in Europe. Overnight in Edinburgh again.

Day 5 It is time to depart from Edinburgh this morning. You will be crossing the Forth Road Bridge, which offers excellent views over the famous Forth Rail Bridge, dating back to 1890. You will be heading through the ancient Kingdom of Fife on your way north. Make sure to make a stop in the charming market town of Dunkeld with its beautiful old cathedral. From here the scenery becomes more and more rugged as you enter the Highlands. Later that day you reach Aviemore, which lies in the Cairngorm National Park. Overnight in the Aviemore area.

Day 6
From Aviemore this morning, the drive to Inverness and on to Loch Ness will not be long. See if you will be able to spot the famous Loch Ness Monster or if in doubt visit the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition in Drumnadrochit. Follow the loch south passing the town of Fort William which lies in the shadow of Ben Nevis - Britain's highest mountain at 1344 metres. From here take the direct route past Loch Lomond on to Glasgow for overnight.

Day 7 Depart from Glasgow, travelling south over the natural border to England's beautiful Lake District - Lake Windermere is the largest lake in England and the spectacular scenery in the surrounding areas inspired the writer and poet William Wordsworth who lived in the region. Lake Windermere will invite to a boat trip and also Sizergh Castle & Gardens is worth a visit. Originally built in the Middle Ages by the Strickland family, who still live here, this imposing house has an exceptional series of oak-panelled rooms culminating in the Inlaid Chamber. The garden includes two lakes and a superb rock garden. All this is set in a 638ha estate crossed by public footpaths, providing short walks from the castle to dramatic viewpoints over Morecambe Bay and the Lake District. Head south to Liverpool area for overnight.

Day 8
After breakfast travel via Stratford upon Avon towards London. Situated on the west bank of the River Avon, in the heart of the Midlands, is one of the most famous towns in England. Stratford-upon-Avon dates back to at least Roman times but its appearance today is that of a small Tudor market town, with mellow, half-timbered architecture and tranquil walks beside the tree-fringed Avon. This image belies its popularity as the most visited tourist attraction outside London, with eager hordes flocking to see buildings connected to William Shakespeare or his descendants. We will visit Shakespeare's Birthplace, which was almost entirely reconstructed in the 19th century, but in the style of the Tudor original. Overnight in the Bath area.

Day 9 After breakfast we will explore Bath. Bath owes its magnificent Georgian townscape to the bubbling pool of water at the heart of the Roman Baths. The Romans transformed Bath into England's first spa resort and it regained fame as a spa town in the 18th century. At this time the two brilliant John Woods, both architects, designed the city's fine Palladian-style buildings. Many houses bear plaques recording the numerous famous people who have resided here. In the afternoon you can travel to Stonehenge for an unforgettable visit. Stonehenge built in several stages from about 3000BC, is Europe's most famous prehistoric monument. We can guess at the rituals that took place here, but the alignment of the stones leaves little doubt that the circle is connected with the sun and the passing of the seasons. Overnight again in the Bath area.

Day 10
Departure day. Travel to London and the airport for departure. Please note that travelling time from Bath to London Heathrow will be at least two hours.

*Upgrades to automatic and larger cars available for a supplement.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wonderful Devon and Cornwall Independent Vacation

Wonderful Devon and Cornwall

An opportunity to join us on a Devon & Cornwall Tour, to discover miles of dramatic Atlantic Coastline with clean sandy beaches, hidden coves, pretty fishing villages, wooded river valleys and bustling market towns in Devon and Cornwall.

Your Wonderful Devon and Cornwall Tour Includes:

* 5 Nights Accommodations
* Breakfast daily, except day of arrival
* Car Rental: Group C Standard Shift Car*

*Upgrades to automatic and larger cars available for a supplement.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Winchester Cathedral

One of the largest cathedrals in England, Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire, England is a beautiful Gothic cathedral dating back to 1097. Most tourists visit for the buried remains of author Jane Austen, but the soaring Perpendicular Gothic nave of Winchester Cathedral, the longest in England, is the highlight of the building.

For over a thousand years, people have come to seek inspiration in this magnificent Cathedral. Today, over 300,000 visitors a year come to the Winchester Cathedral to worship, explore the heritage and attend events.

Things to do at the Winchester Cathedral

See the crypt
Step down into the crypt where you’ll find Antony Gormley’s famous sculpture Sound II. This mysterious life-size statue of a man contemplating the water held in his cupped hands is the work of the celebrated British sculptor Antony Gormley. You can find Sound II, fashioned from lead out of a plaster cast of the artist’s own body, in the Cathedral crypt, which floods during rainy months.

Tour the Tower
Climb the 213 steps to the top of the tower and experience magnificent views across Winchester and the county. You will see the ringing chamber, the great Cathedral bells and walk the full length of the nave roof with its huge wood beams.

See the Winchester Bible
The Winchester Bible is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles. A single scribe wrote out its text in Latin, while artists worked its exquisitely illuminated capital letters. Their glowing colors, including gold and lapis lazuli, are as intense today as 800 years ago.

Marvel at the Great Screen
The ornate, soaring 15th-century stone screen behind the high altar is one of the most important monuments of the period. The original painted statues that once adorned its carved niches are gone, destroyed in the Reformation, but you can see a few glorious survivals in the Triforium Gallery, including a magnificent head of God the Father.

Find Jane Austen
Read the ledgerstone at the grave of Jane Austen, the great English novelist who lived and wrote in Hampshire.

Travel on Celtic Tours Wonderful Devon and Cornwall self-drive tour of England for a chance to visit this amazing cathedral.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Visit the Ancient City of Matera

Matera is a small city in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. Matera is considered one of the most enchanting places in the world, a unique example of cultural tradition and civilation stretching back to the Neolithic age."

Matera has gained international fame for its “Sassi”. The Sassi originated from a prehistoric (troglodyte) settlement, and are suspected to be some of the first settlements in Italy. The numerous natural caves in Matera were the first houses of the Neolithic inhabitants of the region.

The Sassi are houses dug into the tuff rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Apulia. Many of these “houses” are really only caverns, and the streets in some parts of the Sassi often are located on the rooftops of other houses. One of the peculiarity of this ancient city, is that there is a great similarity with the ancient sites in and around Jerusalem.

This has caught the eye of film directors and movie studios. Principally due this reason the Sassi were the set of many film, as for example “The Gospel According to St Matthew” (Pasolini,1964), “King David” (Bruce Beresford,1985), “The Passion of the Christ" (Gibson, 2004) and "The Nativity Story" (Hardwicke, 2006). Matera is also a Unesco heritage site.

Visit Matera on your next Celtic Tours vacation to Italy. We offer many vacations to Italy whether you are looking for an escorted tour to Italy or an independent self-drive tour of Italy, give us a call at 1-800-833-4373 to start planning your Italian Vacation today!

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