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Literary Tour of Ireland

Certain writers have made parts of Ireland particularly their own. John Synge’s tramps trudged through every part of the Wicklow hills, while West Kerry and the Aran Islands offered him material about a way of life that had not been previously recorded in written literature. The shabby streets of Dublin gave Joyce and Sean O’ Casey their material. Although Sligo is the main spring of Yeats’ imagination, much of his later poetry focused on the land of limestone wind bent trees and ancient towns a hundred miles sough around East Galway and Clare. Oliver Goldsmith from Westmeath is associated with Dublin and Trinity College with one of his comic masterpiece the Bicar of Wakefield which was translated in to more languages than any other novel in the 18th century.

Embark on a Customized Literary Tour of Ireland or travel on our Suggested Itinerary below:

DAY 1 ARRIVE DUBLIN

Enjoy a literary pub crawl in Ireland’s capital city. The two and a half hour show features professional actors performing the works of Dublin’s great writers while guiding you around the city’s most famous literary haunts.

Dublin was recently named a city of literature by the cultural arm of the United Nations (UNESCO). Explore its many famous literary highlights such as the Hugh Lane Gallery, which 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 now grown to include almost 2000 artworks, ranging from the Impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to works by leading national and international contemporary artists.

Your visit to the Gallery will also include the Francis Bacon Exhibition. The most spectacular recent acquisition is Francis Bacon’s & Reece Mews studio donated to the Gallery by John Edwards, together with its entire contents numbering over 7000 items. Bacon is one of the finest figurative artists ever and one of the greatest European painters of the twentieth century. Afterwards, have some refreshments in the coffee shop in the Gallery.

Next, visit the Dublin Writers Museum. In 1991 the Dublin Writers Museum was opened to house a history and celebration of literary Dublin. Situated in a magnificent 18th century mansion in the north city center, the collection features the lives and works of Dublin’s literary celebrities over the past three hundred years. Swift, Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett are among those presented through their books, letters, portraits and personal items. The splendidly resorted Georgian house is a pleasure in itself with its sumptuous plaster work and decorative stained -glass windows.

Your final literary visit today is at the James Joyce Center. The Center is dedicated to the promotion of a greater interest in the life and works of James Joyce. The Guinness Reference Library houses an extensive collection of Joyce’s works, Joycean criticisms and books relating to Dublin. Facilities include a well-stocked bookshop with a vast range of Joycean books and gifts and an Education Programme.

DAY 2 DUBLIN

This morning a city sightseeing tour will introduce you to this capital city with its many historic buildings, delightful gardens and lively shopping streets. In Dublin the traveller finds his literary ghosts everywhere, from Behan’s pubs to Becketts Foxrock to Patrick Kavanagh’s stretch of the canal, even brooding Dublin Castle where Edmund Spenser worked while writing part of the faerie Queen. The Castle is also scene of the climax of George Moore’s Drama in Muslin and for the vivid opening passage of Sean O’ Casey’s autobiography, where the sick child watches the procession of carriages bound for the vice-regal ball.

In St. Patricks Cathedral, the presence of Jonathan Swift is far more impressive than the tattered banners and battle monuments. Other buildings associated with Swift are Trinity College, Marsh’s library and St Patricks Hospital which he founded ‘for the reception of aged lunaticks and other diseased persons’.
Oscar Wilde’s plays first appeared in London, and there he is not hugely associated with the Abbey theatre fostered by Yeats, Lady Gregory and friends. Sheridan Le Fanu wrote many of his ghostly fantasies and Bram Stoker found inspiration for his horror stories in the gas-lit city.

Then onto the Dublin’s Writers Museum. Housed in two restored eighteenth century buildings, the museum’s exhibits focus on Ireland’s many great writers, including Dublin’s three Noble Prize winners for literature – George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats – as well as a host of others. The displays tell the story of Irish literature with a collection of rare editions, manuscripts and memorabilia. The museum also houses the Irish Writers’ Centre, a meeting place for contemporary scribes!

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure so that you can browse, shop and sightsee independently. There are a great variety of things to see and do in this capital city. Cultural attractions include the National Museum, the National Gallery, Dublin Castle and the Municipal Art Gallery. Weather permitting, take a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square and the surrounding Georgian streets. If you are interested in shopping head for Grafton Street, Nassau Street and the Powerscourt Centre where many stores and boutiques specialized in Irish goods are to be found.

DAY 3 DUBLIN

Today enjoy a tour of South Country Dublin & Wicklow. Traveling via the pretty coastal towns of Dun Laoghaoire and Dalkey your driver will point out the areas of literary interest en route to the ‘Garden of Ireland”.

Wicklow is known as “The Garden of Ireland”, not because of its domesticity but because of the huge variety of landscapes it contains. Expanses of bog cover the higher slopes of the mountains in ever-changing hues. In the valleys ruined castles provide shelter for the hardy local breed of sheep and the tea-coloured rivers are teeming with trout. The flinty character of Wicklow granite must have inspired the hermit St. Kevin to situate his sixth-century monastery in remote and lovely Glendalough. The round tower, built as a refuge from the Vikings who looted Glendalough at intervals from the ninth century onwards, looks as if it has grown out of the very earth itself.

Close to the round tower is St. Kevin’s Church with a 12th century bell tower projecting from its roof. The bell tower is oddly shaped and resembles a chimneystack, thus the colloquialism of St. Kevin’s Kitchen. St. Kevin’s Kitchen and Cross are highlights of this monastery. Visit the Heritage Center and watch the audio visual which helps explain monastic life. Drive through Roundwood which is the highest village in Ireland

Return to Dublin for an evening theatre performance.

DAY 4 DUBLIN – GALWAY

Leaving Dublin travel across Ireland from east to west today. The West has the Autograph as a relic remembering, Yeats, Synge and George Russell in the once stately home of Lady Gregory. Travelling north you see the diminutive state of Padraic O Connaire sitting in Eyre Square in Galway. You trace part of Synges career to The Aran Islands, birthplace of Liam O Flaherty. Connemara evokes the novels and autobiographic writings of George Moore. Further north is the burial place of the 18th century blind bard Turlough O’ Carolan at Kilronan Abbey before reaching Sligo with its strange flat-topped mountain teeming with ancient legend and Yeatsian associations.

On route you can visit Thoor Ballylee which is located in Gort just south of Galway City. This restored 16th- Century Norman Tower House was the Summer Home of W.B. Yeats. Yeats described the house as “a tower set by a stream’s edge”; ur served as the inspiration for his poems “The Winding Stair” and “The Tower”. In the interpretive centre, and audiovisual presentation examines the poet’s life.

See the principal sights of Galway a drive around will take you to the large modern cathedral set on an island on the River Corrib. See the Spanish Arch in the Claddagh area, formerly a fishing village, and Lynchs Castle, which was a prosperous merchant’s house dating from the 13th century and is now a bank.

DAY 5 ARAN ISLANDS

This morning you will travel the short distance to Rossaveal where you will take a ferry to Inishmor – the largest of the Aran Islands. The three islands are an extension of the Burren, Co. Clare, about 30 miles out from Galway. They are rocky and barren, with small holdings divided by unmortared stone walls. Pockets of soil have been manufactured by the islanders from sand and seaweed, to grow scanty crops for livestock. The islands connected with Galway by air and ferry, are Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer. Renowned for preserving traditional ways of life, they have been celebrated in the writings of JM Synge and in the 1934 film Man of Aran. Fishing, the islands main industry, is done from currachs, frail-looking boats of laths and tarred canvas.Gaelic is the principal language, and many of the summer visitors are language students.

The islands’ capital is Kilronan on Inishmore. Also on the island is Dun Aengus, most important for the group’s antiquities: a dramatic semi-circular stone fort on the edge of a sheer 300 feet cliff. Its date and purpose are unknown. Enjoy a local minibus tour of the island, and some time on your own to explore.

Return on the late afternoon ferry. Tonight enjoy the Medieval Banquet at Dunguaire Castle, located south of the city. The banquet is served daily and the entertainment draws heavily on the works of W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and the Blind Poet Rafferty.

DAY 6 GALWAY – SLIGO

Depart Galway City and head northwards through Co. Mayo and into Co. Sligo. Sligo is regarded as Yeats country, and as such most of Sligo’s attractions are associated in some way with the poet. Some of the places of interest you will see today include the Yeats Memorial Building, which is located in a 19th Century red-brick Victroian building, this memorial contains an extensive library with items of special interest to Yeatsean scholars. The building is also headquarters of the Yeats International Summer School, and the Sligo Art Gallery.

In the churchyard at Drumcliffe, where his great-grandfather had been rector, is W.B Yeats’ grave. Although he died in Roquebrune in the south of France in 1939, his body was interred here in 1948 as he had wished. The site under the square escarpment of Benbulben by the Drumcliff River was also chosen by St. Columba for the foundation of a monastery in about 575, the round tower was damaged by lightning in 1396, the high cross, which was probably erected in 1000, shows Adam and Eve, Cain killing Abel, Daniel in the Lions’ Den and Christ in Glory on the east face, and the Presentation in the Temple and the Crucifixion on the west.

You may also like to visit the Sligo County Museum & Art Gallery, which devotes one section to the poet’s work. The section includes a display of Yeat’s complete works in first editions, poems on broadsheets, letters and his Nobel Prize for literature (1923 ).

DAY 7 SLIGO – DUBLIN

Depart Sligo and head east across the country to Dublin City. As you head towards Dublin you will travel through Co. Meath where you can visit the Bru na Boinne Centre. The Bru na Boinne Visitors Centre located south of the river Boyne, 2 KM west of the village of Donore houses many exciting exhibitions, the most spectacular of which is a full-scale replica of the passage and chamber at Newgrange. Other displays include: how the megalithic monuments were constructed, information on the way of life of the Neolithic builders, their homes, their religious beliefs and their art.

All visitors come through the Visitors Centre. They then have the choice to remain in the visitors Centre, where they can enjoy the many exhibits and the dramatic views of the valley, have a coffee and walk down to the River Boyne. The other choices include a visit to Newgrange and or Knowth. To get to the monuments, the visitors cross a pedestrian bridge over the Boyne and after a 10 minute walk arrive at a bus shelter where a free mini bus service brings them to the monuments.

At Newgrange and at Knowth, guides are on hand to bring visitors around the sites. Visitors to Newgrange are be brought inside the megalithic chamber and visitors to Knowth are brought around the exterior of the monuments, seeing at first hand Europe’s greatest collection of Neolithic art.

Continue to Dublin where you may enjoy a night at the Abbey Theatre.

DAY 8 DEPART

Sadly, today your Irish vacation has come to its final day. Return to Dublin airport in plenty of time to check in for your flight. You may do some last minute shopping at the duty free stores.

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