Sample Irish Itinerary
All elements can be adapted to meet guests' interests and schedules
Nature and Culture, History and Politics
An immersion in Irish life, past and present, from Dublin to Galway via Wicklow in eight days.
Day One: evening arrival
Paddy greets group at airport, and accompanies to hotel or hostal check-in.
Dinner at Brazen Head, a pub which claims to have been established in 1198 (and is certainly several centuries old!).
Stories of a City, Story of Ireland
The history of Ireland through the history of oldest quarter of the city, Stoneybatter, and of the adjacent green area, the largest walled urban park in Europe, the Phoenix Park
Suggested reading: Stoneybatter, Saints, and the Instability of History.
9.30 am Bus picks up from hostel and drives to Paddy’s home in Stoneybatter.
9.45 am: Paddy’s presentation on the history -- and ecology -- of Phoenix Park and Stoneybatter, and how they reflect in microcosm on the whole city and nation.
11.15 am Walking to Arbour Hill UN Veterans Memorial, and the monument to the 1916 leaders graves in the form of the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic, engraved in stone.
11.45 am Driving tour through Phoenix Park. Bus drives us past Wellington Monument to the Magazine Fort, linked to the 1916 insurrection; then through the centre of the park via the President’s residence, formerly the residence of the British Viceroy, and said to be a model for the White House, and past the scene of the historically important Phoenix Park Murders in 1882. Then to the Furry Glen, to start a walk to Visitors Centre via the Papal Cross and the American Ambassador’s Residence. Nature and culture, politics and religion, and recreation as well, in a single urban space.
1.30 pm Lunch at Visitors Centre. Optional individual visits to Interpretative Centre there. Possible visit to Ashdown Castle.
2.30 pm Bus returns picks us up at Visitors’ Centre, drives us to the National Museum at Collins Barracks, where we visit the Asgard room, and the 1916 centenary exhibition, and walk through the museum grounds to Croppy Acre Park.
3.30 pm. Free time, bus available to take group to city centre for shopping. Rest at hostel also an option.
6.30 Meet at hostel.
7.00 pm Traditional music at the Cobble Stone pub.
8.30 pm Dinner at the Merchant O’Sheas pub
Dublin: the centre of the city from north to south – Writers, Rebels, and National Identity (Identities)
9.15 am Bus pick up at hostel, to 22 Manor Place for
9.30 am PW presentation: “Literature and the Invention of Ireland” with screening of clip from ‘Secret of Kells’ animation movie.
10.45 am Bus to the Garden of Remembrance. Walk via Moore Street Market, to the General Post Office. Writers and the 1916 Insurrection, today’s multi-cultural Ireland.
Continue walking across the Liffey to Trinity College.
12.15 pm Trinity College and the Book of Kells. The long journey from the Book of Kells through Gaelic literature to Hiberno-English culture.
Lunch 1.30 pm
2.30 pm Bus to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Imperial relics, Dean Swift’s legacy.
3.15 pm Bus picks us up at Cathedral and takes us to:
3.30 pm Visit Guinness Storehouse, with a state of the art exhibition on production and marketing of an ambiguous national treasure, and panoramic views from the Gravity Bar back to the Phoenix Park and all across the city.
5.30 pm Bus picks us up at Storehouse, transfer to Gaelscoil (Irish language school) and St Finbarr’s Gaelic Athletic Association club in Cabra. Discussion of the role of the Irish language and traditional sports in a troubled but resilient urban working class community.
7.45 Bus transfer to Dinner.
9.30. Walk back to hostel
The Valleys of Glendalough and Glenmalure in Co. Wickow: From the Ice Age to the Age of Revolution, passing through medieval monasteries and an analogy with Afghanistan
8.30 am Bus departs Dublin for Glendalough, arrive at hostel 10ish. Check in to hostal.
11 am PW presentation at the hostal: History of the valleys, history of Ireland – glaciers – pristine wilderness or industrial wasteland?; St Kevin – gentle friend of nature, or patron saint of domestic violence?; Vikings – barbarians or modernisers?; Michael Dwyer and 1798 – patriot or terrorist?; narratives of the nation, national paradoxes; Writers in Wicklow from JM Synge to Seamus Heaney;
Coda: fauna and flora for our hike.
Background reading: Synge’s Travels in Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara, preface by PW. I really recommend you get at least one copy of this book, it is a lovely production with the Jack B Yeats images; selected Heaney poems:
St Kevin and the Blackbird: http://vimeo.com/5016950
The Glanmore Sonnets http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178023
11.45 am: Walk to explore 12th century monastery city.
12.30 pm Picnic at will, visit crafts shops etc at will
2.00 pm: Hike the Spink route over the upper lake at Glendalough, and continue via the summit of Mullacor to Glenmalure, Michael Dwyer’s rock, and the Glenmalure Lodge.
7.00 pm Pub supper in Glenmalure lodge (Michael Dwyer and 1798 memorabilia, possibility of traditional music)
9.00 pm. Bus driver transfer group to hostel at 9.15pm.
The coast of Wicklow: Restoring ancient woodlands; house of Cromwell, garden of flowers; more flowers in a dynamic dune system; beach time; finishing up in gaol.
8.30 am Bus picks up at hostel, travels to:
9 am: Presentation in PW home, Glenmalure
Bringing back the ancient woodlands? Ecological restoration, from Wisconsin to Wicklow. Who took our green cape? – nationalist narratives, revisionist versions. The People’s Millennium Forest, scam or shining light? Kilmacurragh – a carpet of orchids, a Big House with a lot of history – and a microclimate. Buckroney’s dunes, where the earth still moves.
Background reading: Chapter 7, ‘The Last of our Woods Laid Low?’ from Paddy’s book “Our Once and Future Planet”.
Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? The lament for Cill Chais, translated by Thomas Kinsella
10.45. am Bus to People’s Millennium Forest, Ballygannon, short woodland walk and talk with Declan Little, Director Woodlands of Ireland
11.45 am, Bus to Kilmacurragh National Botanic Gardens, arriving noon. Its restoration meadows, its Chinese and Chilean collection, its ruined Anglo-Irish Big House (connections to Cromwell, and to the Nazis!) Students free to wander freely after introduction from Paddy, but may be set simple ‘discovery’ tasks.
1.15 pm Bus to Buckroney, arrive 1.30. A nature reserve full of orchids and dynamic sand-dunes. Conflict of interest with neighbouring golf course. Opportunity to swim, but it will be cold!
3.15 pm Bus to Wicklow Gaol, arrive 3.45: Two centuries of Irish history within walls, from a priest imprisoned for saying Mass in Penal Law times, to a Republican leader (and father of a future President) executed by the newly independent government during the Civil War. http://wicklowshistoricgaol.com/about-wicklow-jail/history/
5.15 pm – 5.30 pm aprox discussion of prison visit, and day’s other events, on the bus.
5.30 pm Walk to restaurant via Black Castle, where we will pause for relaxation, photographs. Watch out for Sammy the Seal on return walk along docks.
6.30 pm Pub supper in restaurant in the Bridge, Wicklow.
8.30 pm Bus to hostel in Glendalough, via Glenmalure.
Overnight in Glendalough
Galway – ‘City of the Tribes’, heart of traditional and contemporary Irish culture; a drive into Connemara and a walk by the Atlantic in the tranquility of Dog’s Bay.
8.30 am departure from Glendalough. Arrive Galway 11.30 am/noon. PW presentation on the bus: “The West” – seductive horizon of the Irish – and international—imaginations.
Noon. Check into hostel.
12.30 – 1.00 pm Walk Eyre Square, Shop Street, Quay Street, Spanish Arch, stopping at Lynch’s Castle.
1.00 pm Lunch
2.00 pm – 4.30 pm Free time in city, shopping etc
4.30 pm Bus Drive through Connemara to Roundstone.
Relax/swim/hike at Dog’s Bay if weather permits.
7.00 pm Seafood supper in Roundstone.
8.30 pm Bus return to Galway, arrive in city 10 pm.
Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands: one of the last areas where the Irish language is spoken as a daily means of communication. But is it a stronghold of Gaelic culture, or a declining “Indian reservation”? We finish the tour at a huge and enigmatic neolithic fortress on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic.
8.30 am Leave hostel, bus to Ros a' Mhíl ferry port.
10.30 am Boat trip to Inis Mor.
11.00 am. The manager of the island Co-Op will meet us at the boat, and bring us to her offices, where we will learn about the twin challenges of island life, and living through a minority language. She will also arrange a meeting with young native Irish speakers from the island.
12.30 pm lunch
1.30 pm Cycle across the island to Dún Aonghasa and back. Attractions range from wild flowers to Atlantic views to beaches to a spectacular cliff fortification, which may date back to 1100 BC.
4.00 pm or 5.00 pm Boat departs to Ros a' Mhíl, bus transfers group to Galway City, arriving an hour later.
8 pm Goodbye dinner in Galway City. Opportunity for closing comments from tutors, group, guide.
After dinner, visit to The Crane Bar, for traditional music.
Bus Return direct to Dublin airport next day for DEPARTURE.