A tour of Ireland presented by the Brobdingnagian Bards of Austin, TX, USA
8 day tour, dates : June 5th until June 12th
Marc Gunn and Andrew McKee, The Brobdingnagian Bards, commonly known as “The Bards” have been performing together for for 10 years and have become a favorite at Renaissance Faires where they add high-energy and wit to make every show a memorable experience.
Their energy, wit and unique show of songs and music from Celtic and Renaissance Roots is now combining with a Celtic Ways tour of Ireland to merge their music and fun with Ireland’s traditions, legends, mythology and mystery.
This tour of Ireland is much, much more than a formatted snap, shop and move on type of tour that seems romantic and scenic in the tour brochures but actually lands you into very crowded “made for tourists” sites.
Our Nagians Bardic tour truly gets into the heart of Ireland. In addition to travelling through and visiting sites of breathtaking beauty our travellers will be able to learn and involve themselves in traditions and crafts handed down through Irish families for 100s, sometimes 1000s, of years.
Being a Bardic tour we’ll also have lots of fun joining up with singing bards around Ireland, traditional musicians, entertaining storytellers and passionate poets in village pubs, country house drawing rooms and amongst traditional cottage fireside ceilis.
Add to this a mix of comfortable hotels ranging from preserved country houses with romantic gardens to the new trend of boutique hotels that seamlessly combine tradition with modern art, decor and comfort.
Also Ireland is not just a country of Guinness, and you will have every opportunity to drink that famous stout. We will eat at restaurants serving food prepared by tops chefs providing wonderful presentations based on traditional food made from local meats, fish and local grown produce. If you are vegetarian, vegan or have special diet needs, absolutely no problem as good food still await you. Finish this off with wonderful wine lists, as Ireland was actually a top wine importing and drinking nation for many hundreds of years before Guinness was invented.
Overall, The Nagian Bardic Tour is a tour that combines adventure and country traditions with comfort fine dining, and endless fun from a range of entertainment. All this at a surprisingly good value price for this standard of tour.
Please read our itinerary and then use the link below to find out how you can come aboard
Day 1, Thursday, June 5 th
Journey To Gougane Barra, Co. Cork
At Dublin Airport our guide, John of Celtic Ways will gather us together and introduce us to Tom, our bus driver. While at the airport you can use atms and buy cell phone packages
We will then hit the road to start our adventure by travelling towards Co. Cork.
Our destination is Gougane Barra, one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. This is a perfect place to be for your first day to catch up on jet lag and provide a feeling that you are truly on vacation in Ireland.
Gougane Barra is a small village grown from an ancient monastic site set on a lake in a breathtaking mountain valley. Its name means “Cailleach (pronounced the same as kayak) Beara’s retreat in the mountains”, a name given by St. Finbarr who built the monastery here in the 6th century.
This peaceful place is rarely too busy. The hotel includes a lovely traditional bar, quaint cafe and nice gift shop. Feel free to stroll around the ancient monastery, holy wells, pretty chapel on the lake, and what must be the most unique bathrooms in Ireland, maybe the world. There is also a beautiful nearby forest park for those who seek some walking exercise and some adventure to kick off your vacation.
Goughan Barra lake is also the source of the River Lee that flows into Cork Harbour. There is a famous Irish song connected to this river that you will probably hear on this journey.
Dinner will be at the hotel.
Journey time from Dublin to Goughan Barra is about 4 hours so we’ll take a rest stop for lunch, for about an hour, at somewhere interesting half way.
Day 2, Friday, June 6 th
This is a day dedicated to touring one of the most beautiful peninsulas of Ireland. Most people visiting Co. Kerry automatically tour the Ring Of Kerry, but the Beara Peninsula will surprise you with its outstanding scenic treasures and is mysteries from the ancient past.
We commence with a visit to Uragh stone circle and we assure you that an interest in ancient megalithic sites is not required. This intriguing remote 4000 year old relic is set in magnificent scenery between two lakes and surrounded by waterfall flowing mountains. This is wonderful wild Ireland scenery.
After leaving Uragh we pass through the beautiful serene harbour village of Lauragh and inwards toward the most spectacular of the peninsula’s landscapes, and the most spectacular of Ireland’s landscapes. Climbing up mountain roads we look down into beautiful green valleys of lakes and winding rivers.
We then descend through the breathtaking Healy Pass, an ambitious curling snake like road built during the famine years to allow starving people to reach food. The road engineering here is a marvel.
Our lunch stop is in the quaint fishing small town of Castletownberehaven, with its famous landmark “McCarthy’s Bar” featured in the best selling book by Pete McCarthy.
After our lunch stop and exploration of Castletownberehaven we head back to Kenmare along the peninsula’s spectacular north coast. Time allowing we can stop at optional ancient sites on the way such as the very tall Ogham Writing stone near Eyeries, the Hag Of Beara Stone, and the scenic Ardgroom Stone Circle that is featured on many Ireland Calendars, music album covers and within period movies.
Our accommodation for the night is the Lansdowne Arms, a comfortable and peaceful restored traditional hotel in a quieter part of Kenmare, Co. Kerry, one of the prettiest small towns in Ireland.
With less than 5 minutes walk you’ll be into the delightful nightlife of the town, a truly Irish Craic, and the Brobdingnagian Bards will be entertaining here within a session or two.
Day 3, Saturday, June 7 th
The Jolly Blennerville Windmill & Light Railway, Co. Kerry
Our trek today is from Kenmare to Adare, but by lunchtime we will arrive and stop awhile at the Blennerville Windmill, near Tralee.
Today, Blennerville Windmill is one of only 3 remaining working windmills in Ireland. As well as a demonstration of its workings and associated gift shop this is a fine place for stopping for lunch.
Built in 1800 by Englishman Sir Rowland Blennerhassett who set up a thriving local industry through grinding local grown grains and exporting the flour to England. This business lasted until 1850 and soon after the mill became a derelict. Now it has been rebuilt and re-opened as a working grinding mill again since 1990.
Passing by the windmill was the Tralee to Dingle light railway, that was closed to passengers in 1939 because the bus service was faster but remained open to transport cattle until 1950. In 1993 a section of this ancient railway was open between Tralee and Blennerville and service restored with an original steam locomotive and coaches. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago the owners ran out of cash and the line was closed again.
During this winter new owners took over and have overhauled the locomotive, railway line and its coaches. They hope to re-open by May 2008, so we hope we will be able to book you onto a ride, back in time, between Blennerville and Tralee.
From Tralee we continue to Adare, Co. Limerick, one of Ireland’s most charming villages full of thatched cottages and Tudor houses. along with medieval monasteries, gothic manor, wishing pool and beautiful medieval bridge replacing the ford that gave Adare its name, Ath Dara, Ford of The Oaks.
Here our accommodation is “Woodlands House” on the banks of the River Mague. While here, browse the town and its traditional buildings and pubs or relax in the hotel’s pool, leisure centre and spa that includes a Turkish mud chamber, highly recommended for couples, plus a relaxation rock pool and crystal chamber
Day 4, Sunday, June 8 th
Brigit’s Garden, Co. Galway
We will depart from Adare quite early so that we arrive for a very special afternoon at Brigit’s Garden in Co. Galway. along with a refreshment break on the way.
We should arrive at Brigit’s Garden around 2:00 pm for a very welcome healthy lunch from the garden’s excellent cafe.
Brigit’s Garden is a mesmerising sculptured garden that beautifully portrays the traditions of the four ancient fire festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa. Other wonders include a passage cairn with wind chimes, fairy fort, tree sculptures and the largest sundial in Ireland that tells both time and date. If the afternoon is dry the Brobdingnagian Bards will perform from within the sundial, a wonderful photo and video opportunity. As there so much to see and do here, you will probably wish to explore the gardens until closing time at 5:00 pm.
After leaving the wonders of Brigit’s Garden we will enjoy a beautiful scenic drive through the pass between the Joyce Country and Maumturk mountains of Co. Galway until we reach Leenaun where Ireland’s only Fjord lough enters the valley.
At Leenaun we will check into the Leenane Hotel where we will enjoy dinner. Leenane Hotel is a traditional Irish hotel that has recently been rebuilt to adjust to our modern needs. After dinner you will enjoy exploring the pretty village with local craft shops that open late and nice bars that spring into spontaneous music sessions during most evenings.
Day 5, Monday, June 9 th
Once Upon A Time in Co. Mayo
The day starts with a beautiful tour around Killary Harbour Lough, the fjord, then through the Mweelrea mountain pass into the lakeside Doo Lough pass onto onto Clew Bay coastline with its over 300 islands
We will pass the famous sacred pyramid shaped mountain of Croagh Patrick and arrive in time for a lunch and shopping break in olde Westport a top award winning town.
Departing at around 2:30 pm we will head for Hennigan's Heritage Centre within beautiful rural Mayo countryside.
From his restored family thatched cottage Tom shares and spins colourful stories of his family, childhood and the lives of old Mayo. From his cottage we wander through the wonders of collections he now presents through his former farm buildings, and each collection is accompanied by more colourful stories. Within two magical hours you’ll feel that you have not only learned about all of Ireland, its heritage and history but traveled through it too.
Your heritage journey will not stop there. First, we will check into our hotel, Murphy’s of Tobercurry, a quaint country town hotel that has recently been tastefully re-furbished. Then, we can look forward to an fun packed unforgettable evening of supper, ceili and session night at Kiloran’s of Tobercurry, a small Co. Sligo town/ You’ll probably be swigging Guinness, dancing and playing the spoons until the wee hours of the morning.
Day 6, Tuesday, June 10 th
Another World in Co. Sligo
In the morning we head towards and into the Bricklieve mountains, that look like a scene from Tibet, and transfer into mini buses that will climb the dirt track to below the Carrowkeel Cairns.
These ancient passage cairn cells, dating back over 5500 years, are quite an experience to enter and spend some time in. Many visitors write back to to Celtic Ways to say it was the best experience of their tour.
Outside of the cairns, on a clear day, visitors can view more than a third of Ireland. If time allows, we will also visit a nearby remote Donkey Sanctuary where we can get close and make friends with the donkeys
We then descend these sacred mountains to spend some time at John and Claire’s Carrowcrory Cottage theater for lunch, a concert performance by singer harpist Claire Roche and special guest friends. This will be outdoors if the weather is kind. There are stunning views from Carrowcrory, especially of Ceis Coarrann, the sacred mountain of Morrigan and legends almost identical to the Arthurian legends of Glastonbury.
On our journey to our hotel, Cromleach Lodge, we will travel around Ceis Coarran and pass the Keash Caves. Dinner will also be at Cromleach Lodge, prepared by one of the finest chef’s in Ireland.
Staying at Cromleach Lodge is quite special due to its panoramic view of Knocknarea mountain of Maeve, Ceis Coarrann mountain of Morrigan, Bricklieve Mountains home of the Carrowkeel Cairns and the surreal views of Lough Arrow.
Day 7, Tuesday, June 11 th
Masks & Mischief in Co. Fermanagh
This is a day we enter into Northern Ireland, but on the way we will stop at Shannon Pot, the source of the Shannon. This is a a beautiful remote spring pool surrounded by willow and other trees. From the pool a fast flowing stream commences the journey of the Shannon through Ireland through to its estuary, close to where we crossed by ferry a few days before.
After a picnic style lunch at Knockninny, beside Lough Erne island lake. This is one of the largest lakes in Ireland and many think it is the most scenic. Our picnic will be below one of the seven fairy hills of Ireland and when we finish we will call upon the local Augha Maude Killy men of straw who will guide our afternoon.
With this traditional folk drama troupe we will discover and take part in traditional folk drama that has survived in the region since ancient times, learn how to make straw costumes and join in traditional dances. Our time at Augh Maude Killy will finish with music ceili with local Fermanagh musicians joining in with the Brobdingnagian Bards. What a wonderful time we will have as we learn and join in several traditions that these people are teaching so that they may never be forgotten.
We will then return through beautiful Co. Cavan and Co. Leitrim countryside of rolling hills, lakes and rivers back to our accommodation at Cromleach Lodge and enjoy another outstanding meal prepared by their top chefs.
Day 8, Tuesday, June 12 th
The Road To Tara Hill
How about completing your tour of Ireland with some time at Tara Hill, once the capital of Ireland that was the court of the country’s High Kings for about 3000 years. Dublin has been Ireland’s capital for only 800 years. The main difference was that Tara Hill was the capital of all of Ireland when the land changed names through Fodhla, Banba and Erin.
After breakfast at Cromleach Lodge we will travel to Tara Hill in Co. Meath. Our guide, John of Celtic Ways, will guide you through the stories of Tara starting amongst the long mounds where the fire festival “Banqueting Hall” was built, onto Rath Of Grainne with fascinating connections to where we stayed and explored in Co. Sligo, then to honour the “wishing tree” that some call “fairy tree” that we hope may still be in blossom when we visit. Next we approach the High King’s Royal court and its fascinating legends of the throne stones that once appointed the kings there. From the Royal Court we visit the “Mound of Hostages” the oldest site on Tara Hill that is also home to a fascinating carved stone. John’s fascinating tour then completes at the “Adamson’s Stone” with its Sheela Na Gig sculpture.
You will then have some free time to explore the gift shops, book shops and cafes around Tara Village.
After an hour or so we will gather again to visit the White Cow sacred well just outside the village as a kind of farewell to the past week’s journey into ancient myths, legends, and traditions of rural Ireland.
From Tara Hill we return to Dublin where we will stay at the Deer Park Hotel, Howth, north of Dublin. This hotel is in the grounds of Howth Castle that HG Wells claimed as having the best view in the world. From here you can explore Howth and maybe join a session such as at the traditional Abbey Tavern, take a trip to Dublin as the frequent and inexpensive Dart railway operates from the castle gates, or simply relax and enjoy the view and the abundance of flowers that will be blooming at this time.
Before you jump into the night life, we hope you will join us for a farewell tour dinner at Deer Park’s fine restaurant.
How To Come On Board Our Tour
This will be passed to the Brobdingnagian Bards who will reply with details of pricing, additional information and how to book and travel with us. We look forward to sharing this wonderful tour with you.