By: MacKenzie Healy, Travel Consultant
My family has always wanted to visit Ireland to know our heritage better. We chose Focus on Ireland with Insight Vacations for a number of reasons. First, the extra legroom on the luxury motor coach would provide more comfort for my parents. Also, the itinerary hits much of southern Ireland’s biggest highlights within 7 days with many Relaxed Starts. Relaxed Starts are mornings where you don’t have to wake up extra early in the morning.
After collecting our luggage at the airport, an Insight representative was right there to greet us for our transfer to the Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road in Dublin. Not a moment was wasted on Day 1 as the tour group met for our tour of Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.
Later that day, we enjoyed a lovely welcome reception and dinner with our fellow passengers and tour director Katie. We knew from day one we would love our tour director. She was extremely knowledgeable, grew up in Ireland, and hilarious. Everything was laid out for us on this trip with a perfect balance of free time to guided sightseeing, and Katie helped guide us every step of the way. The staff at the Clayton took great care of everyone, even making my Texan dad a special batch of Iced Tea just for him (not a drink typically consumed in Ireland).
Galway was next with free time or 2 optional excursions. The first was a walking tour in Galway which was just as informative as it was fun! The Focus on Ireland Tour with Insight was so inexpensive, but we truly got so much more out of it than we expected. We strolled through the town getting to know the history and people. Later that evening was even more special, as we enjoyed a charming dinner with wine in Dungaire Castle while characters performed music and light-hearted poetry. They happened to select my sister and her husband to be the King and Queen of the night which was a lot of fun.
Our hotel in Killarney was a luxurious hotel right in the heart of the city surrounded by lively pubs spilling music into the streets, shopping, and all the coffee and food you can ever dream of.
The first day in Killarney was our tour of the Cliffs of Moher. Such an amazing view, but while we were up there and before we could take pictures, fog, rain, and wind swept in and I got a funny picture of me with my umbrella flipped up.
That night we signed up to see the show Gaelic Roots which was amazing. The dancers and musicians were wonderful! I can’t tell you much fun we had watching the show. After, we hopped from pub to pub enjoying more Irish music.
The second day in Killarney we enjoyed a jaunting car ride with a local expert who shared funny stories and interesting history as we traveled through the park. The Ring of Kerry brought us through fishing and farming towns, as well as other small villages. The countryside is a must-see, but we truly enjoyed the funny stories and history we learned from our tour director along the way. That evening was a lovely Farm-to-Table experience with John Sheehan and his family. We learned about the ethics of eating and the value of nutrition, before enjoying an authentic Irish 3-course meal.
After a relaxed start, we set off on our favorite place of the whole trip – Blarney Castle. The castle was so much fun, from the dungeon and caves all the way to the top where we kissed the Blarney Stone. We even enjoyed the poison garden filled with herbs both medicinal and deadly.
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Next, the Queenstown Story was perfect for our family as our ancestors emigrated from Ireland. The exhibition allows you to follow the path of Irish citizens as they emigrated – including the difference circumstances, means of transport, and final destinations.
Finally, on day 6 we returned to Dublin after passing through the quaint town of Waterford and learning about Waterford Crystal. The afternoon and evening were at leisure so some of us went to the Guinness Experience and others to Jameson Distillery. Dublin is filled with things to do! My biggest regret was not spending an extra night in Dublin after our Focus on Ireland Tour with Insight Vacations was done.
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