Ireland – the Emerald Isle
Summer 2020 • 13 Days • Price TBA
As travelers, we’re always looking for pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, that postcard-perfect image, that interaction with a local, or that memorable musical experience that delights us anew with the wonders of this amazing planet!
We’ve found many such opportunities in Ireland—it’s a country rich in cultural experiences and “pots of gold” for adventurous travelers.
Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Emerald Isle of Ireland tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.
Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this 2020 tour! If 25 Early Birds are received for this departure, we’ll add it to our official 2020 Schedule. An Early Bird is a $50 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable!
Some of the many magic moments awaiting us on the Emerald Isle include:
- Contemplating the diminutive state of man as we walk along the windswept sandstone Cliffs of Moher, 600 feet above the crashing waves of the Atlantic;
- Rambling among an ancient seaside patchwork of stone walls at prehistoric Dun Aengus fortress, on the rugged Aran Island of Inishmore;
- Trekking atop the majestic sea cliffs of Northern Ireland for unforgettable coastal vistas and an opportunity to explore the geological phenomenon of Giant’s Causeway;
- Imbibing the spirit of Dublin, Ireland’s capital and a quintessential walking city, on an all-day walk that captures points of historical import and cultural connections;
- Gazing down from our walking trail in the enchanting Wicklow Mountains onto the centuries-old Round Tower in the monastery at Glendalough, the verdant “valley between the lakes”;
- Following the winding gorge path through the Gap of Dunloe as it courses along quiet mountain lakes and crosses babbling brooks on ageless, arched stone bridges;
- Wondering at the simple architectural genius of the 8th century Gallarus Oratory during our walk through the emerald green landscapes of Dingle Peninsula, western-most point of Europe!
This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!
- All land travel as outlined
- Round-trip ferry transportation to Inishmore, Aran Islands
- Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
- 22 meals: All breakfasts and 10 dinners as listed (BD)
- All listed walks
- Fees for walking credit for those collecting IVV credit
- Cultural and historical expertise of national and local guides throughout
- WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
- All tipping for national and local guides, coach drivers and group meals
- Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement.
- Cliffs of Moher
- Burren National Park
- Dun Aengus fortress
- Guided walking tour of Londonderry
- Giant’s Causeway
- Ulster American Folk Park
- Dublin hop-on-hop-off bus tour
- Riverdance stage show (contingent upon scheduling)
- Glendalough Visitor Centre
- Kilkenny Castle
- Killarney National Park
- Rock of Cashel visit
- Gallarus Oratory – Dingle Peninsula
- More fun stops than we can list!
“Wonderful experience. I feel I know Ireland – its history and culture. As for the kind people themselves, they are lovely people.”
-Bob C; Tigard, OR
“I really enjoyed the stops; they were at places I wouldn’t have stopped at if I planned the trip myself.”
-Liz D; Norfolk, VA
“Once again, I have met a group of really neat people and saw old friends! Thanks for another super trip…Constant supervision, always willing to listen, information along the route and about areas is excellent. All the above is what makes your company unique – one of a kind.”
-Mamie B; Venice, FL
“Always an excellent and educational experience – Like a living history walk.”
-John S; Oakland, CA
“I don’t have to think about details after I meet the tour leaders and the leaders themselves are always well prepared. I have met most of the WAI personnel and I find them all terrific!”
-Robert S; Portland, OR
“I feel as though I have received a course in Irish history, culture, geography, art literature and current events.”
-Lucille S; Oakland, CA
“Trip exceeded expectations; enjoyed Tim’s stories – added friendliness to each and all.”
-Loretta H; Windsor, CO
“This was a wonderful trip with a new surprise every day. You always deliver unexpected delightful experiences, great guides, well-planned daily schedules.”
-John & Shari S; Cheney, WA
“The tour exceeded my expectations. Use of Barbara and other guides was great and enhanced the experience.”
-Paul D; ON, Canada
“It was a great trip with some wonderful hiking experiences. We had a great group of people who made the trip even more fun. I don’t think it could have been any better.”
-Jo Beth D; McKinney, TX
“Exceeded all my expectations – loved the walks, history and different experiences – pubs and music, boat rides, etc.”
-Grace M; Bowling Green, KY
“Good leaders – good local guides – attention to detail.”
-Josie J; Sunnyvale, CA
“Would definitely recommend WAI to our active friends. Hope to join you in the near future! Tour exceeded our expectations.”
-Candace S; Albuquerque, NM
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Tim & Jeannette Friesen have explored the countryside and cities of Ireland over the years, guiding 9 departures of our Ireland tour thus far! Tim also serves as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, while Jeannette works part time in the WAI office helping travelers over the phone and generally keeping the rest of us organized. Tim and Jeannette currently lead summertime walking adventures, primarily in Europe, and are looking forward to the time they can leave their day jobs behind and hit the trail on a year-round basis.
Gerard Mangan has been our local guide on past trips to Ireland and is a favorite with travelers! Gerard makes his home in Galway City, and is a qualified Fáilte Ireland National Tour Guide with a Diploma in Archaeology from the National University of Ireland Galway. Gerard has been guiding groups for the past 20+ years and enjoys hiking quite a bit in his free time as well – to date, he has hiked in all of the mountain ranges of Ireland and walked extensively in Scotland and other parts of Europe. Gerard looks forwarding to sharing the trails of Ireland with you!
This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!
Click on each day for more details.
Day 1: Arrive Limerick, Ireland (D)
Since travelers are arriving throughout the day, the first group activity will be our Welcome Orientation and dinner this evening in anticipation of an unforgettable walking adventure on the Emerald Isle of Ireland!
Day 2: Limerick – Kilronan, Inishmore (BD)
Our coach takes us into County Clare this morning to wonder at the stupendous Cliffs of Moher, a 5-mile stretch of 600-foot tall sandstone cliffs rising boldly above the Atlantic. Next, we motor into Burren National Park, a wild, rugged karst landscape noted, among other things, for the dramatic Poulnabrone dolmen, a Neolithic (4200 to 2900 BC) portal tomb. After an afternoon visit to Galway, a 45-minute ferry ride takes us across Galway Bay for a two-night stay on the Aran Island of Inishmore.
Day 3: Activities from Kilronan (BD)
Inishmore Dun Aengus Fortress Walk – 5 km/13 km, rated 2B
This morning’s ancient trail winds between a patchwork of stone walls to Dun Aengus, a prehistoric fortress perched atop 300-foot tall sea cliffs in one of Ireland’s most remote and starkly picturesque corners. The balance of the walk presents the stark beauty of this island of bare limestone where early settlers manufactured soil by hand, mixing sand and seaweed on the barren limestone plateau. The afternoon is free to enjoy the luxury of island time, or consider joining us for a cultural activity to be announced. We rendezvous this evening for our second scrumptious dinner in our cozy island guesthouse.
Day 4: Kilronan – Letterkenny (BD)
After breakfast this morning, we return by ferry to the mainland, continuing north through undulating emerald panoramas across Counties Mayo and Sligo, into County Donegal, then across the border to Londonderry, Northern Ireland. A fascinating walking tour through Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods provides insight into “The Troubles,” a tumultuous time of sectarian strife and political violence in the late 20th century which ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. We return to Ireland this evening for a two-night stay in Letterkenny.
Day 5: Activities from Letterkenny (BD)
Giant’s Causeway Sea Cliff Walk – 10 km, rated 2B
Northern Ireland is the venue for one of our favorite nature walks – a stretch of stunning sea cliff scenery on the north coast of the island. The non-stop vistas climax at Giant’s Causeway, astounding honeycomb-shaped basaltic rock formations that comprise Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 6: Letterkenny – Dublin (BD)
This morning’s visit to the Ulster American Folk Park in Northern Ireland provides thought-provoking insight into the 18th and 19th century exodus from this poverty-stricken, famine-ridden island, and the positive impact of Irish immigrants on North America. Leaving the Park, our route winds south through more pastoral Irish scenes en route to Dublin. Upon arrival, you’ll receive 48-hour tickets for a hop-on-hop-off city bus tour to introduce you to this fair city and help you plan tomorrow’s free time.
Day 7: Activities in Dublin (B)
Story of Dublin Walk – 10 km, rated 1A
All day is set aside to explore the capital of Ireland, founded, surprisingly, by Vikings in the 9th century. A walk from our hotel passes Trinity College (housing the Book of Kells), Grafton Street, the National Museum, Christchurch Cathedral, and Dublin Castle (admissions not included). Dinner is on your own this evening, but be sure to be finished in time for this evening’s unforgettable taste of Ireland’s fast-paced music and dance. Riverdance is an internationally renowned team of singers, dancers, and musicians that epitomizes the Celtic energy of this uniquely Irish form of entertainment (The show Riverdance is contingent upon scheduling).
Day 8: Dublin – Kilkenny (BD)
Glendalough Between the Lakes Walk – 5/10 km, rated 1A/2B
Our Adventure on the Emerald Isle continues this morning in the enchanting green Wicklow Mountains at the 6th century monastic city of Glendalough. The film in the visitor centre and our nature walk in this “valley between the lakes” offer an intriguing glimpse into ancient Irish Catholicism in a breathtaking setting. We overnight in Kilkenny, considered Ireland’s loveliest inland city.
Day 9: Kilkenny – Killarney (BD)
Today begins with a visit to Kilkenny Castle, an excellent 12th century example of the influence of the much-resented Anglo-Norman invaders (the English). Later, we visit the magnificent, medieval Rock of Cashel. This craggy stronghold rises dramatically from the Tipperary Plains and boasts a heritage of both royal and religious power dating back to the 5th century. From Cashel, we cross counties Tipperary, Cork, and Kerry to Killarney, on the outskirts of Killarney National Park.
Day 10: Killarney – Dingle (BD)
Gap of Dunloe Walk – 13 km, rated 2A
Glacier-carved Gap of Dunloe provides the setting for today’s memorable nature walk. The plethora of panoramas in this dramatic gorge is accentuated by its babbling brook, crossed at intervals by picturesque stone bridges as it courses between remote mountain lakes. Following a boat ride across the lovely vistas of Upper Lake, we drive north to timeless Dingle Peninsula for two nights in this westernmost corner of Ireland.
Day 11: Activities from Dingle (B)
Dingle Pilgrim Way – 6/10 km, rated 2B/3C
Another all-Irish walk this morning combines fuchsia-lined country lanes, pastoral rural landscapes, and early Christian monuments like Gallarus Oratory (6th to 9th century) and Kilmalkedar Church (12th century) on the Dingle Peninsula. You have the evening free to experience the charms of small town Ireland. Enjoy taking in the waterfront atmosphere with its fishing fleet and relax with a pub dinner – the many pubs of Dingle offer one of the best opportunities to enjoy a traditional Irish jam session!
Day 12: Dingle – Ennis (BD)
Another morning on the Dingle peninsula offers the spectacular Slea Head Drive, with stops along the way and dramatic coastal panoramas. Leaving Dingle, we head to Tralee for a lunch stop, then continue through outstanding seaside scenery to a ferry crossing of the Shannon Estuary. The rural beauty of Ireland continues as we drive north through County Clare to the town of Ennis. We rendezvous this evening in the hotel dining room to share a light-hearted Farewell Dinner and reminisce about our experiences together in Ireland.
Day 13: Depart Ireland (B)
An early-morning motor coach ride to Shannon International Airport prepares us for flights back to our North American reality. We won’t soon forget our Walking Adventure through the history, culture, and scenery of the beautiful Emerald Isle!
Click on each heading for more details.
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
Call or mail in your Early Bird ($50) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on this Adventure.
Traveler Rewards Program
New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Emerald Isle of Ireland tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].
How is airfare arranged?
The airport to use for this Adventure is Shannon Airport (airport code SNN), one of Ireland’s three primary airports located about a 30-minute drive from Limerick, where we spend our first night, and about a 30-minute drive from Ennis, where we spend our last night. More details about flight arrangements will be available after this tour has been confirmed.
What about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. The success of the walks is therefore predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system that contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
What happens next?
We are currently developing the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits ($500) to save space.
If you have Early Birded with a refundable $50 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register with an additional $450 fee, bringing your deposit on tour up to $500. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.
Ireland is an enchanting island offering a delightfully pastoral countryside, charming Celtic culture, and a timeless story of mankind. Join us in 2020 to walk Ireland—the Emerald Isle!