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Ireland's 'fair' capital kick-starts your exhilarating encounter with the 'Emerald Isle'. After check-in, don't resist the youthful energy of Dublin and take to its streets in search of its characteristic craic. You'll join your Local Specialist later for a sightseeing tour which includes views of St. Patrick's Cathedral and Trinity College, which houses the 9th-century Book of Kells, Ireland's greatest cultural treasure. Tap into Dublin's effervescent spirit and head to Temple Bar or Grafton Street on your own this evening. There's a colourful pub on every corner, with happy locals and tourists spilling out on to the pavements. You could be one of them. Sláinte!
It seems almost impossible that a place as arrestingly beautiful as Ireland exists, but it does. Its famous countryside glows green and gold as you venture west, every turn in the road revealing yet another magnificent view. There's no better way to admire this enchanting scenery than on an Optional Experience cruise along the Shannon River, the longest river in the British Isles. Later, view the ruins of the 12th-century Boyle Abbey before arriving in Knock. It was here in 1879 that villagers witnessed an apparition of Our Lady and today pilgrims the world over visit the village's Marian Shrine. Later, head to your hotel in Ballina where you'll dine tonight. Maybe opt to join in a chorus or two at a cosy pub with the locals.
Cross the border into Northern Ireland this morning for a visit to the Belleek Pottery Centre. Its elegant fine porcelain has been gracing dining tables all over the world for over a century and you'll have an opportunity to buy a Shamrock-adorned memento for yourself during your visit. Head to Donegal next where you'll view its 15th-century castle, then stop at Drumcliff where acclaimed poet and playwright, W.B. Yeats was laid to rest. See the self-penned epitaph on his simple headstone urging the horseman to 'pass by'. Then continue past the harbour town of Mullaghmore, before returning to your hotel in Ballina.
Discover why Westport on Ireland's west coast justifiably earns its title as Ireland's most liveable town. It certainly is one of the prettiest as you'll see first-hand when you travel through it and the breathtaking coastal landscape of Connemara, captured in John Wayne's acclaimed 'The Quiet Man'. Visit Galway next to see the cathedral and a stroll around Eyre Square, also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. Our orientation drive through Limerick includes views of the city's medieval-era St. Mary's Cathedral and King John's Castle. Tonight you can dine like lords and ladies at a medieval banquet Optional Experience in the great hall of a castle. A court jester and the castle's musicians will keep you entertained in the manner to which you've become accustomed. More mead, anyone?
Peer over the edge of the emerald-topped cliffs to the crashing waves of the Atlantic below. The rugged and wild Cliffs of Moher have been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason. Spot the curious colourful-beaked puffins that have settled along this western coast and visit the magnificent Cliffs of Moher exhibition, before continuing to Limerick, where the rest of your day is free. Take a step back to the 19th century with an Optional Experience to Bunratty Folk Park exploring its village dotted with thatched cottages and the 15th-century castle.
Leave Ireland's first 'City of Culture' behind for a journey across dramatic landscapes in the wild west. Keep your camera at hand as your scenic drive around the 'Ring of Kerry' passes colourful villages, deserted beaches and quiet fishing harbours. Later arrive in Tralee in County Kerry, where the Rose of Tralee International Festival attracts Irish women from around the world to compete for the crown of 'Rose'. You're in for a spectacular performance of Irish music, song and dance performed by champion dancers and musicians should you choose to join this evening's Optional Experience.
Kiss the Blarney Stone and acquire the 'gift of the gab' on your visit to Blarney Castle this morning. Then it's time to return to Dublin where you'll put your silver tongue to good use during an evening optional dinner and cabaret evening that will have your toes tapping and taste buds craving another round of Irish coffee. It will be time well spent with new friends after a memorable holiday.
And just like that your enchanting exploration of the 'Emerald Isle' has come to an end. You've seen ancient churches, castles and towering cliffs, had your fair share of the craic and seen beautiful landscapes that many only encounter in pictures. All that's left is to say a fond slán go fóill as you prepare for your return journey home. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.
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