One of the most unforgettable holidays of our lives…
In June we took the MCS Escorted Tour of Ireland The initial cost seemed quite high but itincluded all site fees, with electric, for 21 nights, more than ten coach trips, entrance fees into museums and exhibitions and some meals (dietary requirement were catered for) so there were only day to day expenses to think about. Everything was of the highest quality and so well thought out that all we had to do was enjoy ourselves, which we did!
We met our Tour Escorts Colin and Tess on the beautiful Antrim Coast and had an excellent BBQ in the Carnfunnock Country Park to meet the rest of the group, 32 of us in all.
Our first coach trip into Belfast with a lovely guide took us to the City Hall and the awesome Titanic Exhibition and the dry dock where it was fitted out before its fateful journey.
The following day we headed for Bangor and were warmly welcomed guests of Whale Pumps, where we had a very interesting factory tour, given a good lunch, and came away with a “goody bag”. We then went on to the Lisburn Linen Museum where we saw a fine ancient piece of linen which came out of Tutankhamen’s tomb.
After a free day we drove to a lovely site at Bushmills,where the whiskey is made, and from here we were taken to the magnificent Giants Causeway followed by a three course lunch at the posh Causeway Hotel. A short trip then took us to the Carrick-a-Reede Rope Bridge where the fit and brave crossed to the rocky island whilst some of us took photos.
The following day we learnt about “the troubles” when our guide took us for a walk around the walls of Derry/Londonderry (which they re-named Legenderry) as we looked at the paintings on the bogside homes. These were a complete contrast to the buildings we then explored in the American Ulster Folk Park near Omagh. A huge and fascinating exhibition which told the story of the Irish Immigration to the USA .
Then on to Dublin and a sightseeing tour of the city centre followed that evening by a delicious meal and Irish Traditional music and dancing at a hotel near O’Connell Bridge. Our first experience of a“great craic”, we loved it.
The next camp site was at Salthills right on the edge of Galway Bay with stunning views of County Clare. Our coach driver for the next two days was Mike who talked non-stop and kept us entertained all around the picturesque Burren and the jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher (known to Harry Potter fans as the cave in the “Half Blood Prince”). Then we had a wonderful tour of Connemara. At the Gaelic Experience Museum we learned the importance of sphagnum moss to the environment. After a drive down the enchanting Kylemore valley to visit the Abbey and Gardens we called in at the little village of Cong on the way home to see where “The Quiet Man” was filmed.
Our last camp site was just outside Killarney and from here we toured the magnificent Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, but the highlight for us was the Gap of Dunloe tour. In vintage buses we were taken to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, here we boarded jaunting cars supervised by rugged Kerry men with very broad accents. For two and a half hours we trotted seven miles through the purple hills of the Black Valley to Lord Brandon’s Cottage for lunch, then got into boats and sailed through the three lochs of Killarney back to Ross Castle and the vintage buses. Wonderful.
The last night we had a “great craic” at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a fitting farewell to Ireland and next morning we sadly all said “Goodbye” with very many thanks to our great Tour Escorts Colin and Tess. We hope to see you all again.
Find out more about our Ireland tour here