What is it about Irish culture that travelers find so inspiring? Is it the friendly attitude of its people, the tapestry of legends and lore that mingle with its history, its spectacular emerald-tinged scenery? Is it a mix of all these things? Or is it simply the Guinness?
Whatever the answer, Brian Moore International Tours’ (BMIT) itineraries throughout the country have it by the ton. With one part a checklist of travelers’ most-requested attractions and activities; and one part relaxing downtime for shopping, exploring or just hanging out in a local pub, the tours give travelers an ideal first peek at Ireland that’s sure to set up a client for a lifetime of repeat visits.
dublin Clients traveling to Ireland with BMIT are virtually guaranteed to start their trip off on the right foot. That’s because their first stop upon arriving in Dublin is usually none other than the Guinness Storehouse, the birthplace of the country’s favorite beverage. Purchased by Arthur Guinness in 1759 (for the annual rent of £45), the storehouse today chronicles the history of Guinness, from the development of its formula, to the St. James’s Gate brewery becoming the largest brewery in Ireland, to its current worldwide distribution. Clients should take in the history, but do it swiftly—they wouldn’t want to miss a complimentary Guinness, poured to perfection, at the top-floor bar with 360-degree views of Dublin.
Descending back into the heart of Dublin, clients spend the next leg of their journey exploring the city, both its widely recognized attractions and hidden gems. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sitting on the site where St. Patrick himself was said to perform baptisms from a well, they’ll see memorials and the final resting places of Jonathan Swift, the famed Irish author of “Gulliver’s Travels” and “A Modest Proposal,” and his wife. It’s not far from Trinity College, home to The Book of Kells, a collection of gospels written around the year A.D. 800, decorated with ornately detailed initials and drawings. But their guided tour of Dublin also includes plenty of surprising discoveries, including the park in Merrion Square, Oscar Wilde’s former home, which today is home to a statue honoring the writer. Guides also point out architectural details like the Georgian doors that line the streets in some parts of town, a colorful and photogenic aspect of Dublin that’s easy to overlook in pursuit of more traditional tourist attractions. In their free time, clients are encouraged to check out the shops on Grafton Street, a former street-turned-pedestrian walkway that’s one of Dublin’s most popular spots for shopping.
killarney Clients should soak up as much of the urban experience in Dublin as they can, because next they’ll travel from bustling Grafton Street to Ireland’s gorgeous, green countryside. The quaint town of Killarney becomes their new hub, but not before clients have the chance to check out historic sights en-route, including the Rock of Cashel, dating to the 12th century. These are the ruins of a cathedral, with great, pointed archways and towering walls. But one of the most exciting parts of this attraction is also one of its smallest: its intimate chapel area, where a 12th century painting on its ceiling survives in pieces—one of the earliest and most complete medieval paintings surviving in Ireland today.
The town of Blarney also falls along the way to Killarney, which is, naturally, home to the Blarney Stone. Kissing the stone isn’t as easy as it might sound—it’s located on the underside of an opening at the very top of Blarney Castle, meaning that the only way to reach it is to sit down and lean backwards, over the opening, to smooch it upside down.
If that’s a bit too much adventure for your clients, never fear, Blarney Castle itself is an entertaining maze of corridors and openings, with plenty of signs explaining the uses of each space. Nearby, at Blarney Woollen Mills, you’ll find just about any knitted or crocheted item you can imagine, as well as jewelry, china, crystal, traditional souvenirs and more.
Killarney also serves as your clients’ home base for exploring the Ring of Kerry. This tourist trail around the Iveragh Peninsula is famous for its spectacular natural scenery, with lookouts across colorful, rolling green hills as well as seaside vistas like the “ladies’ view” site where Queen Victoria and her ladies in waiting stopped to admire their surroundings during their tour of the area in 1861. Stops along the way to take photos, explore small towns and indulge in a hearty country meal round out the experience, adding a helping of local personality to the stunning views. Before long, clients will be daydreaming of owning a vacation home along the Ring.