Trip Number: 13695A
Staff: Ian Schill
- Visit ancient Irish sites, including Newgrange
- Explore the prehistoric park of Craggaunowen
- Learn about ancient Irish folklore, beliefs, and traditions
- Accommodations, on-trip transportation, admissions, fees, and gratuities
- Knowledgeable local historian and naturalist
- All breakfasts and group dinners
Photo: Ian Schill
Join us in a journey back through the mists of time, delving into the rich
history and pre-history of the spectacularly beautiful Emerald Isle. The ancient
sites we visit will stir your imagination, and what we learn about Ireland's
folklore will whet your appetite for more. We might just meet the spirits of
Cú Chulainn, the hero who defeated the armies of Queen Medb near Ulster,
or the long-suffering poetess Derdriu (Deirdre), or imagine Druid priests guiding
the people in dance and chant. Early Christian sites will call to mind the strong
contributions from countless monks who sought lonely and rugged refuges, missionaries,
and the revered Saint Patrick. Our imaginations may enable us to envision the
struggles for power between the many Irish kings, Vikings, Normans, and others
who sought to control Erin. We will enjoy seeking common threads in history
and cultures that go back at least 11,000 years. Our journey is an opportunity
to experience Ireland's diverse cultures, both past and present, and to gain
Day 1: Meet at the Best Western Hotel or other specified meeting
place in Limerick. Here we'll board our minibus and travel to Killmurray to
visit Craggaunowen, a prehistoric park and history center, followed by a visit
to King John's Castle. Time permitting, we'll also visit the early Christian
church at Kilfenora on our way to the town of Lisdoonvarna in County Clare,
where we stay for two nights.
Photo: Ian Schill
Day 2: Visits to Dysert O'Dea, an early Christian church,
Round Tower, and ancient crosses with fascinating carvings are all on today's
agenda. We will also visit Poll Na Bron, a majestic dolmen (stone table) set
in the karst landscape of the Burren region of North Clare. The Burren is famous
internationally for its beautiful, moonlike limestone landscapes, its rare plant
species, and its rich archaeological heritage. We'll remain in Lisdoonvarna
Day 3: Today, we will take a ferry to the Aran Islands and
visit Inishmore Island and visit Dun Aenghus, a pre-Celtic cliff-top dun (fort)
in a spectacular location. We'll spend the night on the island.
Day 4: Proceeding to Galway, we will visit a medieval town
with some remarkable old buildings. Folklore says Columbus visited here before
he went in search of the Indian subcontinent and instead found himself in the
Americas. We then go on to Cong, which is nestled on a narrow spit of land on
the shores of Lough Corrib in south Mayo. En route, we'll visit Bally Macgibbon
Cairn and learn of the Tuatha De Danaan who became the fairy people of Irish
folklore. We will stay two nights in Cong.
Day 5: Today we'll visit the Nymphsfield stone circle and
a prehistoric tomb. Also on our agenda is the Augustinian Abbey where the high
kings of Connacht -- the most westerly of Ireland's four provinces -- are buried.
Traditional Ireland is very much in evidence here and the scenery is spectacular.
Day 6: Moving on to North Mayo, we will see the Boheh Stone,
where a magnificent Bronze Age carving tells the cycles of the year. We'll see
Croagh Patrick ("Patrick's sacred mountain"), the focal point where
pagan and Christian Ireland meet. We will stay in Newport for two nights.
Photo: Ian Schill
Day 7: This morning we'll visit the National Museum at Turlough.
Also on our itinerary is Rockfleet Castle, famous as the home of the 16th-century
pirate queen Grace O'Malley. A colorful figure, Grace lived at the time when
ancient Ireland became the Hidden Ireland, when its judges, poets, and organizers
disappeared from public view and English common law prevailed.
Day 8: In North Mayo, we'll tour the Stone Age farms of Ceide
fields, which are over 5,500 years old and a unique landscape of world importance.
We will see magnificent sea cliffs and a wonderful, little-publicized court
cairn called Sceir Tomb. Nearby is the geologically stunning Dun Briste sea
stack where we'll learn about the mythological story of St. Patrick and Cromdubh,
the pagan god. We will also visit the great standing stone of Doonfeeny. We'll
stay the night near Killala, a picturesque seaside village famous in Irish history
for the part it played in the 1798 rebellion.
Day 9: At Sligo, the largest town in the northwest, we'll
climb Knocknarea to visit the tomb of Queen Maeve, warlike Queen of Connacht
and demigod of the old religion. At 1,078 feet, it usually takes about 45 minutes
to an hour of walking to reach the top of the cairn on Knocknarea's summit.
We'll also visit some of the Carrowmore tombs, Europe's largest megalithic cemetery
and tomb complex. We will lodge in Sligo for three nights.
Day 10: Just south of Sligo are the Bricklieves Mountains.
With ancient stone cairns on their summits, they serve as constant reminders
of ancient Ireland's abiding presence. Here we'll take an easy walk up to the
Passage Tombs. We will also plan to visit the nearby Heapstone Cairn, the largest
cairn in Ireland outside of the Boyne Valley, and Boyle Abbey, an impressive
and well-preserved Cistercian Monastery.
Day 11: Today we will tour around Lough Erne and take a short
boat trip to Devenish Island, which features an early Christian site with a
round tower. We also hope to visit Boa Island and the Calderagh Celtic Stone
before returning to Sligo.
Day 12: Leaving Sligo, we'll drive south to Newgrange in the
Boyne Valley, called Ireland's "Valley of the Kings." The tombs here
are older than the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge. This is Europe's largest
and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art (Stone Age petroglyphs
on very large stones). Newgrange has been designated a World Heritage site by
UNESCO. For many, it is the high point of a visit to Ireland. We overnight in
Photo: Ian Schill
Day 13: Today we'll visit the Hills of Tara, one of the most
venerated places in early Ireland. The remnants of royal enclosures, the Mound
of the Hostages, a banquet hall, and the Lia Fall (Stone of Destiny) are all
a testament to its importance as a seat of priest-kings going back to a time
before Irish history came to be written. We will visit Monaster Brice (featuring
two of the finest High Crosses in Ireland) and Mellifont Abbey (an Irish Cistercian
Day 14: Fourknocks, a passage chamber tomb, is the last of
our planned stops. It is a wonderful megalith with fewer visitors than other
locations we have visited, and is a more private place to bid each other "slan"
and farewell. We will finish in Dublin with transport to the train or bus station.
This itinerary is subject to change if unforeseen conditions like weather or
site closure prevent us from entering the areas. We'll make every effort to
follow this format, and we usually see and do far more than is listed in the
We will meet at the Best Western Hotel in Limerick. Either fly into Shannon,
the closest international airport, or Dublin. There is bus service from Shannon
into Limerick. You can also take a train or bus from Dublin. Airfare is NOT
included in the cost of the trip.
Accommodations and Food
We will stay each night in bed-and-breakfasts, inns, and a few small hotels.
Breakfast is served at most of the B&Bs. Lunches can be purchased in towns
along our route or packed by the place we stay each night before our daily activities.
Dinner will be in local pubs and restaurants. Vegetarians have fared well in
the past. If you have very specific dietary needs, please inquire with the leader
before signing up for the trip. Accommodations are shared with other participants
-- two to a room. Single-supplement is available at extra cost to the participant.
Photo: Ian Schill
This trip is designed for people interested in moderately paced hiking. It
is not designed to be a strenuous trip. There will be hikes each day, with most
of them only a few miles in length. Climbing Knocknarea (1,078 feet) will be
the most strenuous hike. It requires participants to be in fairly good condition
and to able to walk up a hill that is around 1,000 feet without difficulty.
Ireland has many rocky and uneven footpaths that have to be negotiated. Being
in good physical condition will ensure that you have a wonderful trip.
Equipment and Clothing
Comfortable hiking clothing and good hiking shoes or boots are the standard
attire. Good rain gear is also a necessity. Fashion statements are left to evening
wear with just a few selected garments. Luggage will be transported in an enclosed
trailer. It is requested that no more than one duffle and one small rolling
bag accompany each person. A complete gear list will be provided to approved
Photo: Ian Schill
- Delaney, Frank, Ireland.
- Rutherfurd, Edward, Princes of Ireland.
- Cahill, Thomas, How the Irish Saved Civilization.
- McCaffrey, Carmel and Leo Eaton, In Search of Ancient Ireland.
Ireland is an ancient land that has been stripped of its many forests. Frequent
downpours keep water levels high, but weather conditions are beginning to change.
Alongside agriculture and animal husbandry, oil fields have found their way
into Ireland's homelands. Like the United States, Ireland faces a battle to
preserve pristine lands. We will discuss how today's modern society is impacting
the land in both countries.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Ian Schill is an avid hiker and outdoors enthusiast. He loves cycling and rides over 6000 miles each year. He has hiked in the Sierras every year for the last 6 years. He has also enjoyed hiking in Ireland, England, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, and New Zealand. He leads local outings in the Cumberland chapter in Kentucky. He is a retired aircraft mechanic who volunteers with various civic organizations.
Holly Wenger has been involved in leading some 20 national outings for the Sierra Club. This will be her first international leadership experience, which she is looking forward to immensely. Holly has traveled to nearly 30 countries, on three continents. As a teenager she lived in England, becoming interested in the history, cultures, music and mythology of the British Isles and Ireland. If she is not outside hiking, paddling a canoe, or working in her garden, you can reach her at the following email address.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips