Day 1: DONEGAL TOWN & ROSSNOWLAGH
Welcome to Ireland! On arrival into the Airport, you will be met by your professional driver guide. Enjoy the scenic drive to County Donegal and the seaside village of Rossnowlagh. The Sandhouse Hotel overlooks the Atlantic Ocean with a pristine beach in front on which to stroll and breathe in the fresh salt air! Once you are settled in you will take a short drive into Donegal Town. Stroll about this interesting old town with 16th century castle ruins, a 17th century church and a ship’s anchor shorn from one of Napoleon’s frigates when his fleet unsuccessfully tried to thwart the British in an Irish uprising in 1798. The center of town is diamond shaped, with streets spoking off in all directions with wool and tweed shops that line the street fronts. Be sure to stop at Magee of Donegal (hand woven tweeds) in the town center. View Donegal Castle. This imposing ruin stands on the bank of the River Eske. In 1505 the old castle which stood here was rebuilt by Red Hugh O’Donnell and became the O’Donnells’ main stronghold. The structure was altered by Sir Basil Brooke, who was granted the castle in 1607. Its main feature is a massive rectangular gabled tower with two bartizan turrets. Attached to the south side is a fine Jacobean wing. Return to the Sandhouse Hotel. Perhaps a stroll along the beach before dinner. This evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner followed by an Irish Coffee. Dinner in the dining room this evening.
Note: Each day during your stay you can avail of the many activities offered, such as golf or spa treatments. We can design your touring day around those activities as the luxury touring vehicle and driver-guide will be with you every day of your stay.
Day 2: GLENCOLUMCILLE & KILLYBEGS
We tour along the shores of Donegal Bay passing through Mountcharles, a fine village situated along a hillside over Donegal Bay. Continue to Dunkineely which is known for its fishing and where the MacSwayne castle walls still stand at St. John’s Point. On to Killybegs, which looks like a late Victorian village built around a good harbor. It is a major commercial fishing port – as no doubt the smell will tell you. Tour to Glencolumcille with its brightly colored cottages. At Glen Head there is a church where St. Columcille worshipped. Visit the Folk Village Museum depicting life in rural Donegal. Nearby is Slieve League with the highest sea cliffs in Europe – the cliffs of Bunglass. We take a boat excursion from the village of Teelin to view the cliffs from below. Continue on to Ardara which is a well loved village and small wonder. It is an important center for the manufacture of Donegal hand-woven tweeds and sweaters, produced from a thriving village which has gained a deserved reputation. Visitors may see hand looms in operation locally. Continue on to Glenties which is a “Tidy Town” village picturesquely situated where two glens converge. Return to The Sandhouse Hotel for a relaxing evening. Dinner on your own tonight. A chance to explore the other dining options in the hotel, including the Surfer’s Bar.
Day 3: SLIGO & ENVIRONS
Tour on toward Sligo, where just before the town you take the road to Strandhill and visit the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery near Strandhill. It’s the largest collection of Stone Age dolmens and tombs in all of Europe! As the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland, the tombs are spread over a number of fields and townlands, most of them situated near the road. The majority of the tombs are a mixture of small Passage-tombs and dolmens, usually surrounded by a stone kerb, but most were probably originally covered by a stone mound. Often either the tomb itself or the kerb-stones have disappeared. In the area are a number of ring forts and standing stones as well as a stone with a hole in it. After your visit to Carrowmore, continue into Sligo Town. It dates back to 807 and is fascinating to visit. It must be said that Sligo is scarcely a town anymore. It now verges on being a city by Irish standards. Its bustling streets are among the busiest in the Northwest, and many of them are now one-way. Sligo has some exquisite, traditional shop fronts, and opposite the amazing 1878 Venetian Gothic courthouse a firm of lawyers bears the remarkable name of ‘Argue & Phibbs’ on its window! Just outside of Sligo Town is Lough Gill. With its 22 islands, it is surrounded by woodlands and mountains and is connected to Sligo Town by the Garavogue River. One of the lake’s islands, Inisfree, was immortalized by William Butler Yeats in ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree.’ Five miles due north, under the shadow of Ben Bulben Mountain is Drumcliff, location of the churchyard where Yeats is buried. No visit to Ireland would be complete without a tour to the town of Belleek. You will have an opportunity to tour the factory and see how the creamy pottery is made. Return to The Sandhouse Hotel for a relaxing evening. Dinner on your own tonight. A chance to explore the many pubs and restaurants of Donegal Town.
Day 4: ULSTER AMERICAN FOLK PARK & DERRY
Tour through the Bluestack Mountains and cross into Northern Ireland at Strabane. On to the Ulster American Folk Park. This open-air living history museum features costumed interpreters who reveal the experience of immigrants from Ulster to the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. Continue into Derry City which enjoys one of the most beautiful situations in Ireland, rising evenly on both sides of the River Foyle. Derry City traces its beginning to St. Columba who set up his monastery here in 546. The impregnable city walls, begun in 1613, still remain as Derry’s most notable feature. Among the many historic monuments in Derry, the city Walls on the west bank of the River Foyle are the most striking and memorable. Built between 1614 and 1619, the original Walls are almost perfectly preserved today, making Derry one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. Be sure to stop in at the Heritage Library located on Bishop Street in the center of the city. You will find a dedication plaque in the lobby to Moira Hegarty O’Scannlain. You will enjoy a guided walking tour of this magnificent city. Walk the Walls and look into the Bogside. You drive through areas that display the murals depicting “The Troubles.” From the height of Gob naSceil you will have a panoramic vista of the city. Return to The Sandhouse Hotel for a relaxing evening. Dinner on your own tonight. Why not have a room service meal and enjoy it while looking at the Atlantic Ocean from your cozy room.
Day 5: GLENVEAGH NATIONAL PARK
Tour north from Donegal Town where north of Lough Eske, you will come to the lonely yet fascinating Barnesmore Gap, formed by two enormous granite hills -Craogconnellagh (1,724 feet) and Barnesmore (1,491 feet). From earliest times this glacier carved trough has been a key route between southern and northern Donegal. As such, it was once a favored haunt of highwaymen, and this spot saw many a robbery. We continue north to the town of Letterkenny, the chief town and ecclesiastical capital of County Donegal, which sits overlooking Lough Swilly. The town’s main street is one of the longest in Ireland. St. Eunice’s Cathedral is a new building in the Gothic style. Climb into the scenic hills of County Donegal to Glenveagh National Park with its mountains, lakes, glens and woods, herd of red deer. Tour Glenveagh Castle, a Scottish style castle surrounded by one of the finest gardens in Ireland. Few of the great houses of Ireland are preserved in this condition with their original furnishings, and in Glenveagh Castle one catches a glimpse of a lifestyle belonging to an earlier age. Return to the Sandhouse Hotel. This evening you will enjoy a Farewell dinner in the dining room.
Day 6: DEPART FOR HOME
This morning you are transferred to the airport for your return flight home. OR extend your Based vacation with a transfer to one of our other Based Vacation Hotels and Resorts!