2016 is an important centenary in Irish history. Trace the roots of Irish independence, from the Mayo of Michael Davit, an inspirational leader of the Land League whose story could be the basis of a block-buster film, to the aristocratic home of Countess Markeviecz (Gore-Booth), to the Sligo birthplace and burial ground of one of the Uprising’s youngest volunteers, Martin Savage and on to the birthplace of Jimmy Gralton, the only Irishman deported from Ireland by the Free State who has been the basis of a film by acclaimed film maker Ken Loach.
2019 Dates To Be Announced
Get to Know Us Through History
If you love history and like to touch and feel the places where history is made, then join us for this tour of the wild Atlantic coastal counties of north-west Ireland in this centenary year of the Easter Rising of 1916. We will visit the places which, in the years before 1916, inspired people to work for change in this country. The Easter Rising of 1916 might have taken place in Dublin, but its roots were deeply imbedded in counties like Sligo, Mayo and Leitrim, and there is more than enough in these counties to keep us busy over this full week.
This is not for academics (though you are welcome!), but for laypeople with a love of Irish history who also want to want to see our beautiful landscapes, listen to Irish music and enjoy the craic on their holiday.
Day 1, Saturday: Arrive into Dublin Airport We will meet you and make our way down to Sligo by bus or train. It’s simple and a great way to get into the rhythm of the country. From the station we’ll take you to your B&B or hotel to settle in and get over your jet lag so you’ll be refreshed for the full week ahead.
We’ll get you to the best place to eat and, if you’re up for it, get your holiday off to a good start by showing you around some of the best music pubs in town.
(If you’re arriving in earlier & spending a few days in Dublin, just let us know if you have any questions about Dublin and we’d be pleased to help. If you travelling to Sligo independently as a result we’ll give you all the information, including bus or train timetables that you need and meet you at the station.)
Day 2, Sunday: Just because you can’t visit Ireland without visiting the evidence of our magnificent Neolithic heritage, we’ll start off on Sunday with a walk along the Miners Way in the Bricklieve Mountains. The highpoint of this walk is the Neolithic tombs found in these hills, the jewels of Ireland’s ancient history. There is a tremendous sense of awe in standing in these incredible structures which are over 3,000 years old. Time-permitting, we will join our friend Sue at Sathyai Sai Donkey Sanctuary, to see the great work she does rescuing donkey’s and ponies so they can live their lives out on this beautiful mountain with views stretching up to the great cliffs of Donegal.
We’ll have a light lunch nearby and start to look the roots of change with a visit to a local ‘Big House’. We’ll then talk about the contrasting life of Martin Savage, a young boy from Sligo who walked to Dublin to take part in the Rising and visit his graveyard in Ballisodare. (There may also be an option to see a game of Irish football, a game played in every parish in the country which has been played in Ireland for centuries. It is an indigenous game unique to Ireland but played across the globe in Irish communities. Even if you’re not a big sports fan, it’s a great way to be part of something which is central to Irish society. And of course the establishment of the GAA in 1884 fits into the political discussions we will be having in the week ahead.)
Day 3, Monday: We will spend the day exploring the Wild Atlantic Way north of Sligo and explore the world of that great poet WB Yeats (whose work reflected the conflict in society in 1916) and visiting the magnificent period residence of Lissadell House, former home of the Gore-Booth family (Constance later became Countess Markievicz, the first woman elected to the British Parliament & Minister in the first Irish Parliament). Expect to learn about the people who lived on the estate too. We’ll also get our first glimpse of Benbulben, truly an iconic mountain
Day 4, Tuesday: We travel to Mayo to continue our glimpse into the lives of people who shaped this nation, including visiting Straide, the birthplace of Michael Davitt, an inspirational figure in Irish political change who was born at the height of the Famine. He was instrumental in organising against the landlords and their merciless tactics of the late 19th Century. We visit a wonderful small museum dedicated to his life and work. Afterwards we will go to Foxford Woollen Mills for an insight into the work of the powerful nuns who set up these mills to help alleviate poverty and unemployment in the area in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and visit the beautiful shop that is there now adjacent to the mills. We travel back via Charlestown and stop for refreshment in a wonderful old pub.
Day 5, Wednesday: In the morning, in a shift of history, we take a trip to Inishmurray Island, with its early Christian monastery dating back to 574 AD. In the afternoon, for a more contemporary understanding of modern Ireland, we travel to County Leitrim today starting with a visit to a small farmer who will talk about the issues facing small farmers in the west of Ireland as well as the experience of growing up on the Border.
Day 6, Thursday: Proving the point that history is never far away, this morning we travel to Parkes Castle where we’ll be guided through this wonderful 15th Century Castle where you learn the downside of doing a good turn (remember to ask why it’s not called O’Rourke’s Castle!). The Castle sits on the edge of the Lough Gill and we’ll take a boat onto the lake and over to the Isle of Innisfree, made famous by the poet WB Yeats. In the afternoon, for a complete change, we’ll join up with our canoeing guides to take a meander down the lovely River Bonnet in Dromahair, Co. Leitrim. This is a gentle canoe trip, accessible for those who have never been in a canoe before. You’ll see an aspect of the lush, green Irish countryside that will delight and relax you – not to mention a glimpse of Irish transport history.
Day 7, Friday: In the morning we will continue to explore some of County Leitrim including the Arigna Mountains. We’ll then walk part of the Miners’ Way over the mountains (very accessible) and finish up taking a tour of the old mines in the village of Arigna. It’s a fascinating window into an industrial age in what is otherwise a very rural, natural part of the country. In the afternoon we visit the world of Jimmy Gralton and learn about the politics after the 1916 Rising which forced him to be deported from Ireland in 1933 for his views. By now, we will be pulling together the different strands of Ireland’s complex history to give you a better understanding of Ireland today.
We will stop in the lovely town of Carrick on Shannon on the way back and visit Orlagh, the wonderful owner of the Reading Room bookshop for a great overview of local, well-known authors.
Day 8, Saturday: It’s your last day in the West of Ireland, so we start with coffee at Kate’s Kitchen, which has the best scones in Ireland, and there’s a wonderful walking tour of Sligo town, parts of which date back to the 1400s (the town, not the walk!), plus we have an art gallery with a great collection of Jack B Yeats’ paintings as well as modern art for the more contemporary art lover. We can direct you to the Cat & The Moon, which has a lovely range of craft items for any last-minute gifts. If you’d like to finish off the afternoon with a stroll along the beach at Strandhill followed by a relaxing seaweed bath (a guaranteed pleaser), or a walk up Knocknarea Mountain (a firm favourite for families in Sligo) to catch a fantastic view of the west coast as well as visit to Queen Maedb’s Grave – or do both! You decide. Either way, we’ll finish the evening in Sligo for fine food and great music.
Day 9: Sunday: It’s the last day in the west so if you’re heading back for a flight we’ll make sure to get you on the best train or bus to get you to the airport on time. Alternatively, if you have time to spare we suggest lots of things to do in the area.
* As noted elsewhere on these pages, our groups are small and therefore flexible. We respond to the weather to plan the specifics of our days to ensure that we maximise the opportunities to be outside when it is bright and dry, and inside when not. Evenings are yours to plan, either listening to music in the local pubs or getting a hand in a card game.
What’s included in the cost of your trip?
Your Bed & (sumptuous) Breakfast accommodation, all travel and excursions (as much of the extensive list above as we can!), all planned activities (so theatre tickets for the Drama Festival trip, or music/dancing classes at the Joe Mooney Summer School, or registration fee for the walking festival) and of course your wonderful guide.
Dates don’t suit?
We’re organising additional tours so, if the dates above don’t suit you, please get in touch with us.
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