Toursbynorm.com invites all our friends to join us for Normís 55th Birthday Trip.†
The party starts late afternoon on Wednesday, July 22, as we wing our way to Shannon, Ireland via Philadelphia on USAir, arriving the morning of July 23. Upon arrival in Ireland, each family picks-up their very own economy car. We then proceed to the famous Glin Castle. Update, Glin is closed for 2009, we are now staying at the Adare Manor
23/Jul Limerick: Adare Manor Situated on the banks of the River Maigue within an estate of 840 acres, Adare Manor was the ancestral home of the earls of Dunraven for over 250 years, set in the heart of the pretty village of Adare. The Manor is an architectural masterpiece of mock gothic turrets and towers and elaborate stonework. While inside original features of ornate woodcarvings, stunning staircases, and huge gothic archways grace the reception of Adare and throughout the hotel. One of the most renowned parts of the manor is the Minstrels Gallery, inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls.
Adare is often described as the prettiest village in Ireland. A regular winner in the Tidy towns competition, Adare scooped the national title in 1976 and has been a contender ever since. Adare has an informative heritage centre, which uses models and audiovisual displays explaining the history of the area. It is open from May to September.
24/Jul Kerry County: Ballyseede Castle Hotel Ballyseede Castle is ideally located, on the main Tralee/Killarney road, two km east of Tralee. The 15th century Ballyseede Castle is an ideal base for a memorable vacation. The castle hotel still is an imposing three-storey stone building, with a cut-stone doorcase, following a broad flight of steps up to the hall door. The impressive lobby features doric columns leading to an elegant wooden staircase of fine oak joinery which is almost unique in Ireland.
Tralee sits in the shelter of Tralee Bay, with a panaroma of sea and mountains stretching into the west. Lying in the heart of Kerry, the coast, lakes and mountains of the Kingdom are all within arm's reach. The town is the capital of the county, the hub of its affairs. One of Tralee's main attractions is Kerry County Museum with its theme park 'Kerry the Kingdom'. Set against the backdrop of a western sky, the broad white tower and circling sails of the Blennerville windmill stand out from the landscape. The windmill has been a landmark in Tralee since 1780 and has in recent years been revived as the largest working mill in Ireland. Tralee hosts the renowned Rose of Tralee International Festival every August, with enough attractions to occupy a few pleasant days including open-air free concerts, floats featuring the Roses, the circus and street entertainment.
25/Jul Clare: Dromoland Castle One of the top luxury hotels of the world, Dromoland Castle in Co. Clare, dates back to the 16th Century and is the ancestral home of the O'Brien clan, direct descendants of the last High King of Ireland; Brian Boru. Dromoland is one of the most romantic and picturesque castles you will find, with a rich depth of history going back to the Gaelic Irish royalty of old. Set within a private estate, Dromoland Castle is one of Ireland's and the world's finest hotels and has played hosts to Princes and Presidents, including George W Bush on his recent visit to Ireland.
County Clare is renowned for its legacy in traditional Irish music and is home to an abundance of visual riches and spectacular scenery. Clare is located on the far west coast of Ireland, bordered by Galway Bay to the north, Lough Derg to the east, the River Shannon to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. In Clare you'll find some of Ireland's most recognisable picture postcard icons, from the stunning Cliffs of Moher overlooking the Atlantic, to the Neolithic tomb, the Poulnabrone Dolman and the famous Bunratty Castle. This 13th century castle now forms the heart of a heritage park and host's world famous medieval banquets with lively entertainment.
26/Jul (Normís Birthday) Mayo: Ashford Castle For centuries Ashford Castle has overlooked the shores of , Lough Corrib as one of Ireland's most magnificent castles and one of the most luxurious resort hotels in the world. Ashford Castle's long and distinguished history dates back to 1228 when the Anglo Norman de Burgos family founded it. The castle changed hands throughout the years whose owners including the Guinness Family adapted its appearance from defens ive castle, to French Chateaux to Victorian Neo Gothic.
Mayo is a largely rural county located on the western coast of Ireland. Its coastline is indented with cliffs and peaks while inland County Mayo is set with blanket bogs and two great lakes Lough Conn and Lough Mask. The southern borders of Co. Mayo run into the spectacular Connemara countryside of Co. Galway, with some spectacular scenery of its own, particularly around Lough Mask, the Doolough Valley and Killary Harbour.
27/Jul Sligo: Markree Castle The Castle lies in the romantic landscape where the poet Yeats found his inspiration, north of awe-inspiring Connemara and south of the beautiful Donegal coast, with the impressive cliffs of Bunglass and Magho. The entrance contains a monumental staircase, which leads to a wonderful hall, from where a second staircase in carved wood leads to the guestrooms. On the landing, a huge stained glass window depicts the family tree of the Coopers.
Situated in the north west region of Ireland, Sligo Town sits at the head of Sligo Bay between the mountains of Benbulben and Knocknarea. A bustling market town and port, Sligo is best known for its association with Ireland's Nobel Prize winning poet Laureate William Butler Yeats and his artist brother Jack Butler Yeats. The town's museums and galleries contain some of their works and related items while the surrounding countryside includes some wonderful scenery and sites of archaeological importance.
28/Jul Antrim: Ballygally Castle Ideally located on the scenic Antrim coast only 20 miles from Belfast, the Ballygally Castle hotel faces the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay and is an ideal base for touring. The hotel dates back to 1625 and is unique in that it is the only 17th Century building still used today as a residence in Northern Ireland. This small, friendly, traditional hotel is even reputed to have its own friendly ghost! The 44 bedrooms at the Ballygally Castle are full of character and charm. Beautiful, original beamed ceilings and antique pine furnishings give the rooms a feeling of stylish living in the last Century, with all the top facilities of a modern hotel.
Situated in the north eastern corner of Ireland, County Antrim is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland, Belfast is its chief city and the famous Giant's Causeway forms part of its stunning coastline. At its far north-eastern tip of Torr Head, Antrim is just 12 miles from the coast of Scotland, while to the south the county is bordered by Belfast Lough and Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland, while to the west is Co. Derry.
29/Jul Antrim: Europa Hotel One of Belfast's most prestigious and famous addresses, the Europa hotel is both a landmark and something of an institution in Northern Ireland. Situated in the very heart of the city, the Europa is Belfast's central landmark and has played host to Presidents, Royalty, celebrities and discerning travellers for decades. The Europa is a large city hotel, which successfully blends the needs of business and leisure travellers, with a hugely spacious lobby, stylish Brasserie and the highest standards of service and hospitality.
The administrative, commercial and cultural centre for Northern Ireland , Belfast is a fascinating city of huge character, a city ingrained with the history of this country. Belfast is a city that challenges preconceptions; it is a city in the process of rebuilding and transformation with huge amounts invested in Belfast in the recent years following the peace process. But while Belfast is reinventing itself as a cosmopolitan, urban city it still retains much of its earlier Victorian and Edwardian character.
30/Jul Dublin: Camden Court Hotel Located in the southside of Dublin, The Camden Court Hotel hotel is just a short and pleasant walk from St Stephens Green, Grafton Street, the focus of Dublin's premier shopping district and historic Trinity College. The Liffey's riverside quarter 'Temple Bar' is also close by. The yellow brick exterior harmoniously continues the streetscape while its principal entrance off Camden Court is a vaulted passageway reminiscent of the carriage entrances of days gone by. Guests arriving by car have access to an underground car park. †We are recommending just returning the rental car and using public transportation the next few days.†
31/Jul Dublin: Camden Court Hotel An optional day trip via the fast ferry to visit Wales.† This is for all the country counters to pick up one more country.† Our Guide for the day will be Welsh Dragon Tours.†
01/Aug Dublin: Camden Court Hotel A day exploring Ireland's capital.† Dublin needs no introduction and for many visitors to Ireland, Dublin is the number one destination. Dublin has history, charm, sights, museums, galleries, theatres, shops, pubs, restaurants and an abundance of character. Dublin was voted Europe's fourth most popular city break destination, behind London, Paris and Rome and is one of the friendliest capital cities in the world. Dublin's elegant Georgian architecture makes it one of Europe's most attractive capitals and Dublin's relatively small size, and its comprehensive public transport system, the Luas, makes it one of the easiest to get around in.
Sunday, August 2, Return home flying from Dublin, arriving early evening.
Iím working with Vivienne Stanley at http://www.myguideireland.com to coordinate the land arrangements.
We know that everyone has commitments, so if you are unable to attend, we understand. As the Irish say:
There are good ships,
and there are wood ships,
The ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships, are friendships,
And may they always be.