We need to talk about Ireland

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ireland-talk

No one spins a yarn quite like the Irish. It’s all in the telling of the stories, claimed JM Synge, one of the country’s greatest playwrights and the man who did for Ireland what Robbie Burns did for the Scots. The sound of the native Irish tongue, Synge said, ‘should be as fully flavored as a nut or apple’.

You’ll see, or rather hear, exactly what he meant on Classic Ireland: Discover the Emerald Isle – a nine or 10-day (you decide) escorted travel package from Virgin Vacations that takes you from the rollicking fun of Dublin to the nation’s rugged and romantic west. At a castle overlooking Galway Bay there’s even an optional, unforgettable night of readings from works by Synge and fellow literary greats George Bernard Shaw, Sean O’Casey and WB Yeats.

(Did you know, by the way, that the title of the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers movie No Country For Old Men, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem, comes from the first line of the Yeats poem Sailing to Byzantium? If you didn’t, you do now.)

The nine-day guided tour package features two nights each in Dublin, Galway and Killarney, and one in Waterford. And if you fancy a little more time to explore the country’s feel-good capital at your own independent pace, the 10-day vacation will allow you to do just that. Between April and October is when we go.

ireland-book-of-kellsDublin is base-camp. Our city sightseeing tour includes a visit to Trinity College, home of the Book of Kells – an illuminated Gospel over one thousand years old. From here it’s westward for Galway, Connemara National Park and the mighty Cliffs of Moher, a whopping 300-million-year-old wall of rock that made an appearance in Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince.

Onto historic Bunratty Castle, picturesque Killarney and the legendary lakes and hills Ring of Kerry – all like something from a fantasy film-set themselves, and all reached from the comfort of a modern air-conditioned motor coach. And back to Dublin for a traditional dinner and farewell, via Blarney Castle and its world-famous Stone, Waterford and its stunning crystal showroom, and charming Kilkenny.

A stylish capital city, a whole host of castles, some epic cliffs and coastlines, and plenty of what the locals call ‘the craic’.* And, as always, you’ll have ample time to indulge in affordable optional excursions – simply book before you travel to see more and save time and money. It’s the Virgin Vacations way, and that’s not just the Guinness talking.

* Really rather marvellous conversation