To all my friends,
I am writing to all of you to let you know
about my upcoming tour to Ireland with a coachload of friends, leaving the US on
April 5th and returning from Ireland on April 14th. This
will be my fourth bus tour of Ireland and my first taking in the sights of not only
the Dublin area and the West of Ireland but also the North of Ireland entering the
United Kingdom. The itinerary flyer is available by clicking here: link/kentour2013. We have about a dozen seats available
to fill the coach and I’m inviting you and yours to join us.
We must all arrive in Dublin on the 6th
and any and all of us may stay on in Ireland, travel on to sights in Europe but
must return to the US from Dublin. The entire cost of the trip, including airfare,
hotels and coach is just over $2600 per person sharing. Land only may be arranged
with our tour operator.
It’s a new adventure this time; we are going to discover the wonders,
the beauty and the history of the North of Ireland. We will spend much of our time
in the “Six Counties” that are still under British rule today. We will
actually drive in and out of the United Kingdom and visit the areas, particularly
in Belfast and Derry, where the communities of Protestant and Roman Catholic are
still divided. As all of you know, it’s been a bloody history of devastation
and mayhem over the past forty plus years; though still a challenge, both communities
have come a very long way towards an understanding, a tolerance and eventually,
please God, a peace.
We will fly into Dublin and be met by our favourite driver John Costello,
who will give us a brief tour of the city before we check into our hotel around
lunchtime. We are free for the afternoon and only a stone’s throw from some
of Dublin’s finest shopping streets: Grafton St, Nassau St and St. Stephen’s
Green. I will answer any questions you might have about the neighborhood, which
has some fine museums, art galleries, Trinity College and, of course, some of our
following morning will be an early start, and a day of historical touring in the
Boyne valley about thirty miles from Dublin. We will visit the Neolithic tomb at
Newgrange, dating to 3200 BC, older than the Egyptian Pyramids. Truly a wonder of
the world, this place was a must for me to show you. You will stand where ancient
pre-Celtic people believed that this “passage tomb”, where they laid
the charred bones of their fellows, sent the spirits off to the “other world”.
We will travel on through the area where the famous Battle of the Boyne was fought
in 1689 to decide the fate of the English Crown: the Catholic King James of Scotland
or his son-in-law, the Protestant King William of the Orange House of Holland. The
Protestants won the day and the history of Ireland was, once again, thrown into
will drive to Mellifont Abbey, the 12th Century Cistercian abbey, then on to the
Hill of Tara, home to the High Kings of Ireland. It is an amazing place with ruins,
passages and the feeling of our fascinating history.
Our third day will see us heading north
to the ancient monastic settlement of Monasterboice, dating to 923AD. On through
Dundalk, once known as Ireland’s “El Paso” during the “troubles”,
and into Belfast for a quick tour on our bus and then the rest of the day to shop;
make sure you have Sterling cash as Euros are not accepted in the UK. They will,
however, love your plastic like anywhere else! We are in the famous Europa Hotel
for both nights, known as the most “bombed hotel in the world” and is
second day in Belfast will have us on local transportation, with a local guide giving
us a complete tour of the city. We will visit the Loyalist Protestant and Nationalist
Catholic neighborhoods, hear the stories of this great city’s past and what
is happening at present towards reconciliation. We will visit the new Titanic Museum
which opened this past April 15th, exactly one hundred years after it disappeared
below the North Atlantic.
Our next day, we will again drive north into the spectacular Glens of Antrim.
We will pass through the village of Carrickfergus, the title and home of my favourite
Irish song. We will visit the Giants Causeway, the legendary stone path built by
our ancient hero Finn MacCool, to his beloved, twenty miles away in Scotland, which
can be seen on a good day. It is truly a wonder of the world with its hexagonal
stone column formations…quite breathtaking. Perhaps a quick nip of the hard
stuff when we visit Bushmill’s Distillery might be just the remedy if it’s
a chilly day. Hopefully we might make it to Dunluce Castle before heading west to
will be new for me, as I have not been there since I was pre-teen. Our driver John
will be at the helm for this one as we again see and hear about this North of Ireland’s
second city. Following our overnight in Derry, we will head in to the Republic of
Ireland for a visit to one of Donegal’s most famous weavers, before turning
back again into the UK and a visit to Enniskillen, capitol of the beautiful Co.
Fermanagh, and just beyond to the Beleek factory, home to Ireland’s most famous
fine china. A gift or two here should not be missed. Traveling back into the Republic,
we will overnight in Sligo town.
Upon arising the next morning, our journey takes us into Yeats Country in
Sligo and a visit to his grave in Drumcliffe Churchyard. The countryside at this
point in our tour embodies the beauty of the West of Ireland. We’ll see the
famous Benbulben, a table mountain, where it is believed the Fianna, ancient Celtic
warriors lived and the mythical resting place of the lovers Diarmuid and Grainne.
We next travel southwest into Mayo and the island of Achill. One of my favourite
places, it is the largest island off the coast of Ireland and is connected by a
bridge. The Atlantic drive is breathtaking. We will overnight in my father’s
hometown of Westport, the first ever architecturally designed town in the west of
Ireland. My family is very connected here and two of my sisters have homes here.
After a fond farewell to Westport we will
travel east, straight across Ireland to arrive back in Dublin shortly after lunch,
leaving time for that last minute shopping spree in the city and a chance to see
more of her great buildings and landmarks. We will enjoy dinner together that evening
and a performance by yours truly, most likely joined on stage by my brothers Arthur
and Raymond. I will be arranging several concerts along the way on this spectacular
tour, these to be booked by me as time permits.
I’m looking forward to seeing some
of you who are my fellow travelers on previous visits to Ireland and also delighted
to introduce my beautiful country to new friends. We are limiting space to one luxury
tour coach, so make reservations as soon as possible to ensure your passage to the
history, the mystery and the soul of Ireland and its people.
May the road rise to meet us on another
journey of laughter, music and terrific friends..
Slainte agus saol agaibh . . . Ken