Tracing the Past in Ireland

October 20-31, 2015

Reserve a spot now!

ireland18Join us for a unique exploration of enchanting Ireland on the eastern and northern coast as we delve into the texture of Irish culture from prehistory to present. We begin in Dublin, which offers a look at hundreds of years of history through its architecture, culture and museums. We will visit the National Museum, which boasts pottery from the Stone Age, gold neck collars, called “torcs” made by the Celts, and elaborate metalworking created during monastic times. The Viking longship exhibit, and the influence of their presence in Dublin, provides an in-depth visual history of this culture in Ireland. We will see the rich and fascinating history in the landscape by visiting stone circles, ring forts, medieval churches, and ancient solar observatories. Woven into the story of the past will be activities with Irish artists, actors, guides and musicians.

ireland19In conjunction with this tour, a genealogy component is being offered by Dave Miller. Dave teaches a course on finding your Irish roots, and will be offering his consulting services to those in his class, with actual hands-on time in Dublin and Belfast to research further. The schedule is planned so that those working with Dave will have time to research with him, and those not involved will be engaged in a variety of other tour activities, including a trip to the World Heritage Site of Newgrange, the 5,000 year old structure aligned to dawn on the winter solstice.

ireland20In Dublin we will visit many sites such as the National Gallery, Trinity College, featuring the Book of Kells, and Christchurch Cathedral, which will provide a visual feast of history. The hop-on, hop-off bus will take us anywhere we like in the city centre, with the option to view from the bus or hop off and see things up close. Guided tours will be included at most sites, as well as walking tours where historic areas are described, including the Irish Rebellion, followed by a visit to Kilmanhaim Jail. Evening music and literary pub events will top off the days.

Nireland21ext the group will head north to Belfast and northern Ireland, where those working with Dave on genealogy will spend several days investigating their heritage at research sites in Belfast, such as PRONI (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland), and Ulster Historical Foundation.

Those not involved in research will be treated to day trips along the northern coast, including the spectacular Giant’s Causeway, with visits to castles, monastic sites, mansions, mountains and waterfalls, all providing a variety and breadth to Irish history and cultural insights. Those researching will also join some of these outings. In Belfast we will be visiting many sites of special interest, with time built in to sample a café, or take in some shopping or a museum. Our day trips will be with local guides, who promise to offer delightful stories and an “inside” look at the region’s history, culture and secrets, all told with a dose of Irish wit.
ireland22One highlight while in Belfast will be a personalized tour of the Titanic Experience, where we will learn about the construction of this iconic ship, delve into its history, and visit the amazing exhibit, complete with replicas from the original ship.

The city of Belfast and northern Ireland has had a turbulent past, but thankfully now it is a peaceful time. However, the political and religious climate of the “troubles” is still visible in the murals painted during those times. We will be able to see the murals, and learn more about the history with a guided tour, ending with a special highlight of viewing the “Peace Wall”.

ireland23The Antrim Coast is stunning, and we will venture out to see amazing scenery along with archaeological sites, such as standing stones and castle ruins. A stop at the Bushmills Distillery will give you a sampling if Irish whiskey as we wind our way back to the city!

We will visit Dunluce Castle, and learn about the fortifications and villages that surrounded castles such as these.

Each day our goal is to provide a perfect blend of activities, free time, and a pace that allows for an enjoyable trip. Most activities are not strenuous, but there will be walking as we visit sites, and for those interested, opportunities to hike through beautiful glens aireland24nd scenery.

There will be free time allowed in the itinerary for individual activities such as shopping, taking afternoon tea at a downtown hotel, or hiking up to Belfast Castle to see the gardens and overview of the city.

Your tour leader and guide:

Your tour will be led by scholar, artist and teacher Joan Molloy Slack, who will guide the tour and interpret the range of fascinating things we will see and experience, from rock art to Irish culture and contemporary art. She has been organizing and leading tours for 15 years to Ireland, Scotland, Franireland25ce, and Mexico as well as within the United States. She is a teacher and college instructor, a ceramic and fiber artist, (www.riverrunarts.com), and holds a Master’s Degree in Prehistoric Ceramics and Visual Art. Joan will bring her knowledge of art history, experience as a museum curator, and her passion for art and history to our daily excursions. As a firm believer in sustainable tourism, she also seeks out the best local guides, from historians to storytellers, so that we may hear and see through their eyes as well. She is a dual citizen, Irish/American, and her family comes from a small town called Rathcabbin in Tipperary. You can read about her travels and research in Ireland at www.authentictravelandtours.com

joan malloy slack“I began tour guiding 15 years ago through teaching college classes combined with tours in Art History to Mexico and Ireland. I also led independent travel experiences that included Ireland as well as Scotland and France, after researching prehistoric art and ceramics and attaining my Master’s Degree. My fascination with the people who were the first recorded artists, as seen in the cave paintings in France, or on ancient pottery designs or rock art carvings, continues to drive my desire to learn, explore and share my passion for what I have learned with fellow travelers. As I researched and traveled, I found that the best way to delve deeply was to seek out local guides, artists and historians who helped bring the stories of places alive. This never fails to create a rich, meaningful and life changing experience. Layers of story, place names, deeper meanings and human connection create a rich, multi-layered tour with memories that remain long after the travel is over. I bring this element to all of my tours, and it makes all the difference in what feels authentic versus an overview, or a superficial tour. As an artist, teacher, art historian, scholar and adventurer, I am so looking forward to sharing amazing people, places and experiences with you!”

davidDave Miller is serving as Genealogist Consultant on this trip and will assist and advise those who have been working with him prior to the trip with their Irish family research. Dave has researched family history for over 30 years, including his own Irish ancestors. He is especially experienced in genealogy research in the Midwest and knowledgeable in American and Irish records. He has published articles on family history and is a speaker on various genealogy topics. Dave holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois Springfield and has just completed a Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies in Irish records from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in Toronto, Ontario. In addition, Dave has also been an on-air meteorologist in television and radio for over 30 years.
“I really enjoy helping individuals in researching their ancestors. My experience and educational background can give them the guidance in finding those hard to locate ancestors including their Irish family.”

Cost:

ireland26This trip base price is $2129, which includes the group activities in the itinerary. Those choosing to do research will not be taking extra day trips, so their cost is $2129 plus the cost of Dave Miller’s class. Those NOT involved in the research component can expect a fully scheduled tour with extra full day trips for a total of $2252. A deposit of $500 payable by check is required with your registration. Those interested in genealogy class with Dave Miller must make arrangements and payments directly with him. His fee of $350 includes classes prior to trip, assistance and transportation during research days in Dublin and Belfast and availability for research questions at specific times during the trip. Contact Dave at davewiroots@gmail.com –  www.findthefamily.com

Our Vision:

ireland27Each of our tours is unique and custom-designed, with a balanced mix of traveling, sightseeing, cultural encounters, and free time. We limit our tours to fewer than 20 people both for the freedom, flexibility, and camaraderie that small groups engender, and also so that guests may enjoy a more personal and authentic travel experience. We’ll show you the highlights and the unexpected. We usually spend more time in one place so that you won’t be constantly moving, and have time to get to know it. As small group your Tour Leader will have more time to spend with you and more time to share the personal insights that can add so much to your experience. This helps make your trip genuinely special and different from conventional tours, large buses, and too little time in one place.

What is included in the price:

  • Lodging for tour dates. Lodging will be at Cassidy’s Hotel in Dublin (www.cassidyshotel.com) and the Ramada Encore Hotel in Belfast (www.encorebelfast.co.uk) , both of which are located in the city centre. Price is based upon 2 sharing a room with your own bed if preferred. 3 people can share a room with 3 beds if available. There is an additional charge for single room- please contact us about the extra cost. Single rooms may have limited availability and are on a first-come, first served basis.
  • All ground transportation, including buses, taxis, train and coaches in Ireland after arrival at hotel and until last day of trip
  • Full Irish breakfast every day with tea and coffee
  • All tour guides and admission fees, walking tours, bus passes and special events in itinerary
  • Guided presentations at site visits, and gratuities
  • Customized special events, tours, presentations and/or performances

Price does not include:

  • Lunches and evening meals (we have opted not to make meals all-inclusive due to personal preferences and dietary issues. This also gives people the freedom to explore and sample a variety of restaurants and cafes)
  • Travel to and from Ireland and any travel outside of tour dates. The tour begins and ends at the Dublin hotel: transportation by bus or taxi to/from airport is not included
  • Insurance for health, luggage, transportation, cancellation/interruption. We strongly advise that you purchase travel insurance
  • Any extra or “optional” sightseeing, tours, taxis, or tickets, such as the evening pub tours

ireland29Please contact us at 715-277-4224 or 715-550-0858 with any questions or e-mail joanslack@wildblue.net.

If you are interested in joining us on the tour, fill out the attached forms and mail with your deposit of $500 as soon as possible to Joan Slack, P.O. Box 95, McNaughton, WI 54543. Space is limited, as we prefer to keep the numbers smaller rather than larger, and registrations on a first come-first served basis. There will be a waiting list once the trip is full. Balance is due August 15, 2015. A day to day itinerary will be mailed to you, along with travel notes and information about sites we will visit, closer to the tour dates.

Itinerary:

ireland30(People choosing to do genealogical research have been allotted time for this, while those not involved have a full tour schedule).
Tuesday, 10/20 Arrive in Dublin.
Orientation and walking tour of city centre, guided tour of Trinity College and view Book of Kells exhibit.
Wednesday, 10/21 Hop-on bus tour
Guided tours of National Museum, Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship, Christchurch Cathedral and other Dublin sites Afternoon time for researchers.
Thursday 10/22
Rebellion walking tour, Kilmainham Jail tour, and choice of Dublin sites via hop-on bus tour. Afternoon time for researchers. Optional musical pub tour in evening.
Friday, 10/23
Visit Newgrange and the Boyne Valley.
(Full day for researchers)
Saturday, 10/24 Travel to Belfast via train.
Group tour of Belfast murals and Peace Wall.
Sunday, 10/25
Visit to Ulster Museum and other points of interest (morning research time). Group tour to Titanic exhibit with walking tour.
ireland31Monday, 10/26
Trip to Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Bushmill’s Distillery (research day).
Tuesday 10/27
Day trip to regional sites of interest, research day for others
Monday, 10/28
Free time to explore Belfast
Tuesday 10/29 and Wednesday 10/30
Return to Dublin Time to explore, time for researchers to finish. Optional literary pub tour in evening. Options include: Pat Liddy walking tour, National Art Gallery, Writer’s Museum, Hugh lane Gallery, Photography Museum, Dublin Castle, St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Botanic Gardens, Chester Beatty Library, Guinness Brewery, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Douglas Hyde Modern Art Museum, Natural History Museum, as well as all of the shops with contemporary art, woven goods, sweaters and crafts. A half-day trip to Malahide Castle and the eastern coast near Dublin will also be an option. Farewell dinner.
Thursday 10/31
Depart in morning PLEASE NOTE: We are offering a tour to the west coast and “Wild Atlantic Way” just prior to this trip from October 8-15th, a great way to see more of Ireland.

Refund Policy

ireland32All cancellations must be in writing, and received before the deadlines listed below. The following penalties may apply: Up to $100 charge plus any unrecoverable deposits, any unrecoverable payments to hotels, tour operators or transportation providers, up to August 15, 2015. After August 15, 2015 – no refund will be allowed. The tour cost is per person based on currency valuations as of January, 2015. We will do everything possible to maintain costs and itinerary, but they are subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control or large fluctuations in currency values. The itinerary may be adjusted due to weather or provider conditions at our discretion.

Comments from past tour participants:

ireland33“My travel experience with Joan leading the group was above and beyond my expectation. Joan’s research into so many areas of interest about the sites and folklore made the trip stimulating and insightful without being overloaded. She is a seasoned guide with great “in country” connections and a sincere love of the land she travels. I highly recommend Joan Slack as a tour guide. You will have a wonderful, memorable time. I did.”  ~ J.H.

“Joan organizes her trips like she creates her art: beautiful, practical, and full of meaning. I’d never been on a group trip before. Joan’s voyage to Orkney in Scotland was a joy, every day. It’s one of the very best adventures of my life.” ~C. P.

“If you want dependability combined with unique experiences, attention to details and wonderful connections, this is a great tour to take. Each day has been planned for a balance of activities, a good pace and plenty of enjoyment. Joan’s background and knowledge really makes for a deeper understanding of everything we see.” ~ K.M.W.

“If you have never been on a small group tour, go with Joan. If you have been with someone else, go again with Joan. Her planning, arrangements, and site selections are perfect! Joan makes sure you will meet warm, friendly and local people from all walks of life with talents to share. I still have a Bridget’s Cross, made by Joe from our trip, hanging by my door. Happy travels!” A.H.

We hope you will join us, and please feel free to contact us with any questions. Come see what’s around the bend!

ireland16For more information and taste of the tour:

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