by Laura Del Rosso
Experience the Emerald Isle your way with varied tours from AAA preferred travel partner Brendan Vacations.
The Emerald Isle is enchanting, its lively cities and traditional pubs draw you in for a pint, toe-tapping music and a wee bit of conversation. Out in the lush countryside, villages of old stone cottages and rugged coastlines make for a magical landscape.
To explore – and really experience this fabled land – you can choose from a variety of opportunities. There are group tours, custom itineraries by private chauffeur, self-drive programs, rail travel and even themed trips for golfers or based on hit movies and TV shows.
All are offered by AAA preferred travel partner Brendan Vacations, which is celebrating its 50th year of showing travelers the best of authentic Ireland.
Learn from Locals
As home-grown Irish travel experts, Brendan adds special touches, like “Be My Guest.” These insider experiences are incorporated into many itineraries and arranged by the company’s Dublin-based office. As guests in the homes and farms of genuine and friendly locals, you’ll hear personal stories passed down through the generations. “Be My Guest” is a highlight of guided tours, one of the most stress-free ways of soaking up the atmosphere and learning about the culture of Ireland. Many begin and end in the bustling capital city of Dublin. Here you’ll see the dramatic cathedrals, St. Patrick’s and Christ Church. You’ll also view the storied Book of Kells manuscript on the magnificent Trinity College campus and learn of the brave people who fled heartache for the U.S and other countries at The EPIC Irish Emigration Museum. A Brendan Local Specialist brings to life the city and its history, including its rich trove of literary figures like George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.
“The Best of Ireland” itinerary features another unique Brendan touch, “Make a Difference.” These stops feature landmarks like Dublin’s Glasnevin Trust, where your visit contributes to the preservation of Irish history.
You’ll also explore County Wicklow, located south of Dublin. It’s often called the “garden” of Ireland for its beautifully landscaped gardens. A stop in Waterford gives you the opportunity to watch craftspeople create the famous lead crystal cut glass in a city founded in the 9th century by the Vikings. Throughout your tour, you’ll be guided by a Travel Director, selected for their knowledge of Irish history and their enthusiasm for the culture, offering recommendations and tips to make your vacation even more memorable.
Stroll through the old port town of Youghal and kiss the famous stone at the Blarney Castle. Travel along one of the most stunning drives in Ireland: the Ring of Kerry, past seaside villages, lakes, mountains and that impossibly green countryside.
In County Limerick, you’ll visit the charming 13th-century village of Adare — often called the prettiest town in Ireland — explore the grand 15th-century Bunratty Castle and the adjoining Folk Park to learn of Irish life of old. You’ll be in awe of the spectacular, eight-mile long Cliffs of Moher that rise high above the Atlantic.
The wild, rugged landscape of Connemara awaits you the next day when you enjoy morning tea with locals in County Mayo, then soak up the atmosphere in Connemara, perhaps by sampling authentic soda bread with bowls of steaming seafood chowder at a cozy local pub. Traditional music is heard everywhere here and you even can try an Irish jig. The tour then returns to Dublin where you’ll have free time to celebrate the end of an unforgettable vacation.
Similar itineraries are geared to families traveling with children or teenagers. There’s something for every age group on the “Shamrocks and Leprechauns” family-focused trip that features a morning at a sheep farm in Sligo. Your family will learn about sheepdog handling and have tea with a farm family.
Brendan can also arrange special interest travel that includes sites used in the TV series Game of Thrones and Outlander. On the “Home of Thrones” self-drive itinerary, you’ll visit Tollymore Forest Park (known as The Haunted Forest in the series), Castle Ward, (known as Winterfell) and the 15th century Audley’s Castle and grounds used in the show.
And, if you love the Star Wars blockbusters you’ll find thrills in a special themed “The Isle Awakens” self-drive program that includes much of Ireland’s highlights. You’ll step into the fishing village of Portmagee to see the towering crags rising from the Atlantic where the famous final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filmed, one of several stunning Irish destinations that were used in the smash film series.
Brendan Vacations can customize any number of itineraries based on your needs and interests, setting you up with a rental car and arranging accommodations — for any budget.
Customized trips also can be organized using train travel in Ireland. A host meets you at the train stations, welcoming you at destinations and offering guidance, perhaps tips to find the best local pub or fresh scones in each town.
Vacations are also available for golfers. One of the recently redesigned courses reopened in 2018 on the 840-acre estate of the five-star luxury hotel Adare Manor, a 19th-century architectural gem set in the County of Limerick.
Brendan arranges tee times, transportation to and from the links and accommodations to create an unforgettable Irish golf vacation. Or, you can choose the ultimate in luxury and highly personalized experience and travel with a chauffeur whose service starts with an airport pick up. Chauffeurs drive luxury vehicles, offer guide services and take care of you every step of your vacation.
Regardless of the way you explore the Emerald Isle, whether group or individual travel, you’ll be awed by the warm hospitality of Ireland’s people and the country’s rich history, culture and natural wonders.
Explore the enchanting land of Ireland! Call 800-750-5386 to plan your adventure!