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View from the Family Tree

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A Tour through Ireland and Irish History

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View from the Family Tree

July 5-15, 2011

Millions of Americans are descended from Irish immigrant ancestors—Gaelic clansmen, Viking and Norman invaders, English settlers, Ulster Scots; Catholics and Protestants; peasants farmers, landed aristocrats, urban craftsmen, laborers, shopkeepers.  We know their names, and often their stories.  Now, in a tour that explores rural Ireland and the capital city of Dublin, we will see where and how they lived, from beehive huts and ancient monastic settlements to medieval tower houses to Georgian country estates and town dwellings.  We will also enjoy legendary Irish hospitality in internationally renowned hotels and restaurants and private homes.


Ireland CastleA once-in-a-lifetime visit, our special tour of Ireland will be led by the perfect host, Donald Friary. He will guide us at a leisurely pace through breathtaking scenery, quaint villages, haunting ruins, splendid private homes, and magnificent artwork. At the same time, he will share with us the broad sweep of Irish history from the Bronze Age to the present. We will sample local cuisine, and by special invitation, visit several great houses: dinners will be held for us in two of Ireland’s most beautiful and exclusive settings --- Glin Castle with the Knight of Glin, and Leixlip Castle with the Honorable Desmond Guinness. By private arrangement, we will also visit the meticulously restored Georgian house and gardens belonging to a longtime friend of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, where we will enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides and an evening of traditional Irish music. This rare opportunity to see through expert eyes some Ireland’s most interesting sites and elegant homes surely will not come again.


Donald Friary has organized and led historical tours in the United States, Canada, and Europe for more than thirty years. Among the most memorable are two tours of Ireland, the best features of which are incorporated in this NEHGS tour.  Don is President of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Director Emeritus of Historic Deerfield, and an NEHGS Councilor.  He has a Ph. D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania and is a specialist in colonial America who has read widely in Irish history and is particularly interested in parallels between English settlement in Ireland and in North America.


I am pleased to share with you an advance look at our itinerary. For more information, pricing or to register please email Joshua Taylor at or 617-226-1226. Space is limited.


Tuesday, July 5                    We depart from Boston’s Logan Airport at 7:30 p.m. on Aer Lingus flight 134.    


Wednesday, July 6                After an early morning landing at Shannon Airport, we proceed by chartered bus to Adare, County Limerick for a light breakfast and a day of rest. We have a catered box lunch, perhaps in the garden of the 18th-century country house that is our headquarters for the next four days, and enjoy carriage rides of the landscape during the afternoon. Our welcome dinner is at the award-winning Mustard Seed nearby.                    


Thursday, July 7                   We embark, after a continental breakfast, on an excursion to the Dingle Peninsula for the entire sweep of Irish history from prehistoric times to the late Middle Ages, all amidst beautiful mountain and ocean scenery. Lunch will be at Benner’s Hotel in Dingle. After returning to Adare, we enjoy an early dinner at the Wild-Geese Restaurant and an evening of Irish music in a thatched cottage.                                                  


Friday, July 8                        We have breakfast in the dining room at our country house, then drive north to the majestic Cliffs of Moher overlooking Galway Bay and the Aran Isles, made memorable in the plays of John Millington Synge. At the Burren Interpretive Center we learn about this remarkable landscape and its prehistoric ruins. After lunch on our own in fishing village of Kinvara, we return to Adare. Following a short break, we have a tour and dinner nearby at Glin Castle, home of Desmond FitzGerald, the 29th Knight of Glin, and Madam FitzGerald.                                           


Saturday, July 9                    Breakfast prepares us for a drive south to Cork City for a brief tour, continuing to Cobh to see the Emigration Museum and to have lunch on our own. We visit Cloyne, Irish home of Bishop George Berkeley, famed for his poem, “Westward the course of Empire takes its way,” and Youghal, where Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to Ireland, and then to Shanagarry, home in Ireland of William Penn, where we dine at Ballymaloe House, the Allen family’s internationally-known country house hotel.       


Sunday, July 10                    We enjoy breakfast at our lodgings in Adare, and have the morning free or to visit one of two medieval churches restored in 1807-09 by the first Earl of Dunraven--the Black Abbey for the Church of Ireland and the White Abbey for the Catholic parish--before departing north. We stop at the haunting ruins of Quin Friary and see the ruins of Kilmacduagh monastery on our way to Galway City, where we stop for lunch on our own.  We continue through the magnificent scenery of Connemara to a two-night stay at the Renvyle House Hotel, where we dine on Irish fare from the sea and the farm.         


Monday, July 11                   After a full Irish breakfast we set out on a tour of the rugged landscape and historic and prehistoric sites of Connemara, guided by archaeologist Michael Gibbons, stopping in the seaport town of Westport for lunch on our own, and concluding at Clifden, a coastal market town with several shops offering Irish woolens and other goods. We dine at Renvyle House Hotel.     


Tuesday, July 12                  Another Irish breakfast at Renvyle House prepares us for the drive through the peat bogs of the Irish midlands to Dublin, stopping at Athlone on the River Shannon for lunch on our own and then at Russborough in County Wicklow to see the grand Palladian house erected in 1741 and the Alfred Beit Collection of paintings within. In Dublin we check into the Mont Clare Hotel overlooking Merrion Square for a three night stay, and enjoy an elegant dinner at Balzac, a trendy Dublin restaurant.      


Wednesday, July 13              After breakfast in the Mont Clare Dining Room we set out for the Trinity College Library to see the 8th-century Book of Kells and tour the campus to admire its 18th-century buildings. Our tour of Ireland’s capital city includes the Bank of Ireland--Parliament House before its dissolution in 1800--Dean Swift’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Marsh’s Library, and other highlights of the Georgian capital. Following a break for lunch on our own we visit Newman House on St. Stephens Green to see its magnificent plasterwork. After free time for shopping or touring we go to see Brian Friel’s Translations at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. We are on our own for the evening meal—afternoon tea, a pre-theatre dinner, or a post-play snack in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge in the Shelbourne Hotel.                                         


Thursday, July 14                 After “full Irish” at the Mont Clare we have specially-guided tours of the Irish and European paintings at the National Gallery and of the gold and silver holdings in the National Museum before lunch with Desiree Shortt at Mahaffy House in Dublin. In the afternoon we venture north to tour Marino Casino, built in the 1760s by Sir William Chambers for Lord Charlemont and drive west to County Kildare to tour Castletown, the magnificent country house built in 1722-32 by William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, then go on to Leixlip Castle for a reception and dinner with the Honorable Desmond Guinness and his wife Penny.  


Friday, July 15                      We depart from Dublin Airport at 2:10 p.m. on Aer Lingus flight 137 for Boston, landing at 4:10 p.m. EDT.


I hope you will join us!                              


D. Brenton Simons
President and CEO

Posted by Brenton Simons at 02/11/2011 04:58:25 PM 

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