Pre & Post Congress Tours
Sample Excursions - County Antrim forms the north-east corner of Ireland, where a channel only 20km wide separates Torr Head from the Scottish coast. Lough Neagh (the largest lake in Ireland) and the fertile valley of the Bann occupy the western part of Antrim. To the east, a magnificent coast runs north from Larne and curves around the base of steep headlands, through which the beautiful glens of Antrim open to the sea. On the northern coast the Giant’s Causeway, a striking basalt rock formation, is truly awe-inspiring. It’s close to the popular seaside resorts of Portrush and Portstewart (Derry).
Suggested Programme - Day 1 - Derry~Londonderry to Belfast
Depart Derry~Londonderry and travel to Belfast by car. Enjoy an informative hop on/hop off tour of Belfast City. This panoramic tour will take in the leaning Albert Memorial Clock tower (Ireland’s answer to the Tower of Pisa) and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. Your tour will pass by the City Hall, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queen’s University and the Botanic Gardens.
Visit Titanic Belfast
The brand new Titanic Belfast is a “must see” visit in any tour of Belfast and Northern Ireland. It is located in the heart of Belfast, right beside the historic site of this world-famous ship’s construction. Housed in an iconic, six-floor building, this state-of-the-art visitor experience tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end.
The adventure begins the moment you walk through the door and into the building’s giant atrium surrounded by the four ‘ship’s hull’ shaped wings which house the Titanic Experience. As you journey through the nine large galleries of this state-of-the-art interactive exhibition, you will uncover the true story of the Titanic.
Overnight: Belfast Hotel
Day 2 - The Antrim Coast
Today, travel by car along the beautiful Antrim Coast. A magnificent coast runs north from Larne and curves around the base of steep headlands, through which the beautiful glens of Antrim open to the sea.
Visit the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede, on the Antrim Coast, is a spectacular rope bridge, which spans a chasm some eighty feet deep. Primarily a seasonal working bridge for fishermen, it connects a small island to the mainland. Its construction once consisted of a single rope handrail and widely spaced slats, which the fishermen would cross to bring ashore salmon caught off the island. The single handrail was subsequently replaced by today’s two-handed railed bridge. Although no one has ever been injured falling off the old bridge, there have been many instances of visitors being unable to face the return journey across the bridge, resulting in the return journey being made by boat. Underneath the bridge are large caves, which often served as a safe haven for fishing trawlers escaping from winter storms.
Visit the Giant’s Causeway
The Causeway was formed more than 60 million years ago when red-hot lava erupted onto the surface of the earth. It was quickly cooled by the sea, which crystallised it and formed it into the 40,000 polygonal basalt columns, which today form the Giants Causeway. A must on any visit to the North of Ireland, the Causeway is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and is often referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. The Visitor Centre hosts a multi-lingual audio-visual show, which explains the origin, and the geology of the Causeway as well as adding credence to the various legends told of the Giant’s Causeway. There is a bus service from the heritage centre to the Causeway.
Photo-stop at Dunluce Castle
The ruins of Dunluce Castle are located on the North Antrim coast and stand proudly on a 30m high column of basalt rock. The ruins portray the air of strength this site commanded. Before the advent of gunpowder it would have been almost impossible to conquer. The castle dates largely from the 16th and 17th centuries, however the outer walls with round towers are attributed to the MacQuillans, who built them in the 14th century. The castle can only be reached over a bridge, which now replaces an original rocky connection. The bridge leads to the “New” Scottish style gatehouse built after cannon destroyed the original in 1584. In the two openings of the old gatehouse wall are found cannon salvaged from the wrecked Spanish Armada Galleon ship the Girona, which sank nearby in 1588. On the “Mainland” area of the castle complex, the remains of the earl’s garden laid out in three terraces. This area also included the lodgings for the many visitors who graced the castle in the 17th century. Return to Belfast
Overnight: Belfast Hotel
Day 3 - Belfast
This Morning Visit Belfast City Hall
Belfast received it charter as a city in 1888. Its City Hall, designed by Brumwell Thomas, was built in 1896. Built in a classical Renaissance Style with Portland stone, its centrepiece is a central copper dome 53 metres high. Inside the visitor can see a winding stairs and reception rooms decorated with Italian marble. On the lawn outside there are numerous monuments to those who have contributed to civic life in Belfast. The central statue is of Queen Victoria, but also to be seen is the monument to those, from Belfast, who lost their lives on-board the ill-fated Titanic, which was built in the Belfast shipyards in 1912.
Visit Crumlin Road Gaol
This iconic building dates back to 1845 and closed it’s doors as a working prison in 1996. Today you can take a guided tour of the prison and hear about its history from when women and children were held within it’s walls through to the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners.Discover the underground tunnel that connected the gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse, sit in the Governor’s chair and of course pay a visit to the condemned mans cell before seeing the execution cell where the majority of the 17 men were hanged
Overnight: Belfast Hotel
Day 4 - Dublin
Today depart Belfast and travel by car to Ireland’s capital, Dublin. En-route visit Monasterboice, one of the most famous religious sites in the country. It was built in the 5th century a few miles north of Drogheda in a lovelysecluded setting. It is said that the monastic site was founded by St Buithe a follower of St Patrick. With two churches, a round tower and two high crosses it is one of the most visited religious sites in Ireland.
Visit Trinity College
No trip to Ireland’s capital city is complete without a visit to the iconic Trinity College. Trinity is the oldest university in Ireland, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is famous for its graduates such as Swift, Goldsmith, Wilde and Beckett. Visitor facilities include the Treasury, which houses the Book of Kells, an exhibition, “The Book of Kells: Turning Darkness into Light,” and the Long Room, the largest single-chamber library in the world containing 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. Temporary exhibitions are on view in the Long Room to display the rich holdings of the library and to encourage further research. Temporary exhibitions in the Long Room include; ‘Ireland in Turmoil: the 1641 Depositions’ and ‘300 Years of Medicine in Trinity College’. The most precious single item on the Trinity campus is undoubtedly the Book of Kells. The book is an illuminated manuscript from 800AD which is housed in the Old Library building of the university. The manuscript contains the four gospels of the New Testament. It is the imaginative use of figures and complex ornaments to highlight the first letter on a page that makes the Book Of Kells so special. Incredibly vivid and colourful even 1,200 years after they were drawn by monks, these illuminated letters have come to define much of what we know these days as Celtic style. A librarian turns over a new page of The Book Of Kells every day. Apart from the Book Of Kells, the Old Library is worth a visit for its magnificent Main Chamber. The 65 metres long hall houses 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books. With its ancient wooden shelves, alcoves and vaulted ceiling it looks just like a picture perfect library.
Round off your time in Dublin by taking a tour of the home of Guinness! The Guinness Storehouse is located in the heart of the St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, which has been home to the ‘black stuff’ since 1759. The seven storey building, a former Guinness fermentation plant, has been remodelled into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness. A visit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about this world famous beer, from how Guinness is made, to the ancient craft of Guinness barrel making in the cooperage and on to the creation of the world famous brand. The highlight for many visitors is the Gravity Bar, where they collect their end of tour pint of Guinness and can relax and enjoy the 360 degree views across Dublin City.
Depart from Dublin