Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Around Bhride's Garden" vacations are re-packaged

“Around Bhride’s Garden” itineraries.


During the last 5 years of presenting various Ireland tours and vacations of between 1 and 14 days, here’s what I have discovered.



  • folks find that Ireland has more to offer than they thought and that trying to tour all of Ireland is exhaustive and not a vacation.

  • folks enjoy spending several days at one accommodation and then do tours, activities and workshops based from that location.

  • by staying at a single location for a few days individual travellers can opt for their own “time out” days and rejoin the group later

  • by staying in one location a fuller experience of Ireland, its places, its people, its traditions and its culture becomes a deeper experience

  • folks like to spend 4 or 8 days with a group

So now we offer this vacation as a choice of these 4 day journeys. Most folks will choose two of these vacations and some will extend their vacation to spend a couple of days in Dublin.  


Based at “Tighe na Cláirseach”, Co. Sligo


Tighe na Cláirseach is a thatched cottage between Ballymote in Co. Sligo and Boyle in Co. Roscommon. It is below the Bricklieve Mountains, home of the Carrowkeel Cairns, that are very special to those who visit them. It also provides an incredible landscape view of the goddess Morrigan, mother of Bhride (Brigid). This is visible when your eyes integrate the contours of Morrigan’s Cheis Coarran mountain looking as if its about to give birth, the two nearby cairn topped paps and the skull like hill of Treanscrabbagh.


Tigh na Cláirseach is currently being restored, ready by April 2008, and includes a studio/workshop building and will include a herb and water based trinity labyrinth for ritual, ceremony and fun.


Tighe na Cláirseach means “cottage home of the harps”. Cláiseach is an ancient north west Ireland word for a harp with soundbox and key change fasteners. Not only can you enjoy the presence of singer harpist Claire Roche and the origins of the Irish symbol of the harp is a very important element with all of our tours and activities.


It is here and from here we can share with you the traditions of Ireland that are truly Irish and not dissolved through providing “shows” for the tourists. 


The surrounding landscape is amongst the most beautiful in Ireland hosting the most inspiring sacred sites that truly regenerate and restore our souls and spirit.


This is also a place where traditional music ceilis are still part of life, and not just arranged for the tourists. The fiddlers here are incredible!


Though this will be a starting point for all we do it will be another year or so before we can add sleeping accommodation so we will arrange board at a local guest house or hotel.


Day 1:  Carrowkeel Cairns


We introduce you to Ireland with a visit to one of the most spectacular sacred places in Ireland.


We take a dirt road climb high into the Bricklieve Mountains, Co. Sligo, and its Tibet-like landscape, to visit and spend time within its 5000 – 6000 years old passage cairns. These are wonderful places for quiet time and connecting to the spirit of the ancestors and of other worlds. Everyone who visits and spends time her remarks on some kind of personal transformation. 


After this visit we introduce you to a traditional welcome at our Tighe na Cláirseach cottage. Here we can share tea, beverages, stories, introductions and, as this is the “cottage of the harps”, some performance from singer harpist Claire Roche.


Stay here as long as you feel comfortable before retiring to your accommodation


Day 2:  Cavan’s Burren & Source Of Shannon


The wooded “Cavan Burren” is one of my favourite places. This wooded landscape is full of hidden megalithic wonders. If anyone asks me to “guide them to a place of fairies” this must surely be the place. Amongst the surreal maze of stones and knarled trunked trees there are openings of megalithic wonders surrounded by flowers in spring, springy grass in summer and beautiful sweet berries in autumn followed by a sense of protection in winter. 


After a welcome lunch in nearby Blacklion village we visit Shannon Pot, source of the river Shannon and a surrounding spirit that seems to calm and restore all who visit here This is where we close our day before returning to Tighe na Cláirseach cottage or another evening preference and arrangement.


Day 3:  Lough Erne Traditions, Fermanagh


A day where I share a passion of mine with our travellers. Beside Lough Erne and below one of the seven fairy mountains of Ireland, Knockninny, we visit the workshop and theatre of Augha Killy Maude Men Of Straw. This is the home of a folk drama troupe who explore mainly Mummer’s Plays and fertility plays from around the Celtic lands and from around the world. These are plays ascended from the ceremonies of ancient sacred sites. We can share a lot of fun through this day by learning and performing our own folk drama ceremonies, ancient and traditional circle dances, and even learn the skills of weaving straw into love knots, folk drama costumes and prayer alters. On a warm sunny day much of this can be shared outdoors, and even upon Knockninny mountain.


Day 4:  Streedagh Beach


By now travellers are usually asking for time by the coast, by the sea, on the sand, so this a day we dedicate for this.


This is our favourite beach in Co. Sligo. There was once a small monastery here for early Christian monks waiting for the next boat to take them to the sacred monastic island now called Inishmurray. Above the beach is an ancient stone circle that shows this was a sacred place for at least a thousand years before the monks arrived here. From this stone circle are outstanding views across the County Sligo mountains, across to Slieve League cliffs of Co. Donegal, and along the Co. Mayo coast too. There are many alignments to many sacred places from here. Also, this is a beautiful sheltered safe bay with soft sand on the beach.


Current costs:


package of


4 days of transport, driver, guide,
4 nights accommodation & breakfast,
4 evening meals 
costs of “Tighe na Cláirseach” and “Augha Killy Maude” activities
gratuities for accommodation am dining


€520 per person sharing
single supplement €40
four star hotel supplement, sharing, €240
four star hotel supplement, single, €320 
click here for our local recommended 4 star hotel
click here for converting to your currency
click here for extra airport transport, airfares and insurance costs 

To Book or Inquire further:


First get in touch with us through our web browser email page. Through this send us a message explaining your preferred dates, itineraries you prefer, how many travellers joining you, and a little about personal interests because we adapt vacations to our traveller’s interests too.


so please click here and introduce yourself


no commitment to book and pay a deposit until you are happy with your itinerary. 



Based at Kenmare, Co. Kerry


Popular for its legends and traditions surrounding the goddesses of Cailleach Bearra and Anu. A very beautiful part of Ireland, but we do not do the Ring Of Kerry, Killarney Park or Muckross Abbey.


Kenmare town is one of our favourite unspoiled small towns of Ireland. Its surrounding landscapes of mountains, breathtaking valleys and lakes to accompany its ancient sites will provide you with a sense of “this is what I came to Ireland to see”.  


As Kenmare is a popular destination we cannot secure the same accommodation for every group but seek to book the best that is available. For this part of your vacation we urge the earliest booking you can so that you can secure the most comfortable and best deal accommodation.


Day 1:  Around The Paps Of Anu & The Spirit Of Beltaine


We commence this tour with a peaceful visit to the “Beltaine City of Shrone”, a beautiful hidden quiet sacred shrine site protected by the shadows of the Paps Of Anu.  Beltaine gatherings, which started as the “best place in Ireland” for boys to meet girls in ancient times and became a place of pilgrimage and small fair, were continued here every early May until about 18 years ago. Hard to believe when you visit here. This peaceful hidden spot hosts a spring well, altern, small cairns, remains of ogham stone and meeting stone and all surrounded by an ancient wall. Most stunning is the site is overlooked by the twin Paps Of Anu. 


From here we continue our journey to Kenmare where you have a choice of rest or exploring the town.


Day 2:  Bearra Peninsula


A day in one of the most beautiful areas of Ireland. The mountain, lake and valley scenery is breathtaking, and so are the locations of the ancient sites we visit. Starting at the Uragh stone circle, this is most beautifully sited stone circle in Ireland amongst two lakes and surrounded by mountains with waterfalls, we then travel according to how your spirit moves you. The day usually includes a drive along the awesome twisting Healy Pass, a visit to Ardgroom Stone Circle, which is on my logo above, and maybe even to the “Hag Of Beara” stones


Day 3:  Goughan Barra & Bantry Bay


A favourite place of many people who visit Ireland and visit here. As well as extending the goddess Bearra legend this a the mountain valley monastic site on a pretty lake island, the lake being the source of the River Lee mentioned in some known traditional songs. Surprisingly, this is rarely a busy place as it is not well featured in tourist guides though its an extremely popular place for weddings. Yes, it is romantic here.


From Goughan Barra we drive up the mountain above Kilkeal to one of Ireland's most beautiful ancient sites. Here there is a well preserved five stone circle, a cairn and very tall standing stones. What makes this place special is its spectacular views over Bantry Bay. You can feel and pick out alignments here. 


Day 4:  Your Choice: Skellig Michael or Kenmare


A group choice here because some folks may feel they have been deprived of quality shopping time in the beautiful town of Kenmare. Some may want time out just to relax, browse the town and maybe quietly visit the town’s stone circle in a lovely quiet park.


Others will be enthusiastic about doing more. For those folks we have the optional adventure of a boat trip to the Skellig Islands and climb the stone stairway up to its ancient retreat. Most visitors return ashore with tales of feeling “supreme high energies” after visiting Skellig Michael.


Current costs:


package of


4 days of transport, driver, guide,
4 nights accommodation & breakfast,
4 evening meals 
costs of farmers admission fees to some sacred sites
gratuities for accommodation am dining


€620 per person sharing
single supplement €80
Skellig Michael supplement €50
pricing subject to hotel costs, could go up or down
click here for converting to your currency
click here for extra airport transport, airfares and insurance costs


To Book or Inquire further:


First get in touch with us through our web browser email page. Through this send us a message explaining your preferred dates, itineraries you prefer, how many travellers joining you, and a little about personal interests because we adapt vacations to our traveller’s interests too.


so please click here and introduce yourself


no commitment to book and pay a deposit until you are happy with your itinerary. 


Based at Kilinaboy, Co. Clare


I regard Kilinaboy as the gateway to Clare’s Burren. This starts with the Kilinaboy Abbey, its large guiding sheela na gig and other mysterious stone carvings within.


Down a country lane, past the home of Father Ted, a popular comedy series across the UK and Ireland that now has a Trekkie style cult following, and through the mysterious Burren


As The Burren is an extremely popular destination during May and June for its awesome spectacle of wild flowers creating a surreal expansive rock garden we urge the earliest booking you can so that you can secure the most comfortable and best deal accommodation.


Also, this is a place of traditional music, especially uillean pipers


 Day 1:  Brigit’s Garden, Co. Galway


I feel this is one of the “must do” sites within any visit to Ireland. Jenny Beale has created a garden with an exceptional interpretation of the four fire festivals of Ireland, these being Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasa. This is a place that can absorb your day without realizing how time goes.


Here our travellers can make their Brigid crosses from the garden’s reeds, grow to “feel”  the spirit of the Celtic Year, understand more about ancient tree wisdoms and enjoy the exceptional food menu in it’s restaurant.


An amazing feature is the huge sundial, possibly the biggest in the world. Its shadow tells us the date as well as time and all from the point of a strip of ancient bogwood.


Day 2:  Burren’s Botanicals & Ancient Sites


When many people think of The Burren they think of Paulnabrone Dolmen, Alwee Caves and Cliff’s Of Moher. A lot of UK and Irish people think of Father Ted, a popular comedy series that has now evolved into the cult status of Star Trek and Dr. Who with Father Ted conventions, re-enactments and annual festival. 


The travellers who have arrived at The Burren during May or June will know that the heart of The Burren is its flora, its vast range of wild flowers that converts the barren rock face into a vast multicoloured rock garden. Therefore, an important destination of this day is the Burren Perfumery in the heart of The Burren.


First, I love this oasis in the Burren as it has managed to sustain its cottage architecture that blends so well into the Burren landscape which is so different to the sci-fi visitor’s centre creations of the national OPW and Duchas such as at Cliff’s Of Moher, Newgrange and Country Museum in Castlebar. At this centre we explore their manufacturing areas, spectacular herb and flora garden, galleries, shop and lovely tea room.  


We also take you down beautiful country lanes to lesser known stone circles and dolmens along with the hillside of “speaking stones” array of standing stones and cairns.


Day 3:  Clare Coastline, Cliffs Of Moher (optional)


As many of our travellers do not live near the sea and rarely visit the coast we try to include good opportunities for this within our vacations. The Clare coastline is quite dramatic. If you wish to include the “Cliffs Of Moher” experience along with this, you can. Where possible, a sunset here is priceless!


Day 4:  Your Choice: Burren hike or craft shopping trip


As its your last day we provide a choice as groups are usually very split on there desires and energies at this point. Some want to take time out for last minute gift and card shopping while others wish to cram in as much last minute Ireland experience as they can before they go home. Therefore we serve both desires.


For those who seek more Ireland experience there’s no finer way than to go on a guided walk, so we arrange for a local Burren walking guide to lead you through some of this day.


For those who seek to shop a little, relax in a cafe and then return to reflect on their week and absorb some quiet time in Ballyportry we can offer a trip to Ennis a quaint old Irish town rich in local craft shops and lovely cafes.


Current costs:


package of


4 days of transport, driver, guide,
4 nights accommodation & breakfast,
4 evening meals 
costs of “Brigit’s Garden” activities
gratuities for accommodation am dining


€600 per person sharing
single supplement €80
Cliffs Of Moher supplement €50
Burren hike supplement €50
pricing subject to hotel costs, could go up or down
click here for converting to your currency
click here for extra airport transport, airfares and insurance costs


To Book or Inquire further:


First get in touch with us through our web browser email page. Through this send us a message explaining your preferred dates, itineraries you prefer, how many travellers joining you, and a little about personal interests because we adapt vacations to our traveller’s interests too.


so please click here and introduce yourself


no commitment to book and pay a deposit until you are happy with your itinerary. 


Based at Dowth, Co. Meath


Think of Ireland, think of Meath, think of the River Boyne and most people think of Newgrange. Many inquiries I receive include “can we visit Newgrange?” because it has the same worldwide popularity as Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid and Sphinx of Egypt. 


Unfortunately, the forever increasing popularity of Newgrange is decreasing its access. Over 12 months advance booking is normally required. Sometimes visitors can get in due to cancellations, but do not rely on it. We do have a way in so we include Newgrange as an option for Day 4.


With this journey we offer to show you other ancient sites of Meath that are as spectacular as Newgrange in different ways. Slieve na Cailleach Bearra, known as Loughcrew, for example, has a collection of some of the best ancient art in Europe and visiting them is far less pressured than visiting Newgrange.


Day 1:  Solas Bhride, Kildare


Where possible, we arrange morning time with the Brigidine Sisters of Solas Bhride, Kildare. These sisters serve a wonderful welcoming blessed ceili, as I call it, through the morning to light up the spirit of Brighid in the hearts of all who travel with us. After lunch we spend time touring and sharing Kildare Cathedral and the two Holy Wells of Kildare. We then travel to our accommodation to rest and socially introduce ourselves.


Day 2:  Tara Hill & Tlachtga Hill


A visit to Tara Hill can be a very moving experience for any visit to Ireland. Rather than the regular high king based tour guide I present this entire visit as a ritual. Through this I offer our travellers the opportunity to commit personal treaties and close unfinished business within their lives. Our sequence for this visit is banqueting hall, rath of Grainne, wishing or fairy tree, high court, mound of hostages, sheela na gig, then set you loose for shopping and lunch. Before we leave, we visit the White Cow Sacred Well.


Before returning to our hotel we offer a visit to Tlachtga Hill, a place of a very symbolic goddess legend and a place where the fires of Samhain have been exchanged by druids since ancient times, and still are from the same fireplace.


Day 3:  Slieve na Cailleach Bearra (Loughcrew)


Personally, I find this site more exciting than Newgrange. Cairn T has one of the most spectacular collections of ancient art in Europe. There are 16 slabs of sun charts, moon charts, calendars, imagery of sea journeys all well preserved with hardly any graffiti.  The ambience here is quite healing and views are stunning.


Loughcrew cafe, quite a way from the cairns, serves a nice lunch too.


Day 4:  Your Choice: Newgrange or other Boyne based sites


Newgrange is worth a visit. The chamber is spectacular but I do encourage folks to have visited Carrowkeel and Loughcrew before coming here, if they can. Because usually 12 months advance booking is required and the bus companies tend to advance block book most of the tickets we usually have to pre-purchase our tickets from bus companies, and that means paying a bit more.


Newgrange cairn is usually merely a visit. They take 48 people per hour in 6 groups of 8 per hour. Each group gets 10 minutes inside and much of this is taken up by the guide’s talk and questions and answers. This does not have the freedom of meditation and retreat that the other cairns of Ireland has.


Our alternative for this time is to visit Fourknocks, promoted as a passage cairn but I believe was once a skin covered court cairn. This is a wonderful ancient temple where we can stay as long as you wish. Dowth passage cairn near Newgrange we can visit in our own time but we are no longer allowed to enter except around the time of Winter Solstice sunset. No entry lottery for Dowth as not many people turn up for the winter solstice sunset..  


Current costs:


package of


4 days of transport, driver, guide,
4 nights accommodation & breakfast,
4 evening meals 
costs of Solas Bhride guide
gratuities for accommodation am dining


€650 per person sharing
single supplement €80
Newgrange supplement €50
pricing subject to hotel costs, could go up or down
click here for converting to your currency
click here for extra airport transport, airfares and insurance costs


To Book or Inquire further:


First get in touch with us through our web browser email page. Through this send us a message explaining your preferred dates, itineraries you prefer, how many travellers joining you, and a little about personal interests because we adapt vacations to our traveller’s interests too.


so please click here and introduce yourself


no commitment to book and pay a deposit until you are happy with your itinerary. 


 

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