Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Rekindling Lost Traditions"; repackaged vacation

“Rekindling Lost Traditions” itinerary.


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 experiences

So now we offer this unique 8 day vacation that should also interest anyone looking for an Irish vacation that is rich in Celtic tradition but easy on the budget.


Though optional, one of the best ways of converting this vacation into even lower cost is to fly into our local Knock, Ireland West, airport instead of Dublin or Shannon. Booked well in advance New York to Knock return fares, including charges, can be well under $500. You’ll find more information through our airport information link below.


These tours are limited to 8 travellers!


Starting 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”. Cláirseach 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 cottage 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 and harpists 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


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 some other evening preference and arrangement.


Day 3:  Fermanagh


This is a day where I share a passion of many years with our travellers. We first visit the beautiful Lough Erne below one of the seven fairy mountains of Ireland, Knockninny, we visit the theatre and workshop of the Augha Killy Maude Men Of Straw. This is 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.


During our visit here we share a lot of fun through learning and performing our own folk drama ceremonies, ancient and traditional circle dances. We can also 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. Our visit here often ends with a fun packed music and stories ceili.


After wonderful day we return to Co. Sligo for our evening meal and reflection on the day past.


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.


We trust your time here over these 4 days will restore you through the rekindling and restoring of cottage and landscape traditions better than the “made for tourists” tradition shows.  


Then To “Ballyportry Castle”, Co. Clare


Situated a couple of miles from Corofin town in the heart of The Burren of Co. Clare, is the remarkable preserved 520 year old castle tower of Ballyportry.


This is a former home and fortress of the O’Brien clan. It is unique in that it is truly a Gaelic home with the visibility of being a former Norman stronghold. It is said to have been a place of hosting, merriment and harp music between the O’Brien chief of the area and trading partners of France and Spain.


If you are looking for the image of a castle but with the familiar comforts of a hotel this would not be for you. If you wish to briefly leave your familiar world and enter the world of the Gaels there is not a finer opportunity for doing this than at Ballyportry, and may I say “Ballycrottry” in future. Its other name is “Ballecrutteragh”. Both names mean “place of the harps”. Both crottry and crutteragh have evolved from the word “cruit”, an ancient harp that could be plucked or bowed, a different kind of harp to the cláirseach.


Tales tell us that the vibrations from music of the harps will help to preserve the structure of the tower and help prevent it falling again in the future.


The tower is 7 storeys high, with each level connected with a spiraling stone stairway. On the lowest level is a very cosy kitchen, dining, living and lounging area with very efficient and warm turf fire. The next 5 levels are a combination of bedrooms and bathrooms. At the top is the “Great Hall” with racks of church candles, huge turf fire, and an array of benches, seats, large cushions and comforts.


Day 5:  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.


We visit Brigit’s Garden during our travels from Tighe na Cláirseach and Ballyportry.


Day 6:  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 7:  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 8:  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.


Evenings at Ballyportry will include feasting, merriment and reflections, restoring the traditions of the castle great halls.


With turf fire glowing we will share, music, especially harp music and song,storytelling,  passionate poetry, moving ballads and closing reflections.


This rekindles and restores castle traditions rather than present “made for tourists” tradition shows.  Traditional mead and mulled wine will be served. In short, we have our own Bunratty Castle style experience but closer to the real experience instead of the tourist bling. 


Current costs:


package of


8 days of transport, driver, guide, 
8 nights accommodation & breakfast, 
8 evening meals 
costs of “Tighe na Cláirseach”, “Augha Killy Maude”,  “Brigit’s Garden”  & “Ballyportry”  activities
gratuities for accommodation and dining


€1100 per person sharing
single supplement €80
Cliffs Of Moher supplement €35
Burren hike supplement €25
pricing subject to accommodation 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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