Medieval Ireland

Centuries of Change and Order

For 200 years, waves of Vikings invaded Ireland plundering monasteries and towns throughout the country. Although the Irish were victorious at the Battle of Clontarf, pockets of Vikings still remained in Ireland, their crusade to take over our island no longer a threat. Many Vikings settled into the Irish way of life and their counterparts were no longer interested in invading our country. The Medieval Period in Ireland spans centuries of change and reform. This period brought about changes to Pagan Ireland’s culture, ritual and society with the arrival of Christianity. The Vikings physical reign in Ireland lasted around 220 years, but their influence on culture and politics will last for quite some time. In fact, their influences can still be seen today. This tour will take you on a journey through medieval Ireland giving you the opportunity to explore our beautiful country in a new and unique way.  

Religion in Ireland, developed differently to the rest of Europe, the distinctive character of the Gaelic Irish along with the new Viking people, resulted in an interesting combination. Christianity developed in the form of Celtic Christianity, a fusion of Celtic and Viking art, which makes this a time of great art and craft.
Changes continued right throughout the medieval period and saw the invasion of Ireland by Anglo-Norman’s from Britain, beginning the colonisation of the island. The 12th Century saw changes again in religion in Ireland, with monastic settlements becoming disused, settlement patterns changed and new denominations were formed in Ireland and throughout Europe.
Buildings changed and became more fortified, instead of wooden structures, most churches, forts and castles were now constructed from stone and these dramatic buildings leave there mark on the Irish landscape to this day.
When we think of the medieval period, we imagine Kings and mighty Castles, banquets and battles. The reality is not much different, although a great deal more dramatic. This 9 day tour explores all things Medieval, from Castles, to battling Kings and fine Gothic Churches.
Day 1: Arrival in Dublin
On arrival, our luxury coach will greet you at Dublin Airport and take you to your city centre hotel. After check in, we enjoy a Medieval Walking Tour of Dublin and a visit to Trinity College to see the beautifully crafted Book of Kells. Later, we retreat back to our hotel for a ’Welcome to Ireland’ Dinner, giving you the opportunity to meet your group before tomorrows adventures. Staying overnight in Dublin. Accommodation at the 4* Burlington Hotel or similar. Breakfast and Dinner inclusive.
Day 2: Dublin City
This morning, we visit the National Museum of Ireland, which houses some of the most striking artefacts from Medieval Ireland. Afterwards, we visit Dublinia, the Viking centre where we take a guided tour. Here, we learn of the origins of Dublin as a Viking port and later enjoy a tour of the nearby Christchurch Cathedral. In the afternoon, we enjoy some free time to further explore Dublin. There is never a shortage of things to do in Dublin, see the many historical sights that litter our capital or enjoy some Irish Cuisine in one of our excellent bars and restaurants.  Staying in Dublin again tonight. Accommodation at the 4* Burlington Hotel or similar. Breakfast inclusive.
Day 3: Rock of Dunamase & Kilkenny
Today, we depart Dublin and drive to the medieval town of Kildare, this town dates from the 5th century when it was the site of the original Church of the Oak and monastery founded by St. Brigid. Kildare later became one of the three most important Christian foundations in Celtic Ireland. Here, we visit the Heritage Centre and enjoy a walking tour of the town before driving south to see a striking ruin in county Laois, the Rock of Dunamase. In the afternoon, we drive to Kilkenny, the medieval capital of Ireland and on arrival, we visit St Canice’s Cathedral and The Black Abbey. Later, enjoy free time to explore the cities great bars and restaurants. Staying in Kilkenny tonight. Accommodation at the the 4 * Hotel Kilkeny tonight. Breakfast inclusive.
Day 4: Kilkenny & Waterford
In the morning, we will visit the mighty Kilkenny Castle and learn of its history, before departing Kilkenny and driving south, visiting the Augustinian Priory in Kells, and the Jerpoint Abbey on route to Waterford city, one of the first Viking ports to be established. Here, we visit the Waterford Museum of Treasures and learn of the town’s medieval history. Later, we relax and enjoy a visit to the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre. Staying in Waterford tonight, accommodation at the 4* Granville Hotel. breakfast and Dinner inclusive.
Day 5: Cahir Castle & the Rock of Cashel
Today, we depart Waterford and set about on our journey to Tipperary passing through the beautiful heritage towns of South Tipperary on our way. On arrival, we visit the Medieval Ormond Castle in Carrick on Suir which was first built by the Butler family in 1309. Thereafter, we make our way to Cahir Castle, one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles situated on a rocky island on the River Suir. This imposing 13th -15th century structure was skilfully designed to be a state of the art defensive castle. Here we take a guided tour with an excellent audio-visual show before making our way to the mighty Rock of Cashel. This complex has a character of its own, unique and native, and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. This iconic building is one of the Ireland’s most visited Heritage sites. In the afternoon, we visit the Cashel Heritage Centre and Folk Village to discover what life was like in Cashel many years ago. In the evening, take advantage of some free time to enjoy all that this little town has to offer. Cashel’s Victorian town centre is a thriving retail zone, with excellent clothes shops, lively cafes, charming gift shops, pubs oozing with old charm and food retailers offering delicious artisan fare.
Staying in Tipperary tonight. Accommodation at the 4* Cashel Palace Hotel or similar. Breakfast inclusive.
Day 6: Medieval Limerick
This morning, we visit the beautiful village of Adare, renowned as one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. Due to its origin as a village of the Dunraven estate, Adare has a more planned appearance than many Irish villages and towns. Here, we see the Trinitarian Abbey, the only Trinitarian monastery in Ireland and Adare Castle, a 19th century castle located on the banks of the River Maigue. Afterwards, we make our way to Limerick City, where we visit the impressive King John’s Castle, built in the 1200s to guard the bridge over the River Shannon and the town of Limerick. While here, we see the Treaty Stone; erected on its pedestal in 1865, it now occupies a prominent position at Thomond Bridge. Later, we see the city’s Medieval Quarter and St. Mary’s Cathedral before enjoying some free time in the city. Limerick is a great shopping location and boasts a diverse culture and arts scene where there’s always something going on! Staying in Limerick tonight, accommodation at the 4* Limerick Strand Hotel or similar. Breakfast inclusive.
Day 7: Bunratty Castle & Brian Boru Centre
Today, we depart Limerick and set about on our journey to county Clare where we will visit the town of Killaloe. Killaloe, on the Clare side of the river, is made up of charming narrow streets, flanked by old shops along the steep hill looking down over the 13th century cathedral. The town was home to Brian Boru, the High King who united Ireland against the Vikings. This picture perfect town with its Victorian streets and old canal banks was once capital of all Ireland. Here, we visit the Brian Boru Heritage Centre to learn about the most infamous King of Medieval Ireland, before driving to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park where we enjoy a stroll around the park and discover the history of this beautiful Castle. Later, we make our way to the town of Ennis to see the Ennis Friary and visit Leamaneh Castle in the Burren. In the evening, we will venture further north into Galway city, where we will stay for the night. Accommodation at the 4* Galway Bay Hotel. Breakfast inclusive.
Day 8: Galway City and O’Dea Castle
This morning, we will visit O’Dea Castle in Corofin, north of the city before returning to Galway. Here, we enjoy a Gothic and Legends walking tour to discover the city’s dark medieval history before taking advantage of some free time to explore the many great shops, museums, restaurants and bars that litter the streets of this vibrant city. In the evening, we will travel to Dunguire Castle where we will end the day’s activities in true Medieval style as we experience our very own Banquet. You may even be picked to reign as King or Queen for the night! Staying in Galway tonight. Accommodation at the 4* Galway Bay or similar. Breakfast inclusive.
Day 9: Dublin Airport
On our final day, we leave the great Kings and Queens of Medieval Ireland behind and return to Dublin.