September 8th to September 15th

Dublin – Adare – Galway – Enniskillen – Derry Londonderry – Belfast – Dublin

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About

Each year we run Classic Europe where participants drive their own vehicles. The tour is non competitive and open to any vehicle, classic or modern. Previous tours have included visits to Croatia, Romania, Portugal and Italy.

Last year (2018) our tour visited the former GDR, the Czech Republic and Poland. This year our tour visits Ireland – The Middle & The North. The event is open to thirty vehicles of any model and any age. The navigation is easy and straightforward with no complicated map reading.

Car tours of Ireland often follow a ‘standard’ route which begins in Dublin and then follows a clockwise loop until they reach Galway at which point they return to Dublin. Our tour does not follow the standard route. Instead we begin in Dublin and then go straight across the country to just south of Limerick before heading north in a clockwise loop eventually finishing in Belfast. Growing up in the era of the Troubles and, having never visited Northern Ireland before, I was fascinated to visit places which used to be on the news almost daily in the 70’s. As part of the trip there is a guided tour in Belfast of some of the main areas of the Troubles. With regard to the route it is just over 1200kms of which nearly 300kms is along the Wild Atlantic Way, the name given to the coast road.

Route Map – For a map of the route click here

In southern Ireland we will be visiting the counties of Wicklow, Kildare, Laois, Tipperary, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan & Donegal. In the north we visit County Fermanagh, Derry, Antrim and Down.

2019 Classic Europe Itinerary – 8th to 15th September

Sunday Sep 8th – Our starting hotel is the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire which is just south of Dublin. Feel free to arrive anytime during the day. We will be meeting up for a welcome dinner in the evening.

Monday Sep 9th – Our first stop is at Powerscourt House & Gardens. This was voted as one of the top ten houses in the world by Lonely Planet although I’m not sure why because it burnt down in the 1974 and, despite being restored you cannot actually visit much of the house. However the gardens are truly magnificent. The head gardener is Alex Slazenger who grew up on the estate. Not sure if this is the same family as the tennis rackets. Leaving Powerscourt we take a short drive to Glencree passing close by to Ireland’s only German War cemetery containing 134 German graves including several pilots. We leave Glencree along the Military Road into the Wicklow Mountains before turning west towards Kildare and a guided tour of the Irish National Stud. Even if you are not ‘into’ horse racing this is an interesting visit. After leaving Kildare we travel our only substantial section of motorway of the whole trip. Our overnight stop is at Adare which claims to be Ireland’s prettiest village so you may like to take a walk up the high street before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Tuesday Sep 10th we begin the day with a short drive to Foynes which is a small village on the edge of the river Shannon. In the 1930’s this is where the Pan American flying boats stopped to refuel on their way to the USA. Having left Southampton, Foynes was their last port of call before the long stint across the Atlantic. Consequently the village played host to many of the world’s rich and famous including Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe. One day a flying boat had to turn back to Foynes and barman Joe Sheridan was asked to rustle something up for the passengers. He made some coffee and added a tot of Irish whiskey before gently pouring cream on the top of each glass. When asked by one of the passengers whether it was Brazilian coffee he replied that it was Irish…. and so the Irish Coffee was born. There is now a quaint little museum at the old terminal building which includes a life size replica of a flying boat. Next it’s another short drive to catch the cross Shannon Ferry and then along the Wild Atlantic Way to the ludicrously popular Cliffs of Moher. Despite the crowds the cliffs are nevertheless quite a sight and worth the walk to view them. Leaving Moher we continue north drving towards The Burren, on the way maybe calling into the famous Burren Smokehouse to try their organic smoked salmon. The Burren is a bizarre landscape made up of acres and acres of Karst, primarily limestone, and said to be the finest of its type in the world. At the end of the day we will reach the city of Galway which is well known for its vibrant nightlife. We have a hotel within walking distance of the town centre.

Wednesday Sep 11th We begin the day with a lovely rural drive before a morning coffee stop at Croagh Patrick which is a 760 metre mountain that has been an important site of pilgrimage, pretty well uninterrupted for over 5000 years.  (Mind you, 5000 years ago I bet there wasn’t a pay and display car park like there is now.) In 441 AD St Patrick fasted on the top of this mountain for 40 days and each year, on the last Sunday in July, people honour this feat. This year in July they had 25,000 visitors. As well as fasting you probably know that St Patrick drove all the snakes into the sea and to this day there are no snakes in Ireland. Also located here is the National Famine Memorial which is a rather macabre sculpture of a three masted ship covered in skeletons. After passing through Westport we head inland towards the Irish National Museum of Country Life which is a delightful little museum celebrating the way life used to be in Ireland. There is also an excellent cafe. Next we head north east for guided tour around the last working coal mine in Ireland. This was a drift mine as opposed to a deep pit and is easy to visit. The mine closed in 1990 and when you witness the working conditions endured by those that worked at the coal face you will think I mean 1890. Quite unbelievable. All the tour guides are currently ex-miners. Leaving the mine we soon cross into Northern Ireland. At the moment there is no border post. Who knows what will greet us next September. Our hotel for the night is a grand affair on the edge of Lough Erne. Just before reaching the hotel we pass through Enniskillen site of the IRA bombing which took place on Remembrance Sunday 1987, killing 12 and wounding 68. Our route takes us past the location. Tonight we will have dinner in the hotel.

Thursday Sep 12th Soon after leaving the hotel we cross back into Ireland and rejoin the Wild Atlantic Way stopping to visit the Cliffs of Slieve League. These are three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher and are not populated by tour buses. Leaving the cliffs we take a scenic drive through Donegal. By early afternoon we should reach our overnight stop, Derry Londonderry. As well as being Europe’s oldest walled city it was also the location of the Bloody Sunday shootings which took place on 30th Jan 1972. There is an excellent museum very close to the site which I am told is must see. (Unfortunately it was closed on our recce trip but will be open when we visit.)

Friday Sep 13th We leave Derry Londonderry and soon drive along part of the Northwest 200 street circuit. Each May up to 200,000 spectators gather to watch motorbikes race around a triangle circuit between Portrush, Coleraine and Portstewart. This route will take you 20 minutes at legal speeds but travelling at up to 200mph, the worlds’ top road racers do it in four and a bit. Next we have two optional visits. One is to the Bushmills Distillery – officially the world’s oldest licenced distillery, and the second is to take a walk to view Giant’s Causeway. After visiting either of these we continue along the coast road before heading south to Belfast. We should reach the hotel in Belfast by about 15.00. At 16.00 we will be collected from the hotel in a fleet of small minibuses for a tour of the Falls Road, Shankhill Road and ‘Peace Line’. Returning to the hotel you are in walking distance from Belfast’s lively night life so you have a free evening.  Saturday Sep 14th “Wake up chaps – you’ve got half an hour to live.” That apparently is what one crew member said to his mates on board Titanic on the morning that it sank. In the morning we are visiting the Titanic Museum which in 2016 was named as the world’s leading tourist attraction. The tour of the museum is self guided meaning you can take as long as you like to visit. To say this museum is well done is an understatement. It really is an excellent visit. After visiting the museum the rest of the day is yours to enjoy. There are several other museums and places of interest to visit – some within the city and some just a few miles outside. I will provide you with a list nearer the time. In the late afternoon it’s time to take a short drive to our farewell hotel & dinner venue which is located 12 miles from the city in a converted mill house.

Sunday Sep 15th – If you are catching a ferry from Dublin (Dun Laoghaire) it is less the 2 hours drive.

Booking info & Cost

Cost
The cost of the tour is £1215 per person

Included
7 nights 4 or 5 star accommodation
4 dinners
Entry to Powerscourt House & Gardens
Guided tour of Irish National Stud
Entry to Foynes Flying Boat Museum
Cross Shannon Ferry for car and two passengers
Entry and parking to Cliffs of Moher
Entry to Museum of Country Life
Guided Tour of Irelands last working coal mine
Private taxi tour of the ‘Troubles’
Entry to the Titanic Museum
Michelin Map of Ireland
Detailed, easy to follow routebook

Not included
Overnight Parking in Galway €8
Overnight parking in Belfast  – Unknown Cost – Car Park under construction.
Overnight Parking Derry – £10
Entry to Free Derry Museum £6
Optional visit to Bushmills Distillery
Optional visit to Giant’s Causeway

Arriving Early
Saturday Sep 7th As I mentioned above we are starting the event at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire. If you have never been to Dublin before, you could easily arrive a day early and spend a day in the city, probably visiting the iconic Guinness factory and perhaps taking a tour or Killmainham Gaol, a particularly grim establishment that closed in the 1920’s. The city centre can be easily reached by bus or by a local train which run every 15 minutes and take 20 minutes to reach the city centre. The other alternative is to book your own hotel closer to town.

What happens next?
Send an email to us at info@greatroadjourneys.com with your contact details. Alternatively call me for a chat on 01458 224109 or 07831 477746 and I will be happy to discuss the trip in more detail.

A deposit of £500 per person will be required upon booking Classic Europe, with the balance due one month before departure.