Ireland and the Wexford Opera

Ireland and the Wexford Opera


Join the Friends of the National Arts Centre Orchestra as they visit


And the Wexford Opera
October 10 – 21, 2008

From Stone Age monuments to urban city buzz, the land of saints and scholars is just waiting to be explored!

We’ll visit the bizarre lunar landscapes of the Burren, the historic Ireland of castles,
sacred sites and legends and vibrant Dublin – a centre for much of modern Irish social and cultural life.
Highlights of our tour will be two performances at the world renowned
Wexford Opera Festival and a tour of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Join us for the music, the storytelling and a bit of “craic.”

  Your Executive Worldwide Travel Tour Itinerary

October 10 – Depart Ottawa for Dublin via Toronto on Air Canada.

October 11 – Upon our arrival at the Dublin airport, meet our local guide who will assist with the transfer to our motorcoach which will take us to the landmark O'Callaghan Davenport Hotel, situated at the city centre in Georgian Dublin’s Merrion Square, within walking distance of Trinity College and the National Art Gallery.

Welcome Dinner at the hotel. Inflight meals, D


October 12 – Dublin
Full Irish breakfast. Discover Dublin today with a panoramic city tour including the National Art Gallery, the Guinness Storehouse and the Chester Beatty Library & Gallery of Oriental Art. Housed at Dublin Castle in a restored 18th century building, the Chester Beatty Library exhibits open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Its rich collection includes manuscripts, prints, icons, miniature paintings, early printed books and objects d'art from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Opened in 1864 the National Gallery of Ireland houses some fine pieces, from artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Rembrandt, El Greco, Goya and Picasso. More than 600 works are on display in the gallery and, although there is much emphasis on Irish landscape and portraits, every major school of European painting is well represented. A Caravaggio ~ the Taking of Christ, was rediscovered in a Dublin Jesuit study in 1990 and it now proudly hangs in the Italian room of the Gallery. The Dargan wing houses the imposing Shaw room lined with full-length portraits and illuminated by a series of spectacular Waterford crystal chandeliers. The Central Milltown Rooms were added in 1899 and house the Russborough House collection, while the North wing was added in 1964 and it houses British and European artists. The Millennium wing was added in 2000 to accommodate a visiting Impressionist exhibition.

Lunchtime concert at the National Concert Hall with lunch nearby. Following a visit to the gallery, visit the Guinness Storehouse. The Guinness Brewery in Dublin is Europe’s largest stout producing brewery and home to the Guinness Storehouse. Opened in 1904, The Storehouse was an operational plant for fermenting and storing Guinness. Today it houses a very fine exhibition dedicated to the Guinness story. The visit ends with a visit to the 7th floor Gravity bar to sample first-hand the elixir of life ~ a pint of Guinness and enjoy a fabulous 360 degree view of Dublin. Enjoy remainder of afternoon and evening at leisure in Dublin City. Overnight at Davenport Hotel. BL


October 13 – Galway
After a full Irish breakfast, check out and depart Dublin for Galway with a stop at Athlone for lunch on your own.

The city centre of Galway is mainly pedestrian, so a walking tour is the best way to enjoy its atmosphere and discover some of its most important monuments. The tour, which starts on Eyre Square and finishes at the Claddagh, includes Lynch Castle, Saint Nicholas Church, founded in the 13th Century, and the Spanish Arch. You can walk along the Corrib River to the Claddagh village or to the majestic cathedral.

Galway has a reputation of being one of the best places in Ireland for traditional Irish music, best enjoyed in the informal setting of an Irish pub where musicians simply turn up with their instruments and begin to play.

Dinner and overnight at the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway. BD


October 14 – Galway
Full Irish breakfast at the hotel before today’s Connemara tour.
Connemara is a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains, and small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland.
Connemara is a peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south – a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages.
On its northern shore, the land is harsher, with spectacular views of the ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking lakes and large bog areas.
Dinner and overnight at the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway. BD



October 15 – Killarney
Full Irish breakfast and check out.
Depart for The Burren, for a guided tour which includes the cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle. The Burren, part of which forms the 100 square km Burren National Park, is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern. This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and rivers which suddenly flood when it rains. The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 12th century, small villages abandoned during the famine period and green roads on which you can walk for miles without ever seeing a car.

Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8 km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien, a descendent of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, and the O'Briens of Bunratty Castle, Kings of Thomond, as an observation point for the hundreds of tourists who even then visited the Cliffs.
Bunratty Castle is one of the most complete and authentic medieval castles in Ireland. Built in 1425 and plundered on many occasions, it was authentically restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour. Within the grounds of Bunratty castle is Bunratty Folk Park. The Folk Park demonstrates everyday life in rural Ireland of the 19th century.
Dinner and overnight at the elegant Dromhall Hotel in Killarney. BD

October 16 – Killarney
Full Irish breakfast followed by a tour of the Dingle Peninsula. Some of the finest coastal scenery to be seen in Ireland can be found in West Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula, the most northern of the Kerry Peninsulas. It is also a “Gaeltacht” (Irish speaking) area, where the Irish language and traditional ways of life are preserved. This peninsula is famous for its Celtic, pre-Christian monuments and Christian churches. Dingle town itself is a thriving fishing town with plentiful pubs, narrow streets and a busy harbour. It offers plenty of opportunities for shopping or an Irish coffee break with some traditional Irish music.
Overnight at Dromhall Hotel. B

October 17 – Killarney
Full Irish breakfast
Full day free to enjoy all that this lovely area has to offer. Your guide will have suggestions.
Dinner and overnight at Dromhall Hotel. BD



October 18 – Wexford
Full Irish breakfast, then depart for Wexford with a stop at the Rock of Cashel enroute. Towering over the town of Cashel from its perch on a 200-foot high outcrop of limestone, the Rock of Cashel was once the seat of the Kings of Munster. Impressive stone walls enclose a round tower, a cathedral, a twelfth century Romanesque chapel and high crosses.

Continue to Wexford and check in at the Quality Inn Wexford Hotel with dinner at the hotel before the evening performance of Tutti In Maschera – Everyone in disguise – Carlo Pedrotti (1817 – 1893) at the Wexford Opera Festival. If opera singers are always talking about themselves, the same might be said of the works they perform; Tutti in maschera is an opera...about opera! The Wexford has built a reputation for unrivalled excellence, and has become a proving ground for operatic stars of the future. The previous Theatre Royal which dated from 1832 has been replaced with a new building which opens for the 2008 season. Overnight, Quality Inn Wexford Hotel in Wexford. BD.


October 19 – Wexford
Full Irish breakfast.
Today, visit Waterford Crystal Factory for a guided tour of the different stages of production from the blowing, cutting and engraving areas to seeing the finished product on display in the magnificent showrooms.

Guided tour of Kilkenny Castle, one of the most instantly recognized buildings in Ireland, and an important site since it was built by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. William the Earl Marshall built the first stone castle on this site in 1260. This was a square-shaped castle with towers at each corner; three of these original four towers survive to this day.

Our tour will include a visit to Butler Gallery and the Kilkenny Collection of Contemporary Art, an important collection of largely Irish art dating from the 18th Century to the present day.

Dinner at the hotel prior to the Wexford Opera Festival performance of Snegurochka – the Snow Maiden – Nikolay Andreyevich, Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 – 1908). Based on a ‘springtime fairy-tale’ and full of genuine Russian Folk Melodies, the music of The Snow Maiden has melted the hearts of audiences all over the world for over 100 years.
Overnight, Quality Inn Wexford. BD



October 20 – Straffan
Full Irish breakfast followed by visits to the villages of Avoca and Glendalough. Avoca is home to Avoca Hand Weavers, established in 1723 and Ireland’s oldest surviving business.

Glendalough, or the Glen of Two Lakes, is one of the most important sites of maonastic ruins in Ireland. It is also known as the city of the seven churches. Fourteen centuries have passed since the death of its founder, St. Kevin, when the valley was part of Ireland's Golden Age.

Continue via the Wicklow Gap to the 4 Star Barberstown Castle, an historic country house hotel built around the original 13th century Castle Keep, for your last night in Ireland. Our farewell dinner takes place in the Castle Keep.

The evening will begin with a Mead reception (Irish whiskey and honey drink), during which a harpist will entertain guests. The menu will be the Taste of Ireland – seven delicious courses sampling the finest Irish produce. Our harpist rejoins us with a singer.
Overnight Barberstown Castle. BD

October 21 – Farewell
Full Irish breakfast.
Transfer to Dublin Airport for departure. B

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