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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Day 5 Itinerary Options

We have the great fortune of being a private group for our May 2018 tour of Ireland.  This gives us some real flexibility, so I would like to post this month on some options we might consider for Day 5.  Some of you may have read or heard about our 2009 Ireland tour and how we (as a private group) were able to reroute our tour bus for a day to see Charles Fort and the Titanic exhibit at Cobh Heritage Centre.  For me that was an especially memorable day of our tour, with breathtaking scenery and a fascinating tour.  From talking to a few of our participants individually, it would appear we have an opening in our May 2018 itinerary to make a similar change that would allow us to see more of what our participants are most interested in.

Our current Day 5 itinerary is a bus tour of The Ring of Kerry.  This is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula with plenty of nice views and a visit to the Bog Village (a replica early 18th century village of small thatched houses).  While this day trip is very popular among itineraries for tours of Ireland, it also has a few minor drawbacks for our group.  First, about a third of the group has been to Ireland before and already toured The Ring of Kerry.  Now, if we keep the itinerary as is those participants would still have the option of staying in Killarney that day or joining a local tour for one of the surrounding areas.

However, we do have the option as a private group of modifying our itinerary for that day to see sights that appeal more to the whole group as the second drawback of the present itinerary is that a few participants have discussed with me preferring time in Irish towns (including just more time in Killarney) to a full day of driving around the countryside.  My proposal would be to reroute our tour bus on Day 5 to see a more balanced itinerary of scenic countryside and still stop in an Irish town or two, along with stops at other points of interest. 

Killarney is a great starting point for many day tours, so there are a lot of choices to consider, and the group would have to agree on the new route before we’d change our Day 5 itinerary.  I’ve outlined three unique full day tour options below. 

Dingle Peninsula
Driving from Killarney to Dingle, we would stop briefly at scenic Inch Beach.  The town of Dingle is known for its traditional Irish music.  The plan would be to spend a few hours, including lunch time, in Dingle enjoying the great coastal views, music, pubs and shopping in this quintessential Irish town.  We would then continue on to Slea Head Viewingpoint for some breathtaking views.  From there we would return to Killarney via Conor Pass, one of the highest Irish mountain passes you can travel through. 

Dingle

Slea Head
To view this route:  http://bit.ly/2zdGYg4



Upper Beara Peninsula and Drombeg Stone Circle
Driving south from Killarney we would pass through Killarney National Park with a stop at Torc Waterfall.  Proceeding through scenic Molls Gap, we would next stop in Kenmare.  Kenmare, a picturesque Irish town, is a good stopping point for lunch, shopping, pub stops and just enjoying another highly recommended Irish town.  We’d then travel through Glengarrif and the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve.  A coastal drive takes us past Bantry to Drombeg Stone Circle.  (Depending on time, either Glengarriff or Bantry would be lovely towns to stop in along the way.)  Drombeg Stone Circle is a popular megalithic site in Ireland, likely dating from the late Bronze Age.  After a stop at the stone circle, we’ll proceed back to Killarney via an interior route with its own lovely views of the Irish countryside. 

Torc Waterfall
Drombeg Stone Circle





To view this route:  http://bit.ly/2A3IbYn



Killarney National Park and Upper Beara Penninsula
This options focuses heavily on Killarney National Park but also takes us to Kenmare and a closer stone circle.  We would again see Torc Waterfall, but first we’d make stops at Ross Castle and Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farm.  Proceeding through Molls Gap we would stop for lunch, shopping, pubs, etc in lovely Kenmare.  We would then visit nearby Uragh Stone Circle, a Bronze Age stone circle with five megaliths, the highest being ten feet tall.  We would return to Kenmare and then back to Killarney while seeing more of the Irish countryside. 

Kenmare
Ross Castle











To view this route:  http://bit.ly/2jNblHq


Now that I’ve offered my suggestions for a Day 5 itinerary, I’m curious what our participants and those interested in our tour think of the sights we might see.  


          We have the great fortune of being a private group for our May 2018 tour of Ireland.  This gives us some real flexibility, so I would like to post this month on some options we might consider for Day 5.  Some of you may have read or heard about our 2009 Ireland tour and how we (as a private group) were able to reroute our tour bus for a day to see Charles Fort and the Titanic exhibit at Cobh Heritage Centre.  For me that was an especially memorable day of our tour, with breathtaking scenery and a fascinating tour.  

          From talking to a few of our participants individually, it would appear we have an opening in our May 2018 itinerary to make a similar change that would allow us to see more of what our participants are most interested in.  Our current Day 5 itinerary is a bus tour of The Ring of Kerry.  This is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula with plenty of nice views and a visit to the Bog Village (a replica early 18th century village of small thatched houses).  While this day trip is very popular among itineraries for tours of Ireland, it also has a few minor drawbacks for our group.  First, about a third of the group has been to Ireland before and already toured The Ring of Kerry.  Now, if we keep the itinerary as is those participants would still have the option of staying in Killarney that day or joining a local tour for one of the surrounding areas.


          However, we do have the option as a private group of modifying our itinerary for that day to see sights that appeal more to the whole group as the second drawback of the present itinerary is that a few participants have discussed with me preferring time in Irish towns (including just more time in Killarney) to a full day of driving around the countryside.  My proposal would be to reroute our tour bus on Day 5 to see a more balanced itinerary of scenic countryside and still stop in an Irish town or two, along with stops at other points of interest.  

          Killarney is a great starting point for many day tours, so there are a lot of choices to consider, and the group would have to agree on the new route before we’d change our Day 5 itinerary.  I’ve outlined three unique full day tour options below.  

Dingle Peninsula
Driving from Killarney to Dingle, we would stop briefly at scenic Inch Beach.  The town of Dingle is known for its traditional Irish music.  The plan would be to spend a few hours, including lunch time, in Dingle enjoying the great coastal views, music, pubs and shopping in this quintessential Irish town.  We would then continue on to Slea Head Viewingpoint for some breathtaking views.  From there we would return to Killarney via Conor Pass, one of the highest Irish mountain passes you can travel through. 
 
 To view this route:  http://bit.ly/2zdGYg4

Upper Beara Peninsula and Drombeg Stone Circle
Driving south from Killarney we would pass through Killarney National Park with a stop at Torc Waterfall.  Proceeding through scenic Molls Gap, we would next stop in Kenmare.  Kenmare, a picturesque Irish town, is a good stopping point for lunch, shopping, pub stops and just enjoying another highly recommended Irish town.  We’d then travel through Glengarrif and the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve.  A coastal drive takes us past Bantry to Drombeg Stone Circle.  (Depending on time, either Glengarriff or Bantry would be lovely towns to stop in along the way.)  Drombeg Stone Circle is a popular megalithic site in Ireland, likely dating from the late Bronze Age.  After a stop at the stone circle, we’ll proceed back to Killarney via an interior route with its own lovely views of the Irish countryside. 
 To view this route:  http://bit.ly/2A3IbYn

Killarney National Park and Upper Beara Penninsula

This option focuses heavily on Killarney National Park but also takes us to Kenmare and a nearby stone circle.  We would again see Torc Waterfall, but first we’d make stops at Ross Castle and Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farm.  Proceeding through Molls Gap we would stop for lunch, shopping, pubs, etc in lovely Kenmare.  We would then visit nearby Uragh Stone Circle, a Bronze Age stone circle with five megaliths, the highest being ten feet tall.  We would return to Kenmare and then back to Killarney while seeing more of the Irish countryside. 
 To view this route:  http://bit.ly/2jNblHq

           Now that I’ve offered my suggestions for a Day 5 itinerary, I’m curious what our participants and those interested in our tour think of the sights we might see. I'd love for you to comment, message me or even vote in some upcoming polls on our Facebook event page.




Monday, October 16, 2017

Passport Questions

I'm starting to post on several ways to prepare for our upcoming trip to Ireland, starting with having a valid passport.  Please take a look at the information below to ensure your passport is up to date enough for traveling with us in May.


Is you passport valid until at least November 30, 2018?

Most tour companies follow the cautious rule of requiring that participant passports are valid for 6 months after the tour end date.  This is because some countries require that your passport be valid for 3 to 6 months after your travel to ensure you don't overstay your passport's validity.  So if your passport expires in 2018, it's best to get it renewed before our May tour.


Do you meet all of the criteria for renewing your passport by mail?

Many people with US passports can simply renew through the mail, but there are several conditions for this (and you have to meet them all).
  1. Your current or expired passport book must be undamaged.
  2. Your current or expired passport has to have been issued within the last 15 years.
  3. You have to have been 16 or older when you got your current or expired passport.
  4. The current or expired passport must be in your current legal name or you must have appropriate documentation for any name change (such as a marriage certificate or court order).
 If you meet all of these criteria, you can use this site to obtain the form to renew your passport.  You will still need to send in a color passport photo (click here for passport photo regulations).  Some businesses, like Walgreen's, offer passport photo services, but you can also go to your local post office to obtain a passport photo and application.


Is this your first time getting a US passport (or are you ineligible to simply renew by mail)?

To apply for a first or new US passport, you will need to do so in person at a passport acceptance facility (most commonly at a post office).

You will need to complete Form DS-11 and bring the following:
  1. Evidence of citizenship (This can be a US passport even if it is expired, US birth certificate or other certificate of naturalization or citizenship.) - You will need to also have a photocopy to submit.
  2. Identification (This could be a US passport even if expired, US drivers license, government ID, or US military ID.  You can find the full list of acceptable ID online.) - You will need to also have a photocopy of both the front and back of your ID to submit.
  3. A photo that meets the passport photo requirements.

For detailed information on what to bring or other frequently asked questions, click here.



How soon do you need to apply?

Obtaining a passport can take as long as 8 weeks from when you first apply (though standard time is 4 to 6 weeks).  So don't wait until the last minute.  I've deliberately chosen this month to post about obtaining and renewing passports because if you apply now you can leave yourself plenty of time to take care of any issues that may come up.



Make sure your passport matches your information with our tour company!

Please note that your name on your passport must match your name on your ticket, so it must match the name our tour company has for you.  Be sure to check that the information you gave when signing up matches your passport, and contact the tour company immediately to correct it if it doesn't.

Even if you're taking advantage of the "land only" tour and planning to book your own airfare, please ensure your information with the tour company is accurate.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Irish Genealogy



Ireland counties map from https://www.wikipedia.org/
Because one of the main reasons people take an interest in traveling to Ireland is having an ancestral connection to the Emerald Isle, I thought I’d spend September sharing some links for researching your Irish genealogy.  Fully researching your Irish family tree would be a trip in itself, but even with our limited free-time on tour you can still take some time to connect with your ancestors if so inclined.

The biggest key is to do the bulk of your research before you leave for Ireland.  Having a firm foundation is essential to knowing what records and information you’ll be looking for while in Ireland.  Especially with limited time for genealogical research, knowing exactly what you want to find will make the search far less frustrating.  Plus knowing where your family came from ahead of time can make your travels in Ireland all the more meaningful; this tour will take our group to stops in 7 Irish counties, including County Tipperary, where some of my husband’s ancestors were born.  Knowing this makes our time at the Rock of Cashel and just driving through that county all the more exciting.

There are numerous online resources for tracing your Irish roots.  Many have membership fees but also a great deal of resources and records to offer.  Ancestry.com is a common choice for amateur genealogists regardless of where your family lines trace back to.  Ancestry.com includes vast resources and a large community to discuss leads with.  The downside is, of course, the cost.  While you can build your tree and see some records on ancestry.com for free, a U.S. only membership is just under $20 a month (or less if you can do an annual payment), and an international membership (which would be essential for researching your ancestors in Ireland) has a monthly fee of just under $35.

image of family tree on https://www.ancestry.com/
Once you have some basic genealogy information, you may need a more focused site to find additional documents specific to your Irish relatives.  Among the most popular paid membership sites for Irish genealogy is rootsireland.ie.  Similar to ancestry.com, rootsireland.ie offers a wide variety of records and some additional resources.  Being able to narrow your search by county is also a big plus on this site.  You can also check out irishancestors.ie for membership in the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

There are also a few free sites to take advantage of for genealogy research.  Though administered by the Mormon Church, familysearch.org, is actually a very broad and useful site to find genealogy records and connections through other’s family trees.  Like ancestry.com, this site allows you to create your family tree and connect the records it houses to members of your tree.  Another great free source of information that offers international records is findagrave.com.  

The Irish government also offers several free genealogical sites, including irishgenealogy.ie.  For some free Ireland specific sites, try The National Archives of Ireland, which includes free searches for census records.  Church records can also provide treasure-trove of information.  Many Catholic Parish Registers are available registers.nli.ie.  While some of these records can be searched for a very specific date, be prepared to scroll through many, often difficult to read records for a given year.  The interactive map at the bottom of the page will help you determine the parish(es) you are looking for if you know the county, or better still the town or approximate location in the county, your ancestors came from.
 
image of record found at http://www.nli.ie/

And if you’re looking for tips from others doing Irish genealogy research, Facebook is host to many groups and communities.  Members can often give tips on where to look for information and occasionally will even provide information they have access to on common relatives.  Most communities on Facebook are quite welcoming and eager to help, but you will need some basic information (names, dates of birth and/or death, county or names of connected relatives) on those ancestors you are researching to begin with.  Try the following groups for a start:

For more suggestions on Irish genealogy online resources, check out these links:

So if you’d like to track down your Irish ancestors as part of our upcoming tour, now is the time to start researching!  I’ll be posting later in the month about genealogical services and archives in Ireland that you may be able to fit into your free time on our tour.