The Great Northern Odyssey 2022

Pierce Kavanagh Coaches
Call (+353) 56 883 1213
Book early to avoid disappointment!

23rd July 2022
€1575 pps

Print

Your Trip Includes

  • Experienced driver
  • Luxury coach transportation
  • 6 Nights 4 star Deluxe Hotel Accommodation
  • Porterage 
  • 6 Full Ulster breakfasts
  • 6 Lunches
  • 1 Afternoon Tea
  • 6 Evening meals
  • All Entrances

Pick-up Points

  • Dublin Heuston Station
  • Dublin City Centre
  • Naas
  • Kildare
  • Portlaoise
  • Urlingford

Hotels:

The Dunadry Hotel ( 4* superior)
The Everglades Hotel (4* superior)

Day 1:

Welcome onboard our luxurious coach, travelling on our Great Northern Odyssey adventure.

Following pickups, we’re stopping enroute for Afternoon Tea together, a perfect way to break the ice and get to know our fellow travelling companions. Our destination is to the beautiful Montalto Estate where we have a delightful afternoon tea arranged in the opulence of one of the most beautiful properties in Northern Ireland. Set in picture-perfect surroundings, this Georgian mansion is throwing open it’s doors to welcome our group. A visit begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the rich history of Montalto Estate before exploring the grandeur of this 18th century Georgian mansion with its wonderful collection of original art and antiques. Immerse yourself in the history and social life within this house as you move through the main rooms including the rebuilt East Wing and the lady’s sitting room with its original plastered ceilings by Robert West, created in 1758. End in the elegant Chinese Room, for a traditional afternoon tea that includes delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, handcrafted miniature pastries, sweet treats, teas and coffees.

The elegant grounds are yours to explore in the afternoon before we travel to our hotel.

Our next stop is our hotel just outside the village of Dunadry, our base for the next 5 nights. You’ll be welcomed with open arms as guests of this historically important hotel. The hotel has undergone a massive refurbishment overseen by it’s new owner in 2019 and now enjoy 4* superior status.  The hotel’s interior is modern and contemporary, bringing the past and present together through impeccable design. With acres of grounds to enjoy, guests can listen to the gentle spill of the Six Mile Water, which runs through the stunning landscaped gardens just outside the main restaurant’s windows. The hotel’s porters will take you luggage to your room and you have time to relax.  Join your Tour Director for a Welcome drinks reception and introductory talk about the hotel’s history in the garden lounge with views of the Peace Tree. This tree was made famous as a symbol of unity during the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which ended the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Dinner & Overnight at our hotel.

Day 2:

A hearty Ulster Breakfast awaits you this morning before we board our coach for an Antrim excursion today.  We’re heading straight to the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Giant’s Causeway is iconic and used in all images promoting Northern Ireland overseas.

Ancient legend has it that Finn Mc Cool created the Giants Causeway by building steppingstones to Scotland to challenge the Scottish giant Benandonner but changed this mind when he saw the size of Benandonner and ran back home!

You can learn all about the stories whilst visiting the award winning visitors centre which features interpretive exhibition areas and an audio visual – then stroll down the walk way to the vast array of famous basalt hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. Flanked by the wild north Atlantic on one side and a landscape of dramatic cliffs on the other, the Giants Causeway has captured the imagination of all who see it.

Our coach then heads southbound along the stunningly beautiful Antrim Coastline, one of the most popular coastal drives on the island of Ireland. See The Nine Glens of Antrim, with delightful views of mountains, valleys, and coastline. We’ll pass through quaint coastal villages and towns along this coastal drive to our next visit, the 18th  century Walled Gardens of Glenarm Castle, the ancestral home of the McDonnell family, Earls of Antrim.

Over the past twenty years the Walled Garden has been carefully restored by Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce, with exciting new features added every year. It continues to evolve as a centre of horticultural excellence with imaginative herbaceous borders, beautiful water features, fruit and vegetable gardens, and displays of flowers that burst with colour from spring until autumn. One of the most exciting areas of the garden, this herbaceous border is filled with bright reds, pinks and oranges throughout the season: from tulips and peonies in early summer to bright dahlias and penstemons in the early autumn.

The four capitols that sit in the wonderfully scented herb garden originally belonged to the Earl-Bishop and are thought to have come from his palace at Downhill in County Derry. While growing fruit and vegetables for the Castle household was once the main purpose of a Walled Garden, now only this section of the garden produces fruit and vegetables while the rest of the garden is now mainly ornamental. The glass house, in which apricots, nectarines and grapes are grown, dates back to the 1820s. It is also used to propagate plants for the garden and shop. The structure backs onto the whitewashed bothies in the kitchen garden. Many of these contain small fireplaces and were once used to house journeymen and garden staff. This is an exciting experience for garden lovers and The Earl of Antrim’s estate manager or head gardener will be onsite to answer any questions you may have.

Dinner & Overnight at our hotel. 

Day 3:

Located on a hill surrounded by water and trees, the site of Down Cathedral was an important location for Celtic worship for thousands of years before St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. Following the Saint’s death and burial on the elevated site, a small monastic community grew up around St Patricks grave which was first recorded in 753AD. The medieval Cathedral which we see today traces it’s origins to the Invasion of Ulster. In the early 12th century, an Augustinian House was established here. In 1183 John De Courcy invited Benedictine monks from St Wenburghs in Chester to come and establish a monastery here. Parts of this present building were part of that original monastery. With the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538 the monks left, and the building gradually fell into ruin. In 1609 James I granted a Charter to establish a Dean and Chapter here and although still a ruined site, bishops were consecrated within the walls. Towards the end of the 18th century Dean Annesley, along with Willis Hill (of Hillsborough) and many of the notable families of County Down raised funds to completely restore this building. Over the years, there have been many periods when the Chapter Book records that the Cathedral was closed for repairs. But none was as far reaching as the recent renovations which took place in 1986/7. Attacks of rot were so extensive that the Cathedral Board, acting on professional advice decided to remove almost the entire interior plaster walls and vaulting. What the visitor sees now is an almost entirely new interior, a replica of that which it replaced. Down Cathedral now boasts one of the finest pipe organs in the British Isles and impressive Mayer of Munich stained glass windows (From about the 1860s to the 1940s Mayer was the foremost supplier of stained glass to Irish churches) and is one of Ireland’s jewels in the crown in important spiritual sites.

Then you can hop on the coach for the 2-minute journey or use the steps which drop down to The St Patricks Centre in the heart of Downpatrick. Step into the Theatre and list to the story of Ireland in the words of Patrick – the Roman, the Slave, the Cleric and The Saint. Oscar nominated and star of ‘Belfast’ actor Ciaran Hinds gives a voice to Saint Patrick and narrates us in Patrick’s own words through his life and adventures from his boyhood in Roman Britain to his captivity by Irish pirates, his slavery on Slemish Mountain and escape. The IMAX cinema, bold graphics, sculpture combined with video and audio techniques allows us to explore Patrick’s life and the major impact of Irish Missionaries on dark Age Europe – a legacy which lasts to this day. It’s an excellent experience and enjoyable for all. We’ll have time for lunch in Downpatrick before travelling across by car ferry from Strangford to Portaferry (10 minutes journey) and onwards to Mount Stewart House.

 Voted as one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Stewart reflects a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry bearing the hallmark of its creator. Edith, Lady Londonderry’s passion for bold planting schemes coupled with the mild climate of Strangford Lough allows rare and tender plants from across the globe to thrive in this celebrated garden.
Each of the formal gardens exudes a distinct character and appeal and further afield visitors can enjoy the beautifully landscaped and informal grounds surrounding the picturesque lake walk. The Londonderry’s family home reopened 6 years ago following a three-year £7 million restoration programme. See how this beautiful restoration has preserved this house for future generations to visit. Our tour will take us to the Central Hall, Dining Room, Sitting room, Breakfast room, Drawing room, West Stairs & The Chapel you’ll see nationally and internationally significant family portraits, stunning silver collections and other family treasures.

Dinner & Overnight at our hotel. 

Day 4:

Our tour today is around Belfast and its City, a modern cosmopolitan place, vibrant with life and whose locals are excited to show off to visitors. We’ll meet our local tour guide Dee, who has worked with our tours for over 15 years now. Dee will introduce you to her Belfast, a city she grew up in, knows everyone and proudly shows off to international visitors. We’ll see Stormont and Parliament Buildings, The River Lagan, St George’s Market, The Old Cathedral Quarter, Queens University, Crumlin Road Gaol, The Belfast Peace Walls and the striking political murals, our city tour ends at Titanic Belfast.

A world-famous museum and tourist attraction, Titanic Belfast recreates the story of the world’s most famous ship in an iconic, historical site of the original ship’s construction. As you walk through the nine large galleries of the huge interactive exhibition, you will uncover the true story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900’s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. You’ll learn about the people that made the journey, the survivors, and harrowing stories of those that didn’t.

The coach will transfer us over to a local pub for lunch. Time to relax and chat with your coach buddies. Our afternoon is a treat! We’re heading to one of Northern Ireland’s lesser known but fantastic attractions. The Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum. Here you will journey back in time to discover Ulster as it was over a century ago. Explore rolling hills of countryside and a bustling town filled with authentic period buildings. See daily demonstrations of traditional crafts from basket weaving to printing and meet the costumed guides bringing it all to life. Just nearby is the Ulster Transport Museum where you can discover the epic story of transport and social change in this part of the world. It’s a unique place for the dreamers and doers of tomorrow to draw inspiration from the engineering giants of this small country. It’s a place that will revive memories of your childhood, your parents and grandparents time and fill you with nostalgia.

Dinner & Overnight at our hotel.

Day 5:

A gentle day today, but full of the best of Northern Ireland. Our destination today is to the village of Ballynahinch. Our first stop is to Hinch Distillery located on the grounds of Killaney Estate in Co Down. A wonderful new production facility making Gin and Whiskey.  

At the Hinch, (taken from Ballynahinch, meaning ‘town of the island’ in Gaelic) and set amongst County Down’s rolling green drumlin hills, they have created a distillery that has aspirations well beyond ‘the ordinary’, ambitions to be creative well beyond ‘the easily achieved’. County Down has a strong distilling history and from the late 18th to the early 20th century was home to seven Irish Whiskey producing distilleries. They are intensely proud to be part of the continuing story of County Down with the creation of the Hinch Distillery.

Their grain to glass distillery has been custom built to produce a very particular style of Irish Single Malt Whiskey. They use water from the Mourne Mountains, traditional Irish mashing processes and are of course, triple distillation. The Mash House contains not one but two mashing vessels, allowing maximum flavour profiles. It is a truly magnificent experience we know will appeal to our clients. The tour ends of course with a tasting experience in the elegant Tasting Bar. ENJOY!

We’ll board the coach again for the very short journey from Killaney Estate to the  village of Hillsborough, a delightfully pretty Georgian architectural village just south of Belfast, the village is an explosion of glorious blooms bursting with colour during the spring and summer months. We’re visiting Hillsborough Castle this afternoon. The castle is the official Northern Ireland residence of HM The Queen. Leading members of the Royal Family have regularly visited Northern Ireland since 1922, using Hillsborough as their ceremonial and personal base. It was built in the 1770s by the first Marquis of Downshire and was later remodelled in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Discover the more personal side of the palace, walk through the Downshire Gallery to see photographic portraits of some of the great many people who have worked in, stayed at and visited Hillsborough Castle over the past 130 years. Our visit to the palace includes access to the grand Throne Room, relaxing State Drawing Room, Lady Grey’s Study, State Dining Room, Red Room and Stair Hall. The expert castle guides will also be on hand to share details of the historic rooms. You can then wander at your own pace through the beautiful gardens developed from the 1760s onwards, offering a contrast of ornamental grounds, peaceful woodland, meandering waterways, and trimmed lawns. Look out for the statue of Ossian outside the main entrance, the Lady Alice Temple, the Quaker Burial ground and the Ice House.

Dinner & Overnight at our hotel. 

Day 6:

This morning we check of our hotel and travel to the village of Ballaghy and to Seamus Heaney HomePlace. Step into the world of the boy who drew his inspiration from this landscape and from these people.
Now this place – Seamus Heaney HomePlace – echoes his life, his literature, and his legacy.
Through his poetry, meet some of the people who inspired him and feature in his work: including family members, neighbours and even the family dog. See and hear for yourself on the video wall and touch screens how he is remembered by his family and friends – and see and hear for yourself how his work and his friendship was valued by global and cultural figures. Experience the place in which he was rooted and from which he drew his inspiration. A visit to Seamus Heaney HomePlace, will open a window onto the words, rhythm and rhyme which have made Seamus Heaney the most widely published poet in the English language – and a literary phenomenon translated into multiple languages from Spanish to Japanese.
Undoubtedly, Seamus Heaney’s greatest legacy is his substantial body of work, which continues to move and inspire. Heaney’s poetry is taught in classrooms around the world and was recited at President Joe Biden’s inauguration celebration in 2021!

Our Great Northern Odyssey’s next stop is to Glenshane Farm outside Maghera. Meet Jamese McCloy’s, a fourth-generation shepherd who’ll guide you through his life sheep farming in the beautiful landscape of the Sperrin Mountains. With Slemish Mountain in the distance, he’ll tell the story about Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, who was a shepherd there and a reminder that 1,500 years later farmers are still herding sheep here. But the main focus here is about the animals and the farming life. It’s his relationship with his dogs that’s most striking. Seeing them up-close, working together in the clean mountain air, communicating using body language, whispers, and whistles.

Our final visit today is to The Bogside in Derry and to the Museum of Free Derry. It’s is a hard hitting exhibition on the civil rights and early conflict era in the city, including Battle of the Bogside, Internment, Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman. Your tour guide here will be a local, someone who was very much present on Bloody Sunday and will give you a first-hand account of a day which changed this city’s history forever. It’s a story of how a largely working-class community rose up against the years of oppression it had endured.

After our visit, we’ll board the coach again for the short trip from The Bogside to The Everglades Hotel, a short distance just outside the city.

We’ll arrive at our hotel in Derry for dinner together. 

Day 7:

Our final morning of our Odyssey begins with a gently paced walking tour of Derry with our expert local tour guide. We’ll join Ronan on a walk along the famous walls which date back to the early part of the seventeenth century have been a place of sieges, he will unlock the stories and history behind this vibrant, friendly and diverse city. Hear what the Plantation, the Siege, Emigration and the Troubles have meant for Derry-Londonderry’s people. Walking along the walls you’ll have splendid views of the city, the Peace Bridge, The Bogside, The Murals, The Diamond, Tower Museum and the stunning Guildhall and don’t forget to view Derry Girls Mural and locations and visit the beautiful, refurbished craft village. Our walk ends at the one of the city’s most stunning landmarks, the neo-gothic with Tudor overtone’s fashioned Guildhall. It has been in the heart of city life since 1887 and the auburn brick building is the anchor for the buzzing Guildhall Square. The Guildhall’s most arresting feature is its collection of stunning stained-glass windows donated by London Companies, they represent everything from fishmongers to musicians. Step inside with our tour guide and visit the exhibition that explores how the Plantation has shaped the City’s history.

Stroll across the Peace Bridge to the Walled City Brewery for lunch.  The Derry Peace Bridge over the River Foyle represents a bridges over a  400 year old physical and political gap between two sides of a once, bitterly divided community. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects in London and funded to the tune of £14 million by the European Regional Development Fund for Peace it is a very impressive and elegant piece of architecture. The Walled City Brewery, a small family owned and operated gastro pub. They have crafted over 200 different varieties of beers individually named and serve fantastic food. The perfect place for an enjoyable farewell experience!

 After lunch, board our coach again for the journey back to your original pick up locations.

Itineraries:  Pierce Kavanagh Coaches presents a preliminary outline of your tour. On occasion, your daily itinerary or routing order on tour may differ slightly from earlier information you may have received. Typically, this is the result of fluctuation in attraction opening hours and group booking space.