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22092
Northern Ireland

The Best of Northern Ireland: Past, Present and Future

Unravel the complex story of Northern Ireland as you meet its people, learn its history, explore its monuments and discover the exciting transformation of this vibrant region.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22092RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
2,299
Flights start at
625
Northern Ireland

The Best of Northern Ireland: Past, Present and Future

Unravel the complex story of Northern Ireland as you meet its people, learn its history, explore its monuments and discover the exciting transformation of this vibrant region.
Length
9 days
Starts at
2,299
Flights start at
625
Program No. 22092 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 6 - Oct 14, 2021
Starting at
2,299
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Oct. 13, 2021 departure of “The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle” (#22088) and save $200 off the total combined price.

Apr 27 - May 5, 2022
Starting at
2,399
Special Offer

Enroll in this date preceded by the corresponding April 20, 2022 departure of “The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle” (#22088) and save $200 off the total combined price.

May 4 - May 12, 2022
Starting at
2,499
Jun 1 - Jun 9, 2022
Starting at
2,499
Aug 17 - Aug 25, 2022
Starting at
2,499
Special Offer

Enroll in this date preceded by the corresponding Aug. 10, 2022 departure of “The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle” (#22088) and save $200 off the total combined price.

Sep 21 - Sep 29, 2022
Starting at
2,499
Oct 5 - Oct 13, 2022
Starting at
2,499
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 6 - Oct 14, 2021
Starting at
2,669
Special Offer

Enroll in this date followed by the corresponding Oct. 13, 2021 departure of “The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle” (#22088) and save $200 off the total combined price.

Apr 27 - May 5, 2022
Starting at
2,799
Special Offer

Enroll in this date preceded by the corresponding April 20, 2022 departure of “The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle” (#22088) and save $200 off the total combined price.

May 4 - May 12, 2022
Starting at
2,899
Jun 1 - Jun 9, 2022
Starting at
2,899
Aug 17 - Aug 25, 2022
Starting at
2,899
Special Offer

Enroll in this date preceded by the corresponding Aug. 10, 2022 departure of “The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle” (#22088) and save $200 off the total combined price.

Sep 21 - Sep 29, 2022
Starting at
2,899
Oct 5 - Oct 13, 2022
Starting at
2,899

At a Glance

Northern Ireland is known as much for its verdant landscapes as it is for its complex history of political and social tensions that culminated in three decades of violence known as the Troubles. Discover how an area so scarred by historical unrest is redefining itself as a haven of culture and heritage as you dive deep into the ever-shifting story of Northern Ireland, visiting the landmarks, learning about the key figures and gaining a deeper understanding of the events that forged this unique region.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 3 miles each day, with periods of standing. Varied terrain including paved streets with cobblestones, gravel and woodland paths, uneven rocky terrain.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Immerse yourself in maritime history at Titanic Belfast.
  • Discover megalithic ruins, preserved castles and UNESCO Heritage Sites as you explore the region’s lush countryside.
  • Gain an insider’s perspective on historic Northern Ireland as you ride between Belfast’s vibrant political murals in a Black Taxi.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials. Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle" (#22088) for even more learning in Ireland!
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Dominic Bryan
Dominic Bryan is a professor of Anthropology at Queen’s University in Belfast. Dr. Bryan’s research focuses on Irish history, public ritual, nationalism and group identity. Dr. Bryan is also co-chair of the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and tradition.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Dominic Bryan
Dominic Bryan View biography
Dominic Bryan is a professor of Anthropology at Queen’s University in Belfast. Dr. Bryan’s research focuses on Irish history, public ritual, nationalism and group identity. Dr. Bryan is also co-chair of the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and tradition.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Making Sense of the Troubles: The Story of the Conflict in Northern Ireland
by David McVea, David McKittrick
A balanced and authoritative account of the Northern Ireland conflict by two scholars, award-winning journalist and Trinity College librarian McKitterick and teacher McVea, who have spent their professional lives making sense of the Troubles.
The Giant's Causeway and the North Antrim Coast
by Philip Watson
An illustrated introduction to one of Northern Ireland’s most popular attractions that covers history, folklore, geology and wildlife.
Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt
The Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of an Irish childhood spent in abject poverty in the slums of Limerick, told with enormous wit, grace, and skill.
Ireland North Map
by Ireland Ordnance Survey
A locally published, detailed map of the northern part of Ireland at a scale of 1:250,000.
Rick Steves' Snapshot Northern Ireland
by Rick Steves
In his down-to-earth style, Steves presents the best values for sights, eating, sleeping and nightlife excerpted from the larger Rick Steves country guidebook. Included are maps and self-guided tours in Belfast, Portrush, the Antrim Coast, Derry and County Donegal.
Northern Ireland
by Jonathan Tonge
Tonge examines the motivations, actions and achievements of the major players of the crisis -- IRA, UVF, UDA -- in this academic history of Northern Ireland over the last three decades.
Titanic, The Story of the Unsinkable Ship
by Beau Riffenburgh
A coffee-table introduction to the Titanic and its disastrous maiden voyage. Utilizing firsthand documents and personal accounts, Riffenburgh guides readers through the Titanic, from the drawing tables of her architects to what occurred as the ship sank.
How the Irish Saved Civilization
by Thomas Cahill
This bestselling history tells the generally unknown story of Ireland's preservation of classical learning in the Dark Ages, revealing how the saints and scholars, monks and scribes labored to reproduce the important texts that spread as they evangelized Europe.
A Traveller's History of Ireland
by Peter Neville
From the Celts to the Norman invasions to modern-day Ireland, this short history is highly recommended for those who would like a brief overview of the Emerald Isle through the centuries.
For the Love of Ireland
by Susan Cahill (Editor)
Organized geographically, this rich anthology introduces Ireland through the words and lives of such luminaries as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Frank McCourt and Samuel Beckett.
Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike
by Peter Maas (Introduction), David Beresford
Belfast, 1981: Ten Long Kesh prisoners starved themselves to death in protest against the British government. This is their story.
The Truth about the Irish
by Terry Eagleton
An irreverent A-to-Z guide to all things Irish by a native son and shrewd comic commentator, who casts aside many myths, starting with the first entry - A for alcohol (the Irish have the lowest per capita consumption of alcohol in the E.U., after Greece and Italy).
Belfast Noir
by Stuart Neville (Editor), Adrian McKinty (Editor)
Set in Northern Ireland’s capital, this collection of previously unreleased noir stories covers the city’s history from the Troubles to the present.
Reading in the Dark
by Seamus Deane
This novel follows a Catholic boy growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1950s, dealing with a family full of secrets and a city full of hatred.
A Place Apart, Northern Ireland in the 1970s
by Dervla Murphy
In this travelogue, the celebrated southern-Irish travel writer bicycles deep into the mayhem of late-1970s Northern Ireland. Her penetrating, intelligent prose finds Murphy interviewing both Catholics and Protestants and sorting out her opinions and emotions about the conflict.
Troubles
by J.G. Farrell
Set on the eve of the Irish Rebellion, this first novel in Farrell's remarkable series illuminates the British Empire's decline in Ireland to hilarious, haunting effect. Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize.
Belfast, A History
by William A. Maguire
A sweeping chronicle of the rise and decline of Northern Ireland's largest city. Maguire shows how as grand a city that could build the Titanic collapsed into religious conflict soon thereafter.
Belfast Diary, War as a Way of Life
by John Conroy
An American journalist's gripping first-person account of life in a Catholic neighborhood in Belfast in 1980.
Those Are Real Bullets: Bloody Sunday, Derry, 1972
by Philip Jacobson, Peter Pringle
This definitive account of the massacre that left unarmed Irish Catholic demonstrators dead and wounded uses interviews and declassified documents to capture the chaos of that fateful day.
Silver Linings, Travels Around Northern Ireland
by Martin Fletcher
An account of travels, as well as the people, politics and traditions of Northern Ireland, infused with the author's humor and insightful reporting.
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9 days
8 nights
15 meals
7 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Dublin, To Belfast, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Belfast
D
Jurys Inn Belfast

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel, take some time to freshen up and relax before Orientation. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program is staffed with a Group Leader who will accompany us throughout the program and deal with logistics, deliver informal talks, conduct some field trips, and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. At various points during the program, we will be joined by local experts, who will lecture and conduct field trips. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel, we will have a 3-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Political Murals in Belfast
Belfast
B,L,D
Jurys Inn Belfast

Activity note: Entering/exiting taxis; driving about 20 miles, approximately 2.5 hours total field trip time including frequent breaks from driving. Walking about 2.5 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, some cobblestones.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the full Irish breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, bacon, sausages, tomato, potatoes, cereals, fruit, toast, pastries and jams, plus juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll gather in the hotel for a lecture on the colorful and evocative political murals of Belfast, delivered by a local expert. The political mural tradition in the north of Ireland is more than a century old, and the lecture will trace the history of this distinctive form of political expression from the earliest examples — painted before the War of Independence, by loyalists who supported British rule — to its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, and more recent murals painted since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. After the lecture, we’ll walk to Belfast’s City Hall for a docent-led field trip. We’ll discover more of Belfast’s fascinating history as we explore this grand 1906 Baroque Revival building, and gain an insight into its links with the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic. We’ll board a motorcoach after our field trip, and ride to our lunch venue.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated lunch with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: It has been said that a city can be defined by its taxi drivers and nowhere is this truer than in Belfast. Via the renowned Black Taxis, we will ride to see the colorful and evocative murals of West Belfast with commentary by the local expert taxi drivers, stopping at some of the most significant to hear further explanations and take photos.

Dinner: At the Titanic Hotel, located in the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, we’ll enjoy a 3-course plated and served candle-lit dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. A local expert will deliver a talk as we dine.

Evening: During dinner, our host will deliver a talk on the history of industry in Belfast. We’ll linger over dinner to enjoy the conversation and camaraderie. After returning to the hotel by motorcoach, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
4
Titanic Belfast, Free Time
Belfast
B
Jurys Inn Belfast

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 3 miles, less than 1/2 hour. The morning is a self-led experience, approximately 2 hours, with pace and distances walked determined by the individual; flat terrain, elevators to all levels. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach for a field trip to Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to the ill-fated liner. During this self-led exploration, take your time at your own pace to see and do what interests you most. The facility is situated on site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was designed and built. A series of nine interactive galleries present the story in innovative and insightful ways, from initial conception through construction, the maiden voyage and sinking, on to discovery of the wreck. With striking architecture that suggests a ship’s bow, incorporating symbols of water and the White Star Line logo, the building is the nucleus of one of the world’s largest urban regeneration projects, the Titanic Quarter. When completed, it will encompass 185 acres of cultural, educational, leisure, residential, and business facilities to transform the entire area. After our field trip, the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration, returning to the hotel independently.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Giant's Causeway, Local Brewery, To Derry
Derry
B,L,D
City Hotel Derry

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 105 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Walking about 3 miles, periods of standing; paved streets and paths, some uneven grassy areas; it is possible to walk on the uneven hexagonal "steps" of the basalt formation at Giant’s Causeway, and there are routes that involve minimal changes of level; shuttles are available from visitor center to Causeway to reduce walking distance. Some steps at the brewery.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: As we check out of the hotel, luggage will be loaded on to our motorcoach and we will transfer to Derry with a stop en route at the Giant's Causeway, made up of more than 40,000 hexagonally-shaped basalt columns resulting from lava flows stretching back 60 million years. Led by a National Trust expert, we will walk through this natural phenomenon, now a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that still stirs debate.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Portrush, we’ll have a plated lunch plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our learning adventure with a field trip to a local community-owned microbrewery in Portrush. As we explore with brewers, we’ll discover its connections to the Giant’s Causeway, and how this cooperative enterprise grew from a father and son’s home brewing experiments. Riding on, we expect to arrive at our hotel for check-in late afternoon.

Dinner: In the hotel, we will have a 3-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Donegal, Glenveagh National Park
Derry
B,L,D
City Hotel Derry

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 125 miles, approximately 4 hours. Walking about 2 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including paved and gravel paths, grass lawns; step-free access to most areas at Glenveagh Castle, but some areas including viewing platforms are accessible only by stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out via motorcoach for an expert-led field trip to Donegal, beginning at Glenveagh National Park and Castle. One of six national parks in Ireland, Glenveagh covers nearly 40,000 acres (16,000 hectares) of unspoiled wilderness, glens, forests, lakes, estate grounds, and a castle with ornate gardens in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. The park’s many different habitats support a great variety of plant and animal life. The castle is a Victorian construction built between 1867 and 1873 by a wealthy land speculator, John Adair, who was hated by the local people for his eviction of tenants. Adair intended to develop it into a hunting estate but died before his plans could be implemented. His widow carried out major improvements to the castle over the next several decades. Glenveagh changed hands a number of times until the final owners gave it to the nation to become a national park. We’ll explore the castle and park with a local expert during our field trip.

Lunch: At Leo’s Tavern near the village of Crolly, renowned as the musical birthplace of world-famous talents Enya, Clannad, and Moya Brennan, we’ll enjoy a plated lunch with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then return to the hotel by motorcoach along the North West Coast, with a short stop for independent exploration in the charming former fishing town of Dunfanaghy on Sheephaven Bay. Once we arrive at the hotel, we’ll have some time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Derry City Walls, Free Time
Derry
B
City Hotel Derry

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles, periods of standing; paved streets and paths, some steps and steep sections. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out on foot, we will go on an expert-led walking field trip around the city of Derry, the only remaining city in Ireland with virtually complete walls surrounding the old inner core. The walls were erected early in the 17th century as defenses against encroaching English and Scottish settlers. Today, they serve as a walkway to observe the combination of heritage and contemporary culture within the Renaissance Style street plan. In addition to the walls, we will go to Bogside and conclude the morning at the Guildhall where a local expert will discuss on Derry’s past and present.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration in Derry,

Dinner: On your own to explore more of the local fare.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
Ulster American Folk Park, Brú na Bóinne
Dublin
B,D
CityNorth Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 135 miles, approximately 4 hours. Walking about 2.5 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including paved streets, some cobbled areas, gravel and woodland paths; steps to some areas at Ulster American Folk Park, including entrances to some buildings; uneven floors, low ceilings and low narrow entrance to Neolithic tomb at Brú na Bóinne; paved paths and grass outside burial mounds.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, luggage will be loaded onto the motorcoach and we will leave Derry for Dublin. En route, we will stop to visit the Ulster American Folk Park, an open-air museum that tells the poignant story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Volunteers in period costumes demonstrate day-to-day tasks of the era and the site consists of period housing, industry, and even a full-scale sailing ship.

Lunch: On your own at the Folk Park.

Afternoon: Brú na Bóinne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves one of the most archaeologically significant prehistoric landscapes in the world. In addition to megalithic art, Brú na Bóinne includes a number of Neolithic age burial chambers. After an introduction to the site by our Group Leader, we’ll explore the visitor center and take a shuttle bus to one of the tombs. At the tomb, informative displays detail how their survival through more than 5,000 years reflects the sophistication of their design, and the ingenuity of the Stone Age people who constructed them. We’ll arrive at the Dublin airport hotel late afternoon, with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a 3-course plated and served farewell dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
Dublin
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s “Transportation Information” regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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