Highlights
  • A morning of song and storytelling with an expert storyteller captures the nuances between generations.
  • Enjoy a Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle and explore the haunting landscape of the Burren, learning about faerie forts and folklore.
  • Participate in living Gaelic traditions during workshops on traditional Irish dancing and music.

Enter an enchanting world of folklore, forts and faeries in the magical land of Ireland, where landscape, myth and tradition permeate the country. Two generations study the Emerald Isle, learning about traditional sheep farming, exploring the unique landscape of County Clare, the Irish art of storytelling, and your own family history through lessons on tracing ancestral roots! An evening of “limericks,” as well as traditional Irish dance and music, introduces the rhythms of everyday life.

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30
Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
87% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 23 Great 3 Average 1 Disappointing 1 Terrible 2
Value
4.5 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.5 Lodging
4.3 Transportation
4.4 Meals
4.3
The Irish Isle: Intergenerational Enchantment

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K

Does Not Recommend

Road Scholar Owes My Mom A Huge Apology and Refund. Highly advise AGAINST using them. May 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
Let me preface this story with some background about myself: I backpacked through most of Europe by myself when I was studying abroad in Ireland. I suffered through horrendous bus rides, getting kicked out of seats on trains, sleeping in questionable hostels, and going weeks without being able to really do laundry. I know how crappy it can be to actually get from one place to another, and how worth it is to suffer through all of that just to lay eyes on something magnificent.

And yet, Road Scholar has, without a doubt, managed to give me the single worst travel experience I've ever had in my entire life, and we didn't even make it off the ground. I would never, ever, EVER recommend them to anyone looking to go anywhere, and as far as I'm concerned, Road Scholar needs to seriously reconsider their travel-making procedures and give my mother a huge apology and refund. (Also, I'm only in my twenties, so I have a lot of years ahead of me to make referrals.)

It all started with Road Scholar not getting us flights. We claimed our spot on a trip to the Lake region in Northern Italy, but no one ever called us back about any travel arrangements. It appeared we were on the trip IN Italy, but no one had bothered to make any arrangements to get us there. My mother called and left messages, emailed people, and the only response we got was that our flight should be booked at some point in early May (when our trip was set to start on May 22). Road Scholar urges people to book their flights through their preferred travel agency, which is who didn't call us back. Road Scholar, to market themselves as educational tourism rather than shallow "I just want to see things" tourism, partners up with different educational institutions, and ours was through Trinity College. The director of the Italian programs called us asking for our travel information, since she didn't have it yet. Interesting news to us. We were then told that we could make travel arrangements of our own (even though we were paying Road Scholar to do it for us) and then inform the program of our travel plans and how we were getting to our hotel. So we started to investigate making our own plans, when someone finally called us back saying that they were taking care of our travel arrangements, and they "didn't know why we hadn't had them made for us already." The director of the program was happy to hear this, because the Lake region of Italy is not as easily accessible as other areas.

We asked for upgraded seats because my mom has had both of her knees replaced, and while that doesn't inhibit her in the slightest from being active, it limits where she can sit on planes. In a cramped regular economy seat with no leg room on an international flight that was going to last 8-10 hours, she wouldn't have been able to walk off the plane because of how her knees would cramp up. But they said they could make the arrangements (which is also advertised on their website) so that was that. We got our itinerary, accommodations, and were all set. We were booked through United and Lufthansa (neither of which either of us will EVER book through again), so I downloaded the United app onto my iPhone so I could check us in and make sure we had mobile copies of our boarding passes in addition to the paper ones my mom printed out. We were all set to fly from Cincinnati to Washington D.C., from D.C. to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt down to Verona where we would be meeting up with the group -- which, by the way, we never received any information regarding where the group was meeting, the transportation to the lake resort, etc. Nothing. Just "after you get there" stuff.

Then this morning, I woke up to a notification from United Airlines (and a text message alert that I had set up) saying that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled due to weather. Obviously I'm not blaming Road Scholar for that. What I am holding Road Scholar accountable for is what happened next: my mom called the Emergency Hotline (which is a recording -- and I HIGHLY recommend that they change this, because when I studied abroad, we had two emergency hotlines, both of which were always answered by real human beings, one for anything happening in the United States, and the other for the program, which was a different number for each location and a direct line to one of the program directors on the ground in the country you were actually in). We left a voicemail, someone named Mike called us back, and he was an absolute asshole. When you book your flight through a travel agency/group travel organization, if anything happens to your flight, it is the THEIR responsibility to take care of it. We were told by Road Scholar, and it's available on their website: "When you book your airfare through Road Scholar, we're there to help you in case of any emergencies." When Mike called us back and we told him that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled, he told us that he couldn't look up any other flights (on both United and any other airlines) for us to potentially get on to get to D.C for our transatlantic flight. Instead, he told us to call United ourselves and to go to the airport and talk to the desk agent. I then ended up on the phone (and on hold) the entire drive to the airport, which resulted in nothing because tons of flights had been cancelled due to airline politics and weather. We finally got to the desk agent at the airport, had a hell of a time getting rebooked on another flight, and weren't able to get the upgraded seats that we paid extra money for. When we called Road Scholar and Mike back to ask if during the course of our day when we would be traveling (and unable to make phone calls) he would call Lufthansa to at least make the airline aware of our need for better seating due to my mother's knee replacements, he was unhelpful and rude, at first attempting to refuse calling on our behalf and finally agreeing to, but only after repeatedly telling us "there's no guarantee of those seats" (something we definitely understood because we're not stupid).

Our rebooked flight wasn't set to leave until 7:45 PM tonight, putting us in Verona at 4:05 PM the next day (4 hours after the group transfer to the hotel), so we returned home instead of waiting around the airport for 12 hours. We got on both United and Lufthansa's websites and discovered that not only had our original itineraries not been removed, we had been double booked, one for a flight out of North Carolina to Munich through Delta, and another out of D.C. (the 7:45 PM flight) which had a 23 hour layover in Munich. A call to Road Scholar resulted in us being told that we had to contact the airlines. My mother was on the phone, talking to either United representatives or Lufthansa representatives, from about 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM. We were told we had reservations but no tickets, told we had tickets but couldn't see the numbers, told there were seats available for us to get upgraded to but we would have to try to get the desk agent in D.C. to arrange that for us, told that there was no guarantee we could get those seats, and more. It was incredible the amount of bureaucratic bullshit we had to put up with, especially since each airline wouldn't take any responsibility for us getting the seats we paid for and on a new flight, telling us "we'd have to talk to the other company about that." We finally called Road Scholar to see if there was anything more they could do, who encountered the same mess we already had, and all they did was eventually advise us to go back to the airport (a 45 minute drive) and talk to the desk agent to see IF they could put us in the upgraded seats -- ones we had already paid for and my mom couldn't make the trip without!

Then when asked how they would be getting us to our destination in the Lake region (which is not an easy place to get to, as I looked up the train and bus schedules myself, because - remember - I have tons of experience at this point traveling on the ground across Europe), they wouldn't outright say what our plans would be, which could've been anything from picking us up in the airport in a car, giving us a damn rental to drive ourselves, or simply paying for tickets and expecting us to haul all our luggage from the airport to the shuttle to the train station in Verona, take the 2+ hour train to a town an hour away from our destination, have to catch a bus to the actual town we were supposed to be in, and then walk the rest of the way there. Seeing what all happened, I would bet it would've been the latter, which isn't a problem for someone like me, but is an issue for someone like my mom.

The moral of the story here is that my mom and I shouldn't have had to be on the phone with anyone other than Road Scholar, PERIOD. Seeing as we paid well over $10,000 for this trip, the minute the flight was cancelled, Road Scholar should've called us to let us know that they would be making other arrangements for us to get to our trip in the Lake region of Italy. THEY should've been the ones on the phone, dealing with the airline bureaucrats, working their hardest to get us any combination of flights to get us to Italy in the seats that we paid for. Or, if it really came down to it, they should've made arrangements for us to be on this trip at another point in time, offered us another excursion in its place, or simply given us a refund. Instead, they didn't want to do the jobs that we paid them to do, and we were the ones that had to take time out of our day, which was already scheduled to be a hectic and stressful time because traveling is simply just that, to do Road Scholar's job. They didn't look out for us one single bit and completely and utterly RUINED what was supposed to have been a wonderful trip for me and my mom.

My mother has an adventurous and curious soul and hasn't gotten to go to Europe the way she always wanted to. Since I graduated college, my mother suggested taking a mother-daughter trip. This was supposed to be incredibly special for the both of us, getting to go somewhere new together (I hadn't explored Northern Italy much and that's where we decided to go), learning about the food and the culture, and bonding over all the amazing things we were going to be able to do. I think my mom was even more excited about this trip than I was, voraciously reading all the required/recommended reading, practicing Italian in her room so she could order correctly at restaurants, not giving up when we hit little bumps in the road along the way. Instead, we have been nothing but doubtful at best in the entire planning of this trip, and deeply disappointed and angered at worst. I will never again recommend Road Scholars to anyone looking to go on group trips. Instead, I will steer people away and recommend that they either find a better travel agency, book the trip themselves, or go through Rick Steve's program.

Road Scholar should issue my mother a refund and an apology or risk being sued.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Does Not Recommend

They take advantage of the elderly May 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I had high hopes for Road scholar. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer I got no sympathy from Road Scholar. The agents and management kept saying you should have purchased insurance. But the insurance was extremely expensive and would not have covered the cancellation fee either. I ended up attending anyways because I didn't want to lose my money. I felt sick the entire time and could barely complete the activities. The group leader was wonderful. But the program was very strict and I felt that they over charged for everything. They demonstrated shocking behavior for a non profit that is supposed to be all about education and supporting the elderly. Yet they constantly are sending catalogs and pushing expensive programs. I highly recommend taking your money elsewhere. They do not respect their customers and only care about money. They took advantage of a cancer patient and according to the others on my trip this is common.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Does Not Recommend

A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT August 2017

3.0
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 3.0
I would have enjoyed this trip much more if I felt I was being treated as an adult, the educated, enthusiastic traveler that I am.
Unfortunately, I took a fall and broke my arm near the end of the trip. I was shocked at the very insolent, uncaring attitude of Road Scholar. I received two calls from the insurance program my husband was encouraged to pay for for the trip (we usually use Travel Guard who is great). Both calls were very negative. Neither expressed concern about my condition and both apparently had called to state that ROAD SCHOLAR
WOULD NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING! WOW! A WAKEUP CALL FROM HELL. I WILL BE SHOUTING THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS SO NO ONE ELSE
HAS THIS EXPERIENCE. DO NOT PURCHASE ROAD SCHOLAR INSURANCE -- IT IS A BOONDOGGLE!
Read more

Operator Road Scholar

LG

Does Not Recommend

Don't go! March 2017

2.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
I took a four day bridge class at Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The class was mediocre. And I came home with over 50 BED BUG BITES! Please beware.

Operator Road Scholar

TCtssvawmc

Recommends

Excellent coverage of major cities and Guizhou Province January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Road Scholar (also known as Elderhostel) offers hundreds of tours worldwide, using local tour companies, sometimes universities. I have taken RS tours to Africa, China, and France and look forward to more. This was my first "tour" of China, but my 20th visit, with the rest on business. Our guide, Mei Mei, was one of the finest I've seen on tours. We started with Beijing and continued to Xian and then to Guizhou Province for a week in this fascinating area, which was new to me. We were able to meet the people in the villages, thanks to our guide, and enjoyed the chance to see and photograph such a variety of places in China. Hotels were excellent and appropriate to this type of tour (usually centrally located and very fine). Meals were family style and always good. Road Scholar makes its tours educational and doesn't push shopping as so many commercial ones do. Touring in China is very safe. You do have a lot of walking and RS tells you this in the tour, but it seems that a great deal of the walking is in those huge airports! I recommend Road Scholar and always turn to their catalogs to choose my next trip.
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Operator Road Scholar

Itinerary

Day 1: Overnight on board plane

Overnight in Flight

Day 2: Arrive at Shannon Airport, Cork

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Imperial Hotel

Lunch: Excluded

Afternoon: Check in at hotel. Welcome meeting and orientation at 5:00pm.

Dinner: At Hotel.

Evening: Free Evening

Day 3: Mythology & music with Irish dancing & tin whistle workshop, Cork

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Imperial Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Lecture: Irish Music and Mythology. Tea / Coffee. Followed by an Irish dancing lesson and a workshop showing how to learn a traditional Irish tune on the tin whistle.

Lunch: In the hotel.

Afternoon: Depart by coach on a guided field trip of Cork city including St Fin Barre's Cathedral and Cork city gaol.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 4: Cobh/Cork

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Imperial Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Lecture: Irish Folklore & Traditions: Celtic Gods, rituals and customs, curses and cures’. Depart on a field trip to Cobh: the Queenstown Story to learn at first hand about emigration from Ireland to America

Lunch: Lunch in Cobh at the Queenstown Centre.

Afternoon: Meet your guide Michael Martin to take the ‘Titanic Trail’: Follow in the footsteps of the passengers who boarded the doomed ‘Titanic’. Return to Cork via St. Colman’s Cathedral .

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Grandchildren ‘interview’ their grandparents in order to complete their family tree. Special prize for the grandchild with the most ancestral information!

Day 5: Blarney, Killarney

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: International Hotel Killarney

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Depart for Blarney Castle. Climb the steps to the top of the castle for spectacular views and kiss the Blarney Stone to get the ‘gift of gab’.

Lunch: Lunch at Blarney Woollen Mills hotel.

Afternoon: Transfer to the hotel in Killarney in Co Kerry.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 6: Outdoor Adventure Centre, Killarney

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: International Hotel Killarney

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Depart for a full day's field trip to an Outdoor Adventure Centre.

Lunch: Lunch at centre

Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon of activities at the Centre, including fun team building activities and water activities.

Dinner: Dinner at the Centre

Evening: Grandchildren: Supervised activities with leader

Day 7: Storytelling, Killarney

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: International Hotel Killarney

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Adventures and Heroes of Irish mythology; a morning of storytelling. Our story teller weaves worlds of mythic Irish lore, shrouding us in the mythological knowledge that has shaped this land. Tea/coffee. The Art of Storytelling, the traits of the craft: Release the storyteller within!. This involves the use of drama games, enactment, telling and retelling of tales both familiar and new. All the morning's activities work towards opening up the storytelling skills of each member.

Lunch: Lunch allowance given.

Afternoon: Free afternoon.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 8: Ring of Kerry. Kissane, Killarney

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: International Hotel Killarney

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Hear a lecutre on "Growing up in Kerry: A Ramble Down The Ol' Botharin" before embarking on a full day field trip around the Iveragh Peninsula: the world renowned ‘Ring of Kerry’ including a visit to the Kissane family Sheep Farm, located in the scenic area of Moll's Gap. The goal of this family run farm is to preserve the Irish heritage of mountain sheep farming and the mountain sheep that have been in the hills and on the roads of Kerry for over one hundred years. In doing so, the heritage of a traditional family farm in this Special Area of Conservation is saved for future generations. You will have the opportunity to learn about the work of the sheepdogs and see them in action on this mountainous terrain, to catch a sheep in the farmyard and try to shear it yourself and to bottle feed some of the orphan lambs!

Lunch: Taken en route.

Afternoon: The field trip continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 9: Lakes of Killarney.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: International Hotel Killarney

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Experience the most beautiful part of Ireland in the most memorable way; on board a traditional jaunting car where you will explore the famous Lakes of Killarney on a boat with your grandchildren. This spectacular tour will inform you on the history, legends & folklore of the area, and if you are lucky enough you might just bump into the odd 1 or 2 Leprechauns!!!

Lunch: At the Muckross Garden Restaurant.

Afternoon: Children depart by mini bus with leader to attend an afternoon of discovery with Irish young people their own age at Killarney National Park Education Centre, whose ethos is based on a hands-on approach to learning about nature. Activities include live capture and release of small mammals, scavenger hunts, food chain games, quizzes, pond dipping, moth trapping, and use of microscopes. It is hoped that through this the participant will become more aware of the value of an unspoilt environment and the need for conservation. Grandparents have a guided visit of Muckross House, a magnificent Victorian mansion in the beautiful surroundings of Killarney National Park.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Depart hotel for a spectacular evening of Irish music, song and dance.

Day 10: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Ennis

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Old Ground Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Depart for Ennis in County Clare. Stopping at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

Lunch: Lunch in Bunratty.

Afternoon: Look around the model village of traditional farm houses and cottages at Bunratty Folk Park.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Evening of Limericks. Learn how to put together your very own Limerick!.

Day 11: The Medieval City of Galway, Ennis

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Old Ground Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Depart for the medieval city of Galway. Talk and Introduction to the City of the Tribesfollowed by a walking tour of this medieval city.

Lunch: Enroute

Afternoon: Grandparents enjoy free time in Galway while the children visit an Atlantic Ocean Aquatic Centre and Swimming Pool.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Day 12: Cliffs of Moher & the Burren, Banquet at Knappogue Castle, Ennis

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Old Ground Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Depart for an excursion to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. Explore the Burren, a magnificent moonscape type terrain renowned all over the world for its rare flora and fauna. via the Poulnabrone Dolmen. Dating from between 3800 and 3200 B.C., Poulnabone is one of the finest examples of a portal dolmen in Ireland. Depart for the village of Bealaclugga

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: Take a Ramble through the foothills of the Burren with an expert guide and storyteller. See the landscape and terrain of the Fairies. Learn about Fairy Forts, scary banshees and ancient Celtic customs .

Dinner: At Knappogue Castle you will be taken back in time to medieval Ireland, where you will enjoy an authentic medieval banquet with court jesters and entertainers!

Day 13: Ennis

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Transfers to Shannon Airport for departure.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 3,555

Price Per Day:

$ 273 per day
 
  • Select Custom Arrangements to get to and from Road Scholar-provided airfare for your program
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • 11 nights of accommodations
  • 4 expert-led lectures
  • 15 expert-led field trips
  • 9 hands-on experiences
  • 1 performance
  • An experienced Group Leader
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program
  • The Road Scholar Travel Protection Plan, 24-hour-a-day emergency assistance coverage
  • Taxes
Meals Included:

11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches and 11 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Internal airfare and ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Accomodations

Imperial Hotel: 3 nights  Cork City

The Imperial Hotel Cork, has been serving Cork city centre since 1813, when the Cork Committee of Merchants commissioned architect Sir Thomas Deane to design and build The Commercial Rooms. In 1816 the merchants requested Deane to extend the original building along Pembroke Street to serve as a hotel and coach-yard. The Imperial Hotel, originally the place where merchants met to discuss business, has played host to a number of renowned figures including Fr Mathew the temperance priest, writers such as Sir Walter Scott, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens and the composer Liszt. Michael Collins, who negotiated the Free State Treaty in 1921 and is an important figure in Irish history, spent his last night in room 115 at the Imperial Hotel in Cork City Centre.

 

International Hotel Killarney: 5 nights  Killarney, Co. Kery

Uniquely Irish!

 

Old Ground Hotel: 3 nights  Co. Clare

Centrally located historic building

Start City
Cork
End City
Ennis
Guides

Shane Connolly

A native of the Burren, Shane Connolly has a diploma in archaeology from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a diploma in local and regional studies from University College Cork. He is also qualified with a certificate in agribusiness , a degree in business studies and currently runs a cattle and sheep farm in Corkscrew Hill, Ballyvaughan. An experienced educational excursion leader in the Burren, Shane enjoys good conversation and a laugh. His interests include place names, stone wall construction and folklore.

Age Notes

Min. Age: 9

Max Age: 13

Trip ID#: TheIriRoa

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