Your knitting tour of Ireland begins with a warm Irish welcome and transfer to your hotel (for arrivals prior to 10:30am on tour start date) where you will meet with your fellow knitters and your tour guide. Our first visit will be to Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells followed by some free time to wander around the Grafton Street area in the heart of Dublin for shopping and a quick bite (not included) before you explore the State Apartments of Dublin Castle.
This evening you will have a meet and greet drinks reception along with an informal talk with Vawn Corrigan, author of Irish Aran History Tradition and Fashion, before enjoying your welcome dinner. Overnight Dublin, Dinner and Bed & Breakfast included.
Day 2: This is Knit Workshop with Lisa Sisk and the Guinness Storehouse
After breakfast, we visit This is Knit Yarn Store for a workshop with Lisa Sisk of This Is Knit on the Moebius Knitting style followed by a workshop on the Glenties Cowl pattern which was designed by Lisa - a great way to kick off your knitting! Afterwards you can enjoy an exclusive chance to shop in This Is Knit within the historic and splendid Powerscourt Townhouse.
In the afternoon, we will travel to Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse for a guided tour. St. James’ Gate Brewery has been the production site home to the Guinness Brewery since 1759 when Arthur Guinness first signed a 9000 year lease for the brewery. This evening is free for you to check out one of Dublin’s many restaurants and bars. Overnight in Dublin, Bed & Breakfast included.
Day 3: Travel to Killbeggan Distillery and the Aran Islands!
Today we leave Dublin and head into the west as we say! We stop at the oldest licenced whiskey distillery in Ireland to discover the magic behind the 'water of life' before sampling for ourselves.
There will be a brief stop in Galway city for lunch (not included) and exploring, before we continue to Rossaveal in Galway to board your ferry to Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay. Meet with the wonderful Una McDonagh and friends on arrival where you will be introduced to Aran life and hear all about the history of Dun Aonghasa before your visit to the landmark tomorrow. Dinner will be served at your hotel followed by a traditional Irish dancing lesson! Overnight Inis Mór, Dinner and Bed & Breakfast.
Your morning on Inis Mór includes a knitting workshop with Una, where you will learn the traditional methods and stitches associated with the Aran Island way. Tour the island with our local guide and learn about over 50 different monuments of pre-Christian and Christian history that tell the story of the community over the years.
Visit the impressive fort of Dún Aonghasa with it’s three terraced walls surrounding an inner enclosure containing a platform on the edge of a 300 ft high cliff. There is a bit of steep walk up so make sure you have your sturdy footwear on! The views from the top are quite breath-taking looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. Time for a relaxing chance to shop for local knitwear and crafts. Of course today lunch is included at Teach Nan Pháidí! Overnight on Inis Mór, Lunch, Dinner and Bed & Breakfast.
Day 5: The Foxford Experience and Knitting Workshop with Ciara Ní Reachtnín Castle Dargan
After breakfast we take the ferry back to the mainland and travel through beautiful Connemara to Foxford Woollen Mills for 'The Foxford Experience.' Arrive at charming Castle Dargan for lunch (included), followed by a workshop with Ciara Ní Reachtnín. Ciara draws elements of Irish and Celtic mythology in her work. She will focus on ‘An Bradán Feasa’ also known as ‘The Salmon of Knowledge’.
Ciara will demonstrate how to create simple slip stitch cables using two complementary yarn colours while only working with one colour at a time and also how to incorporate beads into the design. There will also be time to demonstrate an optional advanced closed cable motif which the more adventurous knitter might like to include in their project. Our final destination of the day will be Sligo, known as Yeats country after the Irish writer and poet. Overnight Sligo, Lunch, Dinner and Bed & Breakfast included.
Day 6: Atlantic Sheep Dogs, Donegal Craft Village and Donegal Town
Today, we travel towards Donegal on Ireland’s northwest coast, first stopping at Atlantic Sheepdogs for a warm, Feeney family welcome. Discover what it takes to become a Champion Sheepdog Handler and enjoy tales of Irish farm life on the edge of the Atlantic ocean.
Stop at Donegal Craft Village, with independent artisan crafters showing their work in studios surrounding a pleasant courtyard. Finally, arrive in Donegal town where you can spend the afternoon sightseeing or shopping where you will find many craft shops including Magee Tweed, a Donegal classic! Overnight in Donegal, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast included.
Day 7: Edel MacBride Knitting Workshop, Slieve League Cliffs and Glencolmcille Folk Village
After breakfast one of Ireland’s finest knitwear designers, Edel MacBride, will host you for an Aran knitting workshop. Participate in a core workshop including yarn pack working the best of Irish moss, cable and Edel’s favourite – Aran stitches. After the workshop, take time for lunch (included) before setting off to Slieve League Cliffs. These cliffs are the highest accessible cliffs in Europe offering stunning views out over Donegal Bay.
Our next stop is at Studio Donegal where a hand-weaving and clothing manufacturing business is committed to preserving and promoting traditional Irish hand-weaving. Enjoy seeing the process of hand-weaving from beginning to end including spinning, warping and weaving of the wool. Return to Donegal town for a chance to sample local nightlife - listen to some traditional music, dine in one of the restaurants or take it easy back at your hotel. Overnight in Donegal, Lunch and Bed & Breakfast included.
Check out of your hotel and board your coach to embark on one of the top road trips in the world – the Causeway Coastal Route. The road meanders around a narrow strip of coastline with stunning sea views and majestic high cliffs. Our first stop is at the Giant’s Causeway where over 60 million years ago, three great lava flows were laid down, cooling the basalt plateau into interlocking basalt columns. That's the official version. We prefer to imagine it was really made by Finn MacCool!
We will also visit the site of Dunluce Castle perched on a dramatic headland which plunges directly down into the sea and used as inspiration from the Chronicles of Narnia to Game of Thrones! Finally, we arrive in the vibrant, cosmopolitan Belfast where the rest of the day is free for you to enjoy this wonderful city. Overnight in Belfast, Bed & Breakfast included.
Today we travel just outside Belfast to visit Mourne Alpacas, a family-managed herd of Alpaca and pedigree angora goats. High quality fleeces are produced and their motto at the farm is “we breed for heat, not for meat”. Enjoy some time with the alpacas, take photos and feel free to ask questions about the fleece. Enjoy a cup of tea and browse through the quality alpaca yarns and some blend yarns on sale at the farm.
Yarns in many natural colours of the alpaca and some stunning seasonal colour ranges,created from natural dyes are on display here. Mourne Alpaca fleeces are processed professionally at a dedicated mill but raw fleeces are also available here for purchase for anyone interested in home spinning. When we return to Belfast, we visit the Titanic, Belfast, built on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was originally constructed. This popular museum contains many galleries where scenes were reconstructed of Belfast at the time the ship was constructed, the launch, its maiden voyage, the sinking and aftermath. This is an interactive museum where technology brings the story of each scene to life and you spend as long as you like here! The rest of the day is free for you to take in the sights of Belfast before enjoying a chance to browse and shop with Irish Artisan yarn at an exclusive pop up shop in your hotel this evening! Overnight in Belfast, Bed & Breakfast included.
Day 10: Irish Linen Centre and Spinning & Tapestry Workshop
Historically, linen was a very important industry in Northern Ireland, so much so that Belfast was fondly known as ‘Linenopolis’! Your day begins with a visit to the Irish Linen Centre at the Lisburn Museum. Take a guided tour where you will hear about the history of linen production in the province of Ulster. Take part in an introduction to natural dyeing using an assortment of ‘kitchen ingredients’ such as onion skins, turmeric, cabbage and also other natural resources such as the cochineal beetle. It is a fun interactive session, participants go away with some keepsake samples and you will get to try your hand at tie-dyeing!
We continue our journey down south to Drogheda to meet tapestry weaver and artist, Áine Dunne. Based in the Boyne Valley, Áine and her team will host a spinning and tapestry workshop where you will be introduced to hand spinning sheep’s wool by using a drop spindle. Have a go at weaving a sample piece on a four-sided tapestry frame loom! Return to Dublin and enjoy a farewell dinner with your group at a local restaurant. Overnight in Dublin, Dinner (at a local restaurant) and Bed & Breakfast included.