Maine Cruise – Prolog

prolog: its been a few years since an extended cruise. Anticipating a cruise to Maine, Merlin received new sails, cockpit canvas, batteries and other fine stuff. Should be sufficient to guarantee a smooth, trouble free cruise. Except with all this new stuff, things are bound to go wrong.

May 30. Flew Iceland Air thru Reykjavik to IAD. Too long a layover in nice but minimal Airport. Simple return using Global Entry, but our bags were nearly last on the carousel. Oh well.

Tuesday May 28. After breakfast you’ll journey to the small town of Newport and in the local Catholic Church see the distinctive stained glass windows created nearly 100 years ago by the famed multi-talented artist Harry Clarke, From there you’ll go to Westport and spend time exploring this attractive and prosperous little town. After lunch you’ll drive south and have an hour or two on your own in Galway, one of the most dynamic and artistic cities in Europe. From there you will take the hour’s drive to Ennis, check into your hotel and have dinner. After a closing reception Mick and Brenda will put on a final concert with local guest musicians. Old Ground Hotel. I

Monday May 27: You’ll spend the day in Achill, one of the most beautiful islands in Europe, and explore it in depth. You’ll visit the best-preserved nineteenth century famine village in Ireland, stretching for one mile and sited on top of a 5000 year old sacred landscape complete with a classic megalithic tomb. After lunch in the village of Keel you’ll see some of the most extraordinary scenic cliff views in Europe. After dinner there will be another concert featuring Mick, Brenda and local musicians and dancers. Mulranny Park Hotel.

Sunday May 26. Today after checking out of your hotel you’ll journey to the westward, visit the National Museum of Country Life near Castlebar, Co Mayo and learn how people lived over the centuries in rural Ireland. You’ll end the day in the most picturesque of hotels nestled in the corner of Achill Sound. After dinner you’ll enjoy a concert with Mick, Brenda and local musicians. Mulranny Park Hotel.

Saturday May 25. In the morning after breakfast you’ll take a leisurely boat cruise on the River Shannon and enjoy matchless river and lake scenery. After lunch in the picturesque town of Carrick on Shannon we’ll visit O’Carolan’s grave in Kilronan Burial ground. Then we take a unique trip to the Arigna Coal Mines on the County Roscommon border and get a short guided tour underground with a local coal miner who will tell us what it was like to work there. After dinner there will be a special fund raising concert for the Mercy Center in Bangkok founded and run by the extraordinary Irish American humanitarian, Father Joe Meier. The event will feature some of the most famous musicians and singers in County Leitrim including vocalist Eleanor Shanley and Eurovision Song Contest Winner Charlie McGettigan. Lough Allen Hotel

Friday, May 24. After breakfast you’ll head towards County Leitrim, stopping first at the magnificent ruins of the Kilmacduagh Monastery with its famous round tower. We’ll continue to Coole Park, the family home of the late Lady Gregory. At the famous autograph tree we will talk about her major role in the Irish literary revival and her association with Yeats, Synge and other literary giants. Then you’ll travel to Sligo via the mountains of Knocknarea and Ben Bulben, the other-wordly home of the mythical Tuatha De Danann, the magical tribe of Celts who vanished from mortal space and time here over two thousand years ago. In the folklore of the area they appear in our world as the fairies and William Butler Yeats wrote some of his most famous early poetry about this strange and mysterious world.

You’ll be taken on a guided tour around the Carrowmore megalithic tombs, one of the finest constellations of Stone Age burial grounds in Western Europe. You’ll visit Yeats’ resting-place in Drumcliff Churchyard and listen to some of his final poems by his grave in the shadow of Ben Bulben. Tonight we’ll stay in nearby Drumshanbo in County Leitrim. After dinner at your hotel there will be a concert featuring Mick, Brenda and monologist Declan Forde along with great Leitr

Ennis – Old Ground Hotel

Thursday, May 23: Today you’ll explore the varied coastal scenery of West County Clare. You’ll visit St Brigid’s Holy Well near Liscannor where Mick will talk about the blending of Celtic and Christian traditions at a site that is still part of the living belief system of people in the area. You’ll pay a visit to the majestic Cliffs of Moher and then have lunch in the picturesque fishing village of Doolin known all over Europe for its extraordinary traditional music. After lunch you will travel through the Burren, one of the most ecologically fascinating landscapes in the world. You’ll visit the magnificent high crosses in Kilfenora and the famed Poulnabroune dolmen where Mick will talk about the history and the culture that produced such extraordinary Stone Age monuments. Then you will visit the home of Oliver O’Connell, one of the most charismatic characters in the Burren and enjoy a special concert with him and some of his equally colorful friends. Brenda and I will also chip in. After dinner on your own in Ennis you have the chance to enjoy the sessions taking place all over the town in the big Fleadh Nua music festival. Old Ground Hotel