Since 2011 I've been hosting friends-fans-and-family tours of Ireland's musical west coast for a great, small Irish-owned outfit called Inishfree Tours. Inishfree runs a tight ship with a gentle hand, and they set up these "tours for people who hate tours" with great care and expertise.
A maximum of two dozen of us travel on what the Irish call a "luxury coach" (aka small, comfortable bus), and we're shown the country by savvy guides and sharp drivers. And perhaps most importantly, we generally stay well away from the large tour companies with their noisy crowds, spending most of our time in small towns, local pubs and gorgeous out of the way places.
In a nutshell, we have wonderful and unforgettable time on each trip.
Ireland is home-away-from home for me. The Irish are welcoming, affable and generally a lot of fun to be around. Many have a quite a unique dry sense of humor! And the music we'll hear in the evenings: soul stirring and spectacularly well played.
The tours are carefully planned, and the pacing is just right. We don't try to spend ten minutes at every little tourist stop along the way, but rather we tarry here and there long enough to really soak in what's special about the place.
Sadly, due to the pandemic, my 2020 and 2021 tours were canceled, but I'll be back hosting a tour in 2022.
Here's the scoop:
What: Tom Kimmel's Ireland Tour of 2022
Where: We'll explore Counties Mayo, Galway and Clare
When: Thursday, July 23 to Saturday, August 1, 2022
For cost, more on travel and lodging, how to make reservations, and more...
...Visit the Inishfree Tours website HERE.
And to view the 2022 season schedules (including mine), click HERE. (Then click the ENQUIRE button for my tour to submit a brief form that'll let the tour company know of your interest.)
I will tell you that most of us coming from the US will depart on Tuesday, July 21, 2022 and fly overnight, arriving in *Shannon the following morning (Wednesday July 22). A taxi will be waiting to take us to our overnight lodging in nearby Bunratty in one of my favorite B&Bs or a nearby hotel. The next morning (Thursday July 23) we'll be picked up by our tour bus, and we'll be off on our first leg of the tour... which will take us to County Mayo, where we'll be based for the next three nights in the beautiful town of Westport.
*Why fly to Shannon, and not Dublin? Because our tour will run along the west coast, and Shannon is much more convenient to our starting and ending points. Of course, if you want to arrive in Ireland early and explore Dublin or Ireland's east coast, you can easily fly to Dublin and take a bus or train over, Ireland having excellent, clean, Wi-Fi equipped bus and train transportation.
FYI we'll be on our own dime for lodging for the full day we arrive (before our tour bus collects us the next morning to begin the tour proper). However, Inishfree is happy book our B&B or hotel lodging for us. And most of us will gather for a lovely get-acquainted dinner at Gallagher's (Bunratty's best restaurant) on the evening of our arrival .
Last, but not least, while I love all the tours' usual stops, I should note that most activities are optional, so if you're someone who needs more time alone (or space to shop or explore away from the group), there's plenty of time built in for that.
I'll close by saying that if you want to get a feel for just how much I love Ireland—and love sharing Ireland—listen below to my story Home, Like Ireland.
As they say in Ireland, Sláinte! (To your health!)