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The bronze figures of the Shrine of Saint Manchan, from the 12th century AD, are a striking and mysterious example of irish medieval art - and just one of example of the many fascinating and strange things we encounter in Ireland...

This is part 7 of our series about the 2020 Peter Sommer Travels brochure. The printed version of the brochure has been distributed to our our guests and friends across the planet in November. The brochure can also be accessed on our website as a pdf download or viewed as a browsable online brochure. Together, the posts in the series present a full overview of our activities and the many experiences we offer to our guests in 2020. Part 1 looks back at what we did 2019 and forward to our new plans for 2020 and beyond, part 2 showcases our expert-led cruises in Croatia, part 3 describes our land tours and cruises in Greece, part 4 does the same for Turkey, part 5 focuses on our tours in Italy and part 6 on those in the United Kingdom. This post is about our 2020 tour in Ireland.

Ireland - a country with a special identity

The keep of Trim Castle (County Meath), a site directly connected with the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland in the late 12th century AD.

Ireland is close to the heart of the present writer. I spent formative years as a student there, and before that, I began to discover the most extraordinary cultural depth of that small country, set next to Britain, but so different from its neighbour in terms of its cultural identity, its traditions, its history and its people. That process of discovery is still ongoing even after three decades, and it is still one of the most rewarding aspects of my travelling life and of my lifelong learning and thinking. There is something for everyone in the 'Emerald Isle', and the cliché about how many shades of green it contains is actually true - we test it on our guests whenever we go there, and they agree that there is even more green to be seen in Ireland than one might expect: it is truly remarkable how much beauty such a small country contains. It is our privilege to offer a carefully designed tour in a country that has punched far above its weight in cultural terms for millennia.

Dún Aonghasa, the famous and mysterious prehistoric semi-circular fort set against the 100-metre (330ft) cliffs of Inishmore in the Aran Islands off Ireland's Atlantic Coast.

Exploring Ireland: the Heart of the Emerald Isle is our original Irish itinerary, and our only one for the moment. It set in the central part of the island (as seen from south to north), offering a broad sweep across three key regions. We spend time in the urbanised and well-connected east, adjacent to Britain with its various influences and interventions, and centred on Dublin, the indisputable capital of the island. We travel across the fertile rural midlands, an area that exemplifies a lot of what is seen as 'typically' Irish and that was the venue of much of its historical and legendary events. We also explore part of the wild, rugged and remote regions along the Atlantic Coast, where past and present often rub shoulders in the most remarkable settings. The itinerary allows us to trace much of Irish history, from its great Neolithic monuments, via its gold-rich Bronze Age, the 'Celtic' Iron Age, the advent of 'Celtic' Christianity with its remarkably creative monastic centres, to the Viking incursions, the English conquest, and the turbulent history ever since. Our experts tell all these stories hands-on while visiting fascinating monuments, like the mysterious and ancient megalithic tombs at Newgrange or Loughcrew, the enigmatic promontory fort of Dún Aonghasa on Inishmore in the Aran Islands, the early monasteries of Clonmacnoise on the Shannon and Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains, Trim Castle in fertile and historic Meath and of course the city of Dublin itself, along with its superb National Museum, one of the finest archaeological treasuries in Europe. The tour, available in July 2020, will be expanded by a day for the first time, to take in more of the cultural treasure in the historic region of Counties Meath and Louth.

The High Cross of Muiredach at Monasterboice is one of the finest examples of these distinctively Irish monuments. It dates to the 9th or 10th century AD.

This is our scheduled tour in Ireland in 2020, a panoramic overview of the beauty and the history of the country, both a great introduction for a first-time visit and a superb deepening of knowledge for those who've been there before and long to revisit. Of course, Peter Sommer Travels' deeply-informed organisation and our expert guides are also available for private tours in Ireland, and we can suggest various add-ons to the tour we offer... We'd love to see you in Ireland in 2020!

To see our 2020 brochure, for Ireland and everything else we offer, download the pdf version, or peruse the online brochure.

Also in this series:

Travel brochure 2020 - part 1: looking back and looking ahead

Travel brochure 2020 - part 2: Croatia

Travel brochure 2020 - part 3: Greece

Travel brochure 2020 - part 4: Turkey

Travel brochure 2020 - part 5: Italy

Travel brochure 2020 - part 6: United Kingdom

Travel brochure 2020 - part 8: gulet charters, tailor-made tours and add-ons

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