Our mission in Ireland is to offer you the finest and best-prepared escorted tours and cultural holidays of the island and its fascinating heritage.
For years, it has been our dream to offer tours in Ireland – and we are thrilled to see that dream become reality. In recent years, the Peter Sommer Travels approach to travel, accommodation, gastronomy and – last but not least – narrative has made our Mediterranean tours a unique and premium experience. The decision to apply the same approach to the United Kingdom has made it a logical step to also include its smaller island neighbour in our agenda. Heinrich, our resident expert in Greece, has spent more than a decade of his life in Ireland and harbours not just a fascination, but a deep and personal affection for the country, its people and its culture. Paired with his profound knowledge of Irish archaeology, that affection has become the foundation for our Irish itineraries.
Ireland has been a well-established and thriving travel destination for a long time, her allure lying in a mixture of supremely romantic landscapes, pretty towns and villages, a rich cultural, literary and musical heritage and the unstilted hospitality of the locals. In approaching Ireland and the Irish, there is a long-standing danger to fall for generalisations and to settle for an Ireland that is quaint, or as the Irish would say, “twee”.
The experience of Ireland that we envisage is more complex, more authentic and more diverse: in spite of the island’s seemingly isolated position at the north western extension of Europe, it has been visited by many, from many parts, and for a long time, sometimes in peace and sometimes in conflict: Mesolithic gatherers who came via Britain, Neolithic settlers from the continent, the Celts with their Central European links, Christianisation via the Roman Empire, the Viking raiders and city-founders, the Anglo-Normans, the English ascendancy, the Spanish Armada and the British “settlers”, have all left their mark on what is a unique and distinctive European culture. The ever-changing sum-total of that culture has been expressed in many ways that last for us to discover, appreciate and enjoy, from the great megalithic monuments of the Neolithic and Bronze Age and the enigmatic Celtic “Royal Sites”, via the Early Christian monasteries and their emblematic High Crosses, the Viking cities, the Norman castles and the Gaelic Tower Houses, to the Great Houses, the Palladian and Georgian gems and so much more.
This complex and profuse heritage also includes other rich veins: the extraordinary Bronze Age gold work, the only part of Europe’s Celtic mythology to be substantially preserved, the illuminated manuscripts of Ireland’s early monasteries, an unbroken musical tradition ranging from the harpists of the Gaelic courts to the folk music of the very present and the lively modern scene (including the country’s major contributions to both Pop and Rock Music) deriving from it, and the indelible mark that Ireland has left on this world’s literature, from Early Christian poetry via Oliver Swift or Laurence Sterne, to Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney and so on. The story continues…
We are also highly sensitive to the connection between these cultural achievements and the country itself: its unique landscapes and striking features, its unusual ecosystems, its long-standing agricultural wealth and poverty, its rich fishing and its distinctive climate, all which gave rise to what Ireland gave to the world.
Our aim is to present this rich heritage in its full splendour, from the quaint unnoticed detail to the full world-famous grandeur, wherever it may be set in time or space, as part of the ongoing story that is Ireland within human experience and achievement. To do so, we have used the same ideas that have established our acclaimed Exploring Tours as some of the best-prepared and most carefully crafted cultural travel offerings in regions of Greece and Italy as the background for our Irish tours. They include: painstaking attention to detail based on intimate knowledge of a region, a holistic view of land and culture, bold “outside the box” thinking and a passionate ambition to present our guests with the best, the most interesting, the most real experience of an area and its history. Based on these principles, our tours in Ireland will be of equal interest to the first-time visitor and to the seasoned connoisseur of the “Emerald Isle”.