The Magical South and West of Ireland, a one week guided tour. May 22-29, 2019. Booking payment for SINGLE room occupancy.
From May 22-29, 2019, we are offering a guided tour of The Magical South and West of Ireland.
Baba Studio "In Search of Fae Folk" photoshoot in and around Killarney.
Baba Studio has been hosting tours of "Magic Prague" since 2016, combining a unique blend of history, magic and legend with excellent accommodation and the company of like-minded people from around the world.
This formula proved so successful that we decided to also offer magical adventures in our new home in Ireland. In October 2018, we welcomed a lovely group on our first "Magic Ireland" tour and received some wonderful feedback from participants:
Our unique tour of the West and South West of Ireland, home of Tír na nÓg, the Fianna and of course, Funghi the Dolphin!
We begin on 22nd May, when we will meet in a 4* hotel only 20 minutes by taxi from Shannon Airport. This one week tour focuses on the legends, magic and mythology of the West and South West of Ireland, and includes the Cliffs of Moher, Brigid's Well, Killarney and Muckross Abbey, Slea Head Drive and Dingle, the Bonane Cursing Stones and the legendary Blarney Castle in Cork, as well as much more.
We do have a second one week tour of the ancient North and East (including the Hill of Tara, Rock of Cashel, the Giant's Causeway and many Games of Thrones locations) that follows on immediately. You can of course choose to come on either tour - or both!
The tour will be led by Karen Mahony and Cathy Murphy. Karen is originally from Belfast, Cathy is from Killarney.
Karen at Aghadoe Churchyard
Karen is an Irish designer who founded Baba Studio and the Magic Realist Press with her Russian husband, Alex Ukolov. Their design focuses on decorative symbolism, romanticism and a gently surrealist take on magic and myth. They are known in particular for their tarot decks, and for their fabric prints.
Karen studied both Fairytale and Irish Literature as part of her first degree and has had a huge interest in both ever since.
Cathy has been a member of the Baba Studio team since the move to Ireland in 2016. A native of Killarney, she has a great interest in Irish history and mythology. A focus of her undergraduate thesis was folklore and mythology, with particular emphasis on the Killarney area.
We will also feature local, expert tour guides during the week.
By Killarney's lakes and fells,
Em'rald isles and winding bays,
Mountain paths, and woodland dells
Memory ever fondly strays;
Bounteous nature loves all lands;
Beauty wanders everywhere
Footprints leaves on many strands,
But her home is surely there.
Angels fold their wings and rest
In that Eden of the west,
Beauty's home, Killarney,
― Edmund O'Rourke. By Killarney's Lakes and Fells.
We are packing a lot into this tour - here are the highlights* (draft, this could change a little).
Bunratty Castle. Dine in the beautiful Bunratty Castle. Dating back to the 15th century, Bunratty is Ireland's most complete and authentic medieval castle. While you enjoy your traditional Irish meal in Bunratty Castle, you will be entertained by fine Irish musicians, dancers, singers and storytellers.
- St. Brigid's Well in Liscannor. Steeped in pagan roots, this sacred well is one of the oldest wells in Ireland and its waters are said to have healing powers. This is a deeply spiritual place and an important shrine to the Celtic goddess and the Christian saint.
- Cliffs of Moher. Featured in movies such as Ryan's Daughter, The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most spectaural natural wonder and most-visited attraction.
The cliffs of Moher
- Thoor Ballylee. Once the home of famed Irish poet, William Butler-Yeats and his wife George (Georgie). Both were passionate members of The Golden Dawn esoteric society and in her romantic tower home George practised automatic writing - which became the basis of Yeats' book, The Vision. Enjoy a guided tour and the beautiful river walk with views of the old mill. Perhaps we'll meet the long-gone "former resident" who George once encountered.
Commemorative stone at Thor Ballylee.
George painted the ceiling in brilliant, powerful, colours. Red, blue and gold, rich colours symbolizing Fire and Air, Passion and Power, Construction and Reception, Truth and Spirit―and the Moon and Sun.
―Ann Saddlemyer, Becoming George, the Life of Mrs. W.B.Yeats.
- Visit the iconic Poulnabrone Dolmen in The Burren. This portal tomb is the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland dating back about 6,000 years.
- Adare is said to be Ireland's prettiest village! Dating back to the 13th century, it features beautiful thatched cottages, medieval monasteries and a wide variety of shops. We will stop here for lunch (with a little time for exploring) on the way to Killarney. Killarney is also where Baba Studio / BabaBarock is now based so it's our home town.
Thatched cottage at Adare
- A stop at Aghadoe where the panoramic view of the mountains and lakes of Killarney will take your breath away. Here are also the ruins of 13th century Parkavonear Castle and an old Romanesque church, with wonderful examples of an ogham stone and Celtic cross.
- Free evening to enjoy Killarney's famous traditional music bars.
Trad music session at one of Killarney's many bars.
- Killarney National Park trip by traditional jaunting car (horse and cart). Your jarvey (cart driver) will regale you with the history and legends of the area, infused with Irish wit!
- Take a cruise on Killarney’s largest & most picturesque lake, Lough Léin (The Lake of Learning) and sail by O’Sullivan’s Cascade and the monastic ruins of Innisfallen Island, where Brian Boru is reputed to have been a scholar, Bricin Bridge and the Copper Mines.
Oisin and Niamh ride over Loch Lein to The Land of Youth
- Visit the stunning Torc Waterfall. Torc is the Irish for boar and the mountain is said to be named for an enchanted boar that was killed there by the legendary hero, Fionn mac Cumhaill.
- Stroll around Muckross House & Gardens, the 19th century mansion where Queen Victoria stayed as a guest in 1861. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake in the heart of the National Park.
Ancient yew in Muckross Abbey cloisters
- Visit the picturesque, haunted Muckross Abbey with its ancient cloisters and mythic central yew tree. The Abbey is said to have provided inspiration to "Dracula" author Bram Stoker who lived for some time in Killarney
- Take part in an optional Ghost Tour and hear some of the many spooky tales of Killarney from professional story-tellers!
- The Dingle Peninsula, once described by National Geographic as "the most beautiful place on earth”. We will take you around the famous Slea Head Drive where you will not only enjoy magnificent scenery and picturesque villages but ancient monuments including Beehive Huts and Gallarus Oratory.
- Dingle town where you will have a free afternoon to explore this charming port village. Optional visits to he Harry Clarke stained glass windows with Karen (a huge Harry Clarke fan), the historic Dick Mack's pub or a boat trip to see Fungie, the resident dolphin!
Detail of one of the Harry Clarke windows in Dingle.
- Travel to gorgeous, historical Kenmare town via the with a stop at Ladies' View, so-called because of the delight the views caused Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting, when they visited here in 1861.
Cromwell's Bridge at Kenmare (a semi-circular "devil's bridge).
- Free time in Kenmare. Stroll the pretty streets, visit the stone circle and the amazing "Cromwell's Bridge" (originally probably called Devil's Bridge) and see the Kenmare lace museum to hear the history of the lace-makers of the region.
- Bonane Heritage Park to see the "cursing stones" and the butter-maker who was turned to stone.
The "Cursing Stones" known as The Rolls of Butter.
- Visit to Lorge Chocolate, an artisan and quirky chocolatier where you can stock up on essential supplies!
- Enjoy the beauty and serenity of Gougane Barra, where Finbarr, patron saint of Cork, founded his early Christian monastery on the tiny island in the lake connected to the shore by a causeway. A truly romantic and magical place.
Mystical Gougane Barra.
- Visit to Blarney Castle and Gardens. This medieval stronghold is most famous for the Blarney Stone at the top of the castle which is said to bestow the gift of eloquence or "blarney" to those who kiss it. Explore the castle and stunning gardens, which includes one of the few Poison Gardens in Ireland.
Antique postcard view of Blarney Castle.
- End your trip with a farewell meal in Cork and some lively traditional music!
The Irish word for fairy is sheehogue [sidheóg], a diminutive of "shee" in banshee. Fairies are deenee shee [daoine sidhe] (fairy people).
Who are they? "Fallen angels who were not good enough to be saved, nor bad enough to be lost," say the peasantry. "The gods of the earth," says the Book of Armagh. "The gods of pagan Ireland," say the Irish antiquarians, "the Tuatha De Danān, who, when no longer worshipped and fed with offerings, dwindled away in the popular imagination, and now are only a few spans high."
And they will tell you, in proof, that the names of fairy chiefs are the names of old Danān heroes, and the places where they especially gather together, Danān burying-places, and that the Tuath De Danān used also to be called the slooa-shee [sheagh sidhe] (the fairy host), or Marcra shee (the fairy cavalcade).
― W.B Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.
- Good quality hotel room (en suite and mostly 4 star - some with spas) and hearty breakfast every day. We've chosen the hotels for their individuality, quality and location.
- A welcome meal, a farewell dinner and one other high quality restaurant or bar meal.
- In-depth tours by Baba Studio and qualified, knowledgeable local tour guides. No crack-of-dawn starts! We will begin at 9.00 or later each morning to allow you to enjoy an excellent breakfast.
- The use of two of Baba Studio's unique printed Celtic cloaks for staging your atmospheric photos!
- Lots of fun stuff as well as more serious Irish history and mythology. We want this to be a truly magical seven days that will include time for café visits and some time for general shopping and sight-seeing in addition to the spirituality and learning that is so important to Ireland.
- An exclusive gift designed and made by Baba Studio.
- Exclusive 25% discount off a range of Baba Studio designs in our "travelling trunk" pop-up shop.
More details and FAQs
Is this a tarot tour?
No, it's a broader tour about the legends, mythology, fairy and folktales of Ireland in a wide sense. We will touch on cartomancy at some points, but tarot will not be a major part of this tour.
Will I get reward points on this purchase?
Yes! Once the tour is over it will be our pleasure to give you our normal points on the entire purchase. Just as a thank-you treat from us.
The points will be worth about $150 and can be used to purchase anything you'd like on Baba Store.
Can I just do part of the tour and arrange my own accommodation/meals etc?
We've organised the tour to be a group event and this has allowed us to negotiate fantastic deals and discounts for hotels and excursions. If you would rather organise your own meals and accommodation that's fine, but please understand that you will still need to pay the full tour fee so that this remains good value for all participants.
Which hotels will I be staying at?
The hotels we will stay at are all 4-star (some have spas), and have been carefully-selected for your comfort and their proximity to local sights. All rooms will have a private ensuite bathroom and a simple hair-dryer and toiletries (shampoo, shower gel) are provided in most hotels.
Most hotels in Ireland are very used to guests who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerant or have other dietary needs. But please do let us know in advance if you have special requirements.
What about cancellations, are they possible?
Until the end of January 2019, we are happy to cancel and refund in full. After that period, we will not be able to refund. This is because we negotiate group booking discounts for the tour and often have to pay in advance. Please do take out your own travel insurance against having to cancel for any reasons beyond your control. Thanks for your understanding.
What happens if the tour does not go ahead?
We require a minimum of 20 participants for the tour to go ahead. Cancellation looks unlikely however as there seems to be a great deal of interest in this tour.
If we did have to cancel for any unforeseen reason, we will refund in full except for any PayPal or credit card fees that we can't recover. To make up for any fees that are non-recoverable, we will give credit on our shop.
Will tours be in English?
The whole week's events will be in English. Although some Irish people do speak Irish as a first language this is now rare, so everyone you meet should speak English.
Will I be expected to tip?
The bus drivers would appreciate a tip, as would the specialist tour guides. However, the organisers (who will usually be your guides) do not expect a tip.
What currency is used in Ireland?
Ireland is part of the Eurozone so the Euro is the currency used here.
What will the weather be like?
Irish weather is notoriously unpredictable but there is a better chance of warm, sunny weather in May and June. However, you should still pack for all conditions and bring something waterproof to put on in case of rain.
We also recommend good walking shoes or boots. Bring a good, secure bag for anything you want to carry.
* May be subject to change although if so, we will substitute an event that is, in our opinion, of equal interest.
Please read this carefully as it explains what we agree to provide and what you as a tour member agree to in return. This is important information. By booking and paying the non-refundable deposit or payment you acknowledge you have read, understood and agreed to be legally bound by these conditions.
Included in the price of this tour:
- Daily tours and events in English language with Irish guides Karen Mahony and/or Cathy Murphy.
- At some sites, we will also have specialist tour guides, and their fees are included.
- All admission fees for planned events & places.
- Seven night's single occupancy hotel accommodation including buffet breakfast (double occupancy available at this listing).
- Welcome meal, dinner in Bunratty Castle, farewell dinner and one other good-quality restaurant or pub meal on one day.
- Transportation by our own private, comfortable coach.
- An optional group tarot reading session with Karen Mahony. As there will not be time to read for everyone, this will be in the form of an informal demonstration.
- Membership of our special Facebook group leading up to the event.
- Some gifts chosen for you by Baba Studio.
- Special tour discounts for other Baba Studio items purchased during the tour. Please note, that these discounts will only apply during the tour and your tour reward points (which we add to your account after the tour) can't be used for them - we just can't afford to give double discount in that way as the tour discounts are excellent.
"Tir-na-neap and common it will be. It is sometimes, but not often, called Tir-na-hóige; the 'Land of Youth.' .
― W.B Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.
Not included in the price
- Travel to and from your home and our meeting point in Ireland. You will need to arrange your own flights or other transport.
- Travel insurance. Please take out your own travel insurance for the trip.
- Transfer to and from the airport.
- Any extras at the hotel – for example if you choose to take drinks there or make phone calls or have laundry done via the hotel. Please pay any such charges the evening before departure. The hotel makes extremely reasonable charges for these extras.
- Meals on most days. Please note that four meals are included in the tour price.
- Any extras you order during meals (any drinks that aren’t included etc).
- Most coffee, tea snacks and so on if we stop for refreshments during our tours. We will do our best to choose value-for-money cafés for such stops, but you will be responsible for your own bill.
- Admission for any optional events.
The health services in Ireland are generally good, but you may be charged for any medical treatment required while you are here. However, normally such charges are considerably lower than they would be in, for example, the USA.
Please do take out travel insurance and/or if you are a European Union citizen, please check what documents you may need to bring to get free or reduced cost medical care should you need it.
Please let us know in advance if you have any physical or psychological medical conditions that could cause problems when you are here. In particular, please inform us of any dietery allergies, and/or allergies to environmental items such as feathers or anything else that might effect your health and comfort when you’re in Ireland. All such information will be treated in confidence and will not be disclosed to anyone else without your permission.
Co-operation and social interaction and behaviour
We expect everyone to have a great time and to make new friends. However, in the rare instance of someone behaving in a way that impacts on the comfort or safety of others on the tour, we reserve the right to remove them from the tour, without complaint or claim against us. This will normally only be done after discussion to see if there is any other way to resolve the issue.
After January 2019, payments for this tour are non-refundable except if the tour is cancelled by us.
To make this tour excellent value for money, we’ve negotiated several group discounts for hotels, tours and meals.
This means that we won’t be able to refund any payments made, unless you cancel before the end of January 2019. Please do consider taking out insurance to cover your expenses if you have to cancel
Tour forms & obligations
Tour members will be required to sign & return necessary forms along with their deposit. These will include a release of liability form, an emergency information form and a tour terms and conditions agreement.
Because of the need to keep costs down, and also because not all venues would be covered, we have no protection coverage. Please arrange your own international travel insurance before you travel.
We will make every effort to keep to the itineraries described. However, we are not liable for any delay in, change to or cancellation of any part of this tour due to means beyond reasonable control including but not limited to war or threat of war, riot, civil strife, terrorist activity, industrial or nuclear disaster, adverse weather conditions, fire, earthquake and strikes. Furthermore, in order to operate the tour we require a minimum number of 20 full paying participants. If the minimum number is not met, we reserve the right to cancel the tour; in which case we will refund money paid by you for the tour.
In order to keep the pricing as competitive as possible, we get discounts and special rates for the group. Because of this, if you decide not to come on some events/meals, we will not be able to refund any cost for those, as costs for the whole group will already have been paid in advance.
Complaints and feedback
If you have any complaints or feedback about the tour, please let one of the organisers know as soon as possible. We want you to be happy with the tour and welcome all feedback and suggestions.
In order to be able to run this tour and cater for your needs, we will need to collect certain information from you, some of which may be personal. The information may be disclosed to our partners and service providers if necessary. This will not be used by them for any other purposes.
Publicity and Promotion
You agree that we can use images of you taken during the tour or feedback that you share with us. We will try to okay these with you in advance of any publication but can't guarantee to do so. You also agree that we will not offer compensation to you or be in any way liable for material used for publicity & promotion purposes.
Signing our waiver form
We will be asking you to sign a waiver form before you come on the tour. On request, we can send you a copy of this to review - it's a fairly standard tour waiver form.