Contra – rick’s version

Your Escape Details

Travel through the west and north coast of the beautiful island of Ireland, taking in beautiful scenery, learning about the history, enjoying the music, and meeting the locals and hearing their life experiences growing up in this amazing and often tragic place. Join Tod Whittemore calling traditional Contra Dances in Ireland as we travel on the tour with our very own musicians. Enjoy traditional Irish music everyday as a group of Irish musicians play during our coach rides, play in sessions every night and join Tod as the band for Contra dancing. If you play music, bring your instrument if you can. We encourage you to participate and our host musicians will give you informal tuition to help you along.

If you don’t play, don’t worry, because you’re in for a treat. You can enjoy listening to some of the best musicians on the island of Ireland….and they’re on your coach for the duration of the tour!!!

8 amazing days

This small group tour was carefully curated to bring you deeply into the destination. Food, drink, people, customs and most importantly, music and dance! Our daytime activities will bring you close to the natural surroundings. Travel to historic castles, through national parks, amazing coastal scenery, the Irish country side and small towns. Even if you have been to Ireland, we have made this trip unique as you will be traveling with local musicians! Each day will feature astonishing and breathtaking experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Our service is second to none, from your decision to join our tour, throughout the trip and when you get home, we will be there for you.  Each escape brings you experiences you wouldn’t find on your own.

Trip begins on October 12 – returning October 20th.

Fall in Ireland will, of course, bring you lots of green! But more importantly, less crowds so you get a chance to experience public pubs, dancing venues, and sightseeing with more breathing space. Our hosts, Irish Music Tours is the leading Irish based Traditional Irish Music and Cultural tour operator, providing Ireland vacation packages based around Ireland’s unique music and culture heritage. With over 20 years experience playing music around Ireland and abroad, their knowledge of th etraditional Irish music scene is second to none, which will ensure you will receive the ultimate Traditional Irish music experience. What sets our tour apart from other tour operators is the fact that our musicians will travel with you on your tour. We will be joined by some of the finest musicians in Ireland and an visit extensive list of traditional music venues that are Ireland’s hidden gems when it comes to music.

By day we will visit the important historical and cultural sights of this wonderful island and by night we will enjoy the wonderful traditional music sessions so often excluded from normal tour itineraries. And to make this trip unique to our group, Tod Whittemore will call some Contra Dances along the way!

And don’t worry, you don’t need to play music or know how to Contra Dance. You can choose to participate or you can sit back, have a pint, and enjoy the atmosphere and the very specialized experiences offered by this tour!

A bit about the tour company who will host our group.

Escape With Us

Why should you join us on this Escape?

  • The musicians travel on the tour with the guests.
  • We’ll have a session each night of the tour in some of Ireland’s hidden musical gems.
  • Travel in complete luxury on our state of the art coaches.
  • There is no other tour operator can provide our service as we are firstly musicians.
  • Tod Whittemore will join us to call Contra Dances throughout the week.
  • We can guarantee you a holiday experience never to be forgotten.

Small Groups

We keep our groups small so we get to know each other and travel together, unified by the destination and our experiences.  Often lifelong friendships are forged. If anything, our growing group of like minded travelers start traveling together on future trips.“Where should we go next?” is often the last question asked as we depart for home.

Are you traveling solo? It is our pleasure to welcome you to our small group. We will match you with another solo traveler of the same gender. If you wish, you may choose to pay a solo supplement to have your own room. Please check for availability.

For each trip, you will be invited to our Facebook group so you can chat with fellow travelers, dream about the upcoming trip together, and plan things you might want to do individually or with the group. Usually, we also organize a get together about a month before the trip to share information, pass out travel documents, and ‘break the ice’ so when we embark on our trip we already know each other a bit. If you don’t live in the area, no worries, we will Skype you into the party and mail you your travel documents.

Why negotiate and plan yourself.Even the best guidebook can’t give you the freedom to embrace and immerse yourself in the destination. Enjoy the pleasure of travel without having to think about the details, leave the planning to us, your job is to fully embrace the journey without the hassles! We are so happy you are considering being our guest and can’t wait to deliver your fantastic experience!

Our Itinerary

Our journey North along the Wild Altantic Way begins with your flight arrival at Shannon Airport.

DAY 1 Saturday, October 12

Meet at Shannon Airport. Depart for Galway City. Arrive in Galway approximately 12 noon. Check into The Eyre Square Hotel. After lunch and a stroll around Galway, we’ll meet up for our first session in the famous Noughtan’s Bar at 5pm. After the tunes we’ve arranged our group dinner so that everyone can get to know each other. After dinner there’s more music if you’re up for it or you, or you can relax and have an early night.

DAY 2 Sunday, October 13

After breakfast we’ll all meet in the hotel foyer at 10am. This morning we’re taking a walking tour of the city. A leisurely stroll around the city center in the company of a very informed guide that lasts approximately 1 hr. When we return to the hotel, the coach will collect us to take the short journey to Oranmore Castle, home of Alec and Leonie Finn. (Alec is the bouzouki player in international Irish band DeDannan) After a tour of the castle, we’ll even have a few tunes and maybe a dance in the great hall. When we return to the hotel, you can have a few hours to yourself before joining us in Tig Coili’s pub for the evening session.

DAY 3 Monday, October 14

We’ll meet up this morning at 10am and pack our luggage into the coach. Today we’re going to the beautiful town of Westport, Co. Mayo. On route we’ll stop for a coffee and the restrooms in the picturesque village of Cong, setting of the blockbuster movie ‘The Quiet Man”starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Once we arrive in Westport we will check into The Mill Times Hotel and later this evening our music will be in the world famous Matt Molloy’s Pub. (Matt Molloy is the flute player in the legendary group ‘The Chieftains’ and may make an appearance if he’s not on tour.) We’ll be joining the locals and visitors alike for some dancing in the Yard Bar so bring the dancing shoes.

DAY 4 Tuesday, October 15

We’ll meet this morning at 9.30am. Today we’re following the Wild Atlantic Way north to the heritage village of Ardara, Co. Donegal, voted ‘The best village to live in Ireland’ by The Irish Times. On route we’ll stop off for some lunch in Sligo Town and pay a visit to the grave of famous irish poet, W.B. Yeats. Upon arrival in Ardara, we’ll check in to the Nesbitt Arms Hotel then get a demonstration in the old art of Hand weaving from master weaver Eddie Doherty in his workshop. To round off the day, we’ll have a few tunes in the famous Nancy’s Bar.

DAY 5 Wednesday, October 16

This morning we’ll depart from our hotel at 9.30am to pay a visit to Glencolumncille Folk Village. The village is made up of several authentic cottages, a school, shop, fisherman’s hut and other buildings dating from the 18th,19th and 20thcentury. After a guided tour and some tea/coffee, we’ll make our way further along the coast to the Sliabh League cliffs, the second highest sea cliffs in Europe. On our way back, we’ll stop off at the Rusty Mackerel Pub for a nice pint of Guinness and a few tunes. Once back in our hotel, it’s time to get ready for tonight’s dance, where we will welcome locals and visitors together,forge new friendships and enjoy the music.

DAY 6 Thursday, October 17

This morning, with sore feet from last night’s dancing, we’ll meet at 9.30am to make the journey to the City of Derry in Northern Ireland. On route we’ve a couple of stunning stops to make,the first being Glenveagh National Park and Castle. Originally built in 1857,the castle has a very colorful and sometimes tragic history, which will be explained during the guided tour. From here we’ll have a short stop off atLeo’s Tavern, home of Clannad and Eyna, and browse the many artifacts and memorabilia the adorns the walls. Once we reach the City of Derry, we’ll get a guided tour of the city walls and learn all about the history of this new wonderful vibrant place. As always, there’s the best of music to be heard in Peader O’Donnell’s Pub tonight.

DAY 7 Friday, October 18 

We say goodbye to the City of Derry at 9am and make our way along the world famous Antrim Coast. We’ll stop off at the world heritage site, The Giant’s Causeway, pay a visit to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and get a guided tour of the Bushmills Distillery. We’ll have lunch in the coastal village of Ballycastle before paying a visit to the Dark Hedges, made famous as a set in the epic medieval fantasy, Game of Thrones. Once we’ve checked into our hotel and had some down time, our coach will take us the short journey to The Crosskey’s Inn, Ireland’s oldest thatched pub, for a banquet of homemade Irish Stew and wheaten bread before enjoying a night of music song and dance.

DAY 8 Saturday, October 19

Today, we’re paying a visit to Belfast before making our way to Dublin and our onward journeys. We depart the hotel at 9.30am for the short journey to the Titanic Center. We’ll get a guided tour (approx. 1hr) as we walk in the footsteps of the men who built the world’s most famous ship. We’ve an opportunity to take a stroll around the city center, see City Hall, The Europa Hotel (the most bombed hotel in Europe) and Kelly’s Cellars, Belfast’s oldest traditional Irish pub. Our coach will depart Belfast at 3pm to arrive in Dublin at approximately 5pm. Once we’ve checked into our hotel we have the evening to ourselves to take a stroll around this very historic city.

DAY 9 Sunday, October 20

Liffey Ireland River Dublin Capital Europe Bridge

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end so this morning we pack up for the short trip to the airport andour onward journeys, full of amazing memories and new friendships.

Your Investment

Your Investment is 2199 Euros per person based on double occupancy (we will match same gender roommates) Single room is 449 Euros additional.

The deposit to hold your space is 30% per person.  Final Payment is in August, 2019.

If you prefer to make payments, please contact us and we will arrange a plan that works.

Your Trip Includes

  • Hotel accommodation Bed and Breakfast
  • 2 evening meals
  • Luxury coach travel
  • Entrance to all attractions
  • Dedicated tour guide
  • Additional musicians traveling with our group
  • Taxes and charges

Your Trip Does Not Include

  • International Flights
  • Dinners except those listed in itinerary
  • Lunch
  • Travel Insurance
  • Alcohol
  • Gratuities

How We Make Your Escape Awesome!

We are ready to answer your questions throughout the process via phone or email.

Once you sign up and pay your deposit:

  • We will send you a link to your My Trips account. You can view your trip details any time from your PC or Mobile Phone.
  • We will send you arrival and departure details so you can make your flight arrangements.
  • We will email you your final payment reminder about 1 week before it is due.
  • About two-three months before the trip we will send significant details like packing lists, further itinerary details, etc.
  • One month before the trip we will mail you your travel documents (or pass them out at a gathering for those local).
  • Hassle free arrivals, once you have collected your luggage and entered the airport arrivals hall, simply look for the PlanUrEscape sign. We will get you to your boat and started on the journey.

Facebook Group

You will be invited to a private Facebook group where you can meet, virtually, your fellow travelers, discuss the trip, make any preparation plans together, and share your excitement.

Our groups are typically 10-15travelers. We aren’t a ‘big bus’ tour and don’t want to be. We don’t just lookout the window and drive by the sights. Typically, our tours are custom and private. The advantage is, we can say, ‘stop here, we want to see this’ and we can stop and explore, even if it isn’t in the plan. Yes, we have an itinerary,but we also feel it’s important to take advantage of unexpected moments that arise. We attract travelers who are flexible and adventurous. A bit of spontaneity is a good thing!

(Please note, some tours lend themselves to a bit larger group so at times, we may expand the group to a maximum size of 25. We make group size decisions with the commitment that none of the spontaneity or sense of adventure will be impacted by the group size.)

You should know, our travelers are like you, they don’t want a canned tour, they like a sense of freedom on their trip, they understand the value of flexibility in travel, and they love the idea of working with a planning team that understands and respects their travel values.

So, Is this Trip for You?

  • You love traveling with like minded people and a tour company that is focused on traveling deeply into a destination, knowing how to read the group and make the best decisions for a perfect trip.
  • You find joy in trying new things, food, activities, etc.
  • Plans are good, and important to a great trip, however, flexibility sometimes brings a deeper experience and it’s OK with you.
  • You enjoy meeting and traveling with new people.
  • Some moderate physical activity will bring you the memories that make your trip special.

This Trip is Not for You If…

  • Travel is stressful and sometimes you find yourself anxious and frustrated when things don’t go perfectly as planned.
  • New things, new situations, aren’t really your thing.
  • You don’t like trying unusual local foods.
  • You feel uncomfortable and unsafe in places that are ‘foreign’ to Western culture.
  • Too much walking for long distances is tough.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often will I change accommodations during the trip?

We will change accommodations each night as we travel from Shannon to Dublin across the North of Ireland, into Belfast and then on to Dublin.

Can I extend my stay?

Absolutely, adding a pre or post stay always enhances a trip. You spent the money to get there, why not stay awhile? We will be happy to help you make plans.

What airport do I fly into and out of?

You will fly into Shannon Airport and out of Dublin Airport.

What are VISA requirements for these countries?


What type of currency is used in Ireland?

The Euro is used in Ireland.

Who do I contact for other questions and travel advice?

Call us at 860-779-6531 or send an email to

What is the age group of my potential fellow travelers?

Our guests typically range in age from 45-75. They tend to be of an age where they are either already retired and traveling is an objective for them, or are getting close. There are some tours that attract a younger group, sometimes adult children of a traveler in the group will join the tour.

Groups tend to be predominantly female, although we are wanting a good mix of men and woman, solo and couples traveling.

In any case, our travelers are in good health, active and adventurous.

I’m not a tour person, will this be too much of a standard tour for me?

No worries here, your fellow travelers feel exactly the same way and so do we, your tour curators. What makes us different, are two critical things, we don’t like traditional touring either, we work hard to be different. And two, you will always have the opportunity to choose. If you want to do something on your own or different than the group plan, you are welcome to do that.

We would love to have you join us! We will do our best to provide the opportunities and activities that allow you to make amazing memories and lasting friendships. We are looking forward to traveling with you.

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