Ireland, blessed with a magnificent landscape, is a country that is rich in spirit and history. It encompasses legends, Celtic myth and music and layer upon layer of different cultures. While Jewish settlers in Ireland are known to date back to the 12th century, if was not until 1660 that the first Synagogue was founded — a small prayer room opposite Dublin Castle. Since then, bolstered by significant immigration from Eastern Europe at the end of the 19th century, Jews have played important roles in Irish society — from Lord Mayors in Belfast, Dublin and Cork, to members of Parliament, the Diplomatic service, and the world of commerce and trade.
Scottish legend and folklore is permeated with Biblical allusions — including “Lia Fail,” the Stone of Destiny, which served as the coronation stone for the High Kings and is said to have been Jacob’s pillow in the Bible.
This unique trip will bring to life the heritage and tradition of the Jews of Scotland and Ireland. Led by Aryeh Maidenbaum, our journey will take us to Dublin and Edinburgh, from historic Belfast to the breathtaking, spectacular Antrim Coast and fabled Giants Causeway. Along the way, we will experience breathtaking landscape, rugged coastline and verdant countryside as well as meet with members of the Jewish community in Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Depart for Ireland
Check in to the five star Westin Hotel — superbly located in the center of Dublin — within walking distance of St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, fine shopping, and Dublin’s leading museums. This afternoon, we will enjoy a Panoramic City Tour, taking in many of the city’s major attractions — including beautiful Georgian Squares with their colorful doors, the famous shopping area of Grafton Street,
O’ Connell Street, and the River Liffey (with its iconic 200 year old Ha’penny Bridge).
Evening: Orientation Meeting — including overview of our trip, a chance to get to know one another, and Welcome Dinner (included).
Visit nearby Trinity College, where the famous Book of Kells (magnificent, illustrated manuscript dating back to the 8th Century) is on display; Phoenix Park —largest public park in Europe and where Aras an Uachtarain, (19th century residence of the Irish President) is located, and O’Connell Street and the GPO (General Post Office) — site of the 1916 Easter Rebellion where the Irish Flag was raised and the Proclamation of Ireland publicly read for the first time.
Lunch on our own — with many restaurants and pubs to choose from.
Before returning to our hotel, we will drive to Malahide Castle and Gardens and enjoy a guided Castle tour. Malahide Castle has a long and rich history and played a central role in Medieval Irish history; the oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century.
Evening presentation on the Jews of Ireland followed by dinner on our own.
This morning we will visit The Lord Mayor of Dublin’s residence, (Mansion House — official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1715) for a possible meeting with Mr. Ben Briscoe. Former member of Dail Einreann (Parliament), Mr. Briscoe occupied the seat his father Robert Briscoe (first Jew elected Lord Mayor of Dublin) held for many years. Ben Briscoe himself is a former Lord Mayor of Dublin. From Mansion House, we will drive to the Dublin Jewish Museum. Opened by Chaim Herzog, past President of Israel, the museum preserves a small, but important part of the heritage of the Jews of Ireland.
Evening: Shabbat Service and dinner (included) with some members of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation at the Terenure Synagogue.
Morning free to rest, relax and/or explore Dublin on our own. Or, for those who prefer, a guided walking tour departing from our hotel. Our walk will include Dublin’s “Georgian Mile” and the Georgian squares of St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square.
Afternoon, visit the nearby National Gallery of Ireland (which houses the national collection of Irish and European art) for a private guided tour.
Evening: (optional) attend a cultural performance at one of Dublin’s famous theatres.
Depart Dublin for Belfast — main city in Northern Ireland. En route, we will stop and tour Newgrange — one of Ireland’s most spectacular sites. Built in the fourth century BCE, Newgrange predates the Pyramids of Egypt and is one of the most important pre-historic sites in Europe.
Upon arrival in Belfast, a visit to the Belfast Hebrew Congregation and Synagogue before a late afternoon tour of “Titanic Belfast” — a museum which relates the sad story of the Titanic — from the time she was built in Belfast through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history.
Check in to our hotel, the Europa — situated in the heart of Belfast and within walking distance of Donegall Square, City Hall (modeled on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London) and the historic Crown Liquor Saloon.
Evening Presentation on the Jews of Northern Ireland by a local scholar.
Day trip along the magnificent Antrim Coastline. Traveling along the coast road through the Glen’s of Antrim to the Giants Causeway — a Unesco World Heritage Site — we will enjoy the magnificent scenery of Northern Ireland’s coastline and explore the legendary interlocking basalt columns caused by an ancient volcanic eruption.
Lunch on our own before an afternoon visit to Bushmills Whiskey Distillery — the oldest working distillery in Ireland — before returning to Belfast.
Depart Belfast and board a ferry for Cairnryan, Scotland. On arrival, we will travel to the birthplace of Scotland’s National Bard — “Robbie Burns” — where we will visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Visitor Centre before continuing on to Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland.
Check in to the five star deluxe Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh in time for dinner (included).
Morning: sightseeing in Edinburgh, including a visit to Edinburgh Castle — set high on a hill overlooking the New Town area of Edinburgh — and the Royal Yacht Britannia. Now permanently docked at the Port of Leith, the Britannia at one time served as home to the British Royal Family on its many voyages to various parts of the world.
Afternoon Free in Edinburgh to explore the wonderful Old Town of Edinburgh with its pretty stores and cobbled stone streets.
Evening free; dinner on our own.
We will begin today with a visit to The Scottish Jewish Archive Center and Synagogue at Garnethill, Glasgow. Situated on the banks of the River Clyde, Glasgow — only 42 miles from Edinburgh — has a rich history dating back to prehistoric time and is the largest city in Scotland. During the course of our visit to the Jewish Center, we will enjoy a presentation by a local scholar describing the history and culture of the Jews of Scotland
Afternoon cruise on Loch Lomond. The largest freshwater lake in Great Britain, Loch Lomond is the feature of the well-known song from the early 1840’s: “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.”
Return to Edinburgh in time for a festive, farewell dinner.
Depart Edinburgh for U.S.
Enjoying an enviable location on the doorstep of Trinity College Dublin and Grafton Street, the Westin Dublin is a luxury five star hotel, located in the heart of the city center. Legendary and personalized service from Westin Dublin team ensures a memorable experience for visitors to this vibrant and historic city. The Westin’s historic building dates to the 1800s and has had a number of past lives- from the robe suppliers to Trinity College Dublin in 1847 to the city’s leading insurance and financial companies of the late 1800s. Guests can absorb this historical connection when walking through these famous doors, where a warm welcome awaits.
The world famous Europa Hotel in Belfast is located in the heart of Belfast City Center. Its elegant décor, contemporary bistro, bustling bar and relaxing piano bar lounge make the four star Europa Hotel a perfect location for visitors to Belfast. Thanks to its prime location, the Europa Hotel is a short distance from many of Belfast’s top visitor attractions including the Ulster Museum, Grand Opera House, City Hall, Titanic Belfast, the Waterfront Hall, the Odyssey Arena, and many fine restaurants and pubs.
Now known as the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, the Caledonian has undergone a luxury relaunch and renovation program to bring this landmark Scottish property into the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts portfolio. With two exquisite restaurants operated by Michelin-starred brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin, the Pompadour by Galvin and Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, ‘The Caley’, as it is affectionately known among Edinburgh locals, has embodied the very best in Scottish hospitality for over a hundred years. Situated at the west end of Princes Street, this former Victorian hotel nestles in the shadow of the historic Edinburgh Castle and is just a two-minute walk from the designer stores and fashionable bars of George Street.